BY THEIR WORKS
“‘If He called them “gods”, to whom the Word of God came — and Scripture cannot be set aside — what about the one whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son?’ Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father.’
“‘But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I in the Father.’ Again, they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp.” John 10:35-39 NIV.
There is only one way to recognise the nature of a tree — by its fruit. There is no doubt that an apple tree is an apple tree when it bears apples or an orange tree is an orange tree when it bears oranges, though it may look like a lemon tree or some other citrus tree.
The Pharisees refused to accept Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God because they insisted that the works He did, although He did the things that reflected the nature of His Father, were evil because He did them on the Sabbath, as though it were the day, not the nature of the deed that made His miracles evil!
Unfortunately for them, their very accusation revealed the nature of their “tree”. Their fruit was so rotten that they called evil good and good evil. Jesus warned, “‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.'” Matthew 7:15, 16a NIV.
If the fruit of Jesus’ life matched the nature of His Father, then He must surely be His Son, since a son contains the genes and perpetuates his father’s nature into the next generation. In Psalm 82:6, God called the Israelites ‘gods’ because they were to reveal the nature of their God to the world as His sons, His gracious, compassionate, slow-to-anger and abounding-in-love-and-faithfulness nature, yet the Pharisees were anything but like the God they claimed as their Father.
Jesus set great store on works because works reveal the nature of the person just as fruit reveals the nature of a tree. In his letter, James picks up on this theme, showing his readers that a true believer is identified by his works as Abraham was by his. To the Hebrew mind, there was no such thing as believing without acting on that belief. Believing in Jesus was meaningless unless it issued in obedience to Him.
The Apostle Paul, in his letters to the Romans and Galatians, contended for faith apart from works as a way of salvation. The Judaisers — a Jewish sect of believers in Jesus — insisted that Gentiles be circumcised first before they could become believers. To Paul, that meant that the death of Jesus was insufficient to reconcile a wayward son to the Father and, for him, that was unthinkable. Yes, the death of Jesus is sufficient to deal with our sin and to restore us to fellowship with the Father. There is nothing we can do to add to the sufficiency of His work on the cross.
James, on the other hand, recognised that good works — tsidaqah, which isfulfilling our duty to God by sharing our resources with people less fortunate than we are, caring for the alien, the widow and the orphan and helping the weak and oppressed — are a fruit of our confession of faith in Jesus. We reveal our oneness with Him when we do what He did just as He revealed His oneness with the Father by doing what the Father wanted Him to do.
For all their big talk, the Pharisees and religious leaders made it glaringly obvious that they were of their father, the devil, because they were doing his works, not the works of the Father. “‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.'” John 8:44 NIV.
That is quite an indictment!
How important it is to show our connection with Jesus by doing what He did and living like He lived, just as He lived out His connection with the Father by the way He treated people. It is not only what we say that reveals our connection to Jesus but also the way we live. Let’s make sure that our fruit is the fruit of the Spirit and not the deeds of the flesh.
We are known by our works more than by our words!
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide