Letter 12 (The Letters of Faith): Works of Faith
“For by grace you have been saved through faith…not from works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ENB).
What an amazing letter I’ve received. I was captured by your observations on current events, which are all exceptionally relevant. And yes, it is obvious that something is wrong within the world. The apostasy, which was foretold long ago, is being seen in mankind’s cold heart, and it will increase as we draw nearer to the day in which our Messiah and Master returns to rule. Praises be! We must not lose sight of the fact though, that the obedient Disciples of YEHOSHUA must be involved in the many efforts to right the wrongs of society. As mankind applies worldly salve and ointment to the problems of humanity, however, which strangely enough will magnify and multiply the sicknesses, YEHOSHUA’S Disciples must seek and apply spiritual solutions, thereby producing genuine healing – for the harvest is at hand, and we have work to do!
Since each brother and sister is gifted differently, we will be moved to enter different arenas in the battle for society. Some will be burdened to care for the homeless, while others will search for lost souls. Some will fight against abortion, others will be politically active – either by lobbying or running for office. Some will teach the Word of Elohim, others will tend the children of society, while yet others will minister to prisoners, widows, the lame or the in-firmed. Whatever the individual call might be, however, once a brother or sister is convicted about an issue; once The Holy Spirit lays a burden in someone’s heart, it is their responsibility to get involved in the cure and/or elimination of that issue. At the same time, let us never forget that it is our responsibility to support our brothers and sisters in the fulfillment of their life purpose; each gift working in unison with one goal – the Glory of our Heavenly Father, thru Yehoshua our Master (United as ONE In The Holy Spirit). How wonderful!
I am frequently reminded how massive the job confronting us really is. The Ekklesia has been asleep and negligent for so long, the task now before us appears overwhelming. Have you ever driven down a two lane highway, and been confronted with a group of vehicles in front of you, whose drivers are content to travel ten or fifteen mph below the speed limit (while you are in a hurry), and who also refuse to pass each other? My patience is severely tested under these circumstances, but I have learned the secret. Simply put, the approach is: one car at a time. Unless the opening is vast, you can only pass one car at a time. It may take an hour to get around a whole pack of slow drivers, but if you pick your opportunities, maintain a safe and level head, you can eventually knock them off one at a time, and achieve your goal.
The same is true for us today. Individually, we can only approach our social morass using the same technique: one issue at a time. While we are individually limited to our personal involvement in particular matters, primarily because of time constraints and the nature of our spiritual gifting, collectively, we can accomplish a great deal. Individually we must focus on whatever area The Holy Spirit gives us, while collectively He will make certain that every base is covered. The task confronting us may appear huge, but in the hands of Elohim nothing is too difficult.
As we discuss becoming involved in society though, and as we discuss the fulfillment of Elohim’s call in our lives, we must acknowledge that there is confusion within the EKKLESIA today over what might be called “works of faith” and “salvation”. Satan has confused and deceived too many people into believing they can somehow earn their salvation by what they do in this life; earn deliverance by their “works”, instead of through faith in YEHOSHUA ha Mashiach. While Scripture is abundantly clear on both the matter of deliverance and works, our thinking has been severely clouded, and our motivation has been sapped.
A secondary intent of these letters, therefore, has been to make straight the path of discipleship for you. To that end I have given you a great deal of Scriptural references throughout The Letters. In this letter though, I need to redouble that effort in order to settle this issue of salvation -vs- works, so that the matter may find peace and rest in your heart and mind. The Disciple should not be confused over elementary things, because we have too much “work” to do to be confused by our enemy.
Deliverance comes only through YEHOSHUA our Messiah (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and, “it is not the child who wills or the child who runs, but on Elohim who shows compassion” (Romans 9:16 ENB). Furthermore, Elohim said that He, “saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Messiah YEHOSHUA before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9 ENB). In our earlier letters, which directed you to the path unto YEHOSHUA, I outlined fully the realities of deliverance. The topical concordance is a helpful tool in studying these things as well. In those earlier letters though, I clearly stated that there is absolutely nothing you can do to add to the deliverance already offered through YEHOSHUA; that Faith + 0 = salvation. The truth of this matter, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we have work to do, and that a great deal depends on our faithful obedience to the Mastership of our Messiah.
