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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Faith that Works

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Daily Scripture Reading - Genesis 4

Puritan Catechism

Question #13
Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?

Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God, (Eccl. 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6-8).

Devotional Thoughts

In Hebrews 11:4-16 we find a description of several individuals who had faith, and the thing to note here is that when they had faith, they acted in a certain way. We have already determined that faith directly affects behavior, that is to say, faith that is real, true, alive, and active is a faith that works.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God! Faith, taking God at His Word, is simply defined as believing that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13). So we see here on the other side of the coin, while faith works, without faith we cannot do works that please God!

It's true. Faith in Christ is so vital, so necessary for living the Christian life, that we are told in Romans 14:23 that anything we do that is "not from faith is sin." If we do anything or say anything or think anything that is not motivated by our trust in God then that action, word, or thought is inherently sinful!

So let us examine these people of faith and see what kind of works their faith produced.

Abel Offered a Sacrifice – Heb 11:4

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

By faith, because of his faith, because He believed God, Abel obeyed God and offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Abel knew what God expected. So did Cain. Abel gave God what God wanted! Cain offered God what he wanted to give. There is a huge difference there, is there not?

Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice. It was superb, unmatched, unequalled. Why? Because Abel acted by faith and gave God exactly what God asked of him. As a result Abel obtained this witness - God said he was righteous. What is it to be righteous? It means that God proclaimed that Abel was right with Him! On the basis of his faith, faith that worked its way out through his actions of obedience, God made Abel right with Him.

God testified to the goodness of this offering, his gifts to God. God was pleased. Remember, without faith it is impossible to please God, but with faith, all things are possible!

This is such a powerful result of faith working in his life that the Bible tells us that even though Cain out of jealousy murdered Abel, he being dead still speaks! We still hear his testimony. Abel has been declared righteous before God by God in the pages of Holy Scripture for every generation of Christians to hear the story about Abel's incredible faith.

So many people want to leave a legacy to those who come after them. Abel was not worried about any such thing. He just wanted to please God. He trusted God. And as a result he acted in a way that pleased God. He obeyed God. And God testified to his righteousness and continues to talk about him even today as we read this text.

Do you want a legacy that glorifies God? Have faith. You can read more about Abel in Genesis 4.

Enoch Pleased God – Heb 11:5-6

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Notice the same words that appear in the account of Enoch as we continue through our text? Faith, testimony, witness. They both pleased God.

In this account we see that Enoch did not die! Imagine that. The account of Enoch's life found in Genesis 5 tells us that he walked with God. He had this testimony - this is what they said about him - he pleased God. He had such fellowship with the Father and walked so closely with Him that one day God just took Enoch to heaven!

He did not die a physical death. He was not buried. He was taken directly to heaven to be in God's presence.

What a testimony. Pleasing God. Walking with God. Trusting God. And he was taken and was not on the earth any longer. He lived on earth 365 years, which actually was a short time at this time in human history. His father Jared lived 962 years. His son Methuselah, the oldest living human being recorded in Scripture, was born when Enoch was 65 years old and then lived to be 969 years old.

So while he had lived what could have been just a third of his life he was already walking with such faith and such obedience, pleasing God so abundantly, that God took him on to heaven and he was able to forego death!

Noah Had Godly Fear – Heb 11:7

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Noah, in Genesis 6 was warned by God of things about to happen as God was planning to judge sinful mankind. Noah responded with faith. He believed what God was telling him and the result, the action that followed, was that Noah moved with godly fear. He worshipped, loved, honored, respected, and feared God.

The outworking of that godly fear, which is really just having a right view of God was that Noah prepared the ark, preached to the lost, and saved his family!

Imagine if you will the scenario here. On the lighter side of this event, Bill Cosby in a very early routine of his, told the story about how the conversation between God and Noah on the day Noah was told to build an ark might have occured. The record my dad had that he played often went something like this:

God: "Noah."

Noah: "Who is that?"

God: "It's the Lord, Noah."

Noah: "Right. Where are ya? What do You want? I've been good."

God: "I want you to build an ark."

Noah: "Right. What's an ark?"

God: "Get some wood build it 300 cubits by 80 cubits by 40 cubits."

Noah: "Right. What's a cubit?"

God: "I'm going to destory the world."

Noah: "Right. How ya gonna do it?"

God: "I'm gonna make it rain for a 40 days and 40 nights and drown 'em right out."

Noah: "Right! What's rain?"

While this is a bit of comedy, it is true that Noah and the world had not even seen rain at this point! (Genesis 2:5-7). So Noah really was acting on faith. And he faithfully worked on that ark for 100 years, and preached to the people around him the whole time, yet he saw no conversions, no repetance, and no faith by the time it began to rain.

