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Authentic Living Keith West / Lewisville, Texas / Age 27  

Faith vs Deeds (Authentic Living) (Study Through James)

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Faith vs Deeds 

When I was first starting out being a Christian, maybe you can relate, people hate you, even those who claim to be Christians seem to attack you at times. I don’t know, I get that feeling a lot more when I try to follow God. I feel like it’s God’s people, or better yet, those who think they’re God’s people, it’s them that more often than not who end up attacking you and all because you are wanting to reach people for Christ and live your life for him.

I find that a lot of Christians, actually let not call them Christians, let us call them religious churchgoers. They follow the ways of this world and pass judgment against those who want to go all-in for Jesus. I hate how many people will wear the Christian name tag and have no interest in living the Christian job description. In a culture where we cancel people, the church should learn to cancel these people. 

Well, people always take me for a joke. At least that is what Pastor Kyle of Sent Church in Plano, Texas told me a few weeks before the COVID19 pandemic hit the world. I sat in that pastor’s office and I asked him if I could pay money to the church to start a bible study in one of the rooms on a weekday, which I would then convert to a local church in the long term. He try convincing me to become a member of Sent Church and be ordained through their denomination, which is understandable, but he actually told me also, “You know Keith, at first I took you for a joke, but now that I see that you are actually actively running a worldwide online ministry, I don’t see you as a joke anymore.” I actually took that comment as offensive and I never donated to that church again and I have never been back. I did email Pastor Kyle and told him my offense in your wondering and the pastor never replied back. Matthew 5:23-24,So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

What did James Say?

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” (James 2:14-24) 

You can’t be a Christian and have nothing in your life to prove that you’re a Christian. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or know Jesus died for you, even the devil and the demons know that, but are they going to Heaven? God gave us his Word, called Jesus Christ, and His Written Word called the Bible. Can’t pick one and not the other, have to pick both. 

Does it sound like I am a little angry? If so, it’s because I am. I am so frustrated by how many people in the church don’t walk with God. I am frustrated by how many people in the church would actually kick Jesus Christ himself to the corner if he was to walk into their church building. Churches actually don’t literally kick Jesus out of their church, but they do kick out those who walk with God. They reject those less of these, like the homeless. 

The homeless, let’s talk about that for a minute. In 2015, I passed by my church home and noticed that there was a truck outside every night around the same time. I decided to stop and see if the person was okay. I got to know him and I end up being this dude’s only friend. Well, I brought the situation up to the church, First Baptist Church of Carrollton, Texas and the church responded by asking the police to ask the homeless guy to stop sleeping in that parking lot. The church then told me that I should no longer seek to help him because the guy is a con artist. 

Well, around that same time period that I was spending time with this homeless guy at night, I was also helping another kind of homeless 28-year old with a place to live, dude screwed me over. He had a job when he moved in and everyone told me he would be a good roommate. I ended up losing everything because of this roommate. He never paid me rent. He ate the food I bought with my money. He used everything in the apartment and made all my utility bills skyrocket. To this day I still remember his name, Edward Peckham, and if I ever see him face to face, I don’t know how I would react. He left only because he knew he pushed me to the max. Well, because of him, I lost the apartment, I got 6 months behind on my truck payment, my credit card got charged off, I was sued by the apartment complex, my credit score went from high 700s to about 350 to 375, in one month. I ended up homeless, living in my truck for about 2 years outside a megachurch called Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas. I pursued membership just before becoming homeless. I was always being woken up by the police asking why I was there. The church leaders turn a blind eye and act like nothing was happening. Now I knew, from a very personal standpoint, the church’s response to homelessness. 

That alone is not why I am against church membership. I joined the US Marines in 2017 because I didn’t know what else to do. After I joined, I checked into my unit in 2018, once the marines found out I was homeless, there was not one marine that didn’t offer me a place to live.  I rejected their offers though. I wanted to see how Watermark Community Church would respond to a person currently serving in the US Marine Reserves, working full time at Walmart as a Manager and homeless due to credit and financial issues. Responds, it was the same for about 8 months, until one night the security officer asked me to leave the church parking lot and find somewhere else to sleep. 

