THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 9-4-11
LESSON TITLE: “WHAT GOD HAS JOINED TOGETHER: FAITH AND WORKS”
In Lamentations 3:25, we read this proclamation about our God in Heaven, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul to seeks Him.” No truer words have ever been spoken for our creator truly does care for those who obey Him. Are you among that fold?
Let me welcome each of you to the Living Word program on this glorious Lord ’s Day morning! How wonderful it is to know that you have chosen to put God first this day and to assemble for this time of worship before His Mighty Throne!
As always, it will be our privilege to offer sacrifices to God this morning, with the fruit of our lips and the obedience of our actions, may we all be encouraged on this the Lord’s day. However, may we each do our part so that ultimately we will offer praise to God according to His truth as is found in His Precious Will. So as we begin our focus on the Creator, will you bow with me in prayer?
Now let’s join in our first hymn of the day. A beautiful old song which reminds us of the wondrous grace of God. The name of the hymn, “Amazing Grace.”
(SONG # 1)
The goodness of God is truly seen in everything He does for us. In fact, God has promised that He will always care for us and do His part, yet He has also told us that we have a part to play. Just as we read earlier this morning, “The Lord is good…,” but what is clarified in this verse as a stipulation? Jeremiah said, God is good to those who “wait on Him and seek Him!”
With this in mind we must ask the questions, “Are we waiting on the Lord,” and do we seek our God in all things? This is exactly what God requires if we are to receive the promised blessing of this life. Remember what Jesus said in the familiar verse of Matthew 6:33? There we read, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In this passage we find the very same idea being present which we read from Lamentations earlier, that is if we seek God first all things will be added unto us.
I think that many in the religious world have forgotten this point today. Because of false teaching and false ideas, many believe that everyone is ok anyway, and once you believe in God the rest doesn’t really matter. Well, we have already learned this morning that just as God has done His part, there is something that He as well requires of us, that is obedience to His Will!
Perhaps James put it best in his N. T. book when he said, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Just as our bodies and lives would be worthless without the spiritual side of man, our faith is as well worthless unless it is proven by our obedience.
So in summation we have learned thus far today that the “Lord truly is good,” this is God’s part which He has offers to all. However, our part is to “wait on and to seek the Lord,” and if we do this God will truly care for us and supply all of our needs! Are you doing your part in the service of God?
Today we will continue our series of study entitled, “What God Has Joined Together.” Our lesson this day will be a discussion on, “Faith and Works.” So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will lead us in the main thoughts of the day. Now it’s time to join in our second song, the name of this hymn, “Be with Me Lord.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
We’re so glad you’ve continued with us today as we now go to God’s Word and consider another concept of “What God Has Joined Together” in the Bible.
As we think about the idea throughout this life of maybe questions that might come up, we no doubt have all asked individuals questions before and they might answer us and sometimes they don’t give us the complete answer or they hold something back that might even change the meaning of the answer if they were to tell you everything they knew. Let me ask you another question: Have you ever been guilty of answering someone’s question and maybe not giving them all of that answer? Probably all of us when we were growing up as kids, maybe when our parents ask us something, there were sometimes we might not have just given them every little detail because we might have gotten into trouble for a few of those details. Well what I find interesting about this is that sometimes in the religious sense you will ask someone a question and they will give you a very clear and precise answer but sometimes it’s not that easy. Sometimes there are other things we have to understand to know if that answer is right or that it’s totally proper.
In other words, we might also add this idea of semantics. Sometimes people take a word or use words and they almost play games with them. They say, “Well this word really doesn’t mean that,” although most people believe that word to mean that. Well with all that in mind, I want us to think then today first of all about faith. Faith is an easy concept on the surface because when we think about faith we know that faith is something that is identified well as required by God. In fact, in Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 6 it says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” So if I were to ask you: Do you have to have faith to be saved? The reality is that someone might say, “Yes!” Now does that give you the whole answer or are there other things required for salvation? What about grace? Is not grace how we are saved? Yes! But the fact is faith is still involved and faith is still a part.
