Faith and Works

James 2:26 is one of the most misunderstood texts in the bible, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (NKJV).

This verse is often a reminder of the fear that permeates many of the professed Christian churches. I have heard many sincere ministers counsel their church members that the good news of justification means nothing if it does not inspire obedience to the laws of God. This type of thinking leads to guilt and frustration instead of grace and peace. The good news of the gospel is that salvation is free for those who admit their imperfection and accept the perfection of Christ on their behalf. Genuine faith produces actions consistent with these Christian beliefs.

I had a science teacher who would ask questions to the entire class during review for a test. He would ask a question from the text book, look out over the classroom, and wait for a response. His favorite response to the student who attempted to answer the question was, “Would you bet your life on it?” This caused many of my classmates to second guess their answers. By asking this question the instructor taught a lesson that many will never forget: You don’t genuinely know something unless you are willing to stake your life on the answer. As faith-filled Christians we have staked our eternal destiny on what we know is the truth.

Christians who claim they believe in the free gift of salvation do not go around claiming others are not Christians for failing to measure up to a particular standard of righteousness. Christians who believe in the merits of Christ as their only means for salvation are not anxious and worried about salvation. A professed Christian who stands in constant judgment over the salvation of other Christians are by their actions revealing they do not truly believe in salvation as a free gift.

When my wife cooks a meal, I have faith that she did not slip some poison into the food. I know that belief is genuine because I don’t think twice about eating the meal. If I claim to believe the food is safe, but feel anxious about eating it, then my faith can be brought into question. James is not saying that we have to live up to a certain standard of righteousness to prove our faith, but He is reminding us that our actions need to be consistent with our beliefs.

What does God expect of those who claim Him as Lord and Savior? “Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘the work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’” (John 6:28-29).

If someone accused you of believing the free gift of Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Do you only know about Jesus, or do you have genuine trust in Him as savior of your eternal life? Are you merely hoping for salvation at the second coming of Jesus, or are you positive that your name is already written in the book of life? Would you bet your eternal life on accepting the free gift of salvation, or are you holding back? If the demons are trembling at their fate, then why shouldn’t we be full of the grace and peace of Jesus Christ?

~Stephen Beagles

The Revelation of God

Richard Dawkins, one of the most famous atheists of the 21st Century, is noted for asking the age-old question: If God created the Universe then who created God? He then goes on to state that if it is illogical for the building blocks of the universe to “pop” into existence then it is even more illogical to assume that an all-knowing, all-powerful God could simply arrive out of no-where.

This is an extremely intelligent response to creationism, but it has a major flaw–God was not created. God is eternal.

Dawkins would probably add that if it is logical to assume that God is eternal then it is even more logical to state that the basic elements of the Universe could also be eternal. He is willing to accept the concept of an impersonal force of eternal energy, but is quite unwilling to accept this force as a personal and intelligent creator.

I suggest that Dawkins’ problem has more to do with his dislike for the God of the Bible than the idea of an intelligent force creating the universe. However, he holds to his faith in evolution as fiercely as most Christians defend the Holy Scriptures. Based on his previous interviews, Dawkins would be more willing to admit that planet earth was created by aliens than by the Christian God of the Bible.

To Dawkins, the Darwinian theory of evolution represents the answer to how life evolved in its current state on planet earth. He begins with the assumption that there are no supernatural forces in the universe. His reasoning is that since God does not exist then evolution is the only rational alternative based on his view of the scientific method.

Even though the theory of evolution makes logical sense to people who do not believe in the supernatural there are still questions that evolutionists cannot answer:

1. How does something come from nothing?

2. If something has always existed then how did it create life?

3. How does evolution explain human consciousness?

A scientist might try to answer these questions by claiming that something has always existed that was able to give birth to the universe; That chemical molecules were formed that were able to morph into simple living organisms that would eventually give birth to a conscious mind. They claim that this process took billions of years and was the product of the blind forces of nature that had nothing to do with intelligent design.

But this series of assumptions still does not answer where the “something” came from–they can only speculate that it must have always been in existence. This seem to fit the definition of “Faith” that they strongly oppose in favor of scientific evidence. They also tend to gloss over the intricate design of the Universe and the evidence of intelligent information contained in living organisms. What the evolutionists want you to believe is the equivalent of accepting that a Webster’s Dictionary fell out of the sky after an explosion in a print factory. Even if it was an extremely large explosion that lasted billions of years, it still doesn’t make logical sense.

However, I warn Christians who believe they can prove the existence of God using the scientific method. While God can be inferred by the philosophy of science, it will never “prove” the existence of God with mathematical certainty. God is not a product of nature and therefore cannot be reduced to a scientific theory. God is supernatural and not subject to laws of our physical universe.

If Christians cannot prove the existence of God using science, then why do we believe in God? The answer is that God has revealed Himself directly to human beings. God revealed Himself to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, Solomon, Daniel, etc. The list of people who had a direct visitation from an Angel or even God Himself is an extremely long list. The record of these revelations have been handed down to us in the Bible. The Christian believes that the Holy Scriptures are historical evidence of the existence of God–the Creator of the Universe.

Not to mention that Jesus Christ came to earth, fulfilled Bible prophecy, performed miracles, and resurrected from the dead. This is why we believe in the existence of God. God has revealed Himself to humanity.

