The book of James is a powerful book. It’s not an easy book for a Christian to swallow if a Christian will be honest with themselves, but as I dive into it and begin to truly love it, I’m seeing how powerful it can be. As Beth Moore describes in her study James: Mercy Triumphs the book can be summed up in two simple (yet complex) words. LIVE IT! As you read through the hard-to-swallow book, you notice that theme with great conviction. “Faith without works is dead” “When you ask, don’t doubt”, “Religion is worthless if you can’t rein in your tongue”, “if your wise, show me with your deeds”, “Submit to God, resist the devil”, “Troubled? Pray! Happy? Sing! Sick? Be healed!” All action themes found in James. Are you saved? Then LIVE IT!
Can we judge others enough to gain our salvation? Can we volunteer for kids church or the annual church picnic to earn our salvation? Can I follow my wife to church enough Sundays to receive my certificate of salvation? My works will get me salvation, right? 100% wrong. Your salvation is given to you by grace… Praise God, since we could never come close to earning a gift that huge! But once we receive that gift, we must live it out. If not, have you even accepted it? According to James, no. Salvation is not something you say… its something you DO! Believing is not a phrase, but an action. Confessing is more than just saying a few words, it’s a life’s choice. To be saved is a lifestyle.
I recently had a conversation with a christian friend about when a person should speak up when another’s salvation is at risk. When we notice that a person is living a life of words, but not deeds.
How does a person who claims to do no wrong, yet easily sees wrong in others live out their salvation? When a person’s tone indicates that they are obviously on a “higher level” than those around them, does their faith match their deeds?
How does a spouse demonstrate their faith when the only time they attend church is when their counterpart nags them enough to go?
What are the evidences of a faith that does nothing more than agree with the pastor’s sermons on a Sunday morning?
How can one know a person is a Christ follower when their mouth is full of negative comments and gossip?
What shows God you believe in Him when your lifestyle does not line up with a single truth in the Bible?
I cry to think I may be guilty of one or more of the scenarios above. I am heartbroken to confess I’ve failed to show my salvation in certain areas of my life.
Another nugget of truth Beth Moore shared with us was that the Word of God is inerrant. It does NOT contradict (even if you think you’ve stumped the scholars and found the contradiction… fact is, you’ve misunderstood one, or both, scriptures). It works as a whole! So if you learn that by grace we’ve received our salvation… then you learn that faith without works is dead… then you must learn how they go together. We receive by grace, we act it out by deeds… How? Read the rest of the Bible and soak it in!
I don’t dare decide who is saved (accepted Jesus, going to heaven, spending eternity with God). I don’t pretend to know what you pray when your alone with God in prayer. I don’t act as if I know what you are working on in your walk with God. I am just urging you, encouraging you, asking you, praying for you to seek God, ask Him how you may act out this gift He’s given. What can you do to give God praise with your life today. How can you put more verb (an action word) into your salvation.
Here’s a place to start…
1Corinthians 13:1-3, 13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.