So to understand this idea again faith being so important, we look there to Hebrews chapter 11 and we have so many examples there of those who by faith obeyed God. Don’t you find it interesting that the faith chapter, as we call it, has so many examples and in every example of those faithful Christians or followers of God in old times, that in every example they are always described as doing the Will of God. And the reason they were known to be those of faith is because by faith Noah built the ark, or by faith we see Abraham left his own country. So again as we think about faith what does faith mean? Is it only believing? Is it only saying, “Yes I think there is a God but I don’t have to follow Him.” Certainly faith is much more. Faith is much deeper. Faith is that belief in action. I think it’s a really good way to describe it.
So now as we think about faith, what about works? Well here’s where we come to that question. I can’t tell you how many denominational preachers, as well as members of denominations have told me before that you can’t be saved by works. Well you know that is true to an extent but it’s false to another extent. Let me demonstrate that. Can you be saved without any works? In other words, if you obey God by becoming a Christian and you never do anything else, you never do any of the works that He commands in His Word that the faithful must do; can you be saved without any of those things? I think the answer is obvious that certainly you can’t! And so why is it that one would then play with the words and say, “Well, works are not essential,” or infer that works are not essential? Would it not be better to really understand what it is that God was trying to present through His Word.
Go with me to Ephesians chapter 2 because here we have the real crux of the situation. “For by grace you have been saved.” The way we’re saved is grace. Well does that exclude love and does that exclude faith and does that exclude all of the other things that God requires of us? Certainly not. But grace is that actual element, the mercy of God, deserved or not, that will save us, and guess why we have that. In the same text, verse 13 says, the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is what saves us. The blood of Jesus is what cleanses us. The blood of Jesus and the grace of God, although we don’t deserve salvation, will give it to us in the end despite the fact we are unworthy.
But although that is God’s Will and that is His part and ultimately that is how we are going to be saved and find ourselves in Heaven, does that exclude our part? Does that exclude the essential concept of works? I can’t tell you how many folks I’ve read this passage with before and they read it with me and they say, “By grace you have been saved through faith.” You see there? It’s only grace and faith that saves you. Well let’s just forget the love of God. Then you read on and then the next thing it says, “And that not of yourselves is the gift of God.” And they love the next verse, verse 9, for it says, “Not of works lest anyone should boast.” Is that passage really saying that active faith and works are not required? Or is that passage saying that we’re saved by grace and faith and works are our part of what we’re required to do even though they can’t save us, grace will save us on God’s part when faith and works are seen on our part. Now that doesn’t sound as clear as someone might say, “Oh don’t have to worry. You don’t have to do nothing to be saved.” Well the fact is there is nothing I can do. I can’t earn my salvation. I can’t justify myself. I can’t work my way to Heaven, but my job as a Christian is to do the work of the one who has called me, to do the Will of God, and God’s promise and blessing is although I can’t do enough to earn it, by grace He is going to give me salvation. Don’t you find it interesting that right after he says, “Not by works lest a man boast,” or a man comes and says, “God you owe me, and I have earned my salvation,” taking away grace and mercy and love and really the promise and the blessing God has given.
He goes on in the next verse, verse 10, to say this, “For we are His workmanship.” Of all the things, the Holy Spirit could have said through Paul, he calls us a workmanship of God, that which God has made or worked in His image created in Christ Jesus for what? What do you think we are created for? Good works! Oh works aren’t required (as some would say). Well they aren’t going to save us because God’s grace saves us but you are created and I am created as the workmanship of God for good works. Sounds like a requirement to me. Sounds like something that God is expecting of me here that I should do what? Walk in those works that God has asked of me, those things that He has required of me.
Another passage that really helps us with this study this morning is found over in the book of James and because of the concepts of what are spoken in the book of James, some people will even try to discount this book and say, “Oh it must not be a true book. It shouldn’t be in the Bible.” I’ve actually heard people say that before. Why? Because it teaches something that doesn’t go or work into what they believe or what they are trying to present. Well I find it interesting that now for over 2,000 years this book has stood the test of time and it has been something that God through the Spirit has given and that we can have every confidence in. Look with me at James chapter 2 there. He begins this discussion about faith, as well as works, and he begins to ask this simple question, “Are works required?” Don’t you think some might have felt the same way? Oh I have God’s grace; I have God’s mercy so I’m already saved. I don’t have to work.” That’s exactly what James was dealing with. He was trying to show them that although these things aren’t what save us and they can’t earn us salvation and it’s the grace of God and love and mercy of God that actually offers that salvation. He was trying to show we still have a part to play. We must do what God requires or those freely offered gifts of grace and mercy aren’t really extended to someone who was what? Unfaithful.
