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Sermons By The Heal The Land Ministry

DO NOT NEGLECT WORKS

Posted by Job on March 1, 2007

James 2:14-What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?Make no mistake, we are saved, sanctified, and justified by grace through faith alone. I have to be honest here: some of the confusion over the Bible that contributes to skepticism and various doctrines and denominations are to a degree legitimate. Some of it is due to having to interpret ancient texts that came out of cultures and traditions of the day. Also, there is the issue of context: certain things included in the Bible were written to specific people at specific times to address certain circumstances. The latter is particularly instructive when you consider that the Mosaic Old Testament law says to Honor thy father and thy mother (Exodus 20:12) but Jesus said in the New Testament: “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (Matthew 10:35). The former was clearly intended in general terms, but the latter was explaining how becoming a dedicated Believer would mean rejecting and being rejected by the world, especially when you consider the more extreme (and seldom spoken of) comment of Jesus: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Lacking proper context, Luke 14:26 not only clearly contradicts every other doctrine and concept in the Bible, but is also INCONTROVERTIBLY EVIL; something that a fanatical cultist who would command his followers to commit homicidal violence would say. Which, of course, is why Luke 14:26 is seldom spoken of, even among Believers who are “extremists. 

Hence, there is the issue of reconciling Paul’s letters, which proclaim salvation in believing in The Son of God’s death and resurrection alone, and James 2, which proclaims that faith without works is dead, and further goes on to state that while a man is saved by faith, he is justified by works. It is so easy to create false doctrine by taking the letters out of context. Paul was writing to new Believers who were in danger of being corrupted by legalists and Judaizers, both of whom claimed that salvation was either by works, or by some combination of faith and works. Such Believers were very vulnerable because prior to their conversion to Christianity they were pagans, and pagan religions are works religions. So, the legalists and Judaizers were offering them the temptation to revert back to the faith structure and culture that they were already comfortable and familiar – the wide path, the wide gate, the easy road – rather than commit themselves to something totally foreign to their way of life and thinking because it was completely unconditional and spiritual – the hard narrow road and the strait gate. The way of the Judaizers and legalists was easier to grasp, comprehend, follow, and maintain, and hence required less faith. But the tradeoff was denying the very grace by which they were saved. 

James, on the other hand, was addressing a different problem. The new Believers were trying to live by faith alone. This is a rejection of the fact that God wants us to DO THINGS FOR HIM. Jesus Christ gave His disciples a long list of activities, which included but are not limited to evangelizing, ministering, healing, spiritual warfare, keeping the Communion and the Sabbath, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, advocating for widows, the fatherless, orphans, etc. As a matter of fact, Christ explicitly said that Believers who did not do those things would not enter Heaven (Matthew 25:32-46). More explicitly is Matthew 7:19-23, where even people who believed in Jesus Christ and did mighty works in His Name were not saved because they were evil and brought forth evil fruit. In stating that faith without works is dead, James was saying that if a person truly has faith, the evidence of that faith will be good fruit. Place it in the context of the entire chapter. In James 2:1-6, he warns about Believers who engage in class discrimination, which no one with charity will do. In James 2:7-12, he warns against legalism and Judaizers, just as does Paul (and also notes that the legalists and Judaizers were hypocrites in their own faith for engaging in class discrimination, which is against the law), declaring it to be blasphemy against Jesus Christ. The “works are necessary” part is James 2:13-26, wherein false Believers were using “faith” in order to evade mercy. People were coming to these Believers with real needs (food, shelter, etc.) and these false Believers were turning them away, claiming that A) their bodily needs were illegitimate because the spiritual needs were all that mattered; that dying of starvation, exposure, or disease would be perfectly fine because they were going to go to Heaven anyway if they were saved, and if they were not saved then they were in need of salvation and not material things anyway or B) if these people truly had faith, they could pray for these things themselves and God could provide, or the people being asked for help would merely pray for the needy and tell them that God would grant their prayers and supply their needs if they were truly faithful. Either way, these “Believers” were falsely using the Name of Christ to justify not providing aid to needy people, and in so they were no different from the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees. Jesus Christ knew that this would happen, which was why He not only stated Matthew 25:32-46 and Matthew 7:19-23, but also Matthew 5:20, which reads “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” 

