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Faith Beyond Words (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
May 3, 2024 6:00 am

Faith Beyond Words (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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May 3, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the letter of James 1:2-5

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Abraham did not say, okay, nice philosophy.

I'm going to get around to that one day. No, he didn't. He took it upon himself to obey everything he was told. But he says that he was justified. Well, you who believe, you're justified. You're saved. Your guilt is taken away from you before a holy God. It is Christ who justifies us.

Galatians 2 17, justified by Christ. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of James.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio. Specifically, how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Now, here's Pastor Rick in the book of James Chapter 2 as he continues his message, Faith Beyond Words. This is sermon material for those who God will bring your way. You can't preach any truth to someone that God has not brought to you.

It won't work. They're shut down to the gospel. Even Jesus Christ, when he walked, he couldn't save everyone.

There were those that hated him, plotted his murder, and then pulled it all. But it's the ones you can reach. And you can't find them without God. He brings them. But why should he bring them when it's not pressed on our hearts? Why should he bring them when we are not ready for action?

When we've left our weapons in the tent and we're just out for a stroll down by the river? The demons tremble at the knowledge of God because there's power in our faith. They are very well aware of this.

They take him seriously. Mark's gospel, this is what the demons said to Christ, let us alone. What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God. So the demons, again, they know who Christ is. We have a world of people that don't.

We have whole churches that don't. What are we going to do about it? I know what I'm going to do about it.

I'm not saying I get all the results I want, but I know what I'm going to do about this. I'm going to stay stirred and moved. And when I feel those clouds of drudgery coming, I'm not going to submit to them.

I'm going to stay focused on why I am in this world, no matter what mood I am in, all the way until I am out of this world. And so should every believer I believe. And so their belief in the existence of God brought them dread.

But dread is not enough. And when you share your faith with unbelievers, you share the faith of Christ with unbelievers, if you find that they are being moved by what you are saying, don't let them off the hook. Get them to come to the cross to confess their sins.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. And yet we have churches out there that have been told by Satan, don't preach the Word of God. Don't preach precept upon precept, line upon line. What we need you to do is talk about humanity, how everybody is feeling this morning.

Do creative and catchy little things that everybody can grin at and applaud. Whatever you do, do not convict, rebuke, and exhort according to the Scripture. And what the pastor is supposed to do, you better be doing too.

And if you're doing it, he better be doing it. A true friend of God is one who has a bond and friendship with Jesus Christ. Romans 5, 1, therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. As the years have passed by in my Christian walk, I am less and less comfortable with referring to Jesus as Jesus and more comfortable with referring to Him as Jesus Christ the Lord. Anybody can have the name Jesus, but they can't be the Christ.

There's only one Christ the Lord. That's not a rebuke to you if you have not that conviction. I'm not trying to lay that on you. I'm just sharing with you where I have what I've come to. Verse 20 of James chapter 2, but do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? It's a pretty strong language.

Do you want to know, O foolish man? Some of our Greek scholars say that means those who are empty-headed. That's how that phrase would have been received by that congregation. So it would have been read out into the church, but you empty-headed ones, don't you know that faith without works is dead?

Talk is just not enough. It seldom is. If you were again accused of being a Christian, would it be accurate? Would there be something to base that on? Well, why do you think I'm a Christian? Some of you have had this experience. You've been in the workplace or somewhere and someone's come up to you and said, How come you're not like the rest of us?

Well, there's something about you a little different, and I don't mean your hairstyle or something. I don't have that problem, but there should be something about us that ain't like everybody who is not walking with Christ. Verse 21, Was not Abraham our father justified by words when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Abraham, the great pioneer of the faith, the Jews held him in the highest esteem, and that he references him as our father is another indication that this is a Jewish audience, ethnic-wise, and that helps to understand what's going on in the story, why the letter is as it is. Abraham did not only believe God existed, but he acted on what he believed, and that is one of the reasons why he's now bringing him up. I am encouraged by Abraham praying for Sodom and Gomorrah.

I mean, he really took God to task on that one, you could say. Well, okay, what of this 50 righteous people? Are you still going to destroy the place if there's 50 righteous? No, I won't, God said.

Okay, 40, and he's almost haggling for souls. God is saying back to Abraham in the end, if you can find 10 people in that city, I won't burn it down, but you can't. That's pretty bad, but the point is, Abraham's heart, he knew how wicked those people were, how far from God. He knew the influence they had on his beloved nephew Lot, and yet he prayed for them. Is that not a rebuke to us? I mean, it's so easy to hate our enemies instead of praying for them.

Well, it's true, if you prayed for all your enemies, you probably wouldn't get anything done, you wouldn't eat, you'd sleep, there's too many, because you don't have to know a person for them to be your enemy, you just have to know about what they're doing. Faith, it is a big deal for us, for we Christians. We are justified. He says, was not Abraham our father justified by deeds when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? When God said, offered now your son, your only son whom you love, Abraham did not say, okay, nice philosophy, I'm going to get around to that one day. No, he did it.

