The “Church” is not the building and “Faith” is not works

A Dominican Church on the Island of Santorini, Greece  It was interesting to hear the gospel preached in the language it was originally written in, though I didn’t understand what was being said…it was still quite a spiritual moment as I thought of the Disciples going from one place to another spreading the gospel message.

James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

(Read James 2:14-26)  James talks about how to demonstrate your faith to others.  The only way to demonstrate that you have faith, is through your deeds, or the way you act , in other words.  Saying that you have faith, is not enough.  Just as going to the alter and accepting Jesus is not enough by itself.  In order to stay on track with Jesus and build your faith, you must have faithful actions in your life.  The Great Commission that Jesus gave to his disciples was to go out to all the world and spread the word of the gospel (Matthew 28:16)

Read Matthew 14:22-31 Peter walks on water faithfully, which is his action of faith, by walking on water he is showing others his faith, when he starts to sink, this story demonstrates what happens when you start to lose faith, if you call on God for help, he will uphold your faith.  Your faith is built and demonstrated through your actions.  You cannot build faith or show others your faith, without doing anything.  As the saying goes,”Talk is cheap”.  

Don’t confuse works as faith.  Faith is a decision you have made to follow God and believe in him.  The works that you do are a demonstration to others of that faith, but they are not the faith itself.  They are part of building your own faith and strengthening it, and also can be thought of as a kind of “Thank you” to God for his grace, forgiveness and the Salvation that God offered to you through Jesus Christ.  This is the correct perception of how works relate to faith.  People frequently confuse works with faith, but remember that a person without any faith can be a kind, nice person.   We frequently hear someone say, “but they are a nice person…” whenever they are trying to excuse someone’s sin, or make the criticism of the sin be less harsh.  The truth is that “being nice” does not excuse sin.  Only repentance can get sin to be “excused” or forgiven by God…because only God can forgive sin.  Sin cannot be whitewashed by any actions that we can take here on earth besides asking God for forgiveness with a genuine repentant heart.  Works without faith are dead, and become like filthy rags in the sight of God.  (Isaiah 64:6)

There are many works based versions of Christianity…any church that puts the emphasis on your good works, and not on the salvation message of God, and trusting God is a works based church.  The reason for a church’s existence Biblically speaking** is simply to spread the gospel and bring people to God through the saving grace of the Christ, and to uphold each other in faith, and support the spiritual growth of fellow Christians.  It is not in existence to uphold the “building” or the “programs” of the church….those are nice when they are kept in perspective, but frequently the building itself and its expenses and the programs and their expenses and experiences become the “god” of the church.  At that point people are simply coming to church out of habit, and doing works in substitution of a seeking a closer relationship with God.  The only way that this can be prevented is to keep the focus on God and study his word, and pray for his will.  The idea of faith based works is that we are seeking to do God’s will and not our own.  Therefore, all of the works that we do should be done prayerfully to make sure that they are God’s will.  An amazing thing about doing God’s will is that things seem to fall into place with almost miraculous ease.   (Acts 11:22-24 Barnabas acted in faith, and many came to the Lord, Acts 2:47, Acts 5:14)  

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  

Acts 6:1-7  And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

**Biblically speaking the church is not a building, but a group of people who are saved by God’s grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ…in modern times we have become very confused because we and secular society refer to the building that we meet in as a church, but the Biblical reality is that the people following Christ are the church whether they ever meet in one of those buildings or not!