While salvation does not depend on works (1 Corinthians 3:10-15), “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of Elohim; not from works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ENB), we must realize that faithful obedience to Elohim provides the proof and maintenance of our salvation (Matthew 25:14-30). Nothing we have done in the past, and nothing we will do in the future, can add to what YEHOSHUA did for us on the Cross. Deliverance through YEHOSHUA is directly related to our obedience though, and it is this teaching, the Mastership of YEHOSHUA (“Lordship” in today’s vernacular) which Babylon – the religious institutions – no longer promotes. It is too hard! It is too demanding!
In an earlier letter I said, “Based upon the Word of Elohim, believing upon YEHOSHUA requires faith, repentance and obedience. Open denial or refusal of any of these criteria is equal to open denial of His role as our Master. Denial of Him as Master is rejection of Him as our Messiah, and rejection of Him as Messiah means death for sins committed”. Believing on YEHOSHUA as our Master, means obeying Him, and to this point He issued a firm warning when He said, “Why do you call Me, ‘Master, Master’, and do not the things which I say” (Luke 6:46-49 ENB)? In my opening statements to you about discipleship, I also made it abundantly clear that the primary ingredient missing from discipleship training, and almost any teaching about YEHOSHUA, which is offered through the religious institutions, is His role as Master. The Mastership of YEHOSHUA is openly denied throughout these institutions, because Mastership requires accountability. Those who desire to have their ears tickled do not want to be held accountable to anything or anybody, but YEHOSHUA’S Disciples must acknowledge the fantasy, deception and outright lies of these false teachings.
YEHOSHUA said, “You are My friends, if you do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14 ENB). Elsewhere He added, “Those who are not with Me are against Me; and those who do not gather with Me disperse abroad” (Matthew 12:30 ENB). So what is YEHOSHUA saying? Paraphrased, He said, “If you do not do what I command, you are My enemy. If you do not gather with Me, you are against Me.”
When was the last time you heard that taught?
The evidence is overwhelming, my friend, and it all supports the fact that once we are saved, we are all gifted by The Holy Spirit. Furthermore, our gifts are to be used to glorify our Messiah and Father in heaven. The use of our gifts, and the bearing of the fruit of The Spirit, result in what the Bible refers to as “works”. For me, works is simply another word for obedience, and our faithful obedience will result in tremendous eternal rewards. While salvation does not depend upon works, rewards do, and while we cannot add to what our Messiah has already done for us, our deliverance depends upon our faithful obedience to The One who delivered us (Matthew 25:14-30).
“We are His workmanship; created in YEHOSHUA for good works, which Elohim prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 ENB). I have used the phrase “life purpose” throughout these letters to you, and this verse from Ephesians speaks directly to that issue. YEHOSHUA has created us for a purpose, and that purpose, prepared beforehand for us, is ours to accomplish – if we choose. We can elect to not follow His commands, but as reasonable, thinking individuals, shouldn’t we ask ourselves what the consequences of that decision might be?
Deliverance is not based on works, but obedience to the Mastership of YEHOSHUA is. If YEHOSHUA created us to fulfill a purpose (aside from glorifying Him), what consequence is there for those who refuse to fulfill that purpose? There must be some consequence for our inaction or inactivity; some consequence for our apostasy and faithlessness, don’t you think? Listen to the Word of Elohim:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master!’ ‘Master!’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but those who do the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out devils, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will profess unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work iniquity.’ Therefore, whoever hears these words of Mine, and does them, I will liken them unto the wise, who build their houses upon rocks” (Matthew 7:21-24 ENB).
I realize that this teaching piggybacks the “once saved, always saved” issue, which we discussed in an earlier letter, but the truth behind these matters is vital to salvation. Elohim will not be mocked, and we who are His children must live obediently to the commands of Elohim. Whenever His will is revealed, we must act upon that knowledge. Whenever we discover His desire for us, we must obey His desire. And in the fulfillment of these things, sanctification is complete…
“Has YEHOWAH as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of YEHOWAH? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of YEHOWAH, He has also rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 ENB).
If obedience is faith in action, then we can understand what the Word of Elohim means when He says, “What profit is there, my brethren, if someone says they have faith, but have no works? Can that faith save them? If a brother or sister is naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them that which is necessary for the body; what profit is that? Even so faith: if it has no works, it is dead, being alone” (James 2:14-17 ENB). If faith without works is dead, then there is no salvation for those who refuse to work, because there is no faith; because that faith is dead. Isn’t that what we just read? We must know these things, and we must act accordingly in that knowledge. If obedience is faith in action, and obedient action produces a reward, then rebellion is the opposite of obedience, and destruction is its reward.