Christians admit that we cannot explain the existence of an eternal God. But this is exactly what God has revealed to humanity. Yes, it takes an element of faith to believe all that God has spoken. However, this faith is based on reasonable evidence that is logical and can be demonstrated throughout the documents of human history.

Dawkins’ dogmatic assumptions involving his Atheism would probably not change much if God appeared to him in physical form. Dawkins might think that it was an illusion or a magic trick. He might even think He was hallucinating. But I doubt that He would ever admit to the existence of God. In His mind, God doesn’t exist therefore there is no evidence of his existence. This is the height of irrationality.

The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The rest of the Bible depends on those words being truth.

God speaks, therefore He exists.

~Stephen Beagles

The Reality of God

Religion is not a game. God is real. Everything that we do in our lifetime has real consequences. Some may think that they are getting away with bad behavior, but every person who lives will be judged by God and held accountable for their actions.

Right now, God might seem like an illusion. Religion might seem like an intellectual puzzle that has no real purpose other than to make us feel better about life. But the reality is that the major purpose of this life is to make it into the Kingdom of God. Those who fail to live up to God’s standard will be blotted out of existence.

The good news is that God is offering us a pardon for our bad behavior. God knows our human condition and has fulfilled the requirements of His law to give us a second chance at eternal life. He offers his hand of mercy to all who will submit to His authority. Those who reject His mercy will face judgment; all who are judged under divine law will be condemned for eternity.

How do we know that God exists? He has revealed Himself to human beings. A Hebrew Egyptian named Moses started a record of God’s revelation over 3,000 years ago. Moses wrote five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. There is some debate over whether Moses was the chief editor or actual writer of the original ancient manuscripts, but the fact is that He recorded actual events in human history that prove the existence of God.

We also know that Jesus was a real person who performed miracles, was regarded by many to be the Jewish Messiah, was crucified, and resurrected from the dead. If Jesus did not genuinely heal the sick with a touch, cast out evil spirits, turn water into wine, feed thousands of people with only five loaves of bread, restore sight to the blind, or raise people from the dead, then there is no basis for Christianity.

True religion is rooted in reality and actual historical events.

We have the record of God’s revelation of Himself in the Old and New Testament Scriptures of the Holy Bible. If the Bible is true, then all other religious views that contradict the inspired word of God are falsehoods. The evil spirits, who are enemies of God, have developed numerous ways to lead people into their trap.

Unfortunately, a majority of people have rejected God and His revelations. Those who reject a knowledge of the one true God will be held accountable for their refusal to accept the truth. Many people have a watered down version of the truth that contains enough error to lead them into damnation. The stakes are high—either we follow the light of God or we are living in darkness.

God, the creator of the universe, who brought mankind into existence, is reaching out to His creation in love and forgiveness for our human rebellion that caused suffering and death on our planet. He has made a way for us to be right with Him. However, those who harbor hatred in their hearts towards God and their fellow man are doomed if they do not repent of their evil and accept the truth of God’s revelation.

Receive the truth of God’s word into your heart.

~Stephen Beagles

Tragedy and Triumph

“All I can say in this affair is that, however mysterious the leadings of Providence are, I have no doubt but they are superintended by an infinitely wise God.”

~William Carey

One of the main objections to Christianity is the question of evil and suffering. If God is all powerful and good, then why does He allow us to suffer the way we often do? Many Christians make the mistake of trying to speak for God and they lay out all of the reasons why God must allow suffering in this world. However, many of these answers do not bring genuine comfort to someone this who is enduring intense pain.

The best answer that anyone can give to this question is the call to faith and trust in an infinitely wise God. A wise Christian once said this about our afflictions: “No affliction would trouble a child of God, if he knew God’s reasons for sending it.” God is not unaware of our suffering, and if He allows it then there is a good reason.

Let’s not make the same mistake that Job made by demanding an answer from God. His ways are often far above our human ability to comprehend. While God may give us an indication of why our suffering is allowed, many of our questions will have to wait until we get to heaven.

When we are in the midst of suffering it often helps to focus on the sufferings of Jesus. He is intimately acquainted with human pain. He endured the suffering and pain of a miserable death. Don’t forget his warning to the disciples:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, NIV).

He never promised that it would be easy. In fact, Jesus promised: “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22).

Let’s not forget that eleven of the twelve disciples of Jesus died a martyrs death. The only one who died a natural death was boiled in a vat of oil and put in isolation on the island of Patmos. Stephen was stoned to death, and Paul was beheaded. Admitting to being a Christian in the early church was a death sentence. Think about this when we complain about our lives in the 21st Century.

Christianity is not for the one who wants to live a life of comfort and pleasure. Jesus said, “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).

The good news is that we are not alone in our suffering, and that God will never allow us to suffer without giving us the strength to endure.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

We can take comfort in knowing that we will be rewarded for every ounce of suffering that we endure in this lifetime. The pain of this life is temporary, but the eternal bliss of life in heaven is forever.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21).

The next time we are tempted to question the wisdom of God for allowing us to suffer, let us remember that if God allows us to suffer than He is able to take our tribulation and turn it into a blessed triumph for eternity.

~Stephen Beagles