Faith Alone Is Useless
The teachings on faith and works often leave me shaking my head, both are of vast importance to all Christians, yet almost without exception are taught out of context and therefore in error. It is true that to believe in the Lord for our salvation we must have faith, yet it is also true that both faith and righteousness are not of ourselves, being instead righteousness by Gods grace with the gift of faith in measure from God. By measure not meaning a limitation that God gives, but measure by which we then grow and mature in the Lord. By Christian meaning those already saved by Gods grace through Christ Jesus their Savior and Lord. Then with the Holy Spirit now within the immature babe or new Christian. why preach to them God has no need or want of their works in His will and for His purpose?
About this measure, remember that God tested the faith of Abraham as described in Hebrews 11:17 "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice." This test was not because God wanted proof Abraham had faith, God wants obedience, this obedience produces works of righteousness fulfilling Gods will and purpose. Within those that are faithful to obedience is the infilling of righteousness described in Ephesians 3:17-19 "...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
How many Christians are taught that this faith leading to salvation is not of ourselves, but as grace, faith, and righteousness, these are all a gift of God as described in Philippians 2:12-13 " continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." From this verse we can be certain the works of righteousness are not are own, but acts as willed and predestined by God fulfilling His purpose. Yet it is with this faith that we do believe, more important beyond this faith in works of obedience, and it is this obedience that is accredited or fulfills Gods will of righteousness in faith. This is required of us by God as we are told in 1 Peter 1:16 "...for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
Although we yet live in the world but apart from it's ways, obedient in renewing of our mind with Gods wisdom and knowledge, the fullness of need is given warning in Hebrews 5:13-14 "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." For those that will mature beyond spiritual milk, require leaders knowing the mind of the Lord for spiritual growth as described in Hebrews 6:1-3 "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so."
Many pastor or teacher concerning faith telling the story of Abraham, leave the impression God was glorifying Abraham's faith. This is neither the lesson or teaching concerning Abraham's faith that led to obedience, instead it displayed Gods abundance for those obedient. This abundance concerns faith that produces good fruit fulfilling Gods purpose, as does the seed planted produces some ten, some one hundred, and some many times more called the works of righteousness. This seed of faith put to work brings glory to God, being the purpose of faith God freely gives. Remember however, seed or faith is sown in all, however some falls on hard and rocky ground, this seed did not take root or multiply, among others this seed was choked out and died. Yet even to those in faith obedient are given warning described in 2 John 8 "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully."
About this measure of faith, it is not limited, it is predestined to produce righteousness of works glorifying God by those obedient. Needed for such works are given gifts with power and authority, fulfilled as described in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." Of these gifts and purpose we are told in John 13:14-16 "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." And of the purpose made clear in Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
In the many Christian churches today, how often is heard repetitive sermon given to long established yet immature congregation, repetitive teaching that works have neither effect nor calling from them, congregation's that attend each Sunday many years as mere infants. And between these teachings of works not called from them, instead are teaching of need to develop character similar to a biblical person spoken of within the sermon. How often is heard the preacher's saying this is no longer teachings for the old man of flesh, but instead for the new man of spirit with gift of the Holy Spirit. How often is a congregation of many years taught of the new spiritual man who must understand spiritual truths and mysteries, spiritual truths that bring these members into spiritual unity and maturity. Certainly according to Christ this must happen before both individual and corporeal church will do as He had done and more.
Do we not know that faith after believing and receiving the HS, that this faith alone is empty if not followed by good works predestined by God described in James 2:20-23 "You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called God's friend." About this is also warning in James 2:18-19 "Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder."
There can be no doubt then that we must continue beyond faith, again as warned in James 2:26 "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." It is also true that some when called to judgment will need to remind the Lord of their 'own good works', only to have the Lord call these as works of iniquity in Matthews 7:20-23 "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." About the works predestined of God we are assured in Matthews 16:27-28 "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."
So it is clear that more important than either faith or works will be the fruit produced as a result from both. It appears error results when men believe their own faith produced their own good works, needing to be warned that the Lord will call these self-works the work of iniquity. This then should tell us it is important for us to have more than faith, this would include more than our own good works, and this faith through actions of obedience produce good works in the will of the Lord. This is the faith that produces fruit accredited by the Lord as righteous. Remember however we yet live in this world, and as promised may be brought before Satan or his servants among which we are to have proper respect, remember the wisdom of Archangel Michael in similar quandary, told of in Jude 9-10 "But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Do you understand what occurred in this circumstance, did Michael as servant of God fall silent before Satan?
By now it should be apparent there is a time for all things, but most important we have an intimate and living relationship with our Lord. Only then within the will of the Lord may both faith and gift's produce good fruit as works of righteousness. This intimacy and relationship adequately described in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." God is love spoken of here, this also understood when Christ informed the expert in law concerning the will of God saying Luke 10:37 "Go and do likewise."
Then in the will and purpose of God we will act as obedient servants of God, this described in 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 "The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." It being the will of God that we should be attentive and attend to, and this in works God has predestined from the beginning of time, told in Romans 8:28-30 "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."
Is it faith alone that makes us righteous as some teach, no, it is Christ that makes us righteous. Then what of the works predestined called the works of righteousness, works for which there is reward. This works predestined is of the will of God, works fulfilling the purpose of God, works that receive reward at the return of the Lord. Concerning these works we are told in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 "If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." This is verse well worth study, what are the works each are predestined, what are the gifts given that enable such work, what of the witness and sentry upon the wall, and their purpose?