Quite simply, the “salvation by faith alone” folks cannot get around the teachings of Jesus Christ on the matter. They do not DENY the teachings of Christ, indeed they say that it is very good indeed to keep them. But they error in not associating His teachings with salvation, as Christ clearly did. The result is that most people go away thinking that “Well, it is good to do these things and I will be blessed if I do them, but I do not HAVE to do them to go to Heaven, so I won’t do them. Or, I won’t do them consistently; I will only do them when I need something from the Lord or when it is easy, convenient, and beneficial to me.” There is no way to reconcile the “salvation by belief alone” doctrine and the words of Jesus “If you love me, keep my commandments”, “love God with all your heart and soul and also love thy neighbor”, “love thy enemies”, etc., not to mention the exhortations to be fruitful. These things are not merely GOOD THINGS, but they are NECESSARY THINGS. 

No, I am not being a Judaizer or a legalist. Such people attempt to achieve or improve upon God’s righteousness with a strict set of rules, and for such people the rules become more important than God. Works are not rules. Works are the product of obedience to the Holy Spirit. You have to obey what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, because the Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit; part o the trinity. Disobeying the Holy Spirit is disobeying God, and no one who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will be saved (Matthew 12:31). But you cannot do what the Holy Spirit wants by observance of laws and rituals. You have to discern, trust, and obey what the Holy Spirit puts into YOUR SPIRIT, and that is the meaning of John 4:23-24. Is it possible to enter Heaven without receiving the Holy Spirit and being obedient to it? I dare say that you are better off not trying to find out! That is why you are better off with a personal relationship with Christ, and not a religion that depends on either doctrines and traditions or on charismatic emotional experiences. The former is actually INFERIOR to Judaism, and the latter emphasizes FEELING the Holy Spirit rather than HEARING and OBEYING it on a daily or continuous basis. 

It is vital, Believers, to understand that the Bible must be placed into context to be properly understood. Just as no man is an island, no Bible verse, book, or doctrine stands apart from its context. Further, each Bible book, verse, concept, doctrine, etc. has to be in an agreeing context with everything else in the Bible. If James does not agree with Paul, then the Bible is not true and our faith is in vain. So rather than selecting out – of – context statements by Paul and James because it agrees with your preferences and with what you were taught by your religious traditions, you are supposed to work with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to get them to agree with each other, and not in an artificial way. Failure to reconcile Paul and James has led to such false doctrines as predestination and abuse of grace.
Now, this is the patience of the saints that requires understanding. One of the main points of the predestination theology is that man cannot choose his salvation for himself because the very act of accepting Christ is a work, and man cannot be saved by works! These people so misunderstand. For true faith is itself a work. Indeed, true faith is the chief work! And Paul, the alleged works – denier, says so himself.
Hebrews 11:6 reads “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.” Only after you put on faith, the belief that God is, will you attain the secondary work, which is charity, a love for God with all your heart and soul and then a love for your neighbor and your enemy. It is AFTER you obtain faith and charity that all other works come, but make no mistake, faith and charity are indeed works that a person must consciously choose to have and exercise. And what does Paul, the alleged works denier, say about faith, without which it is impossible to please God, in Romans 10:7? “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So faith, without which it is impossible to please God or be saved, is dependent upon hearing the Word of God. And is not hearing the Word of God a work? Of course it is! Were it not, why would Jesus Christ have beckoned His followers to come hear and follow Him? Why did Jesus tell Martha to stop worrying about being a party host and to come hear how to be saved like Mary (Luke 10:38-42)?  

