Summary: This message examines James assertion about faith and what faith really is.
In just a few minutes, remember the death and sacrifice of Christ. Remembrance of faith or it is not a remembrance. Same way that baptism is an expression of faith or it is not truly baptism.
Last week: explanation, 2 examples and essence of faith – life of pleasing God.
This theme of pleasing God is expanded further in the passage that we confront this morning. Not exhaustive; but important!
1. Effective faith is