Elohim says rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. If the faithful in Messiah are free from sin, then only the unfaithful live in sin. If only the unfaithful live in sin, then those who are rebellious are the unfaithful dead. Mankind may profess to be whatever it wishes, but actions speak louder than words. Clearly, therefore, obedience is obvious, and rebellion shouts, “WOLF”!
I know that some will distort the basics of these things, as they have already done, and in so distorting Elohim’s Word, will deceive the undisciplined into believing they will somehow add to their salvation, or gain heaven, through their works. Two very large institutions, which are thought of as “cults” throughout the religious society, insist that their followers fulfill some sort of missionary work in their lives – on a regular basis. They believe that by forcing every member of their denominations into knocking on doors or traveling to foreign fields, that they will either gain salvation, or somehow add to what YEHOSHUA has already done. In so teaching and doing, however, they openly deny the fullness of YEHOSHUA and the gifts of The Holy Spirit. Realistically, however, as far as at least attempting obedience is concerned, these “cults” are doing a much greater job than most of the other institutions! Unfortunately, all are falling short.
Works; faithful obedience to Elohim, maintains the deliverance given us through YEHOSHUA (Matthew 25:14-30). Works come out of our faith; faith does not come from works. To demand that every member of a denomination travel to some mission field, or insist that each must knock on doors in an attempt to proselytize those answering the knock, is against every teaching of Elohim. The gifts are given individually, and forcing a portion of the body to perform some unnatural function, in order to gain salvation, is a sin against The Holy Spirit; it is a sin against the sacrifice of YEHOSHUA our Messiah.
The works which interest Elohim – the obedience He desires – has very little to do with missionary work or knocking on doors, although that may be an additional requirement from some. The work He desires involves things that are spiritual and physical, to be sure. Specifically, but certainly not exclusively, here are some of the “works” that Elohim expects:
Walk with integrity, work righteousness, speak truth, do not slander, do no evil to a neighbor, take up no reproach against a friend, despise the lazy, honor and fear Elohim (Psalms 15).
Seek Elohim, keep His laws, precepts and ordinances, hate the double minded, depart from evildoers, perform and keep justice and righteousness (Psalms 119).
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it” (Proverbs 3:27 ENB).
Plead the cause of the afflicted and needy (Jeremiyah 22:15-16).
“Give to those who ask of you, and do not turn away from those who want to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42ENB).
Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you, and give to everyone who asks. “As you want mankind to treat you, do you also to them likewise.” Be merciful and do not judge (Luke 6:27-38).
Care for the poor, crippled, lame and blind (Luke 14:12-14).
Bear the fruit of The Spirit in your heart and life (John 15:2).
Participate in the harvest (John 4:34-38).
Do not grow weary of doing good (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
Pursue righteousness, reverence, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11-12).
Abstain from wickedness (2 Timothy 2:19-26).
Show sympathy to prisoners (Hebrews 10:34, 13:3).
Strengthen hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble (Hebrews 12:12).
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers” (Hebrews 13:2ENB).
Do not neglect to share (Hebrews 13:16).
Repentance from dead works (Hebrews 6:1), or repentance from works of religion – whichever you choose to call them – requires that we become alive to those acts and deeds which Elohim has called us. Works include the use of our gifts, but faithful obedience to the Word of Elohim exceeds teaching a Sunday school class or preaching a sermon on Sunday morning. Works include showing yourself approved to a dying world in such a way that they see your Father abiding within you on a moment by moment basis. And when Elohim says He desires obedience more than sacrifice, He is speaking directly to these things. Not every member of the body is called to a foreign mission field, but every member of the body is called to bear the fruit of The Spirit. Not every Disciple is a miracle worker, but every Disciple is a miracle, and every miracle should be evident to the world around them.
The Word of Elohim says, “Command those who are rich in this present world, not to be high-minded, or to trust in the uncertainty of riches, but in the living Elohim, who richly furnishes us with all things to enjoy; to do good, to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, and willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may take hold of eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19 ENB).
Additionally, we are told He has given us the gifts of The Spirit, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, unto mature sons and daughters, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro, carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of mankind, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all ways into Him, who is the head, Messiah, from whom the whole body, being fitted and knit together closely by that which every joint supplies, according to the measured working of each and every part, produces the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:12-16 ENB).
Babylon, led by the Nicolaitans, denies the validity of a teaching that requires active involvement of every member of the EKKLESIA. These same institutions also deny that professing ‘Disciples’ must repent from dead works and apostasy, because the teaching is too hard. The institutions do not call for repentance from sin, but instead, teach an ever-increasing relaxed code of moral and ethical standards. And yet, “Faith without works is dead”, and the Disciples of YEHOSHUA must know the truth of Elohim’s Word.
