The Nature Of Saving Faith

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Turn with me in your Bibles to James chapter 2.

Someone asked the question,

Why is Church Attendance – Gathering with other Christians – important? Is it important?”

If you view Christian salvation as just being saved from hell and receiving the promise of Heaven – if that’s all “being saved” is – then Church attendance is NOT important. After all, once you purchase and receive a ticket from a travel agent, you don’t need to go back to the travel agent. You’ve got what you came for. So if salvation is like getting a ticket to Heaven from Jesus, Incorporated – and if the Church is where you purchase that ticket – then there’s no need to go back to Church. Your ticket’s been paid for. Transaction complete. You don’t need to even look at this Bible anymore. After all, it’s just a brochure about a place you’ve reserved to be. Right?

That’s how many people look at Christianity. You’ve bought a ticket on the “Good Old Gospel Ship”:

I’m a gonna take a trip,
In that good old Gospel Ship,
I’m a going far beyond the sky.
I’m gonna shout and sing,
Till all of Heaven rings,
When I bid this old world goodbye.

Since the Gospel is only about going to Heaven, let’s close up shop and get to the fried chicken! That’s how many believe. Yet this is a false gospel. The Apostle Paul severely condemned those who perverted the Gospel of Christ. He said:

Galatians 1:8-9 (ESV) even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Those are very strong words. So what was the Gospel that Paul preached? In that same chapter I just quoted the Apostle said:

Galatians 1:3-5 (ESV) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus came not just to get us into Heaven, but to deliver us from the present evil age. The Christian is a person who has been:

Colossians 1:13-14 (NASB1995) … rescued … from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of {God’s} beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We are members of Christ’s Kingdom. We who are saved by the Grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8) no longer belong to this world. We are a Kingdom People – and Jesus is our King. The day you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10) you were called out of darkness and into God’s marvelous light. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:8 (ESV) for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

James was martyred for his faith and for preaching Jesus. James was not only the stepbrother of Jesus, but he was the first Pastor of the Church in Jerusalem. The reason we come together as Christians is so we can mature as Christians, and walk in a way that is pleasing to our God. We learn from the Book, just as the early Church did. The early Church

Acts 2:42 (ESV) … devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

It is God the Father’s intent that every child of God by faith in Christ be like Jesus. We are challenged to:

Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV) … be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

James focuses on the output of the Christian life. If you are a Christian, you should in some way look like Christ. Your behavior should be increasingly Christ honoring. Are you at James chapter 2? We read:

James 2:17-20 … Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Saving Faith effects the TREE of your life

A genuine saving faith will always produce the fruit of righteousness, not of darkness. Our Lord Jesus said:

Luke 6:43-45 For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Those who are saved by the Grace of God are “good trees”. The saved want to produce good fruit, fruit honoring to God. The saved want to follow Jesus. Jesus said, Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). Those who are saved, are saved out of darkness and evil. Those who are saved, are saved to both follow and be like the Lord. Jesus told the religious Pharisees:

Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV) “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

The Pharisees were religious, but unsaved, for they rejected Jesus Christ. They followed the portions of the Law of God that suited them, but ignored the whole of the Law. Why? Because their hearts were corrupt. They were in the darkness of sin, bound to it, enslaved to it. How do you make the tree good and its fruit good? We cannot do it in our own strength.

We must come to Christ, broken as we are, and give our lives to Him. When we give our lives to Him, He gives His life to us. God comes to indwell us. God’s Word becomes our textbook, and we students of Christ.

James 2:17 … Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Genuine saving faith will always effect the output of the life. What does saving faith do?

Saving faith effects the TONGUE in your head

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

James says that if we are genuinely believers, then our tongue will be bridled. We have all made remarks that we wish we could take back. The difference between a Christian and a lost person is that the Christian will feel discomfort and guilt and the conviction of God the Holy Spirit when we misspeak. The Psalmist prayed:

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

This actually happens when you are saved. When a person receives Christ as Lord and Savior, Jesus sends the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, into our lives (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Titus 3:5; 2 Peter 1:4). The Spirit encourages us to …

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Word Study: If a person has a tongue that is perpetually uncontrolled, then this man’s religion is VAIN. That word translated VAIN is the Greek μάταιος mátaios, (pronounced mat’-ah-yos), which means “useless, of no purpose or good”.

Your tongue was given you so that you can TASTE good food, and TALK good and truthful words.

Our standard is to be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Your words have the power to build up or destroy. Use your words in a way that honors Jesus Christ our Lord. In Chapter 3 James says:

James 3:3-8 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

When James says, the tongue can no man tame, he is talking of the tongue of the unsaved person. The lost use their tongues and lips to speak darkness. But the saved are to speak the Word of God and the Light of God. A lost person is rarely concerned about their tongue and its output. The saved are. James says:

James 3:10-12 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

If you are saved by Grace, born again of the Spirit, you are called to be “wells of living water”. Remember what Jesus said?

