Summary: Abraham responded to God’s Word; rebuked the world; and received God’s righteousness.
[The outline was borrowed from John MacArthur’s Hebrews commentary.]
A business man well known for his ruthlessness once announced to writer Mark Twain, “Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top.” “I have a better idea,” replied Twain. “You could stay in Boston and keep them” [SermonIllustrations.com (Faith and Works)].
James 2:14-20, The Message:
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed is rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do for them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
James 2:20—“Faith without works is dead.”
Many people today have the wrong idea that they can add Christ to their lives without subtracting sin.
Salvation does not only involve a CHANGE IN BELIEF; it also involves a CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR.
If you really believe in God, there will be evidence of it in the way you live, in the things you say, and in the things you do.
John MacArthur writes,
Satan has continually tried to confused and mislead people, including God’s people, about faith and works. If possible, he will convince a person that he can be saved by doing certain good works. If this strategy works, the person will be lost to God. If a person trusts in God and is saved, Satan then tries to convince him of one of two extremes—that he must do good works to keep his salvation (legalism) or that, now that he is saved by faith, he can forget about good works (license). From Genesis to Revelation, however, the Bible is clear that a person is saved only by faith, and that when he is saved, good works should follow as a result [The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, pp. 317-318].
Read through Hebrews 11 and you will see that every one of heaven’s heroes demonstrated their faith by their works.
ABEL had faith. How did he show it? BY PRESENTING TO GOD THE PROPER SACRIFICE.
ENOCH had faith. How did he show it? BY WALKING WITH GOD.
And NOAH had faith. How did he show it? BY PREPARING THE ARK.