Faith is relying on God no matter what’s happening around you or to you. You can’t be saved without faith. It’s a gift from God; it can’t be self-manufactured, and it grows by
exercising it by standing when intimidated to conform to the world.
For by grace are we saved through faith; and not of yourself; it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Ephesians 2:8,9,10
The two truths of WORKS
Faith without works is dead (James 2:17) and yet, works are not necessarily the proof of your faith.
Faith is the ingredient that differentiates a social Christian from a true Christian. Social Christians do works to feel good or to look good to others. Social Christians want the world and Jesus, too. Social Christians modify their behaviour to blend with the world so they don’t conflict with the world, and they use good works to prove they are Christian, but, like the five foolish virgins, it’s all fake, and generally they are blind to their fakeness.
The rich young ruler in Matthew 19 was doing everything right by the letter of the law but it didn’t prove he was good. He was not open to the spirit of the law by faith in God; therefore anything he did, no matter how right it was, could never be good works, only works. The truth is he was doing everything to look good in the eyes of the world, and when it came to the crunch he wouldn’t give up the thing he loved the most. It proved he was first, not God, but he tried to camouflage it with works. He was obeying the Ten Commandments in every regard and trying to do good works, but it wasn’t by faith in God. Therefore, it was actually selfish value-seeking and thus it was sin, and this was confirmed by him having a mood when he didn’t get the answer he wanted. What he really wanted from Jesus was public confirmation that he was good and right; that’s a social Christian.
Obedience is only works; it’s not good works unless it’s done by faith. If works are not by faith they are self-contaminated in some way and thus any works done without faith is, from God’s perspective, simply sin (Romans 14:23). Sin is defined in the scriptures as ‘breaking God’s laws’ (1John 3:4), but it’s also defined as ‘doing anything without faith’ (Romans 14:23). These two definitions are exactly the same … if you don’t do good by faith, it’s sin.
The good works God refers to in His Word are not deeds you do to impress Him or others. No works are good works unless they are activated by faith. The good works the Bible refers to does not mean trying to do what’s right and good. Rather the good works are the work of choosing to stand on the Word of God when you are tempted to stand on your feelings instead. It’s choosing to trust God when threatened or tempted to conform to someone else’s unscriptural opinion.
Abraham stood on God’s Word when he sacrificed his son Isaac. That’s the works that prove his faith. It wasn’t doing good works, but because it was of faith it was good works.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood on the Word of God by faith and refused to bow to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. That was the works that proved their faith. It wasn’t doing nice deeds for people; it was standing by faith and not conforming to evil intimidation that was the good works.
A good person likes to do good deeds, but they are actually only deeds unless they are done by faith. Good works must be done by faith. Generally speaking, if the works carry no loss to one’s self they are not good, they are only works.
Daniel prayed daily at his window. It wasn’t the praying that proved he was good, it was standing for God when threatened to conform to the world. It was standing in God by faith and not compromising the Word of God that was his good works.
Always faith first, and then the works follow.
Good works aren’t based on how good you are as a person, they’re based on the heart. Rahab was not good; she was a harlot, but she was mentioned in the hall of faith (Hebrews 11). God saw her heart and when the intersection came to stand by faith her deeds confirmed her heart.
God doesn’t measure good works by the deed, He measures it by the heart. Just because Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery doesn’t mean God is soft on adultery; He judges by heart not by deed. He judges by repentance, not by apology. Like Judas, you can do all the works you like, you can walk as close to Christ as you like, but it’s all in vain, if it’s not by faith.
Good works is always faith works. The issue is not good works, the issue is faith. Do you have real faith in God? If not, nothing you do is good; it’s selfish.
Only when you have sacrificed what you want and fully unconditionally surrendered to the will of God can your deeds ever be good.
For a work to be good, it has to be done by His Spirit, not by yours. This can only be achieved by death (ie surrendering your rights to His), not by works.
How do you know you have real faith in God?
When the chips are down; when everything’s against you, you turn to God and rest in His plan. When the forces are against you, if you turn to mood, or to sex or to worldly music, or to any worldly escape, you show where your heart really is, the world. Faith is separate from the world, it can never be mixed with the world (James 4:4). You can measure faith by mood and behaviour.
