Is God real?
In my last treatise I addressed the subject of how we can be saved. In the course of that discussion I made mention of the fact that there are some who teach and believe that a person has to perform a certain number of works in order to merit receiving salvation. Then, in the summation of the subject, I stated that it is by grace that we are saved, through faith, it is the gift of God, not of works, for there is nothing that any of us could ever do on our own to merit salvation. We needed a Savior who would and did willingly give His life as the sacrificial lamb for the slaughter to atone for all of our sins – past, present, and future. He is our Advocate with the Father, and it is through Him alone that we are freely justified.
However, that still leaves a question for some concerning “works”. Are “works” a necessary part of our faith? Consider the words of James as recorded in James 2:14-26:
|14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
I believe that James is teaching us that it is good to have faith, but faith as it stands alone profits nothing. We develop and maintain our faith through our works.
For example in the Old Testament book of Genesis, in Genesis 22:1-12 we read of the account of Abraham being commanded by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac:
|1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
In order to fully understand this account we must first realize what God was not doing. God was not tempting Abraham. God was not enticing Abraham to do wrong, but was testing him to see if his faith was strong enough to be obedient to His will and do what was required, and giving him, thereby, the opportunity to understand the Love of his Heavenly Father and the glory of obedience. God was not instituting or condoning child sacrifice. As seen in Deuteronomy 12:31 God abhors child sacrifice: “Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods” (see also Leviticus 20:2-5, Jeremiah 32:35, Ezekiel 20:26, Isaiah 57:4-5).
It is important to remember that God prevented the sacrifice from actually occurring. He did not desire the sacrifice as an act of worship or for any other reason beyond testing and developing Abraham’s faith. God has the right to take human life and therefore could have authorized Abraham to take the life of his son Isaac in this particular case, but He did not. However, had Abraham decided of his own accord to sacrifice Isaac, he would have been wrong and his act would have been condemned by God.
Why then would God give this command? The point was for Abraham to come to understand that he trusted God completely and placed Him above all else, even his own son. Though God already knew that Abraham had faith in Him, it was necessary for Abraham to expand his faith through his “works”. Because of his “works”, not only God, but Abraham, his family and future generations knew that Abraham trusted God. This trust was important because it indicated that Abraham had the proper relationship with God, and thus he could benefit from God’s plans for his life.
James records that “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23).
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
And so we “see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24).
The two videos above were recorded for the More Good Foundation in Orem, Utah on 14 October 2013. This is the story of my conversion to the LDS faith in question and answer format. Prior to converting to the LDS faith I was studying to become a Baptist minister. Your comments and/or questions are welcomed.
Sometimes there are incidents that occur in our life that seem beyond logical or reasonable explanation. We may find ourselves crying out, hoping for answers about why a thing has happened, but the answer to our incessant cries never seem to come. We may even become frustrated and irritated and begin to feel that all hope is lost, never realizing that perhaps now is not the time for the “why” to be revealed. Things happen in life, not per chance, but oftentimes to help make us stronger, and to cause us to be more humble, and less apt to take things for granted. Regardless of what happens in life, God will never give us any more than we can possibly bear. He will never leave us nor forsake us. His grace and mercy are more than enough to see us through any situation. His love for us never fails.
~ Keith Lionel Brown; Annapolis, Maryland; 20 October 2013
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If I am in perfect health, I do not need to rush to a doctor’s office and have him take valuable time examining me for an ailment that doesn’t exist, or have him write me a prescription for medication that I don’t need. If I am not sick, I don’t need to rush to the emergency room and ask to be admitted to a room and take up a bed that is much-needed by someone who really is sick. Yes, doctors and hospitals are there to help anyone and everyone in time of need, but specifically they are there to treat those who are in need of a physician at this very moment.
Let’s apply that same analogy to the Church. Certainly anyone is welcome to attend worship services at Church at any given time. However, we need to keep in mind that the Church is neither a social club, nor is it a museum for putting Saints on display. We do not go to Church to demonstrate how holy and how righteous we are or think we are, but we go to Church as an outward expression of our humility and our willingness to be obedient to His laws and His commandments, and His will for our lives.
The scriptures clearly teach us that they who are whole do not need a physician, but they who are sick. Therefore, the Church is a hospital for the hurting, the wounded, and the broken – those who are in need of spiritual healing. So, in reality the Church is indeed for everyone because we are all imperfect sinners in need of a Perfect Savior who can make us clean and whole again. He is the Master Physician.
~ Keith Lionel Brown
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It is a fact that the Heavens are still open and God does speak to man still, even today, even at this very hour. The Heavens have never been closed. I contend that God at no time ever stopped speaking to man; however, because of pride, man through his mortal wisdom and presumed intelligence placed himself on a pedestal above God, thinking that he (man) knew best, and stopped listening to the voice of God. By denying the power and existence of God, man in essence also denied His Son, Jesus the Christ, and furthermore, squelched any and all promptings of the Still Small Voice, the Holy Spirit.
~ Keith Lionel Brown
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“He wants the best. And from His perspective the best is getting us into position to walk in His ways and His will so that what He does for us He gets credit for it. That is He wants to bring glory and honor for Himself. He wants to work in your life and my life in such a way that other people would see that the God in whom we believe is truly God. That His Son Jesus Christ went to the cross and laid down His life, – this is the real thing, this is what life is all about.”
Each of us is a continual work in progress. We are clay in the hands of the Master Potter who sits in His house at the potter’s wheel continually molding and shaping us into what we are to become according to the master plan which only He holds. Each mold that He creates is a unique work of art and is intricate in design. This Master Potter is meticulous about His work and carefully works with each mold to make sure that it is according to design before placing it in the kiln to dry and harden, producing the last desired product.
Think of the molding and shaping that takes place as a farmer who wants to plant his seeds in fallow ground. Before he can actually plant his seeds he has to work the ground and get rid of all the weeds and thorns that would eventually overtake and choke his crops, and plow and fertilize the soil in order that it has the nutrients needed to help his crops grow. After working the ground and planting his seeds, he still has to wait a certain time before his crops come to fruition and are ready to harvest. All the while he continually waters and cares for his field until the day of harvest arrives.
And so, God has a plan for each of our lives. He does not show His plan in its entirety all at once, but rather He moves us along in His plan one step at a time, nurturing, guiding, and loving us each step of the way, until the day we become the finished product that He desires for us to be for His purposes and for His glory.
By the grace of God I am who I am. I do not claim to be, nor do I have a wish to be, anything other than what my Heavenly Father has purposed and planned for me to be. I am not all that I would be, for God is not finished with me yet. I am a continual work in progress as He molds and shapes me into all that I am to become. He is the Master Potter and I am the clay.
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It’s almost trendy in some academic and cultural circles to mock religion or faith in God and Jesus Christ, or in the Word of God.
Join Karen and 20 Millennials for a 30-minute special cast: 20 Millennals Speak.
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As believers, we should be seeking God because He is certainly seeking us. He desires to sit on the throne in each of our hearts.
All for the Glory and Praise of The Heavenly Father … Jesus is the only way to be reconciled with God. He is waiting to meet you today, whoever you are and wherever you are … Do you know Jesus?