Why did I share these stories? These situations I personally faced are not just me, I and myself situations. I didn’t just win a lucky number to experience rejection from the local church or pick a lucky number to get a front row seat to suffer and watch the church not respond. I share these stories because it’s not just me that experiences this type of rejection.  I knew another homeless guy at the watermark in the same situation I was in. The difference is that I have a heart to feel and mouth to speak what is truth. It’s not right for us as christians to claim that we are healers of the world or that we have the relief people are seeking after, but then we just turn from those very opportunities that show up to our own front door. Watermark had an opportunity to help me and that other dude and didn’t. This is why church membership is so nasty in my mouth. Instead of offering me help the 2nd time I became homeless, Watermark continued to beg me to become a member again. Why would I become a member of a church that doesn’t live out their own church statement of belief?

James was the brother, well step brother of Jesus, he is the one who wrote the Letter of James. James wrote this letter to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion” James 1:1.  This means that this letter is being written and sent to a church with Jewish Christians. The word ‘Dispersion’ is a good indicator that this letter is obviously written after the events of Acts. That is when the church spreads out and starts to hide from those trying to kill them for their Faith in Jesus.   

The reason I started off with James 2:14-24 is because the whole book is centered around exactly what James says in these verses. If we don’t take in account exactly what James is saying in these verses, the whole letter is just another letter with nice little sayings for the church. These few verses are the meat of this entire letter and honestly it’s very hard meat to chew because throughout history scholars have tried to remove the Letter of James out of the Bible because what James says in these few verses are hard even for scholars to chew on. ”if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” James 2:14. Some verses, depending on your translation, will say “works” instead of “deeds”. What are deeds? In Short, deeds are the evidence that Christ is living in You.

You can display Christ inside you in many ways, maybe by giving to the homeless. Not just giving money, maybe you can give your time, your ears, and your heart. There are a lot of ways you can give to someone that doesn’t involve giving money. I think it’s wrong to just drive by the homeless after church and do nothing to help them. We as God’s people should be the number one group of people on earth that stop and offer help to those who have nothing to offer in return.

Prayer is a tool in your Walk With God, but it’s also a sign that you have a Walk With God. If you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone, which everyone on earth has in some way, shape, or form, you know that communication is key to building that relationship. In the same way if you want to build that relationship with God, you can pray to him. Prayer is just a communication tool we have possession of. 

Between 2014 & 2015, I used to walk to church by this piece of land and pray that God would use that land to bless the city and that surrounding area. Today, a hospital is standing on that land. I believe it was in 2016 that they started construction on it. God is in the business of answering prayers and sometimes a deed we can do is be in communication with God on all matters even on the matters of a piece of land that you don’t even own.  

Walking away from Sin is a huge one. Jesus talked about cutting off your hand if you sin with it. He was referring to masturbation. The whole point of Walk With God is to become more like Jesus. We should daily thrive towards this ultimate goal of being just like Jesus. The reason for that is because we are trying to be the light of the world and if we aren’t really living any differently than the rest of the world, then we are not really standing out and shining. The point is to be different and stand out from what the world is doing. 

These few things above are only scratching the surface of the idea of having deeds with your faith. I want to challenge you to figure out what it means in your personal Walk With God to have deeds with your faith. 

In this box list ways that you can shine the light of Jesus in your personal life that would reflect Jesus in you…

Do you notice what James says? “Suppose a brother or a sister”. In Greek, words have many different meanings. In this verse, James writes “ἀδελφός” (adelphos) which means “brother”. This word shows up 43 times in the bible. In Matthew 10:2, we see this form of the word “brother” show up as “and Andrew his brother  ἀδελφός and James”. The reason that is important to understand is that when James wrote “Suppose a brother or a sister.” He is speaking on behalf of somebody close to you like family members. It’s very possible that he is also speaking on behalf of other Christians too. This word is actually reflective of someone being related to someone else by blood. As followers of Christ, we are related by blood and that blood is the blood of Jesus. Making the claim the other believers are more than just church members, but ἀδελφός. Over and over in the bible, the church gets called “Children of God”. Christians are all “ἀδελφός”. In Mark 3:35, Jesus uses the same word to mark a person who does the Will of God “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” 

