Salvation is instantaneous once we accept the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and commit our lives to Him. However, the path to maturing faith is a life long process. Simply put, the process is to understand what God calls sin, turn from it and the fruits of the Spirit will be realized in your life. Then we are called to love the Lord with all our heart, mind and soul through service to others and produce fruit. It all sounds pretty simple and it is, if we only had the faith and strength to do it, but it is the details that satin puts in front of us that make it difficult.
I enjoy reading the book of James because he was so direct in his teachings and the reader usually does not have to try to figure out what he meant. He makes it clear and calls us to action. Carefully read these verses from the first chapter, verses 21-22. "...get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the Word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." In these verses, James makes several points that are very important and echo exactly what Christ taught.
First, notice how he mentions how the Word is planted in you, like a seed just as our Lord used it in the parable of the farmer sowing seed. The seed or the Word of God is good and is planted in our hearts. However, then come the parts of the verses that call on us to take action, for example, to humbly accept the Word. Humility is referred to very often in the Bible, primarily because God's ways are so different than what we have been taught by society. God will speak to us in very subtle ways and it is very easy to miss what He is saying. Only with humility will we be able to hear what He is telling us.
Secondly, James tells us to turn from sin. Notice the words "get rid" which means we are the ones that choose to turn from the moral filth and evil that surrounds us. Through our many choices we make daily, we are the ones that decide or take action to get rid of the sin in our lives. Yes through the saving grace of our Lord we are given power over sin, but it is our conscious effort that is needed to actually do it.
Then finally, it is not enough to just listen to the Word planted in our hearts, we have to do what it says. Again here and very plainly, the Bible points out action we are to take. So much of the Word is hidden from us in the form of parables, primarily because if we knew everything all at once, it would be just too over whelming, especially for the new Christian. For example, we do not teach our children to drive a car at the age of five. It is scary enough as a teenager, but we teach them, as they are ready. This message could not be any clearer, once we know what God expects from us as taught in the Bible, we are then expected to "do what it says".
We all have friends that are much further down the path of maturing faith that we look up to and they will tell you it was not always easy. However, it is a journey worth traveling with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Steve Childers is the author of Catholic or Protestant What our Churches Should Be Teaching. Visit http://catholicorprotestant.com/
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