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"Faith That Works"

Over the past few weeks my messages have been based on the New Testament book of James. James might be subtitled: “Faith that Works!” Because it seems that James addresses persons who claim to be “Christians,” but whose lives don’t show that they are. “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (James 2.14). This is how James addressed those whose faith was not showing forth any good fruits. Other themes in the book of James includes: drawing near to God, dealing with trials and difficulties, controlling our speech, wisdom, the sin of favoritism, wealth vs poverty...and more. All of these themes deal with the need to prove our faith by actions, not just speech. James was written likely in early years of the Christian faith – before Paul met with church leaders in Jerusalem (Acts 15). This is thought to have happened around AD 50. It was written to encourage Jewish Christians who were scattered about the Roman empire and elsewhere due to hardships, and due to intolerance of Jews, and of Romans, in Jerusalem.

The book of James is just another example of how the Bible is still relevant in our lives today. When James encourages listening first, or not showing favoritism we all know first-hand that assumptions lead to misinformation. We have all been at the losing end of an experience where someone was “favored” over us because of our wealth, status, physical stature, relationships, etc. I believe that Jesus came to the earth to save is by his grace. His death on the cross was to take on himself the punishment for my sins, and yours. Thus, I am saved by what Jesus did for me, not for the good things I have done, or will do. “It is by grace that you are saved, by faith,” says Ephesians 2. James does not deny this truth but he does challenge those who say they believe– but their lives are not changed for better because of their faith. Our world so often demands proof. Medicines are scrutinized by the FDA to prove that they do what they claim to do. Airplanes have been grounded until they can prove that they are safe for the public to travel in. And, in recent news, a company was discovered to have falsely borrowed and misused funds far in excess of what the company is worth. Trust with financial affairs is critical to us. Our world needs Jesus! They need His salvation! They need the hope He brings! They need to know there is a reason for living, and that the church is not just filled with superstition. And you and I represent Jesus to our world. So what does the world see, when they look at Christians...or the church?

Genuine faith will inevitably lead to good deeds. This is the central theme of James’s letter. So if we are truly Jesus’ disciples then we will “watch our words.” “We will learn to handle the trials of life with joy (or at least with the hope that Jesus will work through them). When we see favoritism– especially in the church- against persons of a different culture, or language, or skin color, or social status we will learn to speak up and confront injustice. Faith will show itself in practical ways. Certainly there are doctrines that we need to stand firm on. There are beliefs that cannot be compromised. But, neither can we ignore Jesus’ example. He healed poor, and rich. He loved those who were sick, and fed the multitude because he had compassion. If we are Jesus’ followers then it must show somehow or in some way. So how does your faith show itself? Perhaps you tell others about him whenever you get the chance? Perhaps you give your money? Perhaps there are people that you are dedicated to caring for (foster children, or persons of a different culture, or those who are poor)? Perhaps you help build homes, or go on mission trips? Perhaps you give your time to teach children about Jesus? Perhaps you visit in the prisons, or take meals to neighbors who are hurting? Faith that works, shows itself in ways that can be seen. Our works, however, are not for us to take pride in, or to boast about. Our works are done as a way to glorify our gracious Savior, and to say “thank you” to Him. Jesus said that our good works need to be done in secret. “Don’t let your left hand know what the right hand is doing.” So as we continue on in our study of the book of James, I hope it will challenge you as it does me. How am I showing my love for Jesus, in outward and practical ways? How is the Holy Spirit prompting you to do something– no matter how small? God bless you as you listen, and serve.

 

 

 

Our Service is a blend of traditional and contemporary. We sing traditional hymns and worship choruses. A message based on readings from the Bible is also shared each week.

SUNDAY WORSHIP: 9:30AM
SUNDAY SCHOOL: 10:45AM

Contact Information...

First Baptist Church of Rochester
1000 Main Street
Rochester, Indiana 46975
574-223-3613
FBC46975.ORG