Believe and Receive Life

KEY VERSE: “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” —John 3:17

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: John 2:1-11; 3:16-18

IT IS interesting to observe that until we come to the New Testament, the word faith appears in the Bible only twice. Prior to Jesus’ day Jehovah God was dealing with his people strictly on the basis of works, and as the Apostle Paul points out, “By the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in … [God’s] sight. For by the Law is the knowledge of sin.” (Rom. 3:20) It was our Lord Jesus who ushered in the wonderful, hope-inspiring age of faith. To the woman who touched the hem of his garment, hoping to be healed, he said, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.”—Matt. 9:20-22

In that beautifully reasoned exposition on justification by faith in his letter to the church at Rome, Paul tells us that this new and loving provision of the Heavenly Father was long before pictured in God’s dealings with the Patriarch Abraham. He writes, “What saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:1-3) And Paul closes this portion of his discussion on justification by faith by declaring that this illustration was specially prepared by God for the enlightenment and encouragement of Jesus’ footstep followers. He says, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it [righteousness, or justification] was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:23-25) This simple quality of faith is an essential requirement in the life of every Christian, for Paul tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”—Heb. 11:6

Truly, this Gospel Age is the age of faith, and it is an indispensable element in the life of every Christian. But to those who would gain the precious prize of life and immortality, merely to believe is not enough. The Apostle James writes, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he bath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead.” The apostle then asks, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”—James 2:14-20

James then forcefully concludes his argument as to the need for works by citing the identical Old Testament example of justification that was used by the Apostle Paul. He writes, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”—James 1:21-23

James, of course, is not contending with the Apostle Paul’s position; he is simply calling our attention to another essential element of the Christian life. Surely, none believed more completely in the need for proving his faith by his works than did Paul. His never-forgotten example was Jesus, and he invited the brethren to be followers of himself as he was of Christ. (I Cor. 11:1) Like Jesus, he did not seek worldly glory; he humbly devoted his considerable talents to carrying the message of salvation to the people at whatever cost of danger or suffering. None was more diligent, more tireless, more long-suffering in the service of his Master than was Paul—shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and even left for dead. Truly, Paul understood the meaning of his own phrase, “the work of faith.” (I Thess. 1:3; II Thess. 1:11) Truly, he proved his own unshakable faith by his matchless works in witnessing, by word and deed and example.

How beautiful and harmonious is the Word of God in all its details, when it is made plain by the Holy Spirit to the Lord’s sincere seekers after righteousness!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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