This is a condensed version of something I taught a few years ago and I happened across it today and realized, it was something that seems to be even more relevant in this day and time of not only my country, but in the world, due to circumstances transpiring before our eyes in the Middle East and seemingly all over.
“You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”–James 2:19-20, 26.
Sometimes I get to sounding like a broken record, and especially those who know me, for I have a tendency of touching on some of the same things over and over, but something I learned when I went to Tech School for my degree in the secular work force, is that repetition is the best form of teaching. You teach something, move forward on to something else, then go back and repeat what you taught up to that point, reminding your listeners of the important points. It is similar to taking two steps forward and one step back each time. You don’t move forward real fast, but you sure “drill” the point home!
So it is no surprise and it is still amazing to me what I see the Holy Spirit wanting to say to those that claim to be Christians. Jesus forewarned us in the Gospel of Matthew that many in the last days would come not only claiming to be the Christ or Messiah, but that many would also come in His name, and that we were to be on guard against those that come falsely. We have seen in previous studies that the Apostle John has told us to “test the spirits” to see whether they come from God.
This has been something that we have been not only lax to do, but sometimes rather hesitant because of the teaching that we have received. We have a tendency to believe that if I make a determination about the truth of something or someone, I am judging and therefore non-Christ like. I believe we have been duped by the enemy into believing half-truths because of our lack of studying on behalf of the gospels.
Now, forgive me if I am sounding a bit too critical. That is not my intention, but rather, it is my attention to cause you to think about finding the balance that is entrusted to us throughout the WHOLE scriptures. For every responsibility that we are given in the Word of God, we are given the balance so as to not go to an extreme. Either we become condemning, notice I didn’t use the word judgmental, or we become apathetic and complacent. Either extreme is a compromise to the Holy Word of God.
The reason this seems so apropos, is that in the light of the recent attacks on America, they were done because, by the terrorists who pervert the truth of Islam, we are a Christian nation and an abomination. In fact, any nation who sides with us is considered to be on the side of Christianity as opposed to what they purport is Islam.
My challenge to you is this: it is easy to SAY you are a Christian, but in actuality are you what you say? That brings us to the key scripture for this lesson stated above. James was actually talking to some Christian leaders of his day when he made the statements that are found in the second chapter of his letter. When you read those few verses, he certainly comes on strong, and by today’s standards he would be considered critical and judgmental. Yet, the Word of God stands strong and true to this day.
You know that old saying, my father-in-law used to quote it all the time, “Actions speak louder than words.” At the time, dad was not so well versed in scripture, but he had a lot of common as well as spiritual sense, and it was a common quote. But isn’t it amazing that we have adopted that quote down through the decades at least, and we take stock in and believe what it means. That is what James was trying to get across to religious leaders of his day, to those that claimed they were Christians.
He wrote this Epistle or letter at a time when many Christian leaders had already become lax in their responsibilities and accountability. It was a time when many in the growing early church were becoming used to the prestige and honor that was bestowed upon the leaders of the early church. Many would gather and take the best seats as well as the best choices of food as many ate gathered together. At the same time it was also at a time when many were being persecuted for their beliefs and being martyred for the same. Because of the persecution that was overtaking many, many needs were not being met.
Today, there are many who do believe in Jesus. In fact in the true Islamic faith, Jesus is recognized for being a great teacher, a messenger of God (just not the last one), but in that religion, not as the Son of God and definitely not God incarnate. Jesus was an historical figure. Anyone who was to say that the Jesus who was born to Mary, the wife of Joseph was not a real person would probably be looked upon as someone who crawled out from a cave.
But that belief alone is not enough to assure those that believe a place in the Father’s Kingdom. James boldly stated that even the demons believe. We certainly do not believe that they are assured salvation, for the scriptures are very clear about their final outcome. Their works belie the fact of a belief in His redemptive authority and power.
