Summary: An authentic believer must not only demonstrate his love by ready acceptance of others in the church, but he must also demonstrate his faith by responsible assistance to others. Those who possess authentic faith put it to work.

JAMES 2:14-20


[Matthew 7:15-23]

An authentic believer must not only demonstrate his love by ready acceptance of others in the church, but he must also demonstrate his faith by responsible assistance to others. Those who possess authentic faith put it to work.

Even in the early church many claimed they had saving faith that were not saved. Where ever there is the true you find the counterfeit. Jesus warned in Matthew 7:21. "Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven."

How do you know dead faith from true faith? People with dead faith substitute words for helpful deeds. They may know all the vocabulary for prayer and testimony and may even be able to quote scripture, but their work does not measure up to their talk. Words are no substitute for works. Authentic faith is revealed with real deeds (CIT).




Verse 14 declares that intellectual faith without substantiating deeds is void of salvation. "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?"

Verse 14 begins another shift in the epistle as is indicated by James’ use of my brethren. He introduces this new paragraph with a rhetorical question, What good is it....if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? The Greek construction indicates a no answer is expected. Can the kind of faith that is not seen in practical works save anyone? The answer is NO! Any declaration of faith that does nothing is worth nothing. James is talking about a particular kind of faith, a faith that produces no works. Some may have an intellectual acceptance of certain biblical truths. This faith is worthless because it is all talk with no walk.

The New Testament supports this truth. Obedience is the necessary proof of true faith (Mt. 7:21, 25:31-46, Lk. 3:7). We who quote Ephesians 2:8-9 often forget that verse 10 follows. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand so that we would walk in them. God’s grace that brings about a new creation causes that new creation to walk the path of good deeds. There are no exceptions. Faith must be lived out through deeds. Faith works.

The Bible does not teach a salvation by works but it does not teach a salvation that does not work either. Note, there are no true works if faith in Jesus alone has not preceded them and if they are not done in the power of the Holy Spirit. But if there is genuine faith, good deeds will naturally follow. Faith and good works are not enemies but buddies.

[BUDDY SYSTEM] On October 25, 1983, an elite Ranger division parachuted onto the new Point Salinas airstrip on the tiny island of Granada. Such an act presents one of the most daring and dangerous situations a soldier can face. Enemy fire bursts from all directions at once. Immediately, the infantry employed the "buddy system." fighting back to back, two infantrymen cover themselves until the objective is taken. In the same way, James and Paul fought the early, great battle of the church with the "buddy system." As brothers in Christ, they covered each other and all generations of believers by establishing the true nature of saving faith that works. Works of obedience to God’s Word, not words that claim salvation, are the only acceptable demonstration of your faith.


Verses 15 and 16 illustrate this claim of faith that does not save. If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

The rhetorical question is followed by a hypothetical but realistic illustration. Suppose a Christian brother or sister is without clothing and daily food and you sentimentally tell them "goodby, I wish you well." But nothing is done to meet the pressing serious need, what good is your well wish?

The Apostle Paul spoke of "faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6). The apostle John wrote "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear Children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth (1 John 3:17-18). We indicate what we believe not so much by what we say but by what we do.

Samuel Bradburn, an ASSOCIATE OF JOHN WESLEY, was highly respected by his friends and used by God as an effective preacher. On one occasion he was in desperate financial need. When Wesley learned of his circumstances, he sent him the following letter: "Dear Sammy: ‘trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.’ Yours affectionately, John Wesley." Attached to the letter was a 5-pound note (then worth about $10).

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