Recently, our student ministry began a study in the book of James. Mark Etheridge and I have been going through the book with our students each Wednesday night. It is not teaching that I have never heard before, but it is some teaching that I feel has finally hit me. I personally have come a long way during this study! Let me just say that the theme of James is faith that works. The title that we chose for the series is, “living out what lies within.” That is the meaning of the addition of the word works in the theme of the book. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not works, lest any man should boast.” We come to Jesus on the basis of our faith in Jesus and His plan! It is nothing that we do to come to Jesus. It is just simply placing our faith in Him. The point of James is that if someone is truly saved, they WILL work. There will be fruit in a person’s life. Now, here is what God is teaching me:
The point of James is an inward faith that results in an outward life. If I am truly saved, it is inward. It is a transformational change that takes place from the inside out. It is a heart issue. Too often in church life (I have been guilty), we tend to focus on the outward. We focus on what a person wear’s, the type of Christian music that they listen too, the groups they associate with, the pastors that they fellowship with, and even their amusements. My daughter has given me a new perspective. I do not care if she wears pants in church or listens to contemporary music as long as her heart is right! Her heart is what matters to me, and more importantly, her heart matters to God. We tend to focus on the list of things we as believers must do. Let me just say that if a person’s heart is right, the list will be okay and right as well.
“Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith.” Are you in the faith? Are you saved, or are you just trying to work out things on the outside without an inward transformational change that only a relationship with Jesus can bring?