Look what he says there in verse 18 because there were some who were saying, “Hey, I have faith but not works.” Verse 18 he says, “But someone will say you have faith and I have works,” he said, “show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works.” Why? Because the only thing I can see in your life and the only thing you can see in my life are the things I do and say. That’s how you know if I’m a believer. That’s how you know if I am true to God. That’s how God knows, when He sees it. That’s my part. Salvation by grace is God’s part. It doesn’t make either part any less important or that we should forget one side of the equation or the other side of the equation. He doesn’t stop there. He even talks about the devils believing there in the same text and he says, “They believe and they tremble.” But guess what. They’re not of faith. Why? Because a devil might believe in God but the devil doesn’t obey or follow or do the works of God.
And so then what is it after several examples that he begins to show them? That faith is made perfect through works. Verse 22, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works?” Who? Father Abraham! “And by works faith was made perfect.” God saw the faith of Abraham not because of what he thought but because of his actions. They proved his love. Could they save him? No! He wasn’t saved by those works. He was saved by grace but that doesn’t mean those works weren’t required. And of all the things he could have said down in verse 26, it doesn’t get any clearer. “For as the body without the spirit is dead so faith without works (guess what) is dead.” If you don’t have works, God and the world cannot see your faith. And if you don’t have works, you are not doing what you have been created to do as the workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:10) to do the good works of God and to accomplish the purpose of God according to His Will that not only He might see my faith but that the world might see my faith.
How is it that people know God? Or want to know God? Or are attracted to God? Is it not through us, the faithful? Are they not to see Christ in us? But if I’m not required to do works, how are they going to see God? If I’m not required to do anything and it doesn’t matter what I say and do, how are they going to see Christ in me? If I just live it up and I enjoy sin and I can say, “Oh I have faith because I believe and forget all the rest,” then is salvation really mine?
You know that’s a convenient doctrine. It’s a convenient doctrine that so many have embraced and they love it because they can go out to the bars and they can commit fornication and they can enjoy all the things of this earth and sin and lust and then they can say, “But oh I believe. I believe in God so grace is mine. Salvation is mine.” But what have they forgotten? That someday they are going to be judged.
I really like the way that Paul puts it again through the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians there in chapter 5. He is speaking about the judgment seat of Christ and he says, “Someday we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” But look what he says. He doesn’t say that we’re going to be judged by the grace of God. The grace of God is already there. The mercy of God is already there. The love of God is already there. God has freely given that gift to any man who will do what? Obey! And so God has done His part. At the judgment, what is going to be required of us? What is going to be asked of us? Read that verse with me. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one, each individual may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done whether good or bad.” Did you notice twice in that verse that he says, “The things that have been done,” done, works, actions, things that are seen, done in the body and then he even secondly says, “according to what he has done.” Whether you’ve said good things or said bad things. Whether you’ve done good things or done bad things. God will bring you before Him and according to your works He will see your faith unto salvation or not. Will those works save you? Certainly they will not. And that part is true. Are those works then disregarded or unessential? Certainly not again. Because our part is works, obeying God, loving Him enough to do all of His commandments and God’s part is that loving grace and salvation that by our faith He sees and others are able to see to know God as well. We are those who are not only ourselves recipients of the reward of Heaven but those who will help others to receive that great reward as well.
So I challenge you this morning to ask yourself the question: Am I a worker of God? Am I doing the good works of God created by His workmanship and therefore because of my works, does God see my faith knowing then that I will be saved through His grace and the beautiful bloodshed for me. Will you give your best to God? Will you commit to His service?
(SONG # 3 - “Anywhere Is Home.”)
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I know our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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May we all work as commanded by God to show our faith. Will you have the faith that proves to God and this World your commitment to your Creator?