When Faith Erupts

My friends;

May the grace and peace of our God be with you. In this letter I would like to share some examples where faith manifested itself in spectacular fashion. Faith can and does erupt, for it is the all-conquering power that our Lord Jesus gave us. Faith is power from Jesus! Consider what the Apostle John says about it…

1 John 5:4For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

If you are God’s child, whether you realize it or not, allow me to bring to your remembrance that you have a power within , THE power to live a life of one who conquers, one who wins!

But how does the winning faith looks like? How do you expect those around you reacting to it? Will they be amazed? or perplexed? Will they applaud you or laugh at you? Below, I am revisiting some scenarios, most of which you are probably familiar with, with the hope that you will be desirous to see the explosive power of your own faith, the faith that Jesus gave you.

When Faith erupts…you can actually hear it…and it roars!  

Yes, you can hear faith! And when it erupts like a volcano, Jesus Himself marvels, for its mighty roaring resonates in one accord with His Own Spirit.

Luke 7:9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned about and said unto the people who followed Him, “I say unto you, I have not found so great a faith, no, not in Israel.”

Jesus was amazed at the faith He had just heard…faith, in full strength had just spoken! The man in question was a Centurion, whose servant was dying. Jesus was already going to his place to heal the servant, but the Centurion sent him the following words…his faith erupted!

Luke 7:6Lord, trouble not Thyself, for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof…But say the word, and my servant shall be healed.

When Faith erupts…you can smell it…and Oh the fragrance!

Yes, you can smell faith in its full strength…and what a fragrance it has! A woman, a sinner, comes to Jesus, lays at His feet…and began to wipe them…with her own hair…tears…and an expensive fragrance!

Luke 7:37,38And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

Luke 7:50And he [Jesus] said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Jesus could see, feel and smell that faith…and it was of a sweet odor…the faith of that poor sinner!

When Faith erupts…you can feel it!

Luke 8:43-45And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. 45 And Jesus said, Who touched me?

Though Jesus was surrounded by a multitude, pressed and touched on every side…when FAITH touched Him…He could not resist! He HAD to acknowledge it…WHO TOUCHED ME?

Luke 8:48And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

My friends, when faith erupts in its strength…when faith rises from its shadows, when that time comes…our LORD JESUS can’t help Himself but stop and take notice…for it is HIS OWN POWER he sees and feels! Faith can be felt!

When Faith erupts…you can see it!

Mark 12:41-43And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.

The poor widow…her faith erupted on the surface, the power that overcomes the world…the power to overcome her human instinct to save her life by keeping these last two cents to feed herself. It was a sight for Jesus to behold…He had to comment…HE HAD TO! The power of faith was evidenced! Faith had come on the surface.

You will notice from these few popular examples, that when Faith erupts, it may appear even as a bizarre thing to the untrained eye…who will dare ask Jesus not to come to their own house because they are not worthy, and instead simply ask Him to “say the word” from where He is? What madness is it to lower yourself so much as to wipe someone else’s feet with your own tears and hair? What silliness to believe that touching someone’s garment will heal you of a disease you could not be cured from? And how is giving away your last cent a sound act?

BUT the trained eye will recognize that that is FAITH…erupting like a volcano! The power of God that overcomes the world, in manifestation. 

When FAITH erupts my friends…JESUS Himself notices! The martyrs of old times, who died for their faith, looked like poor fools to those who killed them, because they could not see that it was actually their Faith roaring in full strength, overcoming everything the world could possibly throw at them. The Lord has given you faith my dear friend…I exhort you to grow in it and let it erupt, to the glory and joy of Your master above. 

In His name!

Amen.

Behold, All that he has is in your hand

Children of the Kingdom;

Grace, mercy and peace on you from God our Father, and from Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Behold, all that he has is in your hand.  This short statement, uttered by God, was all it took for a man’s life to be turned completely upside down. You are familiar with Job, the famous character in the Bible who lost everything. Yet, Job was the best in the entire world according to none other than God Himself.