Because of his faith, because he took God at His Word, Noah and his family, and the human race were saved from extinction! He believed God, he feared God, he obeyed God, and the Bible says he became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Abraham Obeyed – Heb 11:8

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

By faith Abraham obeyed God! And what an act of obedience this was. God called Abrahan to go out of the place where he was, his homeland, the place he was born and raised and now had a wife, and go to a place God would show him. But God did not tell him right away where he was going! He just told him to go. And Abraham obeyed and went!! That is faith!

He did not question. He seems to have had no doubts. He got up and moved his family - taking his father and other members of the family with them, and he headed out to a place where he did not even know he was going!

The Bible has a lot more to say about Abraham and his faith. You can read about it in Genesis 12 and Romans 4.

Sarah Conceived Past Child Bearing Age (did the impossible) – Heb 11:11

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

As we look at the life of Abraham and the faith he had we are also told in the Scriptures that his wife Sarah had faith as well. So far we have seen that faith produces the works of obedience, godly fear and building an ark, pleasing God and walking with Him, and offering a more excellent sacrifice. At the root of these so far we see a common theme - faith worked its way out in obedience!

But now we come to Sarah, and we take a turn. Her story is different. By faith she received strength to conceive and bear a son. She took God at His Word, trusted that He was faithful and would do what He promised, and as a result of her faith received strength, the ability to have a baby although she had been barren and was now 90 years old! Lifespans had decreased at this point after the flood and Sarah lived to be 127 years of age. She had first been told about the promise of the birth if Isaac some 25 years before she conceived.

So her faith in God was present for 25 years to the point that she gave birth to a son at the age of 90. This was unheard of - for a barren woman of 90 years to give birth. And yet she did.

Now was her giving birth an act of obedience? No. Not really. She could no more control the conception and birth of her son that could Abraham. She was at a point in her life where it was naturally impossible for her to get pregnant.

So what did her faith work? It worked the impossible! When we take God at His Word we can see the impossible happen. Why is that? Because true, active, working faith is not faith placed in self or in other people. The object of this faith is GOD. And when we take God at His Word and trust Him, we must remember that He delights in doing the impossible!!

Many things that seem impossible to us are not even a challenge for God. For Him, nothing is impossible. And Sarah's faith gave her the strength to see God do the impossible through her!

You can read more about this impossibility becoming a reality in Genesis 17-18, and 22.

These All Had Assurance – Heb 11:13

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Another common theme here, and where we will close today, is this thread running throughout these people's lives that they did not just have faith, but they had assurance. True faith does not leave us doubting or fearing or worrying. True faith, truly taking God at His Word, leads to assurance and confidence.

So as we believe, we obey. We trust God for the impossible. And we are assured that He will do what He has promised! Think about it. How often do we claim to be walking by faith, but we are reluctant, and fearful, and full of worry or doubt? As Jesus responded often to His disciples, we are people of "little faith." Our faith is weak and insufficient.

Why is that? Because we are prone to trust what we see! We walk by sight instead of by faith. Peter is the perfect example. He trusted the reality of the howling winds and crashing waves around him instead of trusting the reality that Jesus had called him to walk on the water.

When we take our eyes off Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) we lose heart, we lose faith, we lose hope, and we sink into the sea of doubt and fear.

If, on the other hand, we walk by faith, we know that faith in God is never a blind leap in the dark. We have His Word to assure us - and His Word in fact is the very tool He uses to give us more faith (Romans 10:17).

So today, remember these examples. Rememebr what faith looks like. Rememeber that faith works. And if your faith is not working, then you are not really trusting God - you are not believing Him, you are calling Him a liar! And we know that God cannot lie! So repent. Find new faith in the Word of God. And believe what He has said.

His Word is sure. His grace sufficient. His mercy new every morning and everlasting. And He can be trusted! Today, have faith that works!

Puritan Voices
This week we will take a look each day at a section of a sermon from the text of 1 John 3:23 titled The Warrant of Faith by Charles H. Spurgeon.

