Summary: God worked FOR us in Salvation. God works IN us in Sanctification. God works THRU us in Service.
Saved to Serve [Not to Sit, Soak, & Sour]
How can we have a meal ministry? Children's ministry? Nice big building? Sound, ushers, nursery? Thru the service of the body of believers! How will we go forward with other needed ministries in the future? Same way!
God worked FOR us in Salvation.
God works IN us in Sanctification.
God works THRU us in Service.
He works on us in his workshop 'unto good works.'
We are saved by faith, not by works, but a real faith really does work. Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.
Abraham was saved by what? Faith! Romans 4 says,
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
But listen to James,
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Back to Paul,
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ...
Back to James,
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
How can we reconcile this seemingly glaring contradictions?
We are seeing two sides of the same coin...the same great truth. It is like shining on the same object from two different directions/angles.
Paul is fighting against and condemning self righteousness, which was the problem for his readers. James is condemning those who make profession without practice/possession.
Paul is telling us how to be justified before God, yet James is telling us how to express/prove our salvation before men.
Paul refutes doing works with a view to salvation. James is talking about works that spring out of salvation.
Paul downplays works to win God's favor. James uplifts doing works BECAUSE OF God's favor.
Put both together and you get this: Don't depend upon a salvation experience to take you to heaven someday if it doesn't lead you to go to work for God right now!
You know me. There's no bigger believer in grace than I. That's because grace is what works! Jesus said when you get the real thing you will bring forth fruit.
Martin Luther was big on faith, and small on works, and wanted to take James out of the Bible! And yet he said, "True faith does works before it has time to ask if it needs to."
Faith and works are like the sun and sunlight. Faith is the source and works are its rays.
Faith and works are like sodium and chloride. Both are poisonous when taken alone, but together they mix to form ordinary table salt which makes everything better!
Jesus said in Mt. 5 to let your light shine in such a way that men will see your good works and give God the glory, not you.
What is wrong with a faith that doesn't lead to works?
1. It's deceiving.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
If you aren't producing fruit, consider that you might be just kidding yourself.
"Are you saved?" "Yes!" "How do you know?" "Because when I was 13..." How about today! Tell me how you know you are saved today! What are the current evidences? It's not just head knowledge, but heart knowledge.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Frightening verse! You can think you are saved but really be lost! Perhaps the only thing worse than going to hell is going there surprised.
ill.--skeptic said to a pastor, "The thief on the cross never did good works, praying, giving, serving, being baptized." Pastor replied, "But he is different from you. He was dying in his faith and you are dead in yours!"
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
A faith that doesn't work is a deceiving faith.
2. It's the devil's faith.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Surely you want your faith to exceed the faith of the devil. And yet Jesus compares the faith of some to exactly that.
In Matthew 8 a demon screamed at Jesus, calling Him, 'thou Son of God.' He believed in Him without being saved.
In Acts 16 a demon screamed at Paul and Silas, referring to their Most High God that showeth the way of salvation. This demon understood the plan of salvation but didn't believe upon it.