You can’t have faith without WAIT
The trials of your faith work patience (James 1:3)
You can’t have faith without WAIT, and very few, if any, are prepared to wait. Everybody believes in action to confirm their faith, but the truth is, all the major characters of the Bible waited for God’s timing, including Jesus. Jesus, creator God, was on the planet for 30 years before He started His ministry. Moses tried to do a good deed for his fellowman, but it wasn’t by faith, it was by impulsion. He had to wait 40 years looking after sheep before he received the genuine call of God. Abraham had to wait 25 years for the promise, Joseph had to wait in prison, Elijah had to wait beside a brook for 3 years, David had to wait 13 years to be king, and God, Himself waits.
Truth is not truth unless it’s activated by faith, and a key ingredient of faith is ‘wait’.
They shall not be offended that wait for Me (Isaiah 49:3)
Faith is strengthened through waiting (Isaiah 40:31)
You can’t have faith without RESISTANCE.
Just like Daniel, Elijah and Jesus, if you stand up for Christ, Satan will resist you.
True faith always conflicts with the world. The world is offended by real faith because it’s the Spirit of God and the world hates God. For faith to be real, it has to be tested to see if you will stand.
How do you win against a spirit?
The answer is “don’t take them on“, but rather turn to the Lord and WAIT for His solution. This is not opting out, it’s faith. Voices are a trick to get you to retaliate and defend yourself. Vengeance is mine says the Lord; faith trusts Him.
The 2 Truths of God’s Word.
The Word of God isn’t always black and white. This allows freedom of choice, but more importantly, it separates the sheep from the goats. Envy has a ‘right box’, but faith has no ‘right box’. Envy has to ‘know’, but faith rarely ‘knows’. Envy has to have a ‘reward’, but faith doesn’t. People like to know what’s right so they can do right and look right, but right doesn’t make you a Christian, so God gives options in His Word that separate people into faithful or faithless. The five foolish virgins believed in God but they were devoid of the faith of His Spirit, and they missed the call. Faith is the quality that differentiates true Christians from false Christians.
In the Word of God there are many apparent contradictory truths, like …
- don’t resist evil (Matthew 5:19) / resist evil (1 Peter 5:9)
- don’t call anyone a fool (Matthew 5:22) / do call someone a fool (Matthew 23:17)
- always forgive / forgive on condition (Luke 17:3, Matthew 6:15, 1John 1:9, John 20:23)
- don’t kill / kill e.g. God’s instruction to Abraham
- don’t retaliate / retaliate e.g. Jesus took a whip to the sellers in the temple
- the law is finished (Romans 9:4) / the law is still alive & active (Matthew 5:17-19)
- suffer persecution / flee persecution
- have an answer (1 Peter 3:15) / don’t have an answer (Matthew 10:19)
- go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15) / tell no one (Matthew 9:30)
- make it clear / speak in parables so they can’t understand
refrain from anger (Colossians 3:8) / get angry (Mark 3:5)12. once saved always saved / you can lose your salvation (Romans 11:20-24)
The truth is, none of these truths are contradictory. All of these truths are both true; they are found in God’s Word, the Truth, but none are true without His Spirit activating a particular truth by faith.
The truth is not the truth without faith, and faith is not faith without the Spirit of God.
Q. Which truth do you stand on?
The answer is, either … but, for it to be good it must be by His Spirit through faith.
People argue that their truth is just as valid as my truth
Because the Bible has options of truth, two people can have two different truths and argue the point from their perspective, but neither is the real truth unless the spirit of God is imparting the truth by faith. The issue is not the truth, the issue is faith. The Pharisees argued with the truth against Jesus, as did Satan in the temptation, but none of it was true. The truth is actually a lie unless it’s activated by His Spirit by faith.
God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Truth by itself is not real truth unless it’s spirit, and spirit truth is activated by faith, for without faith you can believe as much truth as you like but it’s not of God without faith.
Anyone can stand with Christ, but only the faithful will stand for Him.
Pastor Ray Bourke