And, while the institutions may deny the Word of Elohim, the EKKLESIA must prepare itself to meet the Head of the body. The bride must ready herself to meet the Bridegroom. Being ready means being involved; being ready means active participation; being ready means being pure in worship unto Elohim.
Scripture says that there would be many who, “Profess to know Elohim, but their works say not, being abominable and disobedient and worthless for any good work” (Titus 1:16 ENB). The deeds that deny Him are as evident as those He considers good (1 Timothy 5:24-25), and the topical concordance includes an extensive catalog of passages pointing to the deeds of the flesh. Within these passages you will find both positive and negative “deeds”, and I leave the study of these matters in your capable hands.
The primary deception regarding works -vs- salvation is an outgrowth of the Nicolaitan spirit, which we discussed earlier in our studies, and which has permeated the halls of the institutions. As long as the brethren complacently sit in their pews, listening to the babbling of false teachers, works of faith will not be seen. As long as the gifts of The Spirit are denied, works of faith will be denied.
Apostasy rejects the notion of repentance, because apostasy denies the truth of the Word of Elohim. Where Elohim says His people will be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14 ENB), religion teaches that works and faith are unrelated, and that deliverance is based primarily upon works. But deliverance is based upon faith, and – If faith is dead, so is deliverance!
If our life purpose is to glorify Elohim, it is important for each of us to discover how we are to glorify Him. We cannot be satisfied with fruitless, loveless lives. Elohim wants and deserves much more. I believe that a great portion of my life purpose is meant for the EKKLESIA. Through discipleship training, evangelism and prophecy, I feel Elohim has called me to serve His Body. Regardless of what He has me do though, I know the requirements for accomplishing His intent, and I believe that I know the rules for satisfactorily fulfilling those requirements. It is not enough to run the race, however, because we are told that we must also compete according to the established guidelines (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 2:5), and we must run so as to win. Our life purpose, to glorify Elohim, must be fulfilled according to His will, not ours. As we devote ourselves to faithful praise and worship, the rest will happen (Matthew 6:33). He will insure that!
As Disciples, we also need to know about the battles that are confronting our brethren. We need to keep each other informed. We need to vote whenever possible, and cast our votes in assistance to the brothers and sisters who are standing in the gap for the righteousness of our loving Messiah. And we need to pray for each other. As we learn the fullness of our duties within the EKKLESIA, individually and collectively, we must determine to fulfill those responsibilities spiritually, mentally, physically and financially. And, somehow, we must network within the body, in order to keep each member of the body informed on the issues before us.
I have no doubt that portions of the Ekklesia will go underground as we approach the return of our Messiah. Just like the first century Ekklesia, persecution of the Disciples of YEHOSHUA will once again become sport, necessitating an underground lifestyle and network. Those called and gifted to confront the world with the Word of Elohim, however, will be exposed to tremendous ridicule and danger. The Body of YEHOSHUA, however, must be prepared to assist those exposed brothers and sisters, both in their work – and through their suffering, and our prayers are the absolute minimum that we must offer. As One Body, we need to comprehend our collective capacity.
The burden of Discipleship includes an urgent desire to see every brother and sister in YEHOSHUA involved within our communities, and therein glorifying Elohim. Aside from our spiritual need to assemble and gather, however, we must assist each other at every turn. We have a great deal of work to do, and that is exciting. We also have a great Elohim to assist and guide us in our work, and that is even more exciting. The fact that deliverance is a free gift from Elohim cannot deter us from obeying the One who saved us though, because He is also our Master, and His Mastership demands our obedient participation.
I pray that His abundant grace, mercy and love will be evident in and through your life, and I wholeheartedly seek the fulfillment of His purpose for you – to His glory and your eternal joy. If there is anything I can do to assist in your faith walk, please let me know.
I remain faithfully and humbly your brother in YEHOSHUA our Messiah,
Letter 12 Topical Concordance:
Old Testament: Genesis 9:20-27; Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy (all); Job 11:20, 24:13, 28:28; Psalms 4:4-5, 5:4-7, 37:27, 50:23; Jeremiyah 7:8-11; Micyah 2(all); Habakkuk 1-2(all).