Job 1:8 –  Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?

This was God’s own description of Job! We also read a bit earlier just how prosperous and wealthy he was

Job 1:3 -…this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.

Not only was job wealthy, and blessed with a large family, having 10 children, but he also feared God. What a combination! One might consider that he was the greatest living example of what it meant to be blessed! Matter of fact, Satan himself acknowledged it…

Job 1:10 – Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

But one sentence, one sentence from God was all it took for Job’s life to change forever…”Behold, all that he has is in your hand” (Job 1:12). In ONE day…Job lost everything…his wealth, his reputation, his servants, and ALL his children. His own sweetheart even came to him, and advised him to simply curse God and die (Job 2:9)! She was astonished that Job was so foolish as to still maintain his integrity before God.

Oh that we would grasp Who it is that we have to answer to!

Our lives hang on the mouth of God…His words! Before Him, we rise or we fall. Let us not think that because our lives are fine, it is because we somehow are deserving of it, nor if our lives are a misery, it is because we are deserving of it either. God makes the rich and the poor. He raises one, abases another. One day we are in a green field, the next we might be in the valley of the shadow of death. You would think that after all Job went through (and that without cause!), that God would rush to comfort him as we would deem appropriate! Ohhh…not so!

Job 38:1 – Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

But you see, He is God, and He came down and spoke at length to His servant. He took His time to teach His servant who He really was, because he, job, was a servant He was deeply in love with. One may look at the metal worker beating frantically at a piece of metal he just subjected to an intense heat and call that person heartless and perhaps even…a fool! But the learned eye will recognize the deep love of the metal worker for his craft, and for the fine piece of art he is determined to create.

You see, Job had now experienced something he had not experienced in his entire life, even as a God fearing man…

Job 42:5,6 – I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

How much stronger do you suppose was Job’s faith after this experience? How much stronger was his connection with the God He served all his life? How much more did he understands Him? and loved Him? How did he feel, though he realized that he was nothing, even despising himself after experiencing God, that God from the seat of His throne knew Him personally, and loved Him personally?

My friend, whether you are living in abundance or you have known nothing but misery in your life,  maintain your integrity as Job did (Job 1:22).  God loves His own! Do not accuse Him foolishly, for He is Lord of all. Praise Him, and offer Him your tears if in despair. He hears you and delight greatly in those who fear Him, and shall reward you in His own ways…just like he rewarded Job by unveiling Himself to Him. 

In the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

 

Faith Without Works is Dead: What Did James Mean?

Children of the Kingdom;

May the grace and peace of God be with you in Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The purpose of this second letter about Grace and Works is to demonstrate that James was not preaching salvation by works in addition to grace, but was describing instead the defining characteristics of the faith through which Grace saves. In our previous letter we stated.

…in stark contrast to the kinds of works which only God can design and bring at His divinely appointed time, which can only be successfully performed if faith is present (the bible often refers to them as good works), there is a category of works that is vehemently denounced and rejected by the scriptures, which can literally bring a curse on the one performing it. These works seek to take the place of the grace of God, the place of Jesus, making light of who He is and of His sacrifice.

What did James mean in James 2:20?

James 2:20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

In a nutshell, James is telling us to live out what we confess. Eight verses earlier he said:

James 2:12 [ESV] So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.

Later on (in James 5:18), he continued the same thought by simply stating…

James 5:12 [ESV]…but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no

Christians should be men and women of integrity, of Godly integrity! Our acts, our way of life, the things we delight in and things we hate should all be in alignment with our oral confession that we agree with everything God said! So speak…so act! So speak…so act! Let us live out what we confess! Let us stop with excuses!

