Faith is not Idle. Faith Works

A few years ago I taught Naomi’s 5th and 6th grade Bible class how to chain reference their Bibles to give Bible studies. Naomi loved the Bible study on salvation so much, she immediately shared that Bible study with her family that evening. Naomi did not have an idle faith. She had a faith that worked, and it worked by love.

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:24 NKJV

Are we saved by our faith or by our works?

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6 NKJV

We are not saved by works but by a faith that does work. This faith does not work by a hope of reward or fear of punishment. This faith works by love.

In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus gives us an illustration of the judgment. Notice what Jesus tells those who are saved.

 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Matthew 25:34-36 NKJV

Jesus does not tell those who are saved, “You only believed, come on in.” Remember James tells us even the demons believe and tremble. Jesus is telling those who are saved to enter His kingdom because they had works of love that came from a faith, but it was not an idle faith. They have a faith that works by love. Their works of love and compassion are the evidence and fruit of their faith.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:14-18 NKJV

In the illustration of the judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus does not condone an idle faith. He condones a faith that works. Also notice He does not condone the righteous based on what they believed. He condones their behavior. They are judged by how they treated others and not on their profession and beliefs. Remember the Good Samaritan may have had his theology all muddled but he had a loving heart. Also the Good Samaritan was living up to the light that he had. A few years ago someone told me it did not matter if they kept the Sabbath or not because they helped the poor. They thought my church was being legalistic by keeping the Sabbath, but this person was being just as legalistic by helping the poor, because they were doing it with an attitude of keeping score and comparing themselves to my church instead of doing it out of love. Remember it’s a faith that works by love and not a hope of reward or fear of punishment, and certainly not working to compare ourselves with others.

We are not saved by an idle faith. We are not saved by idle beliefs. We also are not saved by works that produce faith. We are saved by a faith that produces works of love and obeys the commandments out of love.

 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. ….Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:12,14.

We are saved by grace, through faith. In the judgment our works are the evidence of that grace and faith that saves us. In the judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus does not separate the sheep from the goats based on what they believed. He separates them based on how they treated others. The saved will have a faith that works by love.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Mysticism and Calling on the Name of the Lord

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13 NKJV

A while back I was having a group Bible study about the Sabbath. During the study I was surprised when an Adventist friend told the group and me, “It does not matter if we keep the Sabbath anymore. Romans 10:13 says if we call upon the name of the Lord we will be saved. We don’t have to worry about obedience anymore. All we have to do is call upon the name of the Lord and we will be saved.”  

I shared with my friend and the group that being saved means being saved from disobedience. 

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience… Romans 1:5 NKJV

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. Hebrews 5:9 NKJV

who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NKJV

After all, in order for Jesus to be called our Savior He has to actually save us from something. He saves us from disobedience. 

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, Ephesians 2:1-2 NKJV

I also shared with my friend that there is no mystical magic in just saying the name of the Lord. Calling Jesus Lord does no good unless you genuinely make Jesus the Lord of your life. Jesus talks about a group of people who called Him Lord, but never actually obeyed Him. Therefore He was not really their Lord. Saying, “Lord, Lord” is not a magic word or some mystical chant. Jesus describes the group who seemed to be using the name Lord as though it was some form of mysticism. I think the New Living Translation makes it clear. 

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-27 NLT

Calling on the name of the Lord does no good unless we surrender our hearts in loving obedience to Jesus and actually make Him Lord of our lives. After talking about those who use the name Lord in vain, Jesus describes a group of people like the ones Paul later wrote about, when Paul wrote,

“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22 NKJV.

Here is how Jesus describes those who really  call on His name out of a pure, genuine heart.

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:24-27 NLT 

Those who call on the name of the Lord as if the name “Lord” was mystical will be lost. Those who call on the name of the Lord out of a pure heart, and genuinely Make Him Lord will be saved from disobedience. They will make Jesus the Lord of their life and enjoy the fruits of obedience. They will enjoy full salvation. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.