Again, any other way of preaching than that of bidding the sinner believe because God commands him to believe, is a boasting way of faith. For if my warrant to trust in Jesus be found in my experience, my loathings of sin, or my longings after Christ, then all these good things of mine are a legitimate ground of boasting, because though Christ may save me, yet these were the wedding-dress which fitted me to come to Christ. If these be indispensable pre-requisites and conditions, then the man who has them may truly and justly say, "Christ did save me, but I had the pre-requisites and conditions first, and therefore let these share the praise." See, my brethren, those who have a faith which rests upon their own experience, what are they as a rule? Mark them, and you will perceive much censorious bitterness in them, prompting them to set up their own experience as the standard of saintship, which may assuredly make us suspicious whether they ever were humbled in a gospel manner at all, so as to see that their own best feelings, and best repentances, and best experiences in themselves are nothing more nor less than filthy rags in the sight of God. My dear brethren, when we tell a sinner that foul and filthy as he is, without any preparation or qualification, he is to take Jesus Christ to be his all in all, finding in him all that he can ever need, when we dare on the spot to bid the jailor just startled out of sleep, "Believe in Jesus," we leave no room for self-glorification, all must be of grace. When we find the lame man lying at the temple gates, we do not bid him strengthen his own legs. or feel some life in them, but we bid him in the name of Jesus rise up and walk; surely here when God the Spirit owns the Word, all boasting is excluded. Whether I rely on my experience or my good works makes little difference, for either of these reliances will lead to boasting since they are both legal. Law and boasting are twin brothers, but free grace and gratitude always go together.

Any other warrant for believing on Jesus than that which is presented in the gospel is changeable. See, brethren, if my warrant to believe in Christ lies in my meltings of heart and my experiences, then if to-day I have a melting heart and I can pour my soul out before the Lord, I have a warrant to believe in Christ. But to-morrow (who does not know this?) to-morrow my heart may be as hard as a stone, so that I can neither feel nor pray. Then, according to the qualification-theory, I have no right to trust in Christ, my warrant is clean gone from me. According to the doctrine of final perseverance, the Christian's faith is continual, if so the warrant of his faith must be always the same, or else he has sometimes an unwarranted faith which is absurd; it follows from this that the abiding warrant of faith must lie in some immutable truth. Since everything within changes more frequently than ever does an English sky, if my warrant to believe in Christ be based within, it must change every hour; consequently I am lost and saved alternately. Brethren, can these things be so? For my part I want a sure and immutable warrant for my faith; I want a warrant to believe in Jesus which will serve me when the devil's blasphemy comes pouring into my ears like a flood; I want a warrant to believe which will serve me when my lustings and corruptions appear in terrible array, and make me cry out, "O wretched man that I am;' I want a warrant to believe in Christ which will comfort me when I have no good frames and holy feelings, when I am dead as a stone and my spirit lies cleaving to the dust. Such an unfailing warrant to belief in Jesus is found in this precious truth, that his gracious commandment and not my variable experience, is my title to believe on his Son Jesus Christ.

Again, my brethren, any other warrant is utterly incomprehensible. Multitudes of my brethren preach an impossible salvation. How often do poor sinners hunger and thirst to know the way of salvation, and there is no available salvation preached to them. Personally, I do not remember to have been told from the pulpit to believe in Jesus as a sinner. I heard much of feelings which I thought I could never get, and frames after which I longed; but I found no peace until a true, free grace message came to me, "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." See, my brethren, if convictions of soul are necessary qualifications for Christ, we ought to know to an ounce how much of these qualifications are needed. If you tell a poor sinner that there is a certain amount of humblings, and tremblings, and convictions, and heart-searchings to be felt, in order that he may be warranted to come to Christ, I demand of all legal-gospellers distinct information as to the manner and exact degree of preparation required. Brethren, you will find when these gentlemen are pushed into a corner, they will not agree, but will every one give a different standard, according to his own judgment. One will sa the sinner must have months of law work; another, that he only needs good desires; and some will demand that he possess the graces of the Spirit—such as humility, godly sorrow, and love to holiness. You will get no clear answer from them. If the sinner's warrant to come is found in the gospel itself, the matter is clear and plain; but what a roundabout plan is that compound of law and gospel against which I Contend! And let me ask you, my brethren, whether such an incomprehensible gospel would do for a dying man? There he lies in the agonies of death. He tells me that he has no good thought or feeling, and asks what he must do to be saved. There is but a step between him and death—another five minutes and that man's soul may be in hell. What am I to tell him? Am I to be an hour explaining to him the preparation required before he may come to Christ? Brethren, I dare not. But I tell him, "Believe. brother, even though it be the eleventh hour; trust thy soul with Jesus, and thou shalt be saved." There is the same gospel for a living man as for a dying man. The thief on the Cross may have had some experience, but I do not find him pleading it; he turns his eye to Jesus, saying, "Lord, remember me !" How prompt is the reply, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." He may have had onging desires, he may have had deep convictions, but I am quite sure he did not say, "Lord, I dare not ask thee to remember me, because I do not feel I have repented enough. I dare not trust thee, because I have not been shaken over hell's mouth." No, no, no; he looked to Jesus as he was, and Jesus responded to his believing prayer. It must be so with you, my brethren, for any other plan but that of a sinner's coming to Christ as a sinner, and resting on Jesus just as he is, is utterly incomprehensible, or, if it is to be explained at all, will require a day or two to explain it ill; and that cannot be the gospel which the apostles preached to dying men.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


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