Today you should read: Acts 4:23-37
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. ~ James 2:14-26
James speaks to believers about the relationship of faith and works. His basic message is that whatever you believe in or trust in is what you will do. It is easy for us to claim faith in Christ but it is not until that faith is tested by the struggles of this world that we show our real faith by our reaction to the trials. Today’s passage is a perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of how the apostles demonstrated true faith in Christ by their reaction to a difficult situation. If you remember from your reading yesterday, Peter and John were brought before the high priests to be questioned about healing a lame beggar. The high priests questioned their authority and they proclaimed Christ with boldness. After hearing the message of Peter and John the high priests charged them not to proclaim Christ any longer.
So what do they do? These are the same men who had Jesus crucified for the same message. Do they obey these priests for fear of the same result? What would you do if you knew that proclaiming the gospel might mean being tortured or losing your life? The answer is Peter and John reacted in faith. So what does this look like practically?
- They went to God for wisdom (v.24; James 1:5)
- They remembered the scriptures (v.25) We must remember that the Holy Spirit guides us to agree with God’s Word. If you think God is calling you to something but it does not agree with the scriptures then it is not God.
- Their goal for their prayer was for God’s name to be glorified and his purposes to be fulfilled (v.27-30)
- They banded together as the church to care for one another.
It is inevitable that we will face trials throughout the course of our lives and those trials are opportunities to see our true faith. God does not put trials in our lives because he is unsure about how we will react. Rather, they are there so that we can see what we truly believe. If our reaction is to run to God, then that strengthens us and produces endurance (James 1:2-4). However, if our reaction is to run from God and avoid the church then can we really say that we have faith? That may be a question that needs to be answered for some of you.
Posted by: Chad Wiles