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FROM THE PULPIT: Back faith with action to honor God

There has been a long-standing debate among people. One side says, “You only have to have faith in Jesus Christ to reach heaven.” Others say, “You only have do to good things in your life to reach heaven.”

When someone goes around doing good all the time but does not have faith in Jesus Christ, it is called philanthropy. There are many people who do wonderful things to help out others.

And the question is asked, “Will people who do such wonderful things go to heaven, even if they don’t believe in Jesus?” Good question.

To be honest, I wrestle with this. The human side of me sees such wonderful things being done by people who do not profess any faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and I think that surely their good deeds are pleasing to God.

The Christian side of me reads the scriptures and believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. If the sacrifice made by Christ wasn’t essential to our lives, then why did he come in the first place?

I find some comfort in the fact I am not the one that must make the decision of who is allowed into heaven and who is not. That decision is made by God alone.

At the same time, having faith in Jesus Christ, but not putting that faith into action is cause for another concern.

A man giving another a ride in his rowboat explained why he had “Faith” etched on one oar, and “Works” etched on the other. Using just the “Faith” oar he went around in circles. Then, using just the “Works” oar, he went in circles the other way. But when both were used at the same time, the boat traveled in a straight line and made progress across the lake.

The story illustrates you have to have both. When you have faith, you have to put it into action in order for it to be a genuine faith. When you do acts of kindness and service, it needs to be done in response to your faith.

As is pointed out in the Bible, James 2:14-17 (New Revised Standard Version) says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

It is a both-and proposition. In order for faith to have its full expression, it must be put into action. In order for good works to have their full expression, they must be backed up by faith. Doing this gives honor to God.

Mark Broadhead

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: FROM THE PULPIT: Back faith with action to honor God