The other side of the coin is the abuse of grace doctrine, which states that once you accept Christ you can pretty much do whatever you want because your spirit is made clean. That again is something that comes out of taking Paul’s letters out of context. Paul was addressing those who were contending that the spirit was made clean by LEGALISTIC RITUALS; in essence the spirit being redeemed by the flesh with things like strict observance of the Jewish dietary laws and by getting circumcised. Paul was imparting the point that flesh cannot redeem spirit, but rather only the spirit can redeem the spirit. As a matter of fact, the flesh cannot even redeem the flesh, only the spirit can. The spirit and flesh of man were never made clean by the law. The spirit and flesh of man were made clean by the Holy Spirit of GOD by virtue of man’s keeping God’s Commandments through the law. Of course, it was impossible to keep the law perfectly, but God’s grace and mercy redeemed the shortcomings of those who loved God and their neighbors, had faith, and tried their best. That is what Jesus Christ tried to tell the Pharisees and Sadducees; despite their strict observances of the law they were still sinners who needed to be redeemed by God and always had been, and the only change was that the way for redemption had been changed from God conferring it on whoever honestly tried to keep the law to conferring it on whoever honestly believed on Christ Jesus.  

And this is what is really going to burn your religious bacon. The Pharisees and Sadducees did not reject Jesus Christ because they did not believe that He was the Son of God. Such was undeniable after Christ’s Resurrection! The empty tomb PROVED that all that Jesus Christ said was true; it PROVED His Righteousness before God. God would NEVER raise an unrighteous man from the dead, and if Satan could he would! So if Jesus Christ had lied about being the Son of God, despite His being a prophet who did many great works He would have been a sinner that God would have rejected like Balaam. And they obviously knew that the body had not simply been misplaced or stolen. A huge stone was placed on the tomb, the tomb was sealed, and it was guarded night and day by Roman soldiers, who could not fall asleep or abandon their post under penalty of death. So when the Roman soldiers all gave the same account of an earthquake and an angel rolling the stone away, it was not disputed, and the soldiers were not executed. And why should they have been? Have people forgotten how absolutely wild Christ’s crucifixion was? It became dark as the darkest night in the middle of the day. There was a huge earthquake. The thick heavy veil in the temple ripped from top to bottom. And oh yes, the graves came open, many dead bodies of saints arose and came into
Jerusalem in plain sight of many (
Matthew 27:51-53). It was OBVIOUS that he was the Son of God; even the Roman soldiers knew it (Matthew 27:54) so why execute them? And as such, the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and chief priests did not even seek the lives of the guards from the Roman officials as they had successfully sought the death of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. They merely bribed them to say that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body. So YES, the Pharisees and Sadducees KNEW that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.

What the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes rejected was Jesus’ TEACHINGS. They insisted upon believing that man justify himself with the law, and if they kept the law they were not sinners. Christ was telling them that there was no self – justification through the law or any under means, but only justification by God. They were so determined to believe that they were capable of making themselves righteous through the law that they rejected even the resurrected Son of God. Why? Because to them, it had ceased to be God’s Law; it had become their law, and calling it God’s law was only the formality of tradition. The best evidence of this is how they allowed moneychangers and animals to defile the temple, showing their lack of love for and fear of God. They did not care about God or His temple, they only cared about THEIR RULES. Further proof of this was when they took the adulterous woman before Jesus, about to stone her. When Jesus said that the person without sin should cast the first stone, and they left (FROM THE OLDEST TO THE YOUNGEST) that proved that they KNEW that they were sinners, AND that they did not care, because self – justification through legalism or by any other means inevitably leads to learning to walk in agreement with sin. 

So again, we have to address what salvation means. Salvation is not mere belief. For instance, in virtually any nation where Christianity is the dominant faith and religion plays a major role in the culture, tradition, and history, you are going to have a huge number of people who believe that Elohim exists, that Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son born of a virgin, that He died on the cross for the sins of mankind, rose again on the third day, and ascended to Heaven to the right hand of the Father, and is returning one day for His Believers, and that there will be a final judgment. How can that not be the case, with so many people growing up going to church and continuing at least irregular church attendance throughout their lives? With the Christmas and Easter specials that come on TV each year? With all of the Bibles and crucifixes that are sold? So there are a lot of believers, and I would dare say that in some countries and at some times in history the overwhelming majority of the population was believers.  

