Volume 1, Number 9 – October, 2021
“Can That Faith Save Him?“
Charles G. Maples, Sr.
“What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?”
(James 2:14 NASV)
Since man, of his own free will, separated himself from God (Genesis 3; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23, etc.), it is inconceivable that man could be returned to fellowship with his Maker, without FAITH IN HIM, and in Him through Whom God would extend His Grace; His “Only begotten Son!” In fact, through the Inspired writer of the book of Hebrews, He tells us that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes (back-cm) to God must BELIEVE that He is, and that He is a rewarder of all those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). And in John 8:24 we hear the Savior say, “…if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
From our knowledge of Scriptures such as John 3:16; Mark 16:16 Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8 and others, we must conclude that FAITH DOES SAVE. In the case of the conversion of the Jailor at Philippi (Acts 16), when he asked Paul & Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to BE SAVED (v. 30), their answer was, “Believe (have faith in) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” (v. 31). We know that salvation; both of the alien sinner and the child of God; is “BY FAITH.” When one reads in the KJV or the NKJV of the above text, the question is, “CAN FAITH SAVE HIM?” The answer to that question is, YES. But note that in the NASB rendering of it, the question is, “Can THAT faith save him?” – that is, can the kind of faith that is under consideration in those verses – faith WITHOUT WORKS – save him? And the answer is “NO!”
There are several KINDS of “faith” which CANNOT SAVE. Let us consider three of them:
- Faith from the WRONG SOURCE cannot save. In I Corinthians 2:5 we read, “that your faith should not stand in THE WISDOM OF MEN, but in the power of God” (Caps mine, cm.). In Matthew 15:9 we hear the words of Jesus, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.” The only SOURCE of saving faith is the Word of God, as we find it clearly stated in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing…the Word of God.” In John 20:30, 31 we have stated by Inspiration the only source of Saving Faith, “…Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book; but THESE ARE WRITTEN THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST….”
- Faith that WILL NOT “WORK,” CANNOT SAVE! Or, “Faith Only,” as we hear taught and believed by so many; cannot save, as is clearly shown in our text of James 2:14-19. Consider v. 17, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, IS DEAD.” Such faith CANNOT GIVE “LIFE,” as spoken of in Ephesians 2:1. It is no better than that of demons! (v. 19) Then consider verse 24 of this context, “You see then that a man is justified by works,, and NOT BY FAITH ONLY.”
- Faith that “draws back” WILL NOT SAVE! In He- brews 10:39 we read, “But we are not of those who DRAW BACK TO PERDITION, but of those believe to the saving of the soul.” That same writer urges Christians to “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of UNBELIEF in departing from the Living God”(3:12). In other words, “faith” that will not KEEP ONE “FAITHFUL,” will not save! Hear the admonition of the Savior, as found in Rev- elation 2:10, “Be FAITHFUL until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
BUT CONSIDER THE KIND OF FAITH THAT WILL SAVE:
- Faith that comes from HEARING THE WORD OF GOD; He “…has spoken … unto us…” (Hebrews 2:1f). We are urged to “Give earnest heed..” to the things which He has spoken (2:1f). As we have before seen, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). As Paul urged Timothy, “…give attention to reading… meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all… continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (I Timothy 4:13- 16).
- Faith that OBEYS – Inspiration speaks of “OBEDI- ENCE OF FAITH” in Romans 1:5 & 16:25. You will find that everyone of those EXAMPLES OF SAVING FAITH, recorded in Hebrews 11 was faith that MOVED THEM TO OBEDIENCE UNTO GOD! Abraham, in a wonderful way, demonstrated the kind of faith that WILL SAVE! Consider what is said of him in Hebrews 11:8 and 17! His faith lead him to leave home; go into a land that he knew nothing about; and then, above all, to be willing to offer his son (“of promise”) as a sacrifice, because God was requiring it of him! Those of Rome who had become Christians were said to have ceased to be servants of sin, and became servants of righteousness WHEN THEIR FAITH LED THEM TO OBEDIENCE! ( Romans 5:1 and 6:3-18). Note that in verses 3 & 4, they were “baptized into Christ, being baptized into His death.” The Savior said, “… he who believes and is baptized shall be saved…” (Mark 16:16).