He took it upon himself to obey everything he was told. But he says that he was justified. Well, you who believe, you're justified, you're saved, your guilt is taken away from you before a holy God. It is Christ who justifies us, Galatians 2 17, justified by Christ.

Romans 5 9 tells us it is the blood of Christ, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through him. Romans 3 28, pardon me, says it is by faith we are justified. Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith.

He's made right with God by believing what God has said about himself and the sinner. And he continues, apart from the deeds of the law, we are justified by faith, we are saved by faith, not by earning our salvation. And if any of you think you can earn your salvation, you are standing before God with that thought and you are saying to God, you owe me because I've earned it and pay up. And when I die, you have a place ready for me in heaven because of all the good things I've done.

God's response is, that ain't gonna happen. The Bible says that our best deeds are like filthy rags before a holy and pure God. You're just explaining how ignorant you are of what holiness means to a God, to God. What purity means, and you're also missing out on what the love of God is all about, that he loves you in spite of your inability to do anything to help your helpless state except believe.

And he has set this up for us. By his kindness, Titus 3.7, having been justified by his grace, that's undeserved kindness, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Not only are we saved citizens of the kingdom, but we're family with God. James, of course, is now saying, but our faith is put into practice here in verse 21. Verse 22, do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect.

He's talking about Abraham. He's saying that he was made complete. He finished the circle. He did not leave it undone. He completed it. I don't know about you, but when I mow my lawn, and I have a push mower still, because as I told you, those riding mowers are too hard to push. I get to a section where I'm maybe 90% done, and that's when I want to quit. I'm always tempted, man, that's good enough.

And it's grueling, and I know it, and I hate that section. But it has to be completed. Abraham was made complete in that he followed through. He not only said yes, Lord, but he went and did what he was told to do. This is expected of us, and by works, faith made perfect, complete. Verse 23, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

And he was called a friend of God, fulfilled as in victory, complete as mentioned. The event that James is now referring to occurred 15 years before the birth of Isaac, when Abraham believed God. In other words, God told Abraham, I'm going to give you a son.

It would be 15 years before that promise was fulfilled. And of course, Abraham made a mess of things with Hagar and Ishmael in the process. But it's a beautiful story there in Genesis chapter 15. It was 48 years before he offered Isaac, 15 years before the promise was fulfilled, 48 years there about before he actually took Isaac to offer him up a sacrifice which God did not allow, which was never in God's heart to allow.

The scriptures make that clear. But at the time that God gave him this promise, he came from this great victory, a booming victory over the kings of the east. They had come down to Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot lived, and they had conquered the city and taken all the people captive and were taking them back to their land. And Abraham rallied his servants who were trained men at war, split his forces into three groups, attacked the confederation of five kings and brought about this great victory.

After the victory, Abraham may have been a little concerned that there would be those still in those kingdoms, land from which those kings had come, who would retaliate against him. We don't have time to read the whole story in Genesis 15, but I'll just take excerpts from it. Because it is at this time that Abraham gets a new name for God.

He gets it from Melchizedek. The name is El Elyon, God Most High. And we read about it again in Genesis 15 in verse 1. After these things, the word of Yahweh came to Abraham in a vision saying, Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.

And then it moves on. And he believed in Yahweh, and Yahweh accounted it to him for righteousness. And so in case I lost you here, God was making these promises to Abraham that weren't going to be fulfilled for a long time. When God made the promises, Abraham believed them. There was no doubt.

There was no pushback. There was some discussion on how things were going to work out. But Abraham, in his heart, he got it and he held on to it. And James is saying, Remember Abraham, great man of faith, patriarch. His faith was not without action. When God told him to do something, he did it. He knew it was God. He acted upon it.

And what was the result of that? God called him his friend. And he was called the friend of God. Friend? As though you meet on equal terms. That's what a friend is.

Equal terms. God is treating Abraham that way. As though God is delighted to see Abraham. And Abraham is delighted to see God. I have a friend, he's not here in this world anymore, and I go to see him and he'd say, I am glad to see you. And I would think of this section of scripture, because I've preached on it before. And I adore this section of scripture. Friend, hailing friend, shaking hands, delighted to see each other. A beautiful picture, a possibility for all believers.

But what is meant? He was a friend of Abraham. More than that, what we find out in Exodus 11.

Moses, we read in Exodus 33 verse 11. So Yahweh spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. That's how God spoke to Abraham. Now when God told Abraham he was going to have a kid in that 15 year period, silence. He walked by faith during that period of time. You may have had days in your life of Christ, but God spoke to you.

And you've done nothing differently, you've not backslidden, you've not walked away from the Lord, but you haven't heard from him in a very long time. Take courage, you're in a class with Abraham. Be faithful. We shall walk by faith, not by sight. We read that this morning from 2 Corinthians. And so this man Abraham, he says in verse 24, You see then that a man is justified by works, not by faith only. Here is a saying of the Reformers, those who broke from Rome and the Herpopes, and they came out of that darkness, and this was one of their sayings, We are justified by faith alone, but not by the faith that is alone.

