When Faith and Obedience Collide

Recently I preached a sermon on the relationship between faith, works, and salvation. And as we study that topic, we should be able to understand from James Chapter 2 that faith without works is dead, that one is only justified when, because of his or her faith, they obey God. In fact, James says, quite clearly, that we cannot be saved by faith alone. This same principle is echoed throughout Scripture, in a number of places where the faith and obedience are brought together.

Take for example John 3:36. John writes:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36) (all quotations from ESV unless otherwise noted)

First of all, understand that some older translations like the KJV have the word “believe” in place of “obey” in the latter part of the verse, but the better manuscripts support the use of the word “obey.” Notice how John brings the two ideas together. If belief equals eternal life, then unbelief equals no eternal life. On the other side, if disobedience equals no eternal life, then obedience must equal eternal life. If belief equals eternal life, and obedience equals eternal life, then belief equals obedience. Faith is not just saying “I believe in Christ,” but faith involves everything that is involved in obeying him as well.
Consider another place where these two ideas are brought together.

In 1 Peter 2:7-8 we read:

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (1 Pet. 2:7-8, emphasis added)

Peter marries the idea of belief and obedience together in much the same way that John did. Look at another example in Hebrews 3:

And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. (Heb. 3:18-19)

In fact, if we were to look later in Hebrews, in that great chapter on faith, Hebrews 11, we would find that those who are commended for their faith, are commended because of action that the took (works) that were based in their faith.

We cannot ignore plain Bible teaching. Faith and obedience cannot be separated from one another. Without obedience, faith is empty, even dead, according to James. Without faith, obedience is meaningless, as there is no basis for the obedience. The two must come together.

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Saved By Faith, But Not Faith Alone – James 2:24 (sermon audio)

It seems to be a commonly held belief in the religious world, that faith alone is enough for salvation, but the Bible teaches something entirely different.  James said, very clearly, that we are not saved by faith alone.  Faith must be completed by action.  Join us as we consider these things from God’s Word.

Three Tests of Abraham’s Faith (podcast)

[audio https://archive.org/details/FirstPodcast_201401]

Well, this is my first attempt at a podcast connected with the blog here.  I’m still trying to figure all of this stuff out, so hopefully this will get better in time.  Click the download link above, which should take you to the proper place to listen to this episode.  Once there, open your Bible and click play.

Abraham was tested.  We know that without a doubt.  How was he tested?  Why is he included in the Hebrews 11 hall of faith.  Using those passages we’re going to look at three tests to Abraham’s faith, and how Christians living in 2014 can learn from them to live lives that are pleasing to our God.

Beware of Thorny Ground

What’s your priority?  What is the most important thing in your life?  If the answer to that question is anything other than living a life that is pleasing to God, then perhaps you are living in the thorny ground.  Jesus said in the Parable of the Sower,

Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. (Matthew 13:7 ESV)

And he followed that up by explaining that this part of the parable represented those who had received the Word of God gladly, but because they let the cares of the world get in the way, they were unable to grow properly and thus were unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).  If living as a follower of Christ in a way that is pleasing to the Father is not the priority of your life, then what is?  Are you letting the cares of the world prevent your growth as a Christian?  If so, then it is time to fix that, and move to the good soil, which produces crops up to a hundred fold (Matthew 13:23).  If the cares of the world are keeping you from growing, remember what the Lord said in his Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

(Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)

Don’t let the cares of the world choke out your growth in Christ.