1/27/13 Stacy about 25
Faith works! That’s a theme of the epistle of James, and it was a big part of my message to a young man named Stacy whom I talked with while shopping at Home Depot today. Stacy had a “been there, done that” attitude toward the Gospel. He had studied theology at his catholic high school and while at college, then went overseas with the army and began to embrace other world religions, now viewing Christianity and all religions as basically the same. He rejects the protestant emphasis on grace, viewing it as a cheap forgiveness that allows people to go on sinning. Like the older son in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, he can’t believe people could be forgiven so easily without somehow earning that forgiveness. How can we emphasize God’s free gift of grace without making it seem like works of righteousness are unimportant? First, I explained that God’s grace wasn’t cheap. I pointed Stacy to the cross. Jesus suffered and died there. God sacrificed His only Son. How easily we forget that, and Stacy had to agree. Second, I asked him which comes first, righteous works or salvation? Many people believe their good works will win salvation, but the Bible teaches that they are the result of salvation by faith in Jesus. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith, but we can’t forget verse 10 “…to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. In chapter 2 of his letter, James wrote “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” Dead faith can’t save us; saving faith must be a living faith. How do we know we truly have living faith? Faith works!