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Fruits Spring Forth from the Heart

Swen Sorvala | The Voice of Zion February 2023 --

Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. – James 2:17

What is faith? A familiar portion from Hebrews tells us: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (11:1).

The very first verse of the Bible speaks of visible substance. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). John also writes, “All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (1:3). In the world we inhabit, we have physical evidence of God’s creation. We have faith that our God, unseen by us, has created all, knows all and is all-powerful. The writer to Hebrews affirms this: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (11:3).

Despite being Lord over the vast and majestic universe He has created, God can see us individually and we also know He knows us better than we know ourselves. We were born with original sin. We are unable to approach Him by our own strength (Rom. 3:11). Despite this, through faith a believer’s ultimate goal is heaven, to be with our Creator for eternity when temporal life ends. Knowledge of our Creator is written into each human’s heart. Each person innately knows or senses there is a God – a single, living, real God (Eph. 4:6).

When God created all things, He didn’t forget His human creations. “When I consider thy heavens, the works of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Ps. 8:3,4). God sent a Redeemer to save us from our sins. Sin, otherwise, would bring death (James 1:15).

If we are not able to approach God and we are burdened with original sin, how can we get to heaven? We cannot get to heaven by our own strength, by our own merits or works, nor through our own diligence in trying to please God. This would be impossible! But God calls His own. His voice sounds forth to His creation. He has called you, dear reader and listener!

God is gracious and merciful; He looks favorably upon you. He is so merciful that you do not have to suffer for your sins. He sent His only Son, the perfect sacrifice that suffered death and endured hell in our stead. Ultimately, Jesus rose victoriously and paid the price for the sin of all humankind. Herein lies our faith.

It is clear that faith is a gift; it is not self-created or earned by any accomplishments (Eph. 2:8,9). We have nothing to boast of before God or fellow humans.

And yet our text, “Faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone,” speaks of works in connection with faith. How can this be? James speaks not of our accomplishments or merits or our perfect endeavor. Rather the “works” refer to fruits of one’s faith. Faith in the heart shows in different forms. Some help their loved ones and neighbors. Others serve at services and camps in various capacities. Some use their words to comfort a struggling one. Others with a tender conscience are quick to care for matters. Such actions speak of what is in one’s heart (Deut. 11:18). These actions are as fruit springing forth from one’s heart.

Jesus said we shall know people by their fruits (Matt. 7:15–20). These fruits are the actions, or works, that follow from faith or unbelief.

This is a beautiful message: it is faith that bears fruit, and not our works! Jesus emphasized the condition of the heart and the fruit thereof when He spoke of His second coming: “[They] shall come forth, they that have done good, onto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, onto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29).

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