Summary: Series from the Book of James
TITLE: Developing A Real Faith
TEXT: James 1:18-27
THEME:James. Maturity, genuine faith, good works, service, growing on.
P.S. The next part of the test is how our faith works itself in everyday life. James does not merely want believers to simply HEAR the truth, but also DO IT.
‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says...Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’
The theme of this book up to this point has been the Marks of Spiritual Maturity. Too many Christians live in the shadow of past spiritual experiences. God wants us to know the ‘Joy of ongoing and increasing spiritual maturity and development in our walk with Jesus, even in the face of trials and temptations.
The marks of a maturing Christian is first of all, He is Patient in Testing.This testing involves a serioes of exams. The first is testings brought about by the trials of life. These are testing from the outside. Next are the testings of temtations. These test our moral strength. These test come from within. James sauys the test of maturity through trials and temptations, is perserverance. When we stand string in the Lord, in the face of unbeatable odds, there is a blessing, both now and in eternity. When the tests come, God’s word says to pray for wisdom, and God will supply all you need to face adversity and temptation. Not only that, He will give you patience to endure the trial and keep you strong.
The next part of the test is how our faith works itself in everyday life. It is the test of true religion. James is not refering to religion as an empty ritual. Nor is he refering to an institution. The word religion could also be translated faith. More specifically, faith that is worked out in practical action.
James does not merely want believers to simply HEAR the truth, but also DO IT. Living faith makes a difference in the world that you and I live in.
Notice the qualities of genuine faith(religion) First of all, James says true religion is opure and undefiled. That is he is not refering to religious excercises or intstitutions. He is refering to true or genuine faith. There is a fath that is genuime and a faith that is a out on or a mask. The kind of faith, that God takes notice of is geuine faith.
Secondly, genuine faith will be demonstrated in practical expressions of loving servie. James says, it is to look after orphans and widows in their distress. Now, anyone can oput in an offering to help the poor. It is not everly difficult to respond to the pleas from the food bank. But what James is saying here, is that true, genuine faith will express itself in loving service to those who cannot pay us back and who do not deserve our help.
Thirdly, James says, that genuine faith will not be alligned with the philosophy of the world. There will be a stark difference in how the Christian behaves and how the world responds to the same circumstances. There will be a difference in motive. There will be a difference in rewards.
Ask yourself, Is your faith merely a statement of belief or does it motivate you to active service? Has your faith made a difference where you live, work and play? How is it that some people can be in church all their lives and never ‘get it’? That is, it never makes a personal or moral impact upon them?
There seems to be a serious problem in the church of Jesus Christ. Somehow we have disconnected faith from action. There is a great chasm between what we say we believe and what we do. Without realizing it, I fear we have allowed the world to instill its philosophy into lives.
Jim Cymbala, in his book Fresh Fire, decries how the world has effectively evangelized Christians without their awareness. He cites George Barnas recent study that regular church goers are shockingly similar to the general populace. One example was that 27% of non-Christians purchased a lottery ticket in the past week, and 23% of evangelical Christians did the same. Barna gives many such examples of similarities between Christian and non-Christians. We watch the same movies, go to the same places and do the same things. Another research group found that 52% of church goers said they never donated time to helping the poor, hungry, sick or those unable to help themselves. One shocking statistic is that the divorce rate in some places is higher among evangelical believers than non-believers.
The question I ask this morning is in the light of this information, does it not bother you that there does not seem to be a difference among christians and non-Christians.? Somehow what we say we believe needs to come in line with what we do. This morning I do not want to dwell on the perceived problems of the church, but present the scriptural solution. If you are going to be a genuine Christian...