by Russ Vought
It is absolutely amazing to see an old oak tree one hundred feet tall twist and turn and maybe even lose its leaves when the torrents of a category four hurricane unleash devastating power against it, only to see it standing after the storm. No doubt weak and dead limbs are strewn all over the ground along with leaves and moss but the mighty oak stands. How can it endure when everything around it is devastated? What is there about an oak that gives it the power to stand? It isn’t what you see but what lies beneath the ground that sustains the oak. It has a massive ROOT system that grips the ground. Many trees have shallow roots and live on unstable ground and blow over when the wind blows but not the oak. No! Its roots grow deep and extend out gathering strength to stand and nutriments to sustain its life.
Three times the Bibles says the JUST (RIGHTEOUS) SHALL LIVE (STAND) BY FAITH (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11). The ROOT system that sustains the Christian is his FAITH (what he really believes and puts his confidence in.) Hebrews eleven lists names of people who were not by any means of the imagination PERFECT, some whose sin would make us blush, but people who had a bulldog grip on the faithfulness of God. Two things determine our faith. Number one… Do I really have confidence in the Word of God and the God of His Word? And two… Do I really want what He offers? Until these statements are addressed our faith is no more valid than the belief of Satan who has no desire to obey nor serve God.
In Romans, Galatians and Ephesians Paul spends time establishing a good root system of faith. He makes it absolutely clear that we cannot be righteous (right with God) in our own strength and that it is a gift from God to be made right with Him. This gift is received only by faith and there is nothing we can do to earn it. He explains that if we try to earn it by good works we nullify the gift and remain alienated from God. However, we are created to do good works!
An oak tree begins as an acorn. Everything that tree will become is in the DNA of that nut. The Bible teaches that we receive the seed of Christ when we are saved. That means the DNA principle begins its work in us. Christ in you the hope of glory. Jesus had perfect trust in the Father when He came to earth. He had a great root system that would sustain Him through the struggle He endured while on this terra firma. And because of that great faith and His very nature He went about doing GOOD and healing the sick and lived as a servant.
The Apostle Paul looks at the bottom of the tree (its roots) but James focuses on the top (FRUIT). They are both very interested in the entire tree but are trying to teach two different principles.
The magnificent oak has in its DNA potential to produce acorns. However, if its root system is not established it will fall over and never produce a crop. In a sense James is a root inspector. He is looking for FRUIT on the branches. Good Fruit has to come from good roots. When the fig tree did not produce figs, Jesus did not say fix the branch .No! He said dig around the tree and dung it. Stimulate the root system. Bring faith to life. When the root is healthy it is normal for the tree to have FRUIT.