John 7:38-39 (ESV) Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

An unconverted mouth is a sure sign of a useless faith.

Saving faith effects your TREATMENT of others

James tell us:

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

What is respect of persons”? It is when we treat one person because of their

Color
Nationality
Fame or Popularity
Financial Status
Position in the Community

better than we treat another. James gives us an illustration:

James 2:2-4 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

James starts with if there come unto your assembly. When believers are gathered together in συναγωγή synagōgē or synagogue, and a stranger comes in, we are not to value that person higher because they dress better, or have a better economic status. Every life is valuable to God. We are not to devalue a person who is well off, but we are not to devalue another person who is not well off. To see someone shabbily dressed – perhaps a homeless person – and to tell them Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool is an affront to God. Jesus Christ died for the whole world. Jesus gave His life so that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Every life is valuable. Every life is precious. James quotes the Royal Law we as Christians are under:

James 2:8-9 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

The Christian is very much under the Law of Love. Jesus told us that the Great Commandment is:

Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

These are the twin pillars of the Christian faith. Love God with your all. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Treat people as valuable, for they are valuable. After all, Jesus died for all:

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 (ESV) For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Every life has value. To put someone down under your footstool because they are poor is the action of a lost person. When our Lord Jesus taught on the Doctrine of Hell, what image did He give us?:

Luke 16:19-23 (ESV) There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.[f] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

Did the rich man go to hell because he was rich? Absolutely not. He went to hell for devaluing Lazarus, a human being created by God, a human being for whom Jesus died. Every life is precious, for every person is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Jesus often emphasized this by using Samaritans in His parables, for the Jews hated the Samaritans. My Beloved,

Romans 2:11 there is no respect of persons with God.

When God caused Peter to go to the Gentile Centurion named Cornelius, that Apostle said:

Acts 10:34-35 … Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.

There is no room for racism and hatred in the Christian faith. We are saved so we can share the Gospel with every person, regardless as to their person.

We have seen that:

Saving Faith effects the TREE of your life.
Saving faith effects the TONGUE in your head.
Saving faith effects your TREATMENT of others.

Now we see that

Saving Faith Effects That Which You TREASURE

James 2:20-24 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

In order to explain what saving faith is, James goes to an illustration that will be understood by everyone. He speaks of Abraham our father. The Prophet Abraham is known and studied by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Though each of these faiths see Abraham differently, he is nonetheless revered by all three.

Why is Abraham important in the study of saving faith. Abraham was childless, married to a woman incapable of giving him a child. Though Abraham was well to do, Abraham’s greatest desire was to have a child. God came to Abraham one day and promised him:

Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV) … Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

This childless man was promised that – if he followed God – then God would make of you a great nation. That means that Abraham would have to have at least ONE CHILD to call his own. So Abraham began to follow God. He focused his heart on following God. God was not incidental to Abraham’s life.

James 2:23 … Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

As Jesus said to us all, If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Abraham loved God. He followed God, though often, as an imperfect person, he made errors and sinned. Yet he followed God. And though Abraham had to wait until he was 100 years old (Genesis 21:5). Abraham treasured Isaac his son. After all, he had waited most of his life for that child. Then one day God came to Abraham and told him:

Genesis 22:2 (ESV) … Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.

Abraham is given a choice. Abraham, Who do you love more? Is Isaac your treasure, or is God your Treasure? Abraham didn’t question God. The next morning he woke up early, “saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac” (Genesis 22:3). Abraham didn’t ask God any questions. He took his son to a mountain where God led him, and laid his son down to sacrifice on the altar.

Needless to say, God stopped Abraham before he killed Isaac on that altar. Why did God do this? To show us all that our greatest Treasure – if we are saved by faith in Christ – should be our God. When God settled Israel in the Promised Land, all of the tribes of Israel were given a portion of land. All the tribes, that is, except for Levi. God said of Levi:

Deuteronomy 10:9 (ESV) … Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The Lord is his inheritance

The Psalmist said,

Psalm 73:26 (ESV) My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Abraham’s portion, his greatest Treasure, was the relationship he had with God by faith. When God told Abraham to offer up Isaac, Abraham remembered the promise that God made,

Hebrews 11:18 (ESV) Through Isaac shall your offspring be named

Abraham believed that – even if he killed Isaac as God asked, that God would be able to raise Isaac from the grave (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham trusted God. Abraham treasured God. God was where his greatest Treasure was.

What do YOU treasure? Are the things of this life your treasures? Jesus said:

Matthew 6:20-21 (ESV) … lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If your Treasure is God, if you are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, then you will live your lives to please Him. Are you saved? If you are, you are members of His KINGdom. My prayer is that each of you insure through God’s Word that God is your portion, and you are His. May God the Holy Spirit drive this Word deeply into your hearts. For the glory of God. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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