- Faith that is STEADFAST, even “…until death” (Revelation 2:10). The apostle Paul urged Christians at Corinth to “…be STEADFAST, UNMOVABLE, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58). As we noted before, the Hebrew writer stated, “…we are of those who BELIEVE UNTO THE SAVING OF THE SOUL” (Hebrews 10:39). The CONFIDENCE that the apostle Paul had of his eternal reward, when he faced death, was based upon the fact that he “fought a good fight .. KEPT THE FAITH…” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Indeed “THAT FAITH (did) SAVE HIM!” Another expression of SUCH FAITH might be seen in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (3:12-14).
“CAN THAT FAITH SAVE HIM?”
YES, the kind of faith that comes from a study of the Word of God; faith that moves one to OBEY THE WILL OF GOD; faith that keeps one “FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH;” YES, “That (kind of) faith” CAN save; for it brings us into the Grace of God! (Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9) DO YOU HAVE THAT KIND OF FAITH?”
When God Says, “No”
Prayer is the medium through which we communicate our thanks, requests, and cares to God. God communicates to use through his Word and His providence. A big misconception is that God answers prayers in the affirmative or not at all. Often when we get what we want we respond thankfully by saying that God has answered our prayers. But the truth is that God answers every prayer. Sometimes God says, “Yes,” and sometimes He responds, “Not right now.” And there are also times when God says, “No.”
God Told David, “No.” After the birth of David’s son, who was conceived in sin with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan told the king that because of his sin the child would die. David responded by pleading with God for the child’s life. He “fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground” (2 Samuel 12:16). But God said, “No.”
God Told Paul, “No.” The great evangelist, missionary, and apostle was afflicted with “a thorn in the flesh…a messenger of Satan to buffet” him, that he may not “be exalted above measure.” Paul said, “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” But God replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul reacted by saying, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). God said, “No.”
God Told Jesus, “No.” In the Garden of Gethsemane as the Lord prepared for the cross that lay before Him Jesus pleaded, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me…” (Matthew 26:39). The text tells us that three times he prayed this same prayer, but each time he concluded, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” And God said, “No.”
God says no to us when we consider sin over righteous- ness. God says no to us when our wish is not in accordance to his will. God says no to us when what we want is not in our best interest. The most tragic response will be when God says no to those who desire to enter his eternal home after death that have not been obedient and faithful. The thing is; we often times think that we know what is best for us, but in reality we are not that smart. Isaiah prophesied the words of God saying, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). And Jeremiah is recorded as saying, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
Place your trust and faith in God. Do His will and let Him guide your life with His Word. Leave your cares and desires with Him. Be obedient; be faithful!
Volume 1, Number 10 – October, 2021
Weighed Down by the Past
Becoming a faithful Christian provides people with an invaluable gift – forgiveness of sins. The blood of Jesus Christ is enough to wipe away even our “worst” sins. If we trust in Christ, there is now no condemnation from God – he has forgiven us (Romans 8:1). The Bible is full of people who have done all sorts of horrible things (adulterers, prostitutes, murderers, extortionists), but all are accepted by Jesus through obedience (consider John 4:1-26; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Luke 23:32-43). For example, the apostle Paul, although he became a faithful follower of God whom we should pattern our lives after, was also responsible for violent persecution of Christians before he encountered Jesus (Acts 8:1-3) – yet He still forgave him. It does not matter what we have done, how long ago we committed sin, or the impact of our sins on ourselves and others, we can be forgiven.
Even though God is willing to forgive us when we fall, forgiveness can still be a very difficult concept to grasp sometimes, especially when we feel weighed down by guilt over our past sins. But we must keep in mind if God has forgiven us of our past sins, then we have every reason to forgive ourselves too. If anyone had a right to let his past mistakes weigh him down, it was Paul. However, consider his attitude in Philippians 3:13, where he says, “Brethren I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Instead of letting his past sins weigh him down and prevent himself from serving God, Paul chose to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). The question must be raised then – does God want us to feel guilty/sorrowful about our past sins forever?
Consider Paul’s discourse on sorrow in 2 Corinthians 7:10. He states, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Thus, feeling sorry about sin is beneficial if it leads to repentance. This attitude is reflected by David in Psalm 51. After asking God for mercy and forgiveness of his sins, David says, “I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” We too should keep our sins before us lest we fall to temptations again. However, feeling sorry about our sins is not beneficial if our guilt does not prevent us from sinning again. This type of sorrow allows our past mistakes to weigh us down, often occurring because we do not really believe God has forgiven us.