The reason I point that out is because James wrote, “without clothes and daily food…but does nothing about their physical needs”. In 2016, I started my journey of homelessness. I thought that if I slept outside a church, maybe I would be left alone.  Instead once a week, a different police officer or security officer would come waking me up in the middle of the night. Asking me why I’m there. Wanting to get my photo state ID to run my background check out in the middle of the night. I just wanted to sleep. I would tell the Dallas Police my story of how I became homeless and how I plan on getting out of my homelessness situation. One time a security officer at the church told me to leave before 7 am, so the members of the church didn’t see me. The only reason I was allowed to sleep in that church parking lot was that I was a member of the church. I remember when Pastor Todd Wagner stood on stage at Watermark Community Church and said, “We’re committed here at watermark in making sure that no member of our body is homeless.” I remember when one of the leaders in that church told me one day, “I would help you, but I have roommates.” I remembered one morning at 3 am or 4 am I woke up hearing someone say, “Hey Sir, Hey Sir. I’m sorry to wake you up, but can you move your truck over there so we can set up our workout equipment right here in this area?” To this day I wish that guy would have asked me, “Hey Sir, do you need help?” These things do not strengthen my heart for the local church, but have hardened my heart to the local church. No wonder I don’t serve in the church, no wonder I much rather start a whole new church to serve those who are being rejected by the local churches. I ended up joining the US Marines out of this homelessness. I became homeless again and upon the 2nd round, a security officer at Watermark came up to my car and asked me to leave the property. So not only was I a devoted Christian, I was serving in the US Marines Reserves and that’s the way I was treated by Watermark Community Church. I wasn’t a member of the church the 2nd time, because how do you expect me to be a member? Currently, I’m not homeless, and I’m starting to pursue membership again. The same church told me that I wasn’t righteous enough to serve. Told me I need to come back when I am more righteous. I applied for jobs in other local churches and got turned down and when I tried finding a church home, I never found a welcoming church. These things hurt and harden my heart towards the local church. I shared that, to share a piece of my personal struggle since this is an Authentic Living Book. 

Don’t worry, I have a great story to share. It was Christmas Eve 2016, I was living in my truck still. At the time I was a Support Manager at Walmart. Well, during my lunch break something happened to my truck’s wheel. Which led to my truck breaking down outside my job on Christmas Eve. I asked my boss if I could leave work early to fix my truck. I needed to go to the auto store to buy parts before every store in the area closed, so she said yes. At that time I was a member of Watermark and in a community group. I was asking for help from everyone I could, but no one could help because everyone had plans to leave town and be with family. 

Well, my amazing friend Lincoln Neely came to my job on Christmas Eve and took me to the auto shop to get the parts I needed for my truck. Then He tried helping me repair my truck, but he had somewhere to go. That day I ended up having to tell all my bosses that I was homeless because they tried to offer me a ride home, but that truck was my home. So my bosses left me food, and told the police guarding the store that I have permission to stay on the property during Christmas. 

I was having issues trying to take the drum off the wheel, I needed to repair my brakes. The drum was melted onto the brake pads. The cop at the store tried to help, but he couldn’t get it off either and then a tow truck driver came and tried to help but he couldn’t get it off either. The cool thing though is that the tow truck driver asked me if I wanted to come to have dinner with his family on Christmas Night. I accepted. I mean, what else was I going to do? On Monday, Lincoln Neely came back and tried to help me get this drum off, but he couldn’t. I had been trying to get this drum off for 3 days. So Lincoln Neely called a tow truck, paid the tow truck, and gave me $500. He told me, “Use this money to pay for the tow, repairs, and whatever else you need.” 3 years later, being homeless a 2nd time, Lincoln Neely offered me a place to sleep at his apartment. I stayed for 1 night and then I told him that I couldn’t stay there. The reason was that he was living the high life lifestyle. I had no idea this guy was living in a luxurious apartment. I told him I didn’t want my eyes to look at wealthy living like that, because then I might start trying to pursue that instead of pursuing God. This guy was a kind guy and he lived out James 2:15. 

James goes one to write, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  I want to call these two very different gospels. One message says that all you need is faith to be saved. The other message says that all you need are deeds to be saved. The problem is that neither of these messages is biblical. They sound good and taste great. But they will make your ears bleed and your stomach ache. 

You Have Faith! Message

James writes, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” The difference between a Christian and Non-Christian is not believing in Jesus, but following Jesus. The demons saw Jesus walk the earth, live a sinless perfect life, and die on the cross. Believe me, the demons believe in Jesus, they believe in God. The Book of Job says that the devil himself stood before God in heaven at the throne of God and spoke directly with God about Job. So okay, you believe Jesus died on the cross, but what are you doing with that faith? 

