The parable of the sheep and the goats, the parable of the talents, the parable of the foolish barn builder, all these tell us that our storing up is sending us to Hell; yet we believe we are going to Heaven just because we say we know Him.

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you not know that faith without deeds is useless?
(James 2:19-20)

James’ statement of “one God” comes off the cuff of The Shema, a Jewish prayer out of Deuteronomy. The pagans served religions that had more than one god; usually warring with each other. The Jew’s always proclaimed a difference to the pagan gods, in that the God of Israel is just ONE God. The fact that James used this term is saying, you may believe in the God of Israel, but it’s no good if you don’t do the works of the God of Israel.

As we get into this passage a little more, I want you to notice that this is not a competition between Faith and Works. The subject is about Faith without Works verse Faith WITH Works. We often look at this passage and we must reduce it to fit a belief that James is talking about not sinning; but, in context, we see there is much more to it.

If we back up a few verses, we see James make the statement that if we don’t have deeds, our faith in God is good for nothing. In fact, he’s saying that Faith in God, without deeds, cannot save you.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them
(James 2:14)

That’s just a little more clarification on what Christ said in Matthew 7 when He said that many will cry Lord but will be rejected because they did not do the will of the Father.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven
(Matthew 7:21)

What deeds could James be talking about? Could it be just the stopping of sinful acts? In the past several studies, I’ve been talking a lot about the Biblical commands to not store up and how we are to get only what we need and give the rest to those who lack what they need. Could the deed’s be this?

James was so kind to give us an example so that we would know exactly what type of deeds he was talking about.

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.
(James 2:15-17)

One thing we can really understand here is, words serve ourselves but actions serve others. The term, “Go in peace”, or “Depart in peace”, was a warm Jewish way to say goodbye. By looking at the Greek, it’s hard to tell if “keep warm and well fed” is in the passive or middle voice. In the middle voice, it would mean, “go and keep YOURSELF warm and well fed”. In the passive voice, it would mean, “Go and I hope someone will do something to keep you warm and well fed”. In either sense, James gives an example, of what deeds, by applying the Kingdom principle of the love of our neighbor, in the way that we take from our abundance and help them. You see, we may say we know God, we may say we are Christian, we may go to church every time the doors are open, we may even put in ten percent, but if we do not live by a faith that makes us step outside our own control over our lives and our future, and help those in need, everything we’ve done is in vain. Y’shua said, “out of those who actually find that narrow road, there will be much more who will think they have found it. They will have done a lot, saying they are doing it for the Lord, but they will not make it because they cared too much about themselves to help those in need: they may have known OF the Lord, but they did not KNOW the Lord. If they KNOWN the Lord, they would have known of the love that is to radiate and would have had faith in what He said in that out of their grateful and abundant giving, the Father would not allow them to go without their needs.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? ’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers
(Matthew 7:22-23)

Yet, this is even more than just giving to those in need. There are a lot of people who give to those in need. We know Oprah, Brad Pit, Bill Gates, John Travolta, but it does not mean they are followers of God. And, it’s not just about loving people. I know a lot of non-believers who love people, they’re nice, fun to be around, very helpful. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that because you love your good. The difference in the love of non-believers and those who actually follow God is that those who follow God love the person in the same manner in which they love themselves. That’s the difference. Y’shua say’s anyone can love someone who loves you back; but He wants us to love people who can’t pay us back, hates us, persecutes us. He wants us to love them so much that we are willing to give up our own comforts and security, as He did, to offer to those who are in need. It’s THAT kind of love that separates us from the love of the world. Do you love that much?

