Summary: The question is this; what kind of faith do I have? James offers of 4 possibilities - 3 of which are no good.
What Kind of Faith
* I suggest we live in the “MENU AGE.” That is to say, we desire to have a choice about anything we do. We drive up to McDonald’s, are asked “what would you like” only to say, “Wait a minute, let me look at the menu.” As a culture, we have decided that we ‘deserve’ to have a choice. Maybe this is good and maybe it’s not, but it’s true – we want to choose.
* Sadly, too many are carried this idea of ‘the menu’ into matters of faith & church (and yes, there is a difference). More than ever before I encounter people who make decision of faith & family based on ‘their’ menu for God, church, and even eternity. (Give examples)
* Tonight, let’s consider matters of ‘faith’ in the menu driven culture of which we are a part. When it comes to faith, James tells us that some options exist, but only one will have the desired outcome.
* It’s like going into a restaurant & looking down the menu to decide that one thing which will satisfy your hunger. You are in the mood for something different, something new, & something special, so you order what you have never eaten before. The food is served & with the first bite you know that you have made a huge mistake. This is not what you want to do with faith.
* Let’s read our text and ask the question, “What Kind of Faith do I Have?”
* (READ) I submit that verse 26 be burned into our spirit.
* “What good is it?” That question is a tough & can be a sarcastic question. How many times in our lives have we had someone to ask us this question? Most of the time this question possesses a negative feeling as if to says, “There is really no or nothing good at all.” James asks, “What good is it, brothers (he keeps the family connection) if someone SAYS (don’t miss this inflexion) he has faith, but does not have works.” Bound up in this question is that this individual says one thing with his mouth & lives out another thing with his life so he asks, “Is this a saving faith?”
* Remember that an authentic faith is one which saves a soul, changes a life, connects us to God through Jesus, and motivates us to service for Him. This is authentic faith. This is what James is calling us to and calling us to check out. That is to see what kind of faith we have. In this text, He list 4 types;
1. A Dead Faith – After asking the question is faith without works a faith that saved, he gives us a conclusion and then repeats it to indicate the level of his revolve on the matter. Verse 17 says, “Faith, if it doesn’t have works is DEAD by itself,” verse 26 once again he writes, “Faith without works is DEAD” & KJV even says ‘dead’ in verse 20 as opposed to useless.
* Verse 17 & 26 uses the same Greek word meaning ‘lifeless, deceased, departed, on whose soul is in Hades, & destitute of life. The implication is that this faith is not a saving faith. Rhetorically, James asks, “Is this a saving faith?” understanding the answer to be “No, it is not.”
* This faith is exhibited in the person who knows all the right words, quotes all the right verses, & prays all the right prayers; but their walk does not match their talk. They ‘say’ they have faith, but their faith is never observable in their lives. I submit it is only an ‘intellectual’ type of faith as it is only in our minds & our mouths.
* James is so plain that even I understand the power of his words. 1 John 1:6 says, “IF we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.” KJV says, “We do not DO the truth.” This means that we are not living it, letting people see it, & showing Jesus to others. 1 John 5:12 says, “The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does NOT have life.”
* A dead faith in a counterfeit faith which gives you plenty to say & nothing to do. A dead faith needs an event to bring it to life. When your battery dies in your car, you either replace the battery (worse case) OR you jump the battery off with another battery. Dead faith is the same way.
* Warren Wiersbe says, “No man can come to Christ by faith & remain the same, anymore than a man can come into contact with a 220-volt wire & remain the same.” The dead faith is dead & kills many.