This exhortation is to be found time and again in the scriptures. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, said the following:

Matthew 15:8,9 [ESV]So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

There is such a thing as worshipping in vain…when we speak, but do not act. When we confess the Lord, but do not do what He says, choosing instead to do things manufactured by other men, yet portrayed as commandments of God. This is all what James was referring to: If I agree with God, then you should not only hear it from my mouth (for example when I sing worshipping songs), but you should also see it in the way I live! You should be able to read the scriptures through my life.

NOW…was James preaching therefore salvation by works also? Oh that God will protect us from such foolish accusation. In addition to the above, one needs no further evidence than the two examples James himself used to make his point: Abraham, with the sacrifice of his son, and Rahab, the gentile prostitute who hid the spies.

Abraham lived more than 400 years before the law of Moses was given. How therefore could James be referring to works of the law which did not yet exist? Abraham did not orchestrate the death of his son; how therefore could this act be his own performance? Rahab was not from Israel; how therefore could she have been familiar with their Law? Does the law of Moses say anything hiding spies? Could Rahab have orchestrated in advance such an act?

James did not choose anyone who lived under the law, perhaps to precisely to protect us from such a misunderstanding. Yet, there were many under the law who demonstrated strong faith (David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc.). But James do say…if we do not live out what we confess, then we are only fooling ourselves. Let us strive, let us strive my people to live out the faith we claim. If we do not strive, if we cannot evidence it…then our faith is dead, and that faith can’t save us.

That is why he asked the question:

James 2:14 [ESV]What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

The answer is obvious…NO, no, that type of faith can’t save us. It is no faith at all, hence Grace has nothing to work with to save us, for by Grace we are saved through faith.

May the mercy of our God be with us to give us strength to grow in the faith that saves.

In the Name above all name: Jesus, the Christ.

Amen.

 

Because I Believe: Works under Grace

To the Children of the Kingdom;

Grace and mercy in abundance from God, our Father, and from Jesus-Christ, our Lord and Savior. Faith in Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian life. And in stark contrast to the Old Testament, we are saved by grace through that faith, and not by any work we could possibly perform.

Ephesians 2:8,9For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Unfortunately, this profound truth has also given rise to much perversion of the scriptures with regards to the relevance of works in the Christian life. Such false doctrines are often the reason for the difficulty that many a Christian finds in reconciling Ephesians 2 above with other passages such as James 2.

James 2:26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

The purpose of this letter is to share some scriptural truths which I hope you will find useful in bringing clarity to the subject.

In a nutshell: Works can never save you or anyone else. Only the grace of God through your faith can. On the other hand, your faith can only be manifested, proven, or shown, through works. If your faith cannot be evidenced, if it cannot be seen, it is simply because it does not exist.

Consider what was said of Abraham. Abraham is a particularly interesting example because he is the father of all who believe (Romans 4:11)! There is no better example of faith (Jesus evidently excluded) than Abraham.

Romans 4:1-6 [NASB]What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works.

This passage makes it clear that it was not a set of works, things that Abraham did that got him justified. That is not how he was declared righteous. It was his belief in God, his faith! Abraham did not work to become righteous. He simply believed.

But the question now is…how do we “know” that Abraham believed?

James 2:21-23 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.

James says that when Abraham offered up Isaac as a sacrifice, the scripture that had already declared him as righteous was fulfilled. Further, James indicates that the sacrifice of his son was the “work” that Abraham performed.

What is noteworthy about the work without which your faith is dead (James 2:26), according to James is that it can ONLY be performed BECAUSE you believe, hence, it is the very proof that you believe, it is the imprint, the cignet of your belief! Not the cause of it…but the evidence of it!

Consider the sacrifice of Isaac: Could Abraham have performed that sacrifice before Isaac was born? Of course not! In fact, the promise, and therefore the opportunity to believe in the promise was given before Isaac was even conceived.