I Have Deeds! Message

The problem with this message is that faith isn’t connected to it. This is a “Saved By Works” message. There is nothing we can do to earn our way to Heaven. I can be the most righteous person on earth, but I still have a problem, that problem is sin. Our sin separates us from God. There is no way we can ever earn our salvation. 

Islam believes that you can earn your way to God. They believe that if all your right deeds outweigh your wrong deeds, that on the last day you’re going to get to Heaven. But how do you weigh all your deeds from the day you’re born to the day you die and then try to stand before a holy and righteous God who has never done wrong and try to justify yourself before him? You can’t.

Even our righteous deeds are done out of selfish gain, which is a sin. So trying to live a righteous life in order to one day please a Holy God, you are still going to fall short because you’re doing something for your own self-gain. Selfishness is sinfulness. Even writing this book could be a sin, because I hope to increase my net worth by selling copies of it. Something that seems to be righteous, like writing about God to inspire people to turn to Jesus, could be seasoned with selfishness. 

 The Biblical Message

James writes, “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” I think Abraham was stressed out about what God was calling him to do. He had his son at an old age and this son was the promised son that would become a great group of people that no one would be able to number, which was part of God’s promise to Abraham. Now God is asking him to offer his son on an altar. The story goes that right before Abraham was going to kill his son, God told him to stop. You can read about this in Genesis. What kind of Faith is this? An Obedient Faith. Abraham couldn’t see completely clearly what God was planning or the test God was giving him. All he knew was that God was calling him to do something and he was going to be faithful in what God was calling him to do. 

Does that mean that God is going to call every father to offer their son? No. Now does God call every father to offer themselves on an altar of leading their family in the ways of the Lord? Yes. God calls each one of us to offer ourselves to serve him in whichever platform he puts us in. Maybe you’re a manager, student, teacher, coach, marine, leader of marines, or the president of a nation. Put your faith into action, in whatever environment God has put you in. As James writes, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”  Our faith should have an outward expression of the inward conviction.

Anything that will glorify the Lord our God. Read the bible and do as it says since Jesus tells us that those who do God’s Will, they are the ones who will be saved, and not only that but must believe in Jesus Christ as Lord of their life. It’s just like being sold-out to Christ. This is either you’re all in or all out. You can’t just be like on the bench and just jump in when you feel like it. No one is put on a bench in this game of faith. Our Coach is putting everyone on the field. We all have a role to play. 

What did Jesus Say?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:21-25) 

I think it’s important to read what Jesus said as we go through the letter James wrote. Can you guess why? Yes because Jesus is God and He is the Living Word of God. 

  1. Not Everyone who claims to be Christian is a Christian. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven”
  2. Christians must have an Obedient Faith just like Abraham had. “but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
  3. Non-Christians can be preachers that do great signs and miracles, but Jesus calls them “evildoers”. “‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” 

Right about now you’re thinking, “Wait a minute? How are they evildoers when they are preaching and performing all these signs?” The answer is in what Jesus says next.

  1. What are you building your life on? Are you building your life on your career, fitness, business start-up, ministry achievements, or even your kids? God wants us to build our lives upon him and his Written and Living Word. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  This foundation is literally the Living and Written Word of God. Both Jesus and the Bible are together the foundation on which we are to build our lives upon. 

I was Homeless 2 times. Is there a 3rd time coming? I hope not. Each time I fell down that hard in life, I still had a job and a car. I was able to stand back up from those 2 seasons and even earn the title of US Marine in the middle of it all. Recently, I was in a really bad car accident in April 2019. It destroyed my back, left me broken physically, mentally, and financially. I was trying to fix my back, find a job, and while my debt was growing. I said mentally because, for the first 3 or 4 months, I was playing the car accident in my head over and over. Today I’m better than ever. I got a job, a new car, I’m not homeless anymore and I started saving my money, I wasn’t doing that before the car accident. God is my Rock I’m building my life on, the storm will come, but God isn’t going anywhere. 

Everyone who claims to be a Christian will be tested to see if their faith in Christ is True or False. If it’s false then our house or our life will fail us in that storm, but if it’s true, then we will stand firm.

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