Turn Using Knowledge[This article is part of the Turntables series]
This is the first article of my site’s first series. I’m so excited about this and hope that it will encourage you in Christ. The Bible is the sole, infallible rule of faith for us. One of the most common themes in Scripture is repentance. This word describes someone turning from sin, to Christ. Picture walking in a straight line, stopping, then turning 180° to start walking in the other direction. You’ve just repented. The whole council of Scripture teaches that all those who want to truly follow Jesus must repent. This will be the subject of the entire series, Turntables.
Within each article of this blog series, I’ll be using Scripture to write, and all seven articles will deal with different Bible passages that involve repentance. They’re certainly not the only places that repentance is found; however, they are undoubtedly important passages that every Christian should be familiar with.
When I think about the subject of biblically turning to Christ for salvation, James 2:14-20 is easily a passage to consider.
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? (ESV)
Needless to say, lots of debate can be found on this passage of Scripture. I don’t care to get into all of them. My simplified belief is that we are saved by grace, through faith, in Christ alone. We are totally saved, not by anything we have accomplished, but by Christ’s work for us.
Here, the Apostle James is not teaching that we are saved by our good works, but our good works show our faith in Christ. It’s similar to Paul’s instruction to “work out your salvation” (Philippians 2:12). He isn’t saying your salvation is dependent upon you. We know that it is a total gift from God. You have it on the inside because God put it there. Now make sure it shows up on the outside.
Furthermore, faith is never alone. I love how BFM 2000 puts it, “Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.” It is always producing good works and fruitful acts. Faith and works aren’t to be separated from one another because they go together. It is helpful to differentiate them, but not isolate them. The misunderstanding I often see is that many believe you don’t have saving faith unless you get some good works accomplished. That is not the way to possess saving faith; it can only be received from God, by his grace.
Now, the truth is, a person’s faith that does no good is no good. The Apostle James said that even demons merely understand who God is. Did you know that demons believe in God? They do. In fact, they may have more understanding than we do, if you think about it. Regardless of how much we or demons know about God, knowledge doesn’t really do anything by itself.
So, what sets us apart from demons? A relationship with God. How much would it benefit me to simply know about my wife, Macey, without a relationship between us? Knowledge of her would not amount to anything by itself—it would be useless. A right relationship between us is what makes all the difference.
With that being said, my main point here is that knowledge should deepen the relationship that we have with God. We should turn to God, from our sin, using the knowledge that God gives us. By grace, we have been made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. My relationship with God was accomplished for me—given to me—because Jesus, as the final sacrifice for sins, closed the gap that existed between me and God.
Demons don’t have the opportunity to be in right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We do.
You see, demons have knowledge of God and tremble; we have knowledge of God and repent. There must be a turning in the life of every Christian—a turning in heart, soul, mind, and strength. What is God asking you to turn from? What do you need to walk away from? How can you be heading in the direction of God instead of death?
Don’t be like the demons, who only possess simple knowledge of God. May further understanding of God lead you to a more zealous repentance.
What good (ophelos) is it to say that you just believe that God exists? What profit or advantage do you have to acknowledge that God is who he says he is? It will not help you to believe in God as the demons do. That kind of faith will not save you. This kind of faith is by itself; it’s dead.
On the other hand, a faith which God has been planted inside the believer is a true faith. The faith that comes from God is an alive faith. It’s a faith which manifests itself also on the outside. It’s a faith that cares for people in need, disciplines the body, and produces good works.
If you are someone who is being drawn to God and desires a relationship with him, I invite you to pray to him and read his Word. There is no one too far gone; God’s arm is not short. He is able to reach you and forgive you. Don’t settle for knowing about God. You need to know him. He desires to have this relationship with you.
May the knowledge that God reveals to you manifest itself into repentance. Knowledge that remains knowledge is what the demons have. We are given the opportunity to grow deeper in our relationship with God using knowledge of him. May this encourage you in your walk. May it spur you on to love and good deeds.
View another Turntables article here.