But this was the point made by Bruce Barnes, the critical character in the Left Behind series: belief is not sufficient! Bruce Barnes believed. After all, he was a minister in a fundamentalist church! But belief is not a work. Belief does not require faith. It does not require charity. It does not require dedication. It does not require sacrifice. You can believe that Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross for your sins and rose again, and it not make a single change in you whatsoever. After all, this would have to be the case. Why? How else do you explain so many people who believe not having the Holy Spirit, and hence not having a lick of mercy, charity, forgiveness, patience, or longsuffering? How else do you explain so many people who believe not being able to understand the Bible, or even caring to study it, or whose only interest in studying it is to confirm a pre – existing belief taught to them by their religion, tradition, or culture? How else could so many people who believe participate in such crimes as the Inquisition, African slavery, and the Holocaust? 

What is sufficient is what comes AFTER belief, which is ACCEPTANCE. When you make a conscious decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. That only comes out of faith in God. That only comes out of submission to God. That only comes out of fear of God. That only comes out of love of God. It only comes out of a decision that you are a sinner; and that you are not good enough on your own through your own power. It only comes out of a decision to choose life over death; good over evil. And if that is not a work, I do not know what is! I mean, you can pray, tithe, minister, and mission until you work your fingers to the bones. Did not Cain do the same when he worked the ground to grow fruit and offered it to the Lord? But until you set yourself under God’s Authority, it is meaningless. That is what Cain did not do! Until you do the first work, all the other works are vain. But it is a work! 

But here is the key. Once you do the first work, the Holy Spirit will come. And so long as you do not blaspheme the Holy Spirit when it comes, other works will inevitably follow. Why? Because you will have set yourself under God’s Authority, which will mean obeying the Holy Spirit. Now ask yourself: does the “saved by belief and confession alone” doctrine cause people to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (which includes denying it or failing to seek God through it)? Hmmm … 

And you further have to consider the reality that accepting the doctrine of salvation by faith and confession alone renders virtually everything that Jesus Christ said and taught to be null. If belief and confession is in and of itself enough, why do you have to keep God’s Commandments? If you do not keep God’s Commandments, you do not love Him. So if you do not love God, how can you be saved by Him? And if you do not love God or obey Him, precisely who or what did you make a confession of belief in? Certainly not God! Or even if you did, God will reject it as an unacceptable sacrifice. The only way to make it an acceptable sacrifice is to follow your confession of belief with personal acceptance. That is why Paul said that God rewards SEEKERS. You do not have to be seeking anything when you believe something. Belief in something merely requires a decision that a particular fact is more sensible than all other alternatives. And in some instances, it merely means not denying the ONLY POSSIBLE CHOICE, as was the case with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Romans when confronted with the amazing scene at Christ’s crucifixion and with Christ’s resurrection 3 days later. But their very act of deciding to cover it up shows that merely inward acknowledgement of undeniable fact is not personal acceptance. It is not a work. Were mere belief sufficient, then they most certainly would have not covered up the resurrection of their Savior, for they would have loved their Savior and the God who sent Him, and would have wanted everyone else to be saved by Him. This is evidence that mere belief, or even belief included with confession, does not equate salvation. Only acceptance does, and acceptance is a work. 

