The Moore American

January 8, 2014

Faith alone is not enough

By Paul Carrizales
The Moore American

MOORE — Greetings American readers, welcome back to our weekly visit. We hope you’ve had a good week.

It’s only mid-week, but we’re already looking ahead to the Lord’s Day, Jan. 12, when the Lord’s people at the East Ridge church of Christ meet at 10 a.m.

This study has been taken from the pages of the living Word found in Hebrews 4:12 (ASV) “For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

One of the things you will hear taught in Moore is a difficult and probably unpopular lesson. It is that “believing in the Lord alone is not enough.”

Of course, we all understand the beauty of that wonderful scripture: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Additional passages also explain the power of believing, as well as Romans 10:9 and Acts 16:31. As the Holy Spirit points out in the book of Hebrews, “But 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.” (Hebrews 11:6).

While faith is an essential part of the Lord’s plan of salvation, faith alone is not enough. James says, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17). James goes on to explain that Abraham’s faith was backed up by his works, thus the Holy Spirit inspired James to record this truth: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24).

That scripture, by the way, is the only place the Holy Spirit provides the words “faith only.” The inspired writer James, points out that our justification does not come only by faith.

For faith to be effective, it must be a working, obedient faith. Jesus reinforces James’ teaching in a fundamental passage in Matthew 7:21-23. Here my Lord says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

Then He explains: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

You can begin to see why at the East Ridge church of Christ we teach the difficult message that “believing in the Lord is not enough.” To teach the entire Word of God, including James 2 and Matthew 7:21-23, we have to emphasize that many believers will be turned away.

There are so many people who rarely attend the worship services of the church yet claim to believe in the Lord and have a relationship with Him. When you talk to them, perhaps during a calamity in their lives, they often say, “We’re trusting in the Lord to get us through.”

Acknowledging God’s control and supremacy, indeed, is honorable. However, such people are misled into thinking that just a verbal acknowledgment of the Lord is true faith. Read James 2:19, which tells us about a collection of believers.

Another group of misled people to whom the Lord refers in Matthew 7:21-23 include many who are faithful in church attendance and active in the work of their local church. They are religious, spiritual people. They pray and base their lives on the Lord. That may describe many of us Moore American readers. Yet the Lord says that many such people will be denied on the Day of Judgment.

2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ASV) “And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

So we need to yield to this thought.

Why, is it that many religious, church-going people will be lost? Why will many who say “Lord, Lord” not be saved? It is because they have not submitted themselves to the complete will of the Father.

Matthew 7:21-23 teaches that we must obey the Lord. Many religions “feel good.” But because of those good feelings, often people never stop to evaluate the practices and beliefs of that church, placing their self-confidence instead in a feeling or in an educated, eloquent preacher.

True faith comes not from a man but from the Word of God: “So then faith cometh by hearing,” says the apostle, “and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17). To “walk by faith,” — as the apostle Paul commands in 2 Corinthians 5:7 — is to walk according to God’s Word. It is to walk obediently.

During our study today, demand that every point we make comes from scripture and is inspired of God, not of man. If a point is not God-inspired, then it is not “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), reject it. But when you read teaching based on God’s Word, please believe and obey.