So, we love ourselves pretty good, right? Come on, we REALLY love ourselves. We want to make sure we are happy. When we are not happy, we go do something to try and make us happy. We may go shopping, or eat some kinda comfort food. And when we are happy, we want to reward ourselves so we go shopping, or we eat some comfort food. We really do love ourselves; that’s why we pay large amounts of money on our hair, buy designer clothes that cost more than a week's worth of groceries, get really nice cars with lot’s of pampering toys in them, it’s why we go out to nice restaurants, get pedicures and massages; we take ourselves out to movies or relax on a comfortable couch watching TV and surfing through Facebook. We REALLY LOVE ourselves. How much do you love your brothers and sisters? The fact that we can do all these things, spend all this time and money on needless things of ourselves while we have brothers and sisters who haven't eaten, don’t have sufficient clothing, and are living in a shack (if they have a home at all), says we do not love our neighbor as ourselves.

It’s amazing how when we look at Scripture literally, and we make an honest examination of ourselves, how far short of the Gospel we fall.

In Luke chapter 14 we see large crowds are starting to follow Y’shua. Now, Christ knew why they were following. They were not following for Y’shua, they were following for what Y’shua could do for them. So, He turns and tells them, “If you want to follow me, you need to be willing to give up everything, even your own life. You need to be willing to suffer the humbling and humiliation of dying to your own self for the sake of others.”

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple
(Luke 14:25-27)

Y’shua then clarifies how serious He is on this statement. He’s saying, “You're giving up so much for me, you better count the cost of this before you start; because you don’t want to get part way there, maybe even think you’ve done right, and you not even be able to complete the course.”

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish
(Luke 14:28-30)

After giving these analogies, and making sure He is clear on this subject, he then starts to confront them on their condition. He tells them that they are like salt that lost its flavor. He says, “If you crowds are following Me for Me, that’s good; but you're following Me for what I can do FOR you rather than you for Me.” Salt is good for seasoning but salt with no flavor is good for absolutely nothing. You don’t want to throw it on the ground, it will ruin the soil and kill the crops. You don’t want to even put it in manure, which is good for fertilizing until the salts added.

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
(Luke 14:34-35)

He’s saying, you people will ruin crap. I’m trying to build for a harvest, those who desire me, but you only desire what I can give you and you’d ruin crap. He’s saying, “if you people were standing in my manure pile right now, I’d say, ‘MOVE!!! you're messing up my crap.’ I’m wanting a good harvest but you are messing that up”

The church today is filled with people ONLY looking for what Christ can give them. He want’s a people who are asking, “What can I do for You?”. But the churches are filled with people seeking health, wealth, prosperity. Have you ever noticed that it’s the prosperity churches that are the mega churches? They use marketing strategies, for the demographic of people in the area they are building the building, and they set up the church to attract those people; teaching a message that has the crowd coming for what they can get. What good is this?

So, a crowd is following, but not for what we can do for Christ. If we followed for what we could do for Christ, we would listen to what He said. We would be willing to part with the comforts of this life in pursuit of an eternity with Him. If we loved Christ and followed FOR Christ, we would have the desires of Christ, in that we would wish that no one is lost. We wouldn’t care about the things of this world and be willing to give them up if we could get someone to catch hold of the Gospel. Yet, whether or not we agree with the popular messages of today, we all have a little bit of that in us. We enjoy the blessings but keep them to ourselves. Like the rich man in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, we are greedy and don’t care about the poor. We are too scared to part with what we have. We are scared our life will not be comfortable. We are scared we will not have a retirement. We are scared God will not supply.

When we look at the facts of Scripture, we can not really say we LIVE by Faith. We are so busy pampering ourselves, we surely don’t have to worry about relying on God to supply our needs. It’s because we are unwilling to let go of the steering wheel. We are like that old license plate that said, “God is my CO-Pilot”. We are not really willing to let God be our PILOT because when we do, we will find ourselves loving our neighbor so much that we don’t feel right pampering ourselves and we will give to the point that we may find ourselves in some uncomfortable spots that will cause us to rely solely on Him. The thing that should really alert us is that only those with the faith, and love, to keep only what we need and give the rest to the poor is going to Heaven; because it’s the proof of our love for God. It’s a principle that is echoed all through Scripture; and until we get a hold of this fact, we are in danger. Some will get this, the others will still be blinded by the riches of Laodicea. I can only pray that it will become light to them before it’s too late.

God Bless

Part 3 - Wealth