"Are Works Necessary?" 04.14.16
“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:11-13 ESV)
Have you ever been on a rollercoaster? It can be pretty scary. My wife and I were given free tickets to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay a few months ago and we went on the Montu (I think?), sat in the front, and I was on the outside. Once the coaster had reached the top of its climb, it took a sharp right turn and then stopped – dangling me over the edge of… well nothing. Even the track was about three feet to my right and certainly appeared unreachable upon a mechanical failure. All that separated me from what felt like a 300 foot fall was a metal holster pinning me into my chair. My arms dangled in the wind, my legs were swaying in the air, and finally the coaster took off and the fun began. I definitely questioned my safety on that rollercoaster; I had to trust that the mechanics had done their job to ensure my safety. But I did trust the mechanics. You know how I know? I went back on the same rollercoaster again. My actions proved my trust.
On Sunday morning Pastor Joe asked the question, “Are works necessary?” And while the short easy answer is “no”, there is more to this question than meets the eye. As Joe took us on a journey through James chapter 1, he pointed out that the word of God is one of the stabilizers given to us by God so that we are not like a ship tossed about by the waves. As the word works in our lives, we are passive (quiet listeners), but it also works in us to make us active (doers of the word). Hebrews 4 (above) says that the word of God is “living and active,” it is having its way in us! If that’s the case, and the word is working to make us active participants in the work of God, then what might it mean if we have no works to show for our faith? Is the word of God failing? Certainly not! But perhaps we lack true faith in Him and in His word. Let me ask a silly question to bring home the point. If Jesus built a rollercoaster, would you go for a ride? Your actions, not your words, will determine the quality of your faith.
So do you really trust Jesus with your life? When was the last time you sought out an opportunity to share your faith – not a passive “Oh look, there’s an opportunity” but a, “Lord, how can I turn this conversation to you?” When is the last time you made it a point to care for the poor and disenfranchised? This is not a guilt trip; this is a quality control check. Conviction is a good thing. Lets repent of our sins of omission together, and move forward as a team set apart by God to accomplish a mission, a mission to spread His glory across the face of the earth by acting in his character.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:22-27 ESV)