The working of our Faith
James chapter 2:14-25
For several weeks we have been studying the book of James. One week on trials and temptations and last week on listening and doing the Word of God. Looking at how well you listen to others and to God. If you are the type that is a maverick and don’t listen to others advice, you probably don’t listen when God is directing your life either. Both weeks we said that faith must be active. Say active faith If you don’t get anything else out of this study, you will have heard that faith has to be active. James 2:14-25 Read. The first thing that jumps out at you is that dead un-working faith saves no one. The Christian church is grounded on Christian actions. The church is a group of people bound together by mutual ties and laws. They are in unity living out their faith in Jesus Christ. The church “Ecclessia” means called out. Implying spiritual bonds, being separate from the world, and having a mark of truth that is in line with Jesus Christ. The beginning of chapter 2 talks about favoritism. The Jews sat by rank, those of the same trade sat together, the have’s were divided from the have-not’s. the usher if you needed one this morning would show you to your seat. In the temple, the usher would seat you by category, by your wealth, by your appearance, by who’s your Daddy Up front near the speaker, privileged seating, here, I can’t give this row of seating away. Your scared of it. If it is full, the elite get the seat. The poor get to sit at the feet of someone or stand in the back. Sat by distinction and difference. They were partial to those that were like them. Holding evil thoughts, holding a personal agenda on how they are treated. Paul says Ephesians 2:9-10 “For it is by grace you are saved, through faith and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works So no one can boast. Amen. Absolutely true. Every bit of it. Let God be true and every man a liar. James is saying that if you have saving faith, you are not going to be doing these kinds of things, and your faith (saving faith) will be actively working in your life and working to save other people from a life without Christ. There is a distinction between rich and poor, but it is not what your thinking. Matthew 5:3- Rich in faith Luke 12:21- Rich towards God. 1 Tim. 6:18 Rich in good works. To dishonor those that are below you in society is to dishonor God. To drag down the poor, and elevate the rich as a class is to abuse the power and blessings that God has given you. James after talking about mercy, love, and having a respect for people, elevating Jesus, not the high class rich. He then surged right into the message this morning of having faith and working it for the Kingdom of God. The teaching of Paul and James are not contradicting, they are inspired by God, and they are woven together. Paul tells James/us- you cannot earn salvation, because you need Jesus Christ. James tells us- If you have the power of the Holy Spirit working in your life, you have the joy of your salvation, you must act and live your faith and hepl those that God has put you in contact with.
Alexander Graham Bell was an amazingly talented person. He invented the multiple telegraph, the audiometer, which is used to test your hearing. But most famous of all his creations was the telephone. It also made his family and his descendants enormous wealth. But he almost lost it all. You see Bell never seemed to get around to submitting a patent application. Finally, his father-in- law , who had financed a lot of the research, got so impatient that he filed the patent on Bell’s behalf on the 14th of February 1876. It was a good thing he did, because just a few hours later, another scientist by the name of Elisha Gray went to the patent office to get a patent on a machine he’d been working on for many years- you guessed it, the telephone. James switches from the focus of playing favorites, to our faith. Faith and works are the same coin. Just different sides of it. Faith without works is dead. Empty faith cannot save us. The story of Alexander Graham Bell reminds us that it is not simply enough to have a good idea, we need to act on it. If the scientist Elisha Gray had worked faster, and Alexanders father-in law hadn’t sent the patent in for him, Gray would have invented the telephone, someone else family would be getting all the royalties. Simply saying I am a racecar driver , basketball player, doesn’t mean anything unless I can produce the skills that convince people I am. Just saying you are a Christian doesn’t mean you are one. Believing and doing are blood relatives (14) what good is it What does it profit? If you have dead faith. Peter says Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” Luke says Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. No matter what you think, that says when you are a Christian you are different, you will be endued from on high. You will be my witnesses in the area that God has placed you. Text- what good is your faith, if a brother or sister is without food or clothes, and you just say keep warm and well fed. Faith by itself accompanied by no action is dead faith and it is worthless. James says, you want to debate that- great You have faith great , I’ll show you my faith by what I do and how I act. Seeing people in need and doing nothing only hardens our hearts. Depart in peace- as if that will help someone. As if mere words will help them stay warm. Faith consisting of mere words is unacceptable to God. Faith is expressed by action. Faith is the spiritual thing, works are the materializing of your faith. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” You can’t see it , except when we act in faith, sure that God is in the center of it. Amen Faith by itself cannot survive, you have to stimulate faith. Faith working with our works or deeds, perfects our faith (2:22) one without the other is a incomplete picture.
A young bay , on a errand for his mother, had just bought a dozen eggs. Walking out the store, he tripped and dropped the sack. All the eggs broke, and the sidewalk was a mess. The boy tried not to cry. A few people gathered to see if he was ok and to tell him how sorry they were. In the midst of the works of pity, one man handed the boy a quarter. Then he turned to the group and said, I care 25 cents worth. How much do yo care. Words don’t mean much if we have the ability to do more.
New and improved Don’t you hate that- usually something in a new package, same old thing. There is a a lot of phony’s. There is authentic believers and fake believers. There are real and counterfeit Christians. There is real coffee and then there’s just some smashed coffee beans in a can or bag.
(V24) justified by works, and not faith alone.
Greek word translated works- labor, sweat, effort, to act upon, to toil.
Greek word translated faith- religious truth, belief, assurance.
Paul is talking about works, speaks of the works of the Jewish law. You cannot do it without Christ.
James is talking about works of love, mercy. Because you love Christ, you will do these things. Dead meaning barren, useless, without value. If you say one thing and live another, we prove ourselves to be untrue.
When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person(in time.) He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun. 2 Cor. 5:17 “Therefore, If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” This man/women has been transformed. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in then. We are not saved by works, but if we are saved, we will walk in the path God has ordained. He is also saying just because a person does good works doesn’t mean he/she is saved. Doesn’t mean Christians will never sin, but it does mean that a person who lives in sin is away from God and has a counterfeit faith. We need to be careful that we do not claim something that we do not have. Lip service. If we were asked if we pray, we would be offended by the question. Of course we pray. How much time do you spend in prayer? How important is that time we have shut the door, turned off the t.v., get away from family, open our bible and communicate with God. If I tell my wife that I love her and never go home or show her, would she believe me? My actions prove my love for her. If we believe in doing God’s will, then we must do it . We get frustrated because we are trying to please ourselves instead of God. We don’t get a faith that is pleasing to God by talking about it. Just talking won’t do it. Abraham said I believe God, I trust God with my life, my children, my future, my reputation. James said “just as the body is dead when there is no spirit in it, so faith is dead if it is not the kind that results in good deeds.