Faith, Works, and the Human Mission
The Bible describes an incredible scenario. You, me, and every individual throughout all of history have been involved in a magnificent plan initiated by God. Events in the distant past were foundational to His plan. The end result is that every human being will have a lifetime to choose good or evil. Either be faithful to the Lord’s ways and be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, or be part of the dark kingdom ruled by Satan. God watches every human heart closely to determine a person’s ultimate intention. Neutrality is not an option. Nobody can sit on the sidelines uninvolved.
We are all in a war. However, it’s only slightly similar to the military wars that happen in this world. The main difference is that the war we’re in is an unseen spiritual war, not a physical one. Although it does sometimes spill over into the physical realm, it’s not just a war of humans against humans. It’s a war between good and evil free-will agents—heavenly hosts, demons, and humans. In it all, the Lord is sorting. His desire is to bring all humans into the kingdom of God.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.
The presence of each and every human is welcomed in God’s kingdom. But only those who have repented from offending others and receive forgiveness are qualified. That qualification has not been decided by any religious authority; it’s the Lord God who set that standard. Yahweh made the world, and it’s only fair that He uses it for His own purpose.
When Jesus was on Earth, He told many parables to better enlighten us as to the path we should take. In one such story, He described how God would sort those who want to do good from those who want to do evil. He explained it in terms of fishing: a net is cast into the sea to catch fish, and many kinds of fish are caught in it. But eventually, when the fishing is over, the angels go to the beach to separate the good fish from the bad.
Matthew 13:47–50 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
That is to say, the Lord tests us to determine if we are good or bad fish. Our ultimate intention determines the outcome. We are not robots, rocks without a will, or animals with only instincts. Humans have moral insight and power to will good or evil. Therefore, He needs to see our desire to live in good faith. God could raise up rocks as children of Abraham, robots who have no choice but to serve Him, but that would give Him no pleasure. The Lord seeks to see in humans that have an intent to do what is right. He does not expect perfection, but if He sees in us a change of heart toward the desire to do good, our repentance thrills Him and His faithful angels.
Matthew 18:12-14 What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains, and go and search for the one that is lost? And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.
Luke 15:8-10 Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
The Lord would not rejoice if He simply bends our will to live His way. He seeks and needs our buy-in, our cooperation, and our consent to live in faith according to the ways Jesus taught. It’s of great importance to Him to see us living according to His guidelines.
Without knowledge of the guidelines God uses for sorting the good fish from the bad fish, humans can suffer loss. Does God look at our faith? Or does He expect us to obey the law?
Faith or Works?
It was of high importance that Abraham followed the law as he knew it. But it was of greater importance that Abraham had faith. Because of his belief in the Lord, God credited righteousness to him.
Genesis 15:6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Many Christians think the Old Testament is all about God laying down the Law. But we can see in Abraham’s life that he was justified by faith. Belief alone in God’s ways (not works) puts us in good standing with Yahweh.
But wait! God promised that all the nations of the earth would be blessed because Abraham obeyed God’s commandments.
Genesis 26:4b–5 All the nations of the earth shall be blessed because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.
What’s More Important – the Law or Faith?
I’ve purposely caused a juxtaposition between belief (faith) in God versus obedience to the law (works). Which one is necessary? You and I have not been the first people to wonder what makes us pleasing to the Lord. Sometimes we’re sure it’s belief (faith). Other times, we’re sure it’s obedience to the commandments and law of God (works).
The apostle Paul sought to clear up this misunderstood joining of ideas.
Romans 4:1–5 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.
But another pillar in the church, the apostle James, Jesus’ brother, sought to clarify that works are important. He argued from a practical standpoint that if a person has no works, one has no faith.
James 2:14–17 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
Continuing his reasoning, James explained that even the demons believe in God. So mere belief is not sufficient; there must be works (obeying the law) that show faith.
James 2:18–20 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
James goes on to use Abraham as an example of a man who did works, seemingly in contrast to Paul, who argued that Abraham was a man of faith.
James 2:21–24 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Do Paul and James’ views contradict each other? I don’t believe so. Wherever there is true faith, works will be right alongside it. However, if there are works, there may not necessarily be faith. Works can be deceiving because outward deeds are not always done from good intentions of the heart. A person can follow the law without sincerity. This situation can be the disguise for a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
In other words, our outward deeds cannot save us. True faith is having an ultimate intention to live for the Lord, a sincere devotion to Yahweh. Each apostle had a valid point. Paul confirms we are justified by faith, not works, whereas James confirms that our works (living according to God’s way) show we truly have faith. Faith without works is useless.
With faith being so important, let’s discuss how our faith can increase.
