Category Archives: Articles

…Without Works is Dead

Most of my life, I’ve heard sermons on “faith without works is dead.”  In case you’re unaware, that’s found near the end of James chapter two.  One can have all the faith in the world, but if it is not exhibited in works, that faith is useless.  However, in a recent Bible class, I heard a man make the point that faith isn’t the only thing that “without works is dead.”  Needless to say, my interest was piqued.

LOVE without works is dead.

Imagine a man telling his wife “I love you,” but never showing it to her.  Is she going to believe it?  There was a song back in the 90′s called “More than Words.”  In it, the songwriter said, “more than words to show you feel that your love for me is real.  Then, you wouldn’t have to say that you love me, ’cause I’d already know.”

We can sing the song “Jesus Love Me,” and know that it is true, because Jesus showed His love for us by His works of living a perfect life, undergoing ridicule, and dying the ultimate shameful death on the cross.  My friends, THAT is love!

MERCY without works is dead.

Some people have actually said these words, “I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget.”  Truly, this attitude means that forgiveness has not actually been given.  If we forgive someone, it means we no longer hold that thing against them–we no longer take it into account.  But many times, people claim to forgive others, but are not willing to do the works that prove it.  That kind of mercy is dead–of no value whatsoever.

And why is that important?  Because we are told in various places that we will be forgiven by God in the same way that we forgive others.  So, if we forgive in word only, but still hold those things against others, then we can expect God to still hold our sins against us.  See Matthew 6:12, 18:34-35, and James 2:13.  My friends, this is a matter of eternal importance!

REPENTANCE without works is dead.

John the baptizer called out the hypocritical Pharisees for pretending to be righteous.  In his indictment against them, he said the words, “bring forth fruits [works] appropriate for repentance” (Matthew 3:8).  The apostle Paul said it this way, “repent, and turn to God, and do works appropriate for repentance” (Acts 26:20).

We can tell people, “I’m sorry.”  But if you’ve been around people very long, you find that many times what they mean is, “I’m sorry you found out.”  You know that because the person shows no signs of change.  If you truly have repented, then you will be showing the works of repentance.  That includes working harder to not mess up in that area.

When we ask God for forgiveness, are we putting in the works necessary to prove we are truly sorry for what we have done?

May your life be blessed as your works match your words!

–Bradley Cobb

Bible Q&A – Lord of Sabaoth

This is the first of what will (Lord willing) be an ongoing feature of TheCobbSix.com.  We plan on posting a new Bible Q&A each Friday.  Now, on to the question!

Why is God called “The Lord of Sabaoth” (James 5:4, Romans 9:29)?  I’m sure it means something, but I’m not sure what.–Anonymous

That’s a great question, and the answer may not be what you expect.  The word Sabaoth only appears twice in the Bible, James 5:4 and Romans 9:29.  Many people look at the word Sabaoth, and assume it is another spelling of the word Sabbath.  And so, most people just think that this is another way of saying “Lord of the Sabbath,” like in Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, and Luke 6:5.  But just because the words look similar doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.

The word Sabaoth means armies.  The best way to show this is to look at one of the places where it is used.  Romans 9:29 says, “And as Isaiah said before, ‘Except the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we’d been like Sodom and made like Gomorrah’.”  Here, the apostle Paul quotes from Isaiah 1:9.  Except that, in Isaiah 1:9, it says “the LORD of hosts.”

“The Lord of Sabaoth” in the New Testament is the same as “the LORD of hosts” in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, the phrase “the LORD of hosts” appears 245 times.  This phrase describes God as the one who has the power to destroy anyone who gets in His way.  It means He’s the military God who can control the armies of heaven and earth.  When you understand this, and understand what was meant when God is called “the LORD of hosts,” it helps you get a better picture of what’s going on in the Bible.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘As My anger and My fury have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so will My fury be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. And you shall be an oath, an astonishment, a curse, and a reproach; and you shall see this place no more.’” (Jeremiah 42:18).

Do you see there how God identifies Himself as “the LORD of hosts” right before He promises to bring destruction?  Now, let’s go back to the New Testament and look at the other place where “the Lord of Sabaoth” is mentioned: James 5:4.

“Behold, the wages of the laborer who have reaped down your fields (which you have kept back by fraud) cries, and the cries of the reapers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”

Here, God is telling the ones who were oppressive to the poor that the God of destruction is coming.  He’s heard the cries of the poor.  And if you read the whole chapter, you’ll see that it was going to be bad.  Just a few years after this was written, Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people who had been oppressing the poor Christians were killed or made into slaves by the Roman armies, led by God.

