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Background: James here in this passage expands on what it truly means to be hearers and doers of the word, what it means for us to “be real” about our lives. James now switches his focus from playing favorites and reiterating the law of neighbor love to how “faith” and “works” relate to all he has said up to this point. James shows us that faith and works are ultimately two sides of the same coin. Three times in this passage (17, 20, 26) he repeats his thesis “faith without works is dead” In this James is stating clearly that “empty faith” is not true faith, not saving faith, it is nothing more that mouthing words. James sets out to convey to us that our faith in God and trust in Jesus must work in tandem with our actions, or our faith isn’t really faith at all.
Proposition: James sets out to covey to us that our faith in God and our trust in Jesus must work in tandem with our actions, or our faith isn’t really faith at all.
Transition: Here again we see James not beating around the bush but getting straight to the issue at hand, the first thing we see him telling us is that workless faith…
I. FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS NO FAITH AT ALL (14-17)
a. James opens this passage with two rhetorical questions followed by a third
- First “What use is it brethren if a man has faith but has no works”?
- Second “can that faith save him”
- Third “what use is that type of faith”?
- All three of these project a negative response
- The answer to all three is “NO”
- It’s no good if a person merely mouths the words but has no actions to back them up
- It amounts to nothing more than meaningless jabber
- Simply saying that you are a great racecar driver, basketball player, Christian, what ever it is you may be doesn’t mean anything unless you can demonstrate your skills in a way that would convince any who saw them
Illustration: In the Christian life faith and works go together like inhaling and exhaling. Faith is taking the Gospel in; works is taking the Gospel out.”
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