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Defending the Faith

These Daily Reflections supply the messages from Grace Church as daily video clips from the most recent sermons. Each day's clip will last about 10 minutes and if you watch them all, you will have reviewed morning and evening sermons from the previous Sunday.

Ministry Reflection - June 26, 2009

Faith Perfected by Works: James 2:22
From the evening sermon, we’ll consider what James tells us about our good works being the perfection or the goal of faith/grace. We’ll first explore what this means. Then we’ll apply it.

Another way we know that gracious works are the best evidence we can have of the reality of our conversion is that this is what completes faith. The Lord gives us grace that we might believe and be saved. We are already well aware of the fact that we come into this world dead in trespass and sin. We cannot believe or do anything to prepare ourselves to receive the grace of God – we must first be born again, we must first have our hearts changed by the Spirit of God. But once the Spirit produces this love in our hearts for Christ and we believe, that faith also has a goal, an end for its existence: that is good works. James writes, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 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. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:21-24). Abraham was not justified in a forensic/declarative sense by his works, for the Bible is quite clear that we are justified by God’s grace through faith apart from works. But his claim that he was genuinely trusting in God was justified by his works, both to himself and to others. The Lord saw his heart and knew that Abraham trusted Him and would do whatever He asked, even to the point of offering of his son Isaac on that mount in the land of Moriah. But Abraham didn’t know that he would, nor did those who would see his example know except by this trial. When the Lord tried him, his faith was shown to be genuine: it was complete, it reached its goal, Abraham had the kind of faith that justifies, “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’” The purpose for God’s giving him faith came to its fruition or completion when he acted on that faith. John says the same thing in terms we should be very familiar with by now: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected” (1 John 2:4-5). Good works that come from the heart – the works that are according to God’s commandments and for His glory – are not only the perfection or goal of faith, but they are the goal of love. When we see these works in our own lives, we know the love the Lord has given us has reached its goal. Love gives birth to faith; faith in Christ – in His obedience and atonement – results in justification; but love also gives birth to the works that are the evidences of justification: sanctification.
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