In religious circles, errant preachers are found. They are those who teach one must do a sufficient amount of good works in order to earn their entrance ticket into heaven. Such teachers are pharisaical legalists, and they are discounting the finished work of Jesus Christ. While it is true that good works get a man into heaven, it is not true that a man’s own good works get him there. Every man and woman who finds himself in paradise will only be enjoying glory due to the substitutionary work of the Savior. Jesus Christ earned all the works necessary for his disciples. Jesus Christ paid the entire penalty required for his children. This is the Gospel of grace, and it has nothing to do with the works of man. In the church, there is no reason for any man to boast of his accomplishments in righteousness. Jesus paid it all. Jesus earned it all. Rest in this glorious truth!
Also, in religious circles, errant worshipers are found. They are those who have false or counterfeit faith. And what is the noticeable characteristic of these religious charlatans?
They have no faithfulness flowing from their faith.
Instead of having a real and active faith which is the gift of God, they have only a devilish belief system that adds to their condemnation. True faith, which accompanies regeneration and eternal life, results in progressive faithfulness. Justification always results in sanctification, and this is the message of Jesus who said, “By their works, or by their fruit, true disciples shall be recognized.” Therefore, since is the message of the Master, it is also the message of Jesus’ appointed minister in city of Jerusalem — the Apostle James:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:14-26)
Therefore, let us examine our faith and makes sure it is good. (vs. 14) Let us look at our faith and make sure that it saves. (vs. 14) As worshipers, we must examine our faith and make sure it is resulting in good works. (vs. 14) True faith, and not a mere declaration of faith, must result in a greater love for our neighbors. (vs. 15-16) Any other sort of faith is fictitious, and it is dead. (vs. 17) We must prove our faith by our good works, for mere doctrinal belief is useless. (vs. 18-20) So let us learn from our forefathers and foremothers — Abraham and Rahab — who were justified in thinking they were justified because of their radical sacrifice and obedience. (vs. 21-25) And let us realize that as the human body without the spirit is a lifeless corpse, so the soul of man is dead and damned who proclaims he has faith but has not progressive faithfulness as a result. (vs. 26)
Dear friends, let us not become legalists who attribute works to our salvation. Salvation is not started by Christ and finished by us. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” he did not exaggerate. Jesus paid it all, all to whom we owe.
However, if Jesus paid it all, all to him we owe. We owe him our worship. We owe him our obedience. All who are truly saved by his Holy Spirit prove themselves to be his saved children by their progressive faithfulness. Christ does not only save us from hell, but he begins the process of saving us from the devil, the world, and our own wicked flesh. Therefore, today, again, let us repent and find sabbath rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Then, let us further rejoice as we make progress in the faith.