John wrote, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” God’s love for us is so deep that he did not spare his own son, but sent Him to die so we could be forgiven. Do you think, if we want to turn back to God, he would reject us? The answer is a resounding NO! Instead, all of heaven rejoices when even one person turns back to God (Luke 15:1-10). If God forgives us, we should not refuse to forgive ourselves.
Truth’s Narrow Door
Jesus said, “Strive to enter in by the narrow door” (Lk. 13:24, RSV). Truth is always narrow. This is true of all truth. Two plus two equals four. Of all the answers that might be given as the sum of two plus two, only one is right. A person who accepts the correct answer is necessarily “narrow-minded” — just as narrow in mind as the truth. Religious truth is also narrow. Whatever Christ teaches is truth and however “broad-minded” one might be, it will not change that fact. One’s mind should be only broad enough to accept whatever is true, and it should be narrow enough to exclude whatever is not truth. When two things contradict, one or both are false. Truth does not contradict itself. The man who tries to accept all teaching in religion as “alright” if sincerely believed, would be a fool if he so acted in any other realm. Why does religion make it different?
Belief and Baptism
Mark 16:16 says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Jesus spoke these words just prior to his ascension. Here, salvation is promised but it is conditional. Actually, there are two conditions stated as being necessary for salvation. They are belief and baptism. The word “and” is a coordinating conjunction which joins elements of equal rank. It would be incorrect to strike out belief and say we are saved by baptism only. It would also be wrong to strike out baptism and say we are saved by faith only. So belief AND baptism are stated as being necessary for salvation. Just as one must believe in order to be saved, one must also be baptized in order to be saved.
There are various illustrations which can be considered. Suppose someone should say, “He that believeth AND is baptized shall receive a new car.” I’m sure most people would have little trouble understanding that to get a new car one would have to comply with both of the conditions. They could not just believe or just be baptized and expect to receive the new car. Why? The statement was, “He that believeth AND is baptized shall receive a new car. In arithmetic, we know that 2 and 2 equals 4. Again, you must have both of the 2’s to get the 4. In like manner, verse 16 says that both belief and baptism equals salvation. It seems help would be needed to misunderstand verse 16. Baptism is clearly stated as being essential for salvation.
Someone may say, “Well, I agree with that passage, but I still feel that one can be saved without baptism. This attitude is alarming. Everyone must put aside their opinions and simply accept God’s Word. (Please note also Acts 2:38, 10:48, 22:16; Matthew 28:18-20; Galatians 3:27; I Peter 3:21; Romans 6:3-4.)
Is It Narrow-Minded?
I don’t know about you, but I get a little weary of hearing the word “narrow” used as a slur against preachers who adhere to the Bible in their preaching. Sure they are “narrow,” but so are factory workers, surgeons, druggists, and teachers. The factory worker is so “narrow” that he uses micrometers and measures to the thousandth of an inch the bores and pistons of engines, electronic components and balancing wheels in timepieces. The surgeon is so “narrow” that he insists on ultra-technical laboratory analysis and meticulously sterilized instruments of special design. Why is he so “picky narrow” that he makes his assistants wear cloths over their faces? The druggist is so “narrow” that he just has to have a prescription before he will let you have certain drugs. He says he has to be “narrow” because government regulations are narrow, and even thinks it is for your good!
As you think about it, it’s a blessing that somebody is “narrow-minded.” And however much we need to be narrow about vital material matters, we must be infinitely more careful and exact about spiritual laws. God will not be mocked!
Separated from/by God
In Isaiah 59:1-2, the prophet says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hid- den His face from you, So that He will not hear.” Thus, it can be said that sin separates us from God. Though we separate ourselves from God when we sin, we know that we can be reconciled, or restored, to Him as result of Christ’s death – “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the un- godly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11). Though Christ works as our reconciliator, He will also will be our judge (Matt. 25:31-46).
Christ will separate the ungodly from the righteous on the Judgment Day (Matt. 25:32). It is our choice, based on how we serve God on earth, whether we will be united with Him or eternally separated from him on the day of judgment.