We (the whole fam) drove to a town called Chichicastenango yesterday to meet up with Dee Farney, who was here on a mission trip to work in these medical clinics in the Chichi area. It was such a joy to get to see her and have her here in our country. We stayed at a really pretty hotel and shared a balcony with Dee. We put the kiddos down and had almost 3 hours to sit and chat with her. It was such a blessing.
We did lose her for a little bit this morning that made me pray like I haven't prayed in a long time, but it all worked out. That is a story for another time.
Ok...I may get a bit preachy b/c there has been something on my mind. It is faith and works.
Just to begin: I believe that we are saved by grace through faith. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts.
I do want to talk about works a bit. I believe (and this is just my opinion based on observation and experience) that the evangelical church (in America and here in Guatemala) has taught faith alone. I don't think that you can over preach saved by grace through faith, but there is a GIANT aspect missing when we don't teach works. I mean...we are told in scripture that works are the evidence of faith.
So much stress is put on the maturity of the believer. On being a good Bible student, on growing in faith. But what is growth in a life of a believer if there are no works? I mean...what is the point in faith if it is dead?
The end result of our salvation (the progressive aspect of it) isn't a more holy, less sinful, more studious, person. It is a life of good works.
Eph2:8-10 "8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
What are the things that we think of when we look for markers in the life of what we consider a mature believer? They pray a lot, they show the fruit of the Spirit, they study their Bible and have a good understanding of the Scripture?
Why do we study the Bible? Is it simply to know God better. That is very noble, and the Bible is the best way to know God better, but is that the end result? I mean, ask yourself that questions! Why do you study the Bible? Is it to become more holy? A better person? Because it feels good? To get answers to questions in your life? To find support for your beliefs, to find hope, inspiration, encouragement? Read the following with me carefully:
2 Tim 3:16-17: "16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
We see there all of the things that reading the Bible is good for. It is a wonderful list! But what is the end result of all of those things? Is it so that the man(person) of God may only be equipped? NO! It is equipped for works! We read the scriptures and we are transformed to do GOOD WORKS!
Are you doing good works? Are you feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty? Visiting those in prison, praying with/for the sick, caring for orphans and widows? (This list is NOT exhaustive)
Imagine the life of the man who gets up in the morning, goes to work, works hard, comes home, eats dinner w/ his family, enjoys his wife and kids, watches a little TV, goes to bed, gets up early, reads the Bible and prays for a little bit, and starts all over again.
Or the life of a woman who wakes, gets her children fed, dressed, takes care of the house, cleans, does laundry, cooks, takes the kids to the park, maybe to playgroup, runs some errands and buys some groceries, feeds the family, puts the kids to bed, gets a little devotional time, goes to bed, wakes in the morning and does it all over again.
These are most noble things. These are the things of life that are necessary and good. These are things that fill our time, our minds, our calendars. It is in doing these things with holiness that teaches our children about a life with God. But is that all? I mean...where are the works?
Let me interject here that I am not God, do not want to be, and therefore have no desire to sit in judgment on anyone. I am not looking at suburban men and women and criticizing them in my heart. This is a rant not directed at anyone. These are just my thoughts on the subject.
Anyway...my challenge is this. What works are you doing? What opportunities do you have for doing good works? Is your faith limited to the walls of your home? Or maybe your church sanctuary and Sunday school class? Maybe just to your wallet? (keep the wallets open, folks! He-he!) How could you do more? Not to be saved! Not to get into heaven! But to give evidence. To put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. That is what James means when he says we are justified, not just by faith, but by works!
"14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If 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? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But 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.
19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. "
Lets all go do something.