When we believe with total certainty the actuality of something, our actions demonstrate that belief. For example, when you walk into a darkened room in your house, you instinctively reach for the light switch with full expectation that when you flip that switch on, there will be light. You do not analyze the situation, because through what you have been taught, in conjunction with experience, you KNOW that when you flip that switch, light will shine forth. You know it, you don’t give it a seconds doubt. In fact, it is so profound a belief that when a light has blown or a circuit is broken, it actually throws you for a second or two. You know what I am talking about. Everyone experiences this normal yet simple task. You never enter that room and before you throw the switch, think to yourself, I hope the light isn’t burnt out, I hope the circuit breaker isn’t blown, what happens if this doesn’t work, etc. You have come to know that when that switch is thrown, light appears.
That in it’s simplest form is what James is talking about. If you let doubts pervade your thoughts your actions would be frozen and you would never even consider throwing that switch. You couldn’t will the light to come on as if by some magic formula. Just knowing how the circuits work that allow the electricity to the bulb wouldn’t be enough to activate the light. Speaking to the room or switch or light source wouldn’t accomplish anything; you had to do something to make it all come about. So it is with our faith, our belief.
When we have come to the point, through teaching in conjunction with experience, that it is no longer just a matter of believing something, but it has matured to the point of KNOWING something, our faith is acted upon. You no longer analyze your circumstances; you don’t stop and think, “I believe this way so I must do this thing,” rather you just do and your life demonstrates by action what it is you do believe. Anyone who spends anytime around you will know what you believe. Your actions DO speak louder than your words!
In Christian circles today, we have relegated speaking to a high art form. Hey listen, I’m a preacher, I know, at least to some degree, what it takes to captivate or hold a crowd. But, in the process of relying so much on speech, we have forgotten the importance and overall necessity of actions.
James says it well in verses 15 through 17 of the same chapter, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ’ “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,”’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
“Go in peace, be warmed and filled!” That is almost like reciting a magic formula or a spell. The words are there, but there is no substance. And, this is one instance where the saying, “it’s the thought that counts,” has absolutely no value. Faith or belief, like so many other Godly attributes demands action for it to be what it is claimed to be, and to the world at large, actions do speak louder than words.
Let’s take this one step further. What I am about to say next may cause a bit of controversy; my intent is not to do that but to help illuminate the Scriptures to your spirit. Are you relying on a few words or phrases that you may have once said, to secure your place in heaven? Are you believing that those “magical” words alone opened the doors to an eternity of bliss? Or, was the commitment you made at the time you knelt before the Savior enough to allow Him to change you into a totally different person? If someone who never knew you were to spend a day with you, would they see a unique individual, or just one who talks about high and mighty things? Would that person know what you believe by spending time with you in silence?
James, Peter, Paul, and John, as well as all the other disciples who walked and talked with Jesus didn’t just believe in what He said. Yes, granted, it started out as belief, but it soon became solid knowledge, and that is what has made their testimonies so dynamic, so alive with power and authority. As we mature, and yes, we all mature at different rates, we must go beyond just believing, we must go beyond just the sayings, we must come into the knowing or the knowledge. That knowing, or knowledge becomes a definite certainty, and it is that very knowledge that makes us act the way we act. The more we know, truly know, the more we act in that knowledge.
Paul said it this way, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping (actions) of the saints for the work (actions) of service, to the building up (actions) of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”–Ephesians 4:11-13 (bold emphasis mine).
That is why we preach and teach and exhort and prophecy to all and any who would listen. We must equip the saints so that we all can do the work. So that we all can act in their lives. We serve one another. We serve those that are less fortunate. We do so out of love, which requires us to act. Our service to one another actually builds, strengthens, fortifies the Body of Christ. The reason? So that we all, meaning not one left behind, we all attain a oneness of faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ and we come to the knowledge (full certainty, beyond doubt) of Him. That knowledge is not a head knowledge of some historical person, but rather the intimate heart knowledge that goes with a personal, in depth relationship; that’s called intimacy. That takes action. I know that is what the Body of Christ, the Bride is to be. An intimate, living, powerful and dynamic force that is preparing for the day of the coming Bridegroom. Just talk? Not in my life! Hopefully, not in your life either.
So, let’s not just only talk about it anymore, talk is fine to encourage one another, and it can be a great service in edifying or uplifting one, but let’s transform that talk and GET to work! How? By using the very gifts and the desires to serve that the Holy Spirit has placed into each of the Father’s children, the disciples who don’t just say, they follow after Christ Jesus, but the ones who truly do!
God bless you all so very sincerely!!