Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bible Nuggets 4 - Works without Faith

Today's question is so preposterous that my head almost popped off!  Let's see if you can see what's wrong with this question before you read my response...

Question:  Pastor Keith, I believe that works are SO ESSENTIAL to our walk with Christ that I can't think about anything else.  All I want to do is feed the hungry, give a cool drink of water to anyone who is thirsty, clothe the poor, visit those in prison, tend to widows, fight for social justice, and pretty much just get involved and do anything I can to help those who are so marginalized that I need to do something or I tend to lose sleep over it!  What more can I do?

Answer: Whew.....

I want to ask anyone reading this a question....
Do you see the problem with this question yet?

"I believe"
"I can't"
"I want"
"I can"
"I need"
"I tend"
"I do"

Like so many other "christians" I meet from day to day, the person asking this question has a case of what I like to call "the me-me's".  The me-me's is a disease that many false, lost or confused christians suffer from that is so debilitating, that indeed, as you can see from their question, that this person is "losing sleep"!

So what's wrong with their question?  If you really don't know yet, I'm going to tell you now, but please keep something in mind.  When Jesus discusses this EXACT problem in Scripture, you can FEEL His consternation.  The people He was speaking to just couldn't wrap their minds around something that was so simple.  I'll give you the Scripture and then I'll explain it.

John 5:39-47 - You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you --- Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?

Jesus says, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me".  What that means, is you read the Bible, looking for WHAT YOU CAN DO, but Jesus is saying "STOP: YOU'RE MISSING THE POINT!  THAT IS NOT WHAT THE BIBLE IS FOR!  THE BIBLE IS THE LIVING WORD THAT TESTIFIES THAT I AM GOD!"

Jesus goes on to say, "But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."  What a profound statement!  Jesus is saying, "YOU ARE SO BUSY WORRYING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE GOING TO MISS OUT ON HEAVEN!"

Jesus continues, "I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?"  What Jesus is saying here is, "YOU CAN'T GIVE ME HONOR, HONOR COMES FROM GOD.  I KNOW YOU INSIDE AND OUT, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE LOVE OF GOD IN YOU.  I CAME IN MY FATHERS NAME AND INSTEAD OF READING MY WORDS AND REALIZING WHAT THEY ARE FOR, YOU INTERNALIZE THEM, MAKE THEM ABOUT YOURSELF AND WOULD SOONER GIVE HONOR AMONGST YOURSELVES IN WHAT THINGS YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH WITHOUT ME."

Jesus ends with a very specific slap in the face to the Jews who are listening to them by saying, "Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you --- Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"  What Jesus is saying here is, "DON'T WORRY, I'M NOT GOING TO GET YOU INTO TROUBLE IN HEAVEN.  YOU FOREVER SAY HOW MUCH YOU TRUST WHAT MOSES HAD TO SAY, BUT MOSES LOVED ME, KNEW ME & WROTE ABOUT ME.  IF YOU WON'T BELIEVE HIS WORDS, HOW WILL YOU EVER BELIEVE MINE?

I'm writing in caps, because let's face it, Jesus was NOT being polite, He wasn't being diplomatic and He wasn't trying to be politically correct.  Jesus was knee deep in the muck, trying His level best to get His point across to people who just didn't get it.  They CLAIMED TO get it, but they didn't.

Another piece of Scripture we can turn to, in order to see that works are NOT the single most important part of your existence on Earth can be found in Paul's writings...

Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

God is letting us know in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that we are saved BECAUSE OF OUR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST!  That we play NO PART in our salvation, IT IS A GIFT OF GOD!

Wait a minute Pastor Keith.... Are you saying I shouldn't be feeding the hungry, giving a cool drink of water to anyone who is thirsty, clothing the poor, visit those who are in prison, tend to the widows, fight for social justice, and pretty much just get involved and do anything I can to help those who are so marginalized?  NO.  That is NOT what I'm saying.

Listen, except for the whole social justice thing (which is NOT Biblical), all of those things are fine to do..... AS LONG AS YOU ARE BEING LEAD BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO DO THEM.  Believe me when I tell you that THE BIBLE IS NOT A BOOK FOR YOU TO USE AS A CHECKLIST OF HOW TO BE IN GODS GOOD GRACES.  Again, Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me."  Some people say that the Bible is confusing, but I will tell you that that small sentence is so clear and so easy to understand, that you can not misunderstand it once you read it.  99% of the things that you believe are CALLS TO GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING, are in fact FIGURES OF SPEECH, just things that God used to try to get points across to us.  The Bible is full of ANALOGIES, SIMILES, METAPHORS, METONOMYS, SYNECDOCHES, PERSONIFICATIONS, IRONIES, ANTHROPOMORPHISMS, APOSTROPHES, HYPERBOLES, EUPHEMISMS, LITOTES, PLEONASMS, REPETITIONS, CLIMAXES, ELLIPSISES, ZEUGMAS, APOSIOPESIS, PARABLES, ALLEGORIES, RIDDLES, FABLES, SYMBOLS, TYPES, NARRATIVES, PARALLELISM, POETRY, ORATORY - And many more types of figures of speech!  No, I don't expect you to go out and become a PhD in English Literature in order to learn all of the different types of figures of speech, but please try to understand that sometimes things are more than they seem.  Just like you thinking that Jesus is calling all of Christianity to feed the hungry, when what He's really doing, is trying to teach you something more about HIM.

Matthew 4:4 - But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "

Instead of being so concerned about "what you can do", you should be more concerned about developing intimacy with God, Discipleship or even your prayer life.  Believe me when I tell you that a broken or non-existent prayer life or a lack of intimacy is a much, much bigger problem than clothing the poor.

James the brother of Jesus wrote:

James 2:26 - For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

It's much easier for many to call out that verse than to ALSO understand that their works without GOD is also dead.

Comments?
Questions?
Discussion?

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