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Monday, December 1, 2014

No Easy Faith

cheap grace, misunderstandings Christians Have, good works, repentance, God's love, half-hearted devotion to ChristTo read insights for last week's study, scroll to the bottom of the study HERE.

Modern Christianity often teaches "cheap grace." That's why these 3 truths are so important:

1. Good works don't save us, but true believers do good works. We've got Ephesians 2:8-9 down, but we don't always remember James 2:14-26.

2. Repentance means diligently turning from sin, not simply saying "forgive me." Most of us understand the blessing of forgiveness, but we often avoid genuine confession and repentance (Matthew 3:8 & Acts 26:20).

3. Christ expects us to make hard choices for Him.  We understand that Christ loved us while we were yet sinners, but we've forgotten His view of halfhearted devotion (Luke 14:25-34).

Christian lifestyles are dangerously similar to non-Christian lifestyles. Excuses have taken the place of humble confession and repentance. And easy choices have replaced godly choices in our lives.

Let's love Jesus wholeheartedly. When we do, we will automatically serve Him wholeheartedly. 

Bible Study

1. Consider the explanations and examples James used to prove his point that faith without works is not genuine faith.

James 2:14-26: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 

 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.  

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.  

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

2. What does it mean to be "worthy" of Christ?

Matthew 10:32-39: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. 34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Please work through the study before reading these insights

1. Consider the explanations and examples James gives in James 2:14-26 to prove his point that faith without works is not genuine faith.

#1 Example: (v. 14-17)--People who think they need not help others.
Proverbs 3:27: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

#2 Example: (v. 18-19)--People who think some Christians are called to do works and others are not.
Ephesians 2:10: For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

#3 Example: (v. 20-24)-- Abraham whose faith resulted in deeds. 
Hebrews 11:8-19 tells us Abraham became a stranger, leaving his homeland, waiting for his promised child, not receiving all that was promised, but knowing it was going to happen. He was "longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God [was] not ashamed to be called [his] God."

#4 Example: (v. 25-26)--Rahab. 
Read more about her faith in this 1-minute devotion "She Had a Past and a Future."

2. What does it mean to be "worthy" of Christ?
John Piper does an excellent examination of this question with a thorough list of pertinent Scripture verses in his article "Are You Worthy of Jesus?"
copyright 2014, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted

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