November 19 – Prove It

 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
(James 2:18,20)

Read: Ezekiel 39:1-40:27, James 2:18-3:18, Psalm 118:1-18,  Proverbs 28:2

Relate: There is a problem with writing things down. Once you do, you end up being stuck with whatever you wrote. I’ve been writing on here for about five years. I can go back now and look at some of those early posts and wonder, “What was I thinking?” Don’t get me wrong, I still agree with nearly all of it. My issue is often more of how much my writing style has changed and developed over time. Even still, every now and then I will come across something that deserves a face palm. I know you’ve been there.

Know who else has been there? Martin Luther. No, I am not talking about “I have a dream!” Martin Luther King Jr. At least, not today. He’s made a few mistakes in his time too, but I am going back a lot further. I’m talking about the 95 Thesis nailed to the door, “Here I stand, I can do no other” Martin Luther. He was a great man, he was an excellent theologian, he was even a great hymn writer. But he most certainly was not perfect. Martin Luther ended up putting so much emphasis on Sola Fide (Faith alone) that he looked at portions of James like the part quoted above and doubted if the book should even be part of the canon. He said on different occasions that it was “an epistle of straw” and that it was not of “apostolic authorship” Later on he would backtrack on these statements, the book was included in his translation of the Bible, and he would say that he holds the book in very high regard, but the damage was done. Pen had hit paper which had gone to press and even to this day he is known to hate the book of James.

React: Also to this day there are those who would actually agree with Luther’s initial statement questioning James’ validity. They do this because they don’t understand what James was actually talking about. James is not proposing a faith plus works doctrine. Not even close. What James is saying is that faith produces works. If we truly believe something we will act on it. If I truly believe Jesus is Lord, I will obey Him. If I truly believe that he has commanded me to love my neighbors, I will love my neighbors even when I find it incredibly difficult to like them. If I truly believe that I should hide God’s word in my heart, I will memorize. If I say I believe something, but there no works to demonstrate the validity of my claim then my faith is dead. It isn’t that deeds create faith. It isn’t that my good works save me. They simply demonstrate that I do have faith. They show that I am saved. So… am I? Do my actions prove it?

Respond:

Dear God,
The first believers called themselves disciples. They were students, imitators, followers of You. All that required action. When they finally became known as Christians that word connotated that they were like You. People didn’t say that because of what they believed. They said it because of what they saw. When people look at me, do they see You? Let me be Your reflection. When people get to know me, do they understand that I am a student, a follower, a *disciple* of You? Help me to actually live out what I claim to believe. Forgive me for the many, many times there is a disconnect between what I say and what I do. All I want, Lord, is to be more like You.
Amen

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7 thoughts on “November 19 – Prove It

  1. A better way to look at the concept is by using the agricultural imagery like the Messiah did. How can you tell the difference between an apple tree, an orange tree, and a banana tree? The answer is by the fruit of the tree. We are called to be “fruit inspectors,” to keep each other accountable in this walk of faith and how can you tell if they are truly faithful – by their words, deeds, and actions. The Messiah said that the words that come from our mouths are from the overflow of our hearts, thus you will know what seed that is within our hearts. He also said that a Good Tree produces good fruit and an evil tree produces evil fruit, good does not produce evil and evil does not produce good! So it is by our fruit that we will be known. Those are the works that James is speaking of, not some penance or good deed check off sheet on the piety Bingo game! If you are walking after Messiah, we should all know it by what you say and how you live. I challenge you all to put on Messiah and walk as He did. Blessings!

  2. I enjoyed reading what you have written. For me writing about spiritual matters, is the process of trying to express invisible things in words. It’s a spiritual act for a true believer. Writing about the things of God, is a spiritual happening.

    And faith? faith is a substance. Faith is real ‘stuff’. It’s not easy for me to explain this truth to others either. God inspired Paul and the others to write and teach. It was a Spiritual act. His words were the fruit of his devotion.

    Faith is the substance of things we hope for. Faith is real stuff, but it’s higher stuff than the things we see, feel, hear, smell etc.

    How is it better and higher stuff? Well, because it possesses more reality because it is eternal in nature. It is eternal stuff.

    Physical stuff is gonna change and burn up eventually, but the faith stuff,will last forever.

    If we follow after the Spirit, and the faith substance, we will find peace and life.

    If we follow after the physical or carnal stuff, we will find death and corruption.

    Martin Luther understood the difference between flesh and the Spirit.

    Thanks for your blog. We all struggle together to know Jesus more intimately, but what a wonderful walk.. IN Christ. Bless you all.

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