And this is what they meant. You can say you believe all you want, what are you doing? So we've got a bunch of people here that act on their faith, they do serve. My concern is, where are the fresh and new servants?

There should always be new sign-ups. People that say, I'm going to make this my church, I'm going to worship here. We will say, we have a post for you. There's a place for you to serve. Not because we have these things we need done, but because God tells us to. Because if you want to just strip it all down, we can just, you know, go meet out in the field somewhere, all stand in a circle and do what we're doing right now, and that'll be it. There'll be no bathrooms to clean up, and no repairs to be made, no painting of the walls, no children's ministry workers giving them the Word on their level, quality of the Word that way.

We can all be out there shivering in the cold and sweating in the sun, but we don't have to do it that way. Now, there's this thing that keeps interfering with this message. Every Sunday morning, time. Verse 24, we'll close up.

Verse 25 now. Likewise was not Rahab the harlot, also justified by works when she received the message, and sent them out another way. Well, unlike Abraham, she's not the pioneer of faith.

Rahab had everything going against her in the eyes of the Jew. First, she was a Gentile. Then she was a woman, and for them that was a big thing. Maybe you have watched The Fiddler on the Roof, because you're getting a time capsule of how they think.

There's so much of that in Fiddler on the Roof. And there's one scene where one of the characters says, women are people too, and the rabbi's son says, a rebel! This was in their theology, so I'm not siding with the chorus. I'm pointing out to you that in the mind of the first century Jew who had fallen under rabbinical teachings, not mosaic teachings, that's their low view of women.

Jesus had to deal with this. Women, where are your sinners? Because I've dealt with them. Where are your accusers?

Pardon me. Where are your accusers? The woman that was about to be stoned because she was caught in sin. Well, he mentions Rahab, a woman, a Gentile, and an immoral, a sin-stained, gross sinner. She had everything against her.

It could be worse. And yet God made a place for her in heaven, and it started right here on earth. Nobody can say to God, I'm too dirty for you to clean me. For a holy and pure God, that is not a problem, unless you want to make it a problem.

And you do that by rejecting him, his terms. And so we consider Hebrews 11, 31, by faith, the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe when she had received the spies with peace. She risked her life.

You see, he's saying she believed God. Word had gotten to Jericho. The Jews are coming. They've already dealt with the kings across the Jordan. Now they're coming here into the Promised Land.

This is something that started 40 years ago. They knew this in Egypt, and God has been with them. And now they're at our doorstep in fulfillment to all that God had said. They knew this in Jericho. Only one person in her family had faith enough to switch teams, to get away from the losing team and join the winning team.

And it was Rahab. And without her, her family too would have perished. And so we find here in Scripture that the differences of sex, character, social rank, they matter nothing in the kingdom of God. God takes individuals one at a time.

Those that are saved, those who want to be His children, among His children. And so she came to the sensible conclusion, you have the only true God, that's the God I want. Ruth would come to this same conclusion centuries later. Joshua 2.11, and as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted. When we heard the Jews were at our doorstep, our hearts melted.

Neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for Yahweh, your God, He is God in heaven above and earth beneath. She understood all the fake gods of Jericho were fake. The only true God was the God of the Jews, and she wanted to belong to that God.

And she did. And so the writer of James in his letter is saying, Rahab, she believed these things and then she did something with it, and she risked her lives hiding these spies. Verse 26, for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.

Fair conclusion. Very simple, everybody understands it. What we believe, what we truly believe, we will struggle, we will strive to carry out, to follow, we will war against whatever it is getting in our way to achieve what we believe. What we who are Christians believe is Jesus is our Lord. We do not disagree with Him on anything. We may not like certain things, but we do not disagree. And we intend with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength to follow Him. If you are here this morning and you're an unbeliever, you are probably against everything I'm saying. I want to close with this important point. No one running a little late here or you may be, well, you're running late with me. So it's not just me.

I want to just say this. If you are, particularly with our sisters, if you are college educated, you have unique struggles when it comes to the Scripture because you've been corrupted more than likely. If you've yielded to their influence, you are fighting wars that you should not fight that have been assigned to you by the world, that have been given to you so that when you come to a Scripture verse that says, I will not suffer a woman to teach or usurp authority over the man in the church, you have big problems with that and the world has told you what to have problems with and what not to have problems with. Thanks for joining us today as we took a deeper look into the book of James here on Cross Reference Radio. Cross Reference Radio is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. We're blessed to bring you God's word with each broadcast. If you'd like more information or want to listen to additional teachings from Pastor Rick, please visit our website crossreferenceradio.com. If you've been blessed by this program, we'd love to hear from you. When you visit the website, simply click on the contact us link at the top of the page and leave us a message. That website again is crossreferenceradio.com. Please join us again next time as we continue our study through the book of James right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-03 08:07:06 / 2024-05-03 08:16:12 / 9

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