Common vs. Supernatural Events
The common events of history are undoubtedly important in comprehending our world. Events we can see, or at least prove with evidence, are essential to a rational worldview. My book, Roots of the Kingdom, explains that Natural Law has an essential function in social life and relationships. To be reasonable and intelligent people, we must recognize and live according to these absolute laws God has breathed into our world and the universe.
But just as importantly, there have been unseen supernatural events in the past that have influenced our lives. Understanding and faith in the supernatural events that took place can assist us in living out God’s will. Therefore, it’s imperative we comprehend the history of the supernatural realm as revealed in the Bible. Understanding the invisible, supernatural events disclosed by the Scriptures is essential in gaining an accurate view of the matrix. Ignorance or undue skepticism of the spiritual root events leaves a person unprepared to deal with reality. That’s why I explain supernatural events in Roots of the Kingdom.
Many people think the supernatural does not exist. They cannot prove it with science, so in their estimation it is not real. But in fact, many things in our human experience point to the supernatural as solid truth. For instance, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is supernatural. His disciples believed His resurrection so deeply, they lived and died for it. Their unbending belief in that mystical event favorably changed our world. When our own belief increases because of the deep faith the apostles had in Jesus’ supernatural rising from the dead, it can bless our current world.
John 20:29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you now believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
My point is that literary knowledge of a supernatural reality can change you and me, and therefore our physical world. Therefore, it’s essential to be open to supernatural occurrences that happened in history.
In Roots of the Kingdom, I share some incredible supernatural, unseen events from the Bible and from ancient history. Those occurrences may be a little more difficult to believe than some of the popular Christian boilerplate truths. Still, I hope you believe this more-complete Bible story of the spiritual world I have described. Without a comprehension of certain supernatural, foundational events, we cannot understand our world. Supernatural events are the roots of the kingdom of God
Let’s summarize some of the events I point out in Roots of the Kingdom, many of which are supernatural.
- The Lord gave humans a mandate to rule over creation by doing good works.
- Satan was once a high heavenly host, but he fell by trying to usurp God’s kingdom.
- God commanded Adam and Eve to abstain from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
- Satan incited rebellion when he tempted Eve to disobey God’s command.
- Fallen angels attacked God’s creation by mating with women.
- The mix of angel/human genes created massive, hybrid Nephilim who ruled humans by force.
- After the Flood, human society established a religious system of polytheism to worship the creation.
- Nimrod organized a centralized, totalitarian government that had no equal in his time.
- At the Tower of Babel, no (evil) goal was insurmountable among the earth’s population.
- God’s creation of different languages broke up the evil central political power that would have enslaved humans.
- God held back the advancement of evil by destroying Sodom.
- The goodness of God caused enmity between the evil seed of Satan and woman’s human seed.
While these events happened long ago, they set precedents for how our world works today. Our struggle is against the supernatural forces in this world that I describe in Roots of the Kingdom. It is not against flesh and blood or the physical things we see. Without knowledge of the foundational, supernatural events described in the Bible, we cannot understand the forces that are against us.
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
To know that spiritual forces did, and do, dictate many of the events in this life is essential for anyone interested in being faithful, true, and devoted to Yahweh.
Changed in a Moment
What is the significance of knowing the ancient Biblical events I’ve described in Roots of the Kingdom? While the stories may give you some mental grief initially, I intend to build your faith which will impart peace upon you. I believe we can have internal peace when we know our Scriptural spiritual roots. To put it in modern terms, it’s the matrix we’ve inherited. Knowledge of our spiritual roots enables us to realize that our mission is to live a life of faith in God’s way.
I am not suggesting we can be perfect, but we are to strive for it. The true Christian will always seek a balance between heart belief (faith) followed by obedience to God’s law, and the guidance of their conscience. A life of faith has an ultimate intention to do what’s right. When we make a mistake, we can repent and ask forgiveness, and God is faithful to forgive us.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
A life of faith includes many cycles of repentance and forgiveness, with ever-increasing success.
Also, in faith we are to accomplish the Dominion Mandate. We are to rule over this world but not over each other. Only servant leadership is acceptable for those in the kingdom of God. In relationships, we are to cooperate. Our mission is to serve others to secure their human rights and advance their walk of faith. The Lord is pleased when we make the most of what He’s given us on this earth—toward the mission of serving others. Amidst the spiritual battle, Yahweh intends for us to blossom and thrive, like His friend Abraham.
In Roots of the Kingdom, I encourage you to engage in the spiritual war on the side of the kingdom of God. My hope for you is to have ever-increasing success in serving Yahweh and our fellow members of the human race. May you run the race to win so that someday the Lord will say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
By seeking to do God’s will, we can take hold of the eternal life to which we are called.
1 Timothy 6:12a Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called,
When we live according to faith in God’s way, we’ll eventually be changed in a moment. A supernatural event is approaching each of us. Remember that it’s possible to become immortal in the twinkling of an eye!
1 Corinthians 15:51–52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.