“I claim no right to myself, no right to this understanding, this will, these [emotions] that are in me. Neither do I have any right to this body or its members, no right to this tongue, to these hands, feet, ears or eyes. I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own.” ―Jonathan Edwards
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? ―James 2:14-20, ESV.
Once we know God (head), we are compelled to love Him and others (heart). Loving Him requires doing – worship, witness and works. This is what I like to call Christianity of the hands. It is action oriented. It is the supernatural overflow of the other facets of holistic faith. Saving faith is the combination of knowing and loving God (the 1st 2 steps). But saving faith is not idle. When confronted with the question of where works fit into our faith, John Calvin said, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” James, in the passage above, clearly confirms this.
Most of us know about the “Lordship Salvation” controversy. I’m uncertain why there is any debate. Unless someone is suggesting that we are saved by human deeds and effort, there is no issue. When we receive Christ as Savior we also surrender to Him as Lord. Part of God’s amazing and sovereign grace is that, without any human merit, He chose to love us, reveal Himself to us and claim us as His own, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ―Ephesians 2:7-9, ESV.
And in saving us He prepared us for good works: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ―Ephesians 2:10
In other words, you can’t separate any of these 3 components – thinking, loving and doing. Like a tripod, without one of them the entire structure falls over. When all are in place there is stability and balance.
The pattern is clear. God reveals Himself to us and we understand His Gospel and receive it. This transformation touches our hearts and moves our hands to serve our Savior and proclaim His kingdom. This equation reflects our Trinitarian God. The God who created the physical world expects what we think and feel to be lived out in a practical way. I see these actions, or deeds, manifesting themselves in our worship and works. Essentially, I would expect to see the effects of what God has wrought in our head and hearts in every aspect of our going and doing. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we are called to be God’s “hands.”
Casting Crowns framed this idea as a series of questions:
But if we are the body
Why aren’t His arms reaching?
Why aren’t His hands healing?
Why aren’t His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren’t His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way
Now that we’ve seen that we are called to a holistic faith – one of thinking, loving and doing – we will conclude this series with one more piece … what Jesus had to say about all of this. He summed it up in one simple yet profound saying. An answer to a question we all need to ask.
*This is the 3rd post in a series of 4 designed to explain how following Christ affects our thinking, loving and doing (head, heart and hands).