Why does Jesus require "experimental belief"
I was laying on a surgical table in my doctor's office some years back to have a cancerous cell cluster removed from my face caused by sun damage. My doctor had just finished giving me a local anesthetic by a hypodermic injection into sensitive flesh. I was stressed out more by the shot than the surgery. He sensed my tension and started idle chat about the Los Angeles Laker's basketball team. I wasn't that stressed about the surgery or the possibility of the doctor leaving some hideous scar on my face, because I knew from talking to my wife that he was a revered, highly respected surgeon and yet wanted to be a general practitioner. Over the years, we'd become friends. He was the man God used to get me off the path of alcoholism by telling me a year or so previous that I wouldn't make it to age 50 without being on a Liver Donor list and certainly wouldn't make it to 60 years if i didn't stop drinking.
As I listened to his rantings bout the Laker's problems, I wanted to go beyond chit chat and figured this would be a perfect moment to get some gems from this special man. So, I said, "Doc, can I ask you a question?"
He said, "Sure, just don't ask me to explain why Shaq puts up with Kobie's antics." Or something like this.
I said, "Someone told me I was really lucky to have you doing this work. They were told by a certain, highly respected doctor that you were probably one of the best, naturally selected surgeons around and yet you choose to still keep your general practice and do surgery on a case by case basis or so."
He chuckled like a country school boy and said, "Oh, well. I wouldn't know about that."
I asked, "But how did you learn these skills so well? And why not be a permanent surgeon?" I expected him to evade the question by graciously accepting my compliment, saying he had no idea or something, and then quickly move back to the Laker's . But he didn't. He focused on the learning aspect and never addressed the reasons he still had a private practice.
"Let me tell you," he said as he methodically worked on my face. "All the book learning does not a surgeon make. It's all about Watching, Doing, and Showing. I was fortunate to have had a great teacher show me, but more importantly require that I do what I was shown. The real learning is in the doing and the experience of it. We're then required to show others what we where shown and this is important to learn even better. "
He then elaborated on how learning by the experience of doing, even making mistakes, implying experimenting, is the only way to really learn something.
I said, "That is really the only way to really learn something, isn't it?"
"The ONLY way!" he said emphatically.
I don't know why but that has stuck with me ever since.
In my walk with Jesus. I'm finding more and more that Jesus requires me to learn the same way as my doctor friend. Jesus is all proving himself to me by the life and breathe of the Holy Spirit which brings me into and through true life experiences learned through actual life trials and testing and tribulation that honestly I feel like I'm a living experiment. I call it experimentation to experience the existence of what was once only hypothetical in nature. I.E. Reading about the trials of Jesus and the saints in the Bible then finding myself going through actual life drama myself. * 1
Jesus requires, compels me by the power of the Holy Spirit to take what's written and to move on this information by empirical methods * 2, meaning to prove it by experimenting and experiencing.. This means I'm compelled by His grace to walk and live in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Romans 2:1 And "The letter kills but the spirit gives life." 2 Corinthians 3:6, meaning that the written scriptures are dead but only the Holy Spirit bringing Rhema (see my Blog Divine Wisdom). Only belief in something without experiencing it is only superficial and God never deals with the surface but goes to the inner man to do his working.
The Bible tells us that the just shall live by faith. (Hebrews 10:38; Romans 8:17) But, it also warns us that once we've laid our hand to the plow (a plow means working, doing something) that if we turn back, we're not fit for the kingdom of God; i.e. we have to take our faith go where it physically leads us in life and not turn back, shirk back. (Luke 9:62) We must take that faith and put it to work. Faith without works is dead. Meaning, we gotta practice, experience what we believe. (James 2:24) * 3
Truly, whatever God wants us to learn, He will give us plenty of opportunity to do it, to experience it, and how ever many times it takes before we've learned, he'll take us back to that point a hundred times. God is patient.
As Oswald Chambers says, "God does not ask us to DO the things that are naturally easy for us - He only asks us to DO the things that we are perfectly fit to do through His grace, and that is where the cross we must bear will always come."
My prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, by your great grace and mercy I ask in the name of Jesus Christ , through the Holy Spirit, that I may live and walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Amen.
Empirical means - provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.
James 2:24, not by faith aloneThe scriptures clearly teach that we are saved (justified) by faith in Christ and what He has done on the cross. This faith alone saves us. However, we cannot stop here without addressing what James says in James 2:24, "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone."
There is no contradiction. All you need to do is look at the context. James chapter 2 has 26 verses: Verses 1-7 instruct us to not show favoritism. Verses 8-13 are comments on the Law. Verses 14-26 are about the relationship between faith and works.
James begins this section by using the example of someone who says he has faith but has no works, "What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" (James 2:14). In other words, James is addressing the issue of a dead faith; that is nothing more than a verbal pronouncement. It is empty of life and action. He begins with the negative and demonstrates what an empty faith is (verses 15-17, words without actions). Then he shows that that type of faith isn't much different from the faith of demons (verse 19). Finally, he gives examples of living faith that is words followed by actions. He writes of Abraham and Rahab as examples of people who demonstrated their faith by their deeds.
In brief, James is examining two kinds of faith: one that leads to godly works and one that does not. One is true, and the other is false. One is dead, the other alive; hence, "Faith without works is dead," (James 2:20).
Also, notice that James actually quotes the same verse that Paul uses to support the teaching of justification by faith in Rom. 4:3. James 2:23 says, "and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.'" If James was trying to teach a contradictory doctrine of faith and works than the other New Testament writers, then he would not have used Abraham as an example.