Why is the work necessary? Simple: free will. You have to DO SOMETHING! You have to make an active exercise of your free will in order to be saved. You have to accept God’s righteousness, you have to admit and reject your unrighteousness, and you have to give up self – rule and submit yourself to God’s Authority. Make no mistake, it is a surrender. Consider two nations that are fighting. One nation cannot merely decide or believe that the other side is stronger and defeat is inevitable, or that the entire conflict is senseless and counterproductive no matter who wins. Why? Because the other nation will still continue to fight, to attack, to destroy your nation and kill your people. Consider
Japan in World War II. It was long obvious that they had lost, as Germany and Italy had abandoned them and they were besieged by the United States,
Britain, and other allies. And oh yes, we dropped two nuclear bombs on them! But the Japanese had to DO SOMETHING other than merely acknowledge defeat; to merely acknowledge that the continuation of hostilities would be fruitless and counterproductive! They had to SURRENDER! They had to SUE FOR PEACE! They had to sign a PEACE TREATY! That was the ONLY WAY to get the Allied Forces to stop bombing and shooting them, even after we dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki after they were already beaten! As a matter of fact, many historians and war experts claim that dropping the second atomic bomb in particular was thoroughly unnecessary because Japan was obviously beaten after the first, but
Japan did not SURRENDER until AFTER THE SECOND, so we DROPPED THE SECOND BOMB! So, when you accept Christ in your life, you are not only surrendering, you are not only suing for peace, you are not only signing a peace treaty, you are not only unconditionally agreeing to the other sides’ terms, but YOU ARE JOINING THE OTHER SIDE! Realize that after
Japan surrendered, sued for peace, signed a peace treaty, and even gave up territory that they had taken in the war and agreed to provide compensation, they did not become our 51st state. Neither did Germany become part of Britain, or Italy part of
France. But when you accept Christ into your life, you join yourself to God! You knowingly, willingly become a citizen in the

Kingdom of
Heaven! As a matter of fact, you do more than choose citizenship, you become part of the family. You become a joint – heir with Christ Jesus because you become part of the church that ultimately marries Christ.
 

This is not passive; it is a conscious active exercise, a work. It is the greatest work that you can ever do, and the only work that will ever truly mean anything. It is the only thing that you have to do to get to Heaven, but if you are going to get to Heaven you are going to have to do it! Do not be deceived. Every man has to be made a lie so that God’s Word can be true, and what Jesus Christ, His Disciples, and everyone else who has surrendered themselves to the Holy Spirit of God has spoken is true. Every word. Salvation by confession of belief alone clearly contradicts so much of what is in the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation. As a matter of fact, the false notion of salvation by confession of belief alone is why so many people think that they can just cast off the Old Testament, despite the fact that the New Testament clearly says that people who commit the sins enumerated in the Old Testament (i.e. lying, whoremongering, stealing, witchcraft, fornication, adultery, murder) will not enter Heaven. Have you, perchance, seen the 15th verse of the last book in the Bible? It reads For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Yet you have people who are still doing that stuff and claim that they are going to be “saved by grace”, as if God is going to allow them to make His Word a lie. And why did Paul deliver a man who would not abandon his sexual relationship with his mother to Satan as a last resort to end his life to save his soul (I Corinthians 5:5) if the man was going to be saved by grace anyway?  

Excuse me for allowing my Bible to get in the way of your precious religious doctrine and tradition, but make no mistake: God’s Word is true. You just have to find a way to understand, believe,  and fulfill it, and Heal The Land Ministries is here to help you. Please start with saying the Salvation Prayer today, and then move on into studying God’s Word and praying and obeying the Holy Spirit for yourself so that you will not be deceived by false doctrine. 

Prayer:

Father God in the Name of Your Son Jesus Christ, may people truly receive salvation by believing in Your Son’s Resurrection and accepting Your Son in their hearts today. May those who are being deceived by false doctrine be deceived no longer. May people know the difference between a work of the flesh and a work of the soul. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Deliverance:

The demons that work in this area are false doctrine and false teaching, which cause people to believe that they can enter Heaven without totally submitting themselves to God’s Authority and tricks them into believing that salvation and faith merely requires an exercise of choice or intellect rather than an active expression of free will. Please read the Basic Spiritual Warfare guide to learn more about how to go against these demons to help set captives free and win battles in the name of your God through the power, authority, and victory given to you by his Son Jesus Christ and by his blood shed for you!

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