And this is only the beginning of what should be taught about faith and good works. Without a complete understanding of the relationship between faith and good works we will not understand our more important spiritual relationship between our Lord and ourselves. Christ sent the first disciples among only the Jewish people, today Christ sends us out into all of the world as workers, then as today about these workers it holds true as told in Luke 10:2-3 "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Certainly what God said long ago holds true today, saying the good works of carnal man are as filthy rags.
So it is obvious those appointed to teach the New Christian or New Spiritual Man (must) reach out in teaching beyond the spiritual growth at which the infant in faith has already attained. This is beyond the point where a new Christian has already been led by the Lord in salvation, who by now have already received the gift of faith from God. Discernment will be needed to determine when a new Christian has grown beyond the need of spiritual milk. Keeping always in mind that the Lord calls for workers, not perpetual infant teachings, instead needing to be taught the deeper things for spiritual growth. By this time the new Christian should have been warned of the spiritual war, warned that Satan will try to steal the seed of faith they have. Beyond the sensitivities of not eating meat offered to idols (if it offends their brother), confession of sin, baptism and speaking in tongues, this is yet spiritual milk.
Those teaching new Christians must instruct as meets the need of the New Christian, keeping in mind this is not the point of growth at which the instructor has already attained. Those who have been appointed as instructors should understand the heart of the Lord, where this is in relation to the needs of those new in faith. Understand that these babes in faith will not grow until they learn how this faith is to be planted, and this is death of self called the old nature as described in Romans 7:5-6 "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." And this only begins to teach us what we must be released from so that we may grow in the Lord, attaining a full measure of faith, and in faith then producing works of righteousness.
Are we saved apart from law and by our faith, actually the answer is no, we are saved not by our own faith but the faith God has given us. Does faith enable us to produce good works, again the answer is no, God enables with His gifts of power and authority that in His will we may do works of righteousness. The lesson of Abraham then was that in obedience he was prepared to offer his son as sacrifice upon the alter, Abraham put this faith into action which is obedience to God. Then why do denominations continue their false or incomplete teaching. The answer is that Satan is not inactive in his works, and his works are to mislead and hinder the army called the ministry servants of God.
In truth I hear many professed Christians in this nation say that good can come out of evil, when only evil comes out of evil. Some even believe that lesser evils are needed to the same of evil. What they are saying is that God calls evil good, and good evil. What this is instead is mans good works, the works of iniquity, and the god served by this false teaching may lead even the elect astray, if possible. It sometimes appears to me that there is more false teachings in the church today than teachings of truth. Faith is the starting line of a race, today the denominations teach runners in this race to kneel before the starting line, and not to proceed beyond this limitation. It is a race going nowhere, that goes no where, while waiting a rapture and rescue.
Instead Christ calls for His church to be brought into unity and maturity, being of one in mind and spirit, and in this way able to fulfill the Lords commands and purpose. Christ even gave the blueprints for the construction of His Church. My experience is that preachers and teachers describe more often the construction of the Old Testament Temple and sacrificial alter, hardly if ever mentioning the building plan for the church of Christ. This building plan is similar to the Temple made by the hand of God, however this is the Church, and this construction is to be built upon a spiritual foundation and corner stone. The building blocks for this Spiritual Temple to be those saved through grace, obedient in faith unto works of righteousness, prepared by those with appointed gifts.
And this is the building plans described in Ephesians 4:11-16 "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."
Christ after teaching the disciples and before sending them out into a limited area of the world among their own people, gave warning of the spiritual war they would meet, saying in Matt 10:16 "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." Today Christ's many warnings to "guard against" in spiritual war is well described in the parable of a king perhaps doubtfully prepared for war in Luke 14:31-32 "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace." Preparation for the spiritual war described in Eph 6:10-18 "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
Our work then is both within the church and within the world, corporeally and individually, and in this context needing not only the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, but as commanded awareness of that which lurks in the darkness of this world. About the wickedness that waits to ensnare the unprepared, this is what we are commanded in Eph 5:11 "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." About the prophetic warning of a time and generation falling away, and of many without discernment unprepared, few today are taught the wisdom Christ commanded of need, warned of in Matt 16:3-4 "You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Many today are the church of the Pharisee, a righteousness of religious hypocrisy, following strange doctrine and mystic practices.
Satan and his servants work to prevent Christians from maturing, attaining spiritual discernment knowing the will of God to do good works of righteousness, works rewarded in ways we do not always understand as we serve His purpose. About these works of righteousness, how will a carnal Christian learn from scripture taken out of context, this being repetitive teaching on salvation, or teaching carnal Christians to grow in the old man adding honorable characteristic's. How often do the teachers and preachers warn that the mysteries of the Lord will only be understood by the new spiritual man. That the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit is spiritually discerned, and what is learned in this way becoming a part of their life both in the church and in the world. Warned that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Learning of our Lord who has Supreme Authority over all, giving gifts that build His Church, enabling the tearing down strongholds of every kind. Even in this time when many antichrist's have already been accepted in teaching and prophecy, and this all possible as we worship the Lord our God and serve Him only.
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