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Living by Faith is Powerful

 

James 2:14-26

 

Jim Davis

 

Do we keep God at a safe distance, or is his presence in our lives up close and personal. The only way for you to have an up close and personal relationship with God is by allowing God to live through you. The outstanding Biblical characters became outstanding because they allowed God to express himself through their lives. When we read Hebrews chapter eleven we find ourselves surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Each of them became a credible witness because they allowed God to express himself through their lives.

 

Great names are mentioned in Hebrews 11. Abel, Noah, Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, then there are those names we hardly remember. Names such as Rahab the harlot, Jephthah, Samson. The unique feature of each life mention in the Hall of Faith is that each person allowed God to live through them. Faith is about allowing God to live through us. Through a each oneís personal faith God was able to conquer kingdoms, administer his justice, shut the mouths of lions, and quench the furious onslaughts of Satan.

 

Each of these individuals paid a price to allow God to reign through them. Many were tortured, faced jeers and flogging, while others were chained in prison. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreatedóthe world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

 

However, God brought the kingdom of his Son into existence through them so that he could bless us. Today God wishes to bring his kingdom into existence in our communities through his will coming to life in us. But more than this, God wants you to become a witness to his power working in you to enable those you meet to see his glory shine through you.

 

Discovering The Power of Salvation

 

The gospel only becomes Godís power to save us when it is lived out in our lives. Paul writes, ďI am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ĎThe righteous will live by faithí" (Romans 1:16-17 NIV).

 

The gospel on has power to salvage our lives when we believe. When we begin to live by faith in God we experience his power. When our righteousness is motivated by our faith in God we experience the power of God.

 

Psalms 37:39-40

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;

he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;

he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,

because they take refuge in him. NIV

 

Someone said something to me a few months ago that made an indelible impression upon me. The person said, ďI donít know why I am going to church, God isnít doing anything for me.Ē  The person felt as if life was going bad for them. This person was experiencing negative circumstances. However, I wanted to say, ďYou will have to start doing the will of God before you experience his presence and power in your life.Ē I wasnít free to respond with that answer because I would have driven them away. But what I was thinking was true; it is still true about that personís life.

 

The power of God for salvaging our lives can only be realized as our lives are moved to do his will.

 

I have a diet book at home I truly love. You can eat anything you want. Thereís only one catch: you can only eat so many calories each day. Once I lost down to 180 lbs. eating anything I wanted, but I watched my calories. You can tell by looking at me that I have apparently lost the calorie book. I asked my wife if she knew where it was, she said she didnít know, but she would try to find it for me.

 

The diet book empowers me to take control of my weight, but Godís book is much different. The Bible empowers God to take control of my life. The diet book offers no power to lose weight for those who refuse to follow itóneither does God offer his power if we refuse to follow his book. I wonder if this is what we are doing with the Bible. It has the answers, God offers us his power, but we donít follow.

 

Personal Knowledge of Godís Will Essential

 

God cannot begin living through us until we have a personal knowledge of his will for our lives. I am beginning to wonder if it is possible that some of us have knowledge of Godís word without a personal knowledge of his will for our lives. Godís word is designed to become his living word through each of our lives. When we fail to allow God to bring his word to life in us we end up with knowledge of the word without a true knowledge of his will for practical living. Knowledge of Godís word without application leaves us proclaiming a form of godliness but denying the power of God.

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5

3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. NIV

 

Often Bible classes are designed to impart knowledge of Godís word without imparting the will of God. We formulate church doctrines. We seek to imitate what the greats of the past did, but our task is to become what they became. The only way this can happen is by allowing Godís will to reign in our lives.

 

We must study the Bible with an understanding of the context of scripture. The best way to understand the Bible in its context is to seek an understanding of the problems of the people to whom it is written. In my Bible study I realize that an understanding of the problems first century Christians were facing is the key to understanding the message of the Scripture. The writing of the Scripture arose from the context of their lives. This is true throughout the Bible. In essence their lives became the context of Scripture.

 

What Jesus did became the substance of his teaching. The doctrine Jesus formulated rose from his personal effort to live out the will of God. When Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, he wrote about all Jesus began to do and teach. He didnít write about what Jesus taught and did, but he wrote about what he did and taught. The order is important. What he did was the will of God. Jesus said, ďMy meat is to do the will of the Father who sent me.Ē Therefore his teaching began with what he began to doóit began with doing the will of the Father. The gospel accounts are about the LIFE of Christ. His life became the substance of his teaching.

 

The book of Acts is about the ACTIONS of the first century apostles. Likewise Luke is writing about what the apostles didó the apostlesí actions became the living word of God. What they did was the will of God. We can read the book of Acts today or any part of the Bible, but it will never become Godís will for us or impact our world until we start allowing the precepts found in their lives become the precepts we live out in our lives.

 

When we allow Godís word to activate our lives our teaching will arise from our personal experience of God and only then will Godís power be displayed in our lives.

 

Hebrews 4:12-13

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. NIV

 

Godís word can never really become powerful until we allow it to become active in our lives. The Hebrew writer says the Word of God is living and active, but we will not experience its power until it begins to live and becomes active in our lives. Without living it, it simply remains dead letter. The word of God is the seed of the kingdom, but the word will never become effective in getting Godís will done in our lives until we seek to do his will. It will remain as dormant as the seed found in the Egyptian pyramids until it is allowed to grow in our hearts.

 

The substance of what we teach must rise from our personal experience of allowing Godís word to become active in our lives. We must recognize the truth that has always been taught, but it will never become effective for our generation until our lives are moved by it.

 

John refers to Jesus as the Wordóthe Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Through Jesus the Word of God became living and active. Today the Word dwells among us as we allow Godís will to be fleshed outólived outóin our lives. The difference in the Old Testament law and the New Testament is that the New Testament was designed to be written upon our heart. The old law was written on stone.

 

The World Needs to A Living Gospel

 

True knowledge of the Gospel is proclaimed by our actions toward others.

 

Colossians 4:4-6

4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. NIV

 

A life that refuses to experience the truth lived out in the everyday existence is not a life marked by faith in God.

 

James 2:14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

 

18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."

 

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.

 

20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 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. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

 

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. NIV

 

When our lives experience Godís truth daily we become the light of the world.

 

Matthew 5:14-16

14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. NIV

 

The Lordís Supper forever holds before us the kind of life we must live. If it is divorced from having an impact on our lives it is useless.

 

1 Corinthians 11:17-22

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22 Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!

NIV

 

The Jews in the Old Testament period could not bring acceptable sacrifices to God if their lives were not pleasing to God. Their animal sacrifices had to be accompanied with sacrificial lives.

 

Hosea 8:13

3 They offer sacrifices given to me

and they eat the meat,

but the LORD is not pleased with them.

Now he will remember their wickedness

and punish their sins:

They will return to Egypt. NIV

 

Like wise we have not truly accepted the sacrifice of Christ until we live sacrificial lives.

 

Acts 2:42-47

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. NIV

 

Hebrews 10:25

25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching. NIV

 

Conclusion:

 

Baptism is not just a church doctrine, but it describes a way of living. Baptism into Christ cannot be effective until it affects the way we live. John the Baptist called those coming to be baptized a brood of vipers who needed to first bring fruit meet for repentance.

 

Mark 16:15-17

15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. NIV

 

Acts 2:38-39

38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call." NIV

 

The very essence of baptism has to do with how we choose to live.

 

Romans 6:1-7

6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

 

5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. NIV

 

Galatians 2:20

0 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

NIV

 

Want you come to Christ in baptism so that his powerful life can be resurrected in you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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