A Faith that Works

MEMORY SELECTION: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father [in the sight of God our Father, NEB] is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” —James 1:27


THE Apostle Paul in outlining the deeds of many of the heroes of faith in the 11th chapter of Hebrews states, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong.”—vss. 32-34

These faithful servants of God believed what he had said, and on the basis of God’s promises to them were obedient even unto death in carrying out God’s will. They realized that their strength was not of themselves but of God. The apostle then goes on to say that all of these are a “great cloud of witnesses,” or examples, of faith in action to those of us who are attempting to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

A faith that works must be based on knowledge and not credulity. The Apostle Paul tells us, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom. 10:17) Then he tells us also that our knowledge of God and his plans and purposes is not the result of our own wisdom, but of the Holy Spirit, which is a gift of God. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”—I Cor. 2:12-14

Therefore a faith that has for its foundation the revealed secrets of God and is manifested by action will be a victorious faith, a faith that works.

The Apostle Paul confirms this line of thought when he states, “And what is faith? Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1, NEB) That is, a faith based on the revealed Word of God can and does give “substance” (assurance) to the promises contained in his Word, and this makes us certain of the fulfillment of those promises. It is necessary that from this point forward we make manifest this faith by works.

There are many examples in the New Testament of faith in action, but the experience of the Apostle Paul with the church in Thessalonica stands out. In chapter 1, starting with verse 5 we read, “For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit: so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not speak anything.”—I Thess. 1:5-8

First the apostle reminds the Thessalonians how he came among them—not with words only, but also with power and the Holy Spirit. Here the apostle emphasizes that he not only brought them the word, but that he demonstrated his faith by the activity of his ministry. He not only toiled among them as their minister but also supported himself by his own labor. The truth evidently found enthusiastic acceptance among the brethren in Thessalonica and they demonstrated their faith and zeal by sounding out the word of the Lord not only in the areas adjacent to them but far and wide. So great was their zeal in this respect that the apostle said, “We need not speak anything.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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