New Testament: Matthew 15:19-20; Mark 7:14-23; Romans 1:32-2:3, 6:15-22, 8:5-8, 12-14(all); 1 Corinthians 3:3, 6:9-11, 7:2,9; 2 Corinthians 5:13-15, 7:1, 12:20-21, 13:7; Galatians 5:16-24; Ephesians 1:4, 2(all), 4:31, 5:3-14; Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:5-17, 3:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, 5:22; 1 Timothy 1:8-11, 5:6-25, 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9, 2:11-13; Hebrews 2:18, 6:7-8, 10:26-31, 12:1-2, 13:4; James 1:14-21, 2:2-6, 3:6, 3:14-15, 4:1-2; 1 Peter 1:14-16, 2:1,11-12, 4:3-5; 2 Peter 1:4, 2:1-19, 3:3; 1 John 3:4-10; 2 John 1:9; Jude 1:7-16; Revelation 9:20-21, 21:7-8, 22:15.
Deprivation: (The Trail of Deprivation):
Romans 1:28; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16.
(Also see Romans 6:1-9, 6:12-14 & 6:15-22; 1 Corinthians 5:9, 6:13, 6:18; 1 Timothy 1:6-11 as).
Old Testament: Job 8:5-7; Psalms 25:1-3, 25:16-22, 31(all), 36:5-12, 37(all), 42-43(all), 62(all), 66(all), 71(all), 105(all), 112(all), 119(all), 121(all), 128(all), 131(all); Isaiyah 51-56(all), 60-61(all); Lamentations 3:19-25.
New Testament: Romans 12:12; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Hebrews 11:1; 1 Peter 1:13.
New Testament: Luke 14:12-14, 24:13-31; Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2, 1 Peter 4:9, 2 John 1:7-11; 3 John 1:5, 1:10.
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 16:19; Psalms 15(all), 24:1-6, 26(all); Proverbs (all); Micyah 6:8.
New Testament: Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:17, 7:2; Philippians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12; 1 Peter 2:4-12.
Old Testament: 2 Samuel 14:14; Psalms 20:6-9, 49:8, 57:1-6, 62(all), 111(all), 118:22-28, 143(all); Isaiyah 45:22-25.
New Testament: Acts 4:12, 15:11, 18:27; Romans 3:20,28, 9:1, 10:12, 11:6; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-10; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:8-9, 3:15; Titus 3:3-8; 1 Peter 2:2.
New Testament: John 17:17-21; Acts 26:18; Romans 6:21-22; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:21; Hebrews 2:11, 10:10-14, 12:14; 1 Peter 1:1-2.
Old Testament: Numbers (all); Psalms 15(all), 62:11-12, 107(all), 108:13, 119(all); Proverbs (all), 3:27; Ecclesiastes 11:6; Isaiyah 3:10-11; Jeremiyah 22:15-16; Daniel 3(all); Hosea 10:12; Malachi 1(all).
New Testament: Matthew 3:8, 5:13-16,42, 7:17-24, 12:30,50, 16:27, 19:21-26, 24:45-51, 25:14-36; Mark 4:21-23, 9:39-40; Luke 6:27-38,46-49, 10:30-37, 14:12-14,26-35, 17:6-10; John 4:34-38, 5:28-29, 6:26-27, 7:4, 8:29,39, 9:4-5, 12:23-26, 14:12-15, 15:2-6; Acts 10:34-35, 24:15-16, 26:20; Romans 1:9, 2:4-11, 3:20, 9:22-24, 12:9-21; 1 Corinthians 3:8-15, 4:5, 11:1, 15:58; 2 Corinthians 2:14, 5:10, 6:1,12, 8:6-15; Galatians 2:10,16, 5:6, 6:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-10, 4:14-16, 6:7-8; Philippians 1:22, 3:17, 4:4-9; Colossians 1:9-12,24-29, 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13,5:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, 2:16-17, 3:13; 1 Timothy 1:12-14, 2:9-10, 5:9-10,24-25, 6:11-12,18-19; 2 Timothy 1:7-11, 2:15-26, 3:16-17, 4:1-5; Titus 1:16, 2:7,11-14, 3:3-8,13-14; Hebrews 6:1,10-12, 9:13-14, 10:22-25,34-35, 11:33, 12:12-16, 13:1-3,16; James 1:21-27, 2:14-26, 3:13; 1 Peter 1:17-19, 3:13-16; 1 John (all); Revelation 2:5,19,26-28, 3:2-3.
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Lawrence T. Vosen
All Scripture quotations are taken from The Exalted Name Bible™
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Lawrence T. Vosen, PhD. Used with permission.