–Bradley Cobb

The Blame Game

When a team loses a big game, the fans always want to pin the blame on someone.  When there’s a problem at a job, the boss looks for someone to blame (so that the blame doesn’t fall on him).  When things were going bad for the nation of Israel, they looked for someone to blame (sometimes Moses, sometimes they blamed God Himself!).

The blame game dates back to the garden of Eden.  After both Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, God came walking by, and that’s when it started.  “that woman you gave me caused me to eat!”  “That snake tricked me!” (and of course the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on…).  But notice there that from the beginning people have been wanting to avoid responsibility for their actions.  Adam blamed Eve and God!  Eve blamed the serpent.  None of them would fess up and say, “it’s my fault.”

We see the same problems in relationships today.  If a marriage isn’t going well, you can almost guarantee that the husband knows it’s mostly the wife’s fault, and the wife knows it’s mostly the husband’s fault.  Instead of looking at themselves to find a solution to their marriage problems, they are placing all the blame on the other.  Things will NEVER get better if this attitude doesn’t change.

In Revelation 16, there is a nation being tormented with plagues, but through it all they refused to repent.  In fact, they said it was God’s fault that they were undergoing these plagues.  But they ignored the fact that if they had repented, the plagues could have stopped.  But still, even at the end, they blasphemed God for the trouble they had gotten themselves into.

If you’re having a difficult time with someone, ask yourself these questions:

1. What could I have done differently that may have kept this from getting to this point?

2. What can I do now to improve this situation?

There is plenty of blame to go around.  We don’t like the thought of being wrong, and so we fight against it, trying to run through every imaginable possibility to lay the blame somewhere other than at our own feet.  But in the end, we still must shoulder at least SOME of the blame.  Examine the situations and take responsibility for your part in the mess.

For the husband, the answer is probably to treat your wife with love, patience, compassion, and understanding.  After all, she’s got a lot to deal with–including you.

For the wife, the answer is probably to show your husband some patience, respect, and understanding.  After all, he’s got a lot to deal with–including you.

If all married couples treated each other this way, marriage problems would shrink tremendously.  After all, God is the one who said to treat our spouses in these ways.  And He knows best.

–Bradley Cobb

I’ll Procrastinate–Starting Tomorrow

Nobody enjoys getting their taxes ready.  This is especially true for those—like preachers—who are required to save every receipt, and write down the mileage from every conceivable work-related trip—regardless of how short it may be.  It’s even more true when that person (won’t mention any names here) kept putting off the collection of those receipts and the writing down of that mileage until the last minute.  Because of this, he had to get a year’s worth of work done in one day.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s impossible to remember every little trip you made over the past year.  So, putting off preparation until the last possible minute actually costs you some of your tax deductions.  And we all know that if you don’t organize your receipts, some of them are bound to disappear over the course of a year.  Which means that also affects your taxes as well.

Most of the time people have grand plans to get organized or to lose weight (or to get their taxes ready), but those plans are always later.  We don’t want to do things starting right now because we know those things are going to be difficult.  We dread the diets.  We dread the massive cleaning and going through boxes and boxes in order to get organized.  But the longer you put things off, the more they pile up—and the harder it is to finally convince yourself to do it.  After all, if a small pile is enough to convince you it is too hard, what’s a big pile going to do?

Here’s a little secret—a lot of those things wouldn’t be that difficult if we started doing them now.

If one were to keep track of the mileage and receipts throughout the year, entering them into the computer or ledger book, then come tax time, everything would already be ready and waiting for them.

Why do kids dread cleaning their rooms?  Because they usually wait a week (or a month) before they actually start on cleaning it.  By then, it is a monumental task just to find the floor!  But if they would simply pick up their mess each night, it would be easier and quicker, and they wouldn’t have anything to dread.

The apostle Paul spoke about the need to start doing things now.  He told the Corinthian Christians, “On the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store [put money aside] as he has been prospered by God, so that there will be no collection when I come” (I Corinthians 16:2).  He was telling them that there was going to be a time when he would come to collect this money they were putting aside to help the poor Christians.  But he was also telling them to start putting aside money for it now—don’t procrastinate!  It’s much easier to do a little each week than it is to have to do a lot all at once.

The saddest thing about procrastination is watching people put off obeying God.  I have heard people say, “I’ll become a Christian later, but right now I want to have fun.”  The longer they put it off, the harder it will be for them to finally follow through.  Most people who continually put off obeying God never get around to doing it.

Change can be hard, but it isn’t near as hard as it will be if you keep putting it off.  Stop procrastinating and start making your life easier by doing things now.  It will help with your taxes, your weight, your organization, your family, your job, and it will help with eternity.

“Behold now is the accepted time.  Behold now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

–Bradley Cobb