1. A WORKING FAITH
a. How do we know Abraham believed in God’s word? Genesis 22:1–5; James 2:21–24.
“Abraham believed God. How do we know that he believed? His works testified to the character of his faith, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness.”—Reflecting Christ, p. 79.
b. What is the relationship between faith and works? James 2:17, 18; Matthew 7:16–20. What kind of fruit does a Christian bear?
“Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith that acts by love and purifies the soul.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 314.
“Just as a good tree will bear good fruit, so will the tree that is actually planted in the Lord’s garden produce good fruit unto eternal life. Besetting sins are overcome; evil thoughts are not allowed in the mind; evil habits are purged from the soul temple. . . . An entire transformation has taken place.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1080.
2. GOD’S WORKS
a. How did Abraham show his faith in God? As he acted out his faith, what did Abraham reveal about his faith? James 2:22; Genesis 22:12.
“Faith works by love and purifies the soul. Faith buds and blossoms and bears a harvest of precious fruit. Where faith is, good works appear.”—Selected Messages, bk1, p. 398.
b. Where do good works come from? Compare Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:12 with Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:13, 14.
“Genuine faith will be manifested in good works; for good works are the fruits of faith. As God works in the heart, and man surrenders his will to God, and cooperates with God, he works out in the life what God works in by the Holy Spirit, and there is harmony between the purpose of the heart and the practice of the life. Every sin must be renounced as the hateful thing that crucified the Lord of life and glory, and the believer must have a progressive experience by continually doing the works of Christ. It is by continual surrender of the will, by continual obedience, that the blessing of justification is retained.”—Ibid., p. 397.
“If we are faithful in doing our part, in cooperating with Him, God will work through us the good pleasure of His will. But God cannot work through us if we make no effort. If we gain eternal life, we must work, and work earnestly. . . . We must follow the example Christ has left us, submitting to Him in everything. Our will must be in harmony with His will.”—The Review and Herald, June 11, 1901.
c. Before the Christian can bring forth the good works of God, what must first take place? Ephesians 2:1–5; Galatians 2:20; Jeremiah 29:13.
“The only way we can secure the help of God is to put ourselves wholly in His hands and trust Him to work for us. As we lay hold of Him by faith, He does the work. The believer can only trust. As God works, we can work, trusting in Him and doing His will.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1080.
3. A DEAD BELIEF
a. What is the difference between a living faith and a dead belief? James 2:19, 20; Mark 7:6, 7.
“True faith, which relies wholly upon Christ, will be manifested by obedience to all the requirements of God. . . . In all ages there have been those who claimed a right to the favor of God even while they were disregarding some of His commands. But the Scriptures declare that by works is ‘faith made perfect’; and that, without the works of obedience, faith ‘is dead’ (James 2:22, 17).”—The Faith I Live By, p. 91.
“Many are content with lip service, and but few have a sincere, earnest, affectionate longing after God.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 534.
b. Can someone with a dead belief produce good works? Matthew 23:27, 28; 7:21–23.
“The good man, from the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things. Why? Because Christ is an abiding presence in the soul. The sanctifying truth is a treasure-house of wisdom to all who practice the truth. As a living spring it is springing up unto everlasting life. The one who has not Christ abiding in his heart will indulge in cheap talk, exaggerated statements, that make mischief. The tongue that utters perverse things, common things, slang phrases, that tongue needs to be treated with the hot coals of juniper.”—Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 577.
“No man can have the spirit and the mind of Christ without being rendered better by it in all the relations and duties of life. Murmuring, complaining, and fretful passion are not the fruit of good principles.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 347.
c. What will always be missing in the works of a dead believer? 1 John 4:20, 21; John 8:37–41.
“Obedience to the word produces fruit of the required quality—‘unfeigned love of the brethren’ (1 Peter 1:22). This love is heaven-born and leads to high motives and unselfish actions.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 520.
4. THE ROOT OR THE FRUIT?
a. What happens when good works of obedience become the root of the Christian experience instead of the fruit of it? Matthew 23:5.
“The Pharisees sought distinction by their scrupulous ceremonialism and the ostentation of their worship and their charities. They proved their zeal for religion by making it the theme of discussion. Disputes between opposing sects were loud and long, and it was not unusual to hear on the streets the voice of angry controversy from learned doctors of the law.
“In marked contrast to all this was the life of Jesus. In that life no noisy disputation, no ostentatious worship, no act to gain applause, was ever witnessed. Christ was hid in God, and God was revealed in the character of His Son.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 32.
b. What should always be at the root of the Christian’s experience? Galatians 6:14.
“The angels ascribe honor and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. . . . Without the cross they would be no more secure against evil than were the angels before the fall of Satan. . . . All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God. . . .
“If men would contemplate the love of Christ, displayed in the cross, their faith would be strengthened to appropriate the merits of His shed blood, and they would be cleansed and saved from sin.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 5, pp. 1132, 1133.
c. How will the true Christian regard his or her own works in light of Christ’s works? Philippians 3:4–9; Isaiah 6:5.
“The more [God’s followers’ see of the character of Christ the more humble they become, and the lower their estimate of themselves. . . . Self is lost sight of in their consciousness of their own unworthiness and of God’s wonderful glory.”—That I May Know Him, p. 122.
5. FRUITFUL CHRISTIANS
a. Why does God want to fill the Christian’s life with good works borne from a changed heart? Matthew 5:14–16; 1 Peter 2:9.
“It is [God’s] plan that all who are partakers of the great salvation shall be missionaries for Him. The piety of the Christian constitutes the standard by which worldlings judge the gospel. Trials patiently borne, blessings gratefully received, meekness, kindness, mercy, and love, habitually exhibited, are the lights that shine forth in the character before the world, revealing the contrast with the darkness that comes of the selfishness of the natural heart.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 134.
“When the grace of Christ is expressed in the words and works of the believers, light will shine forth to those who are in darkness; for while the lips are speaking to the praise of God, the hand will be stretched out in beneficence for the help of the perishing.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 276.
b. Throughout history, what knowledge does Christ always have regarding His church? Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15. Why is Jesus so interested in the works of His followers? James 2:21, 22, 24; Revelation 22:12.
“The eyes of the world are upon us, and we are observed by many of whom we have no knowledge. There are those who know something of the doctrines we claim to believe, and they are noting the effect of our faith upon our characters.”—Selected Messages, bk2, p. 386.
“The world today is in crying need of a revelation of Christ Jesus in the person of His saints.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 313.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why does true faith always work?
2. How can we ensure that our works are always from God?
3. Why can an unconverted heart never produce unselfish love?
4. Explain the difference between the root and the fruit of our experience.
5. What is God and the world waiting to see in the Christian church?