Genesis 15:4-6Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

First there was belief, then came the opportunity to manifest, to demonstrate, to evidence that belief. This type of works, the kind of works that are meant to prove that we believe, are the works that every believer will at some point, be asked BY GOD to perform. Hence, may I submit that this kind of work cannot be manufactured, engineered or even imagined by anyone. They are designed by God Himself, and can only be performed AS GOD INTENDED if there is faith.

Ephesians 2:10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Consider the believers that the Apostle Peter wrote to:

1 Peter 1:6,7In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

We see that those believers were distressed by a number of trials. Their responses to those trials were their works! Their responses demonstrated the faith they had. And just like in the case of Abraham, they could not have possibly engineered, conceived or even timed those works themselves, since those trials came precisely because they first believed.

As a last example, consider what is said about the prostitute Rahab from Jericho, who hid the two Israelites who came to spy her country as Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, sought to destroy it.

James 2:25In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

Look at the reason Rahab had given to the spies for hiding them and helping them escape

Joshua 2:8-11I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

The reason was not simply the fact that everyone in Jericho was trembling as Israel was approaching, but her personal declaration of faith that the God of Israel was in fact God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

She believed that He was the true God, and here was the opportunity, orchestrated by God, to demonstrate that faith! Hiding those spies was her work! The demonstration of her faith that God had indded given Israel that land. “If you really believe that Rahab, if you really believe that God has already given your land to Israel, then demonstrate your faith by hiding the spies rather than delivering them to your people, as an attempt to save your city“. Could she have designed, orchestrated or even timed that work? Obviously not.

Now, in stark contrast to the kinds of works which only God can design and bring at His divinely appointed time, which can only be successfully performed if faith is present (the bible often refer to them as good works), there is a category of works that is vehemently denounced and rejected by the scriptures, which can literally bring a curse on the one performing it. These works seek to take the place of the grace of God, the place of Jesus, making light of who He is and of His sacrifice. The offense one commits by performing those works is so grave that they can literally cause the person to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4), with hell promised as a sure destination! These works are manufactured by men, and hence, no matter how appealing and godly looking they might even appear, they do not necessitate any kind faith to be performed.

The most notorious, but perhaps also the less obvious of them (because they were originally instituted by God) are the works pertaining to the Mosaic law. Performing them do not require faith in God. Perhaps this is the reason why the scriptures say

1 Samuel 15:22 …Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…

And if one chooses to live by that Law, then he is obligated to perform the whole of it, hence the curse, since it is impossible…

Galatians 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

But the Mosaic Law is but a subset of those cursed works. To it, we should also add anything anyone chooses to do, not as the result of recognizing the Lordship of Jesus over them, but as an attempt to show themselves worthy before God through their own performance. How to perform them, when, how often, where and even with whom, may all be decisions that are firmly in the individual(s)’ hands. And therefore, even if they happen to be designed with good intentions, they have absolutely no value in restraining sin (i.e. rendering that person more holy) and justifying anyone before God.

Colossians 2:20-23Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Dear Christians, make no mistake, you have been called TO DO sacred works. Stand up and be courageous for there is work to do. Grace and works are not in opposition. The works you have been called to perform are designed by God, assigned by God, measured by God, and evaluated by God! They are the works designed not only to strengthen your faith, but also to manifest it and to impact your environment through the glorious light of the gospel that your works will so exquisitely display.

You do not need to worry about whether those works will come, they absolutely will, and there is no shortage of them! The question is…will your faith pass the test as Abraham’s did? Will it pass everytime? Will you rise to the challenge upon the mighty call of the Most High? Ask the Father to recognize those works He places before you when they come, ask Him for the strength to perform to His honor, and He will give you wisdom, discernment, and understanding and strength.

Nevertheless remember who it is that bought you at a great price. Just as Israel was warned, we too, the Church, have been warned…

Hebrews 12:25 [NASB] See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.

May our Lord, in His great mercy, preserves us blameless for His own glory. May our lives give Him His praise and His worship, as we abound in all the good works He has prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Glory to His Majesty!

Amen