What if Paul, having been blinded by God’s bright light and healed, had gone quietly back into his life to live as a Pharisee?
What if Peter, having vehemently declared his love for Jesus, had simply gone back to being a fisherman?
What if Timothy, having been reared by a Christian mother, had declared his faith, and then gone on to sow his wild oats?
Would we have believed they loved Jesus?
How do we know they loved Jesus?
They served Him in life and ministry. They obeyed His teaching, even though it often put them at odds with the norms of the day.
They offered what was dear to them to Jesus:
- Paul offered his status and education.
- Peter offered his livelihood and traditions.
- Timothy offered his youth.
The testimonies of these men live on as examples of faith made visible through works, and they are some of the Christ followers that I think of when I read the second chapter of James.
James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
I can not work my way into Heaven. I cannot be good enough or sinless enough to deserve eternity in God’s presence. Jesus Christ purchased my salvation through the agony of the cross.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
But the God of creation cannot move into a human heart and remain invisible. His presence, in the form of the Holy Spirit, changes me.
- He changes my desires.
- He changes my goals.
- He changes my direction and purpose.
- He changes my reactions.
- He changes my conversation.
- He changes my life.
And this change becomes visible in what I do and what I say and how I live.
Look at verse 10 in Ephesians 2:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
This does not mean that I live a sinless life – I wish that were true! It does mean that my heart now wants to want what God wants. It does mean that when I face a crossroad, I choose God’s way instead of my own. It does mean that when I fail, and I do, my heart bows in repentance rather than belligerence. It does mean that my lifestyle is a visible representation of what God has done and is doing in my heart.
Acts 11:26 And when he (Barnabas) had found him (Paul), he (Barnabas) brought him (Paul) unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Christian – Christ like. Why were they called Christians? Because something changed as the people listened to the teaching of God’s word. Something changed as they came to Christ and were discipled. Something changed.
The Christian life is not one lived in a frenzy of good works as I try to merit God’s favor. The Christian life is one of submission to God’s will. As I submit to Him in obedience to His word, the Holy Spirit works in my heart and life to change me from what I was into what He wants me to be. He saved me through His grace; now He is changing me through His grace. The result is a faith made visible through a life committed to Him.
God did not wash me clean through the blood of His Son to leave me in the pig pen of sin. Faith in Him set me on a new road.
Not perfect – but being perfected. Not just words – but action. Not just sentiment – but sanctification.
Faith made visible.
Father, Forgive me for words without deeds. Help me to show my faith in You today. Work in my life, so others will see You.
James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Photo – Blooming, Beth Mims