This Ain’t That #4

Last week we began thinking about the traditionally held view that faith & works contradict or oppose each other. We looked at several passages that seem, on the surface, to support this understanding, and it’s where we get those doctrines from, but as we read those passages in context, we see that the works that were really being rebuked were not righteous acts at all, but some perversion of God’s commands. We hopefully have seen that works are not at all in opposition to faith. They’re only in opposition to our “faith” if what we do contradicts what we say we believe.

In this week’s video, big question is: Just how important are works to God? And try not to think of this as to whether it’s a salvation issue or not. Is it? Well, I can only say that from what I understand of Scripture, Yeshua, and the patriarchs is that they weren’t really concerned about an eternal salvation like we are today, in other words, they weren’t concerned about just “making it in.” but HOW they made it in. They believed in and even hoped in a Messianic Kingdom and because of that they put their full energy into being obedient and honoring God in their present lives, in the ways they lived. With us today, we want to make everything a salvation issue. And if it’s not a salvation issue, we toss it to the side as being ancillary to our lives. I mean, just how shallow are we trying to be here? We are given salvation through Yeshua. I assume that if you’re watching this video, you have already dedicated your allegiance to God and believed on Yeshua as Messiah. That’s a given. I assume you’re already in the family. So let’s move on from this being about salvation and let’s see what the Word bears out and see truth for what it really is.

Think about it like this. If I, who already have my own biological children, were to adopt a child who was not raised the way I’ve raised my children. And some of you watching this have experienced this. He/She would bring a different set of standards, behaviors, ways of thinking into our home. They could be LEGALLY adopted as mine. He’s mine. He’s in. But if they don’t begin to learn how to live in my house, under my rules, learn how to do life the way we do, have relationship with me like my own kids do, if they don’t integrate, or, assimilate into our family, WILL they ever enjoy all of the benefits of being adopted? They can be mine, yet never fully enjoy what it means to be mine.

As you know, Hebrews 11 is all about the “Heroes of Faith”. We hold such admiration for those mentioned in Hebrews 11 and we are all in awe of their stories. And while we tend to focus on the belief part of their faith, we rarely focus, I mean really focus, as in with a desire to imitate, on the works part of their faith. In the opening of Hebrews 11, verses 1-2, the writer of Hebrews says, “And belief (faith) is the substance of what is expected (hoped for), the proof (evidence) of what is not seen. For by this the elders obtained witness.” This entire chapter is about how the elders, the heroes of our faith, materialized by their lifestyles what they understood as the promised kingdom of God. By belief, Abel offered. By belief, Noah built. By belief, Abraham obeyed and left his home land…throughout the whole chapter. Their hopes, their belief was manifested in works. Because they believed, they ACTED. As verse 1 says, faith is substance & evidence. Those are two very physical, tangible describers. Substance and evidence. They are physical proof of something unknown or unseen. I bring out this point again because we have made living for God and the things of God so ethereal and mystical and magical that it has actually damaged the people of God and the body. I mean, of course there’s a spiritual side to faith. But when we make everything so mentally and emotionally or, “spiritually” subjective, then everything loses its meaning and we begin to actually pervert the things of God instead of honoring Him by His ways, because each person is molding God after their own desires, not willing to be molded to the truth of God’s word instead.

This is exactly what James tells us. I love James because he’s so matter of fact. If you ever want to be slapped around, just read the book of James. In chapter 2 he says, “So also belief, if it does not have works, is in itself dead. But someone might say, “You have belief, and I have works.” Show me your belief without your works, and I shall show you my belief by my works. In other words, what I believe will be shown in my physical actions. Interestingly enough, James goes on to talk about Abraham who we just referred to in Hebrews 11… v 21…Was not Ab?raham our father declared right by works when he offered Yitsh?aq his son on the altar? Do you see that the belief was working with his works, and by the works the belief was perfected? And the Scripture was filled which says, “Ab?raham believed Elohim, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.” And he was called, “Elohim’s friend.” You see, then, that a man is declared right by works, and not by belief alone.” Hmmm…so Abraham was not called Elohim’s friend, nor was he declared righteous because of what he understood in his head or even the words that he proclaimed out of his mouth. He was called the friend of God and counted righteous because of works. Let that sink in a little. In a religious culture where “faith” is all about mental ascent, these often read scriptures should be read again because frankly, guys, we’ve missed it.

See the biblical understanding of faith is all about action. It works like this: I believe so much, I’m so confident, so convinced, so trusting in what I believe, that I act in accordance with that belief. I have no choice. To not act at all, or act in a way contrary to what I say I believe is NOT faith at all. It’s schizophrenic at best. Do you see how this contradicts what is often taught using passages like Isaiah that we talked about last week? Israel’s “acts of righteousness” were not for a lack actions, but actions that were contrary to what they supposedly believed and spoke. Righteousness comes down to what we do and that lining up with the Truth of Scripture. Not what we believe and not what we say. And believe me, I understand that we can genuinely believe certain doctrines and dogmas. And when we speak about those beliefs, we sincerely want to believe what we say. Please understand that I’m in no way questioning anyone’s sincerity. I don’t know your heart but I chose to believe the best about everyone’s intentions. You know, a phrase I hear all the time is “Well, God knows my heart”. As a matter of fact, I used to say this all the time. Ever notice when we say that? Isn’t it usually when we’ve messed up? Or when we know we should do one thing thats what God expects, but we decide to do another? Really it’s often a justification to simply do what we want or excuse an intentional sin. “Well, I may have messed up but God knows my heart”. 

The truth is that God indeed does know our hearts. Yeremiyahu (Jeremiah) tells us in chapter 17 that ““The heart is crooked above all, and desperately sick – who shall know it? “I, ????, search the heart, I try the kidneys, or innermost parts, and give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”  And what does a wicked heart produce? “And the works of the flesh are well-known, which are these: adultery, whoring, uncleanness, indecency, idolatry, drug sorcery, hatred, quarrels, jealousies, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, murders, drunkenness, wild parties, and the like – of which I forewarn you, even as I also said before, that those who practice such as these shall not inherit the reign of Elohim.” Galatiyim (Galatians) 5:19-21. What are our works showing evidence of? The amazing thing about how God designed us is that we don’t need for someone else to tell us how we’re doing, we have a mirror in our own lives that we face everyday called our actions, our behavior, our works.

Think about this: if Abraham would’ve received God’s promise and the challenge to leave his home and follow God, but just said, nah, that’s cool, I have the promise, you can bless me here, what would’ve been the outcome? If Abraham hadn’t proved his belief by his actions, would he be considered the “father of the faith”? So how important are works to God? Well if it’s how Abraham was reckoned righteous and attained friendship status with God, if its how the elders, the heroes of faith, attained their witness, if it’s how we are rewarded, according to our works, then it seems to be pretty significant, much more significant than we’ve been led to believe.  Now I know this video may have been a little harder than what you expected. But sorry not sorry. Because here’s the deal…is loving each other just encouraging us to stay in our own little comfort zones…comfort zones that will inevitably lead to our own destruction? That’s not Biblical love at all…heck, that’s not even human love. We love one another by spurring each other on to good works…works that are pleasing to the Father and draw us closer to Him…works that perfect our beliefs. So now that we’ve seen how important works are to God, next week, we are going to start looking at “What exactly are these works?” How do we defined which works are good? What is “good”? So thanks for joining us on the journey…I pray your life will never be the same.