Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 7 July 2014
Page 15

Biblical Response to Faith

Jefferson Sole

There is no greater unifying doctrine among those professing to be Christians than the topic of faith. Most would agree that faith is necessary to please God and to receive everlasting life (John 3:16). Yet, the doctrine of faith that unites the religious world is also the source of great division. The division occurs when the question is asked, “What type of faith leads to salvation?” James addressed this query by asking two rhetorical questions in James 2:14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?” These questions are constructed to indicate that James expected negative answers, and in the verses that follow, he explained why negative answers were a foregone conclusion.

Faith with the absence of works is not saving faith, because faith cannot be reduced to words only. To illustrate, James provided an impractical, inexcusable and sinful interaction between a Christian in need and a Christian who was capable of helping (15-16). Instead of helping, the well-to-do brother responded, “Depart in peace be ye warmed and filled,” without providing any care to the one in need (16b). It is evident that the one who was needy was dismissed and treated as an inconvenience. When action is replaced with words, words become meaningless. In like manner James added, “…faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone” (17). When faith is reduced to words only, it becomes a dead faith! Will Christ return to gather a people who are dead in faith or rich in faith (James 2:5)?

Faith with the absence of works is not saving faith because faith cannot be reduced to words and emotions only. James wrote, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble” (19). Demons (“devils”) intellectually consented (“faith”) that God is one (Mark 1:23-25) and “trembled” at His power. However, no one would argue that they were exercising faith that would result in salvation. If demons will not be saved by faith consisting of words and emotions only, why would one expect Felix (Acts 24:24-25) and those like him to be saved by an identical faith?

Faith with the presence of words, emotions and works is the type of faith God required from Abraham (21-24) and continues to require from His people today. Faith is established on the Will of God (Romans 10:17) and triggers an internal, emotional response (Acts 2:37) that leads to repentance, confession (Romans 10:10) and baptism (Mark 16:16). After these initial acts of faith, God expects full compliance to the Doctrine of Christ in word and deed (Colossians 3:16; Philippians 2:12), which will result in acts of obedience to the glorification of God (John 15:2-6; Matthew 5:15). Abraham’s faith worked in conjunction with (“wrought”) acts of obedience when he offered Isaac upon the altar. As a result, his faith became mature (“was made perfect”), and he was declared innocent (“justified”) by God (22, 24). Abraham’s works would have been useless without faith, and his faith would have been useless without works. What type of faith do you have in Jesus Christ?

Pursuit of Purity

Nat Evans

The Christian life is to be a life of growth and development. “We are to desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby unto salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2). In 2 Peter 3:18 we read, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” We also learn from Hebrews 5:12-14 that with time and opportunity God expects us to grow as His children. One of those avenues of development is to make sure that our lives are characterized by purity. In Matthew 5:8 in the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

First, one must purify his soul in obeying the truth. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:22-23, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently.” As a penitent believer who has confessed his faith in his Lord, one must be baptized into Christ for the remission of his past sins (John 8:24; Luke 13:5; Romans 6:3-6; 10:9-10; Acts 2:38). Peter stressed the need of growth and development in the Christian life (2 Peter 1:5-11).

Second, one must be concerned with purity of heart or life. Psalm 24:3-4 reads, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.” “But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5). Paul gave emphasis to the purity of the church in Ephesians 5:25-27 when he wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” In Proverbs 4:23 we find, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life.” In Proverbs 23:7 note, “For as a man thinketh within himself, so is he.”

Third, one must be concerned with purity of speech. In Matthew 12:34-37 our Lord said:

Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. The good man out of his good treasure bringeth forth good things: and the evil man out of his evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

If we expect to keep our speech pure, we are going to have to watch what we are feeding our minds, that is our hearts. When we hear another person use impure speech, what does this indicate about his thinking? And what does this indicate about that one’s spirituality? My friend, always remember that Jesus said that you will have to give an account for every word you use (Matthew 12:36-37). Paul said you will answer for every deed (2 Corinthians 5:10). The writer of Ecclesiastes soberly reminds us that we will also answer for every secret thing, too (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Something is wrong with a person’s religion when his speech isn’t what it ought to be. Notice in James 1:26, “If any man thinketh himself to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man’s religion is vain.” We are told in Ephesians 4:25 to “put away all falsehood,” and my friends, Revelation 21:8 tells us the terrible, ultimate doom of all liars; the liar is going to have a part in that lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Fourth, one must pursue and practice sexual purity. This falls into two avenues: (1) before marriage, and (2) after marriage. It is sad that so many in our society today do not seem to be concerned about either. Let us look at the first category. Individuals are to save themselves for marriage. We are taught to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18). Parking and petting don’t produce purity. Dancing and drinking do not promote purity. Listening to suggestive lyrics in ungodly songs, watching filthy, sordid videos, and porn on the Internet will not promote sexual purity.

Secondly, we must return to biblical values in promoting marriage and the home. Marriage is to be between a man and a woman who have a scriptural right to be married to each other (Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 5:31-35; 19:3-9; Hebrews 13:3-4). It is to be for a lifetime (Romans 7:1-4). Jesus gave only one exception (Matthew 19:9).

[Editor’s Note: Purity doesn’t happen accidentally! Rather, it only comes from purpose and practice or execution in one’s life. Of all people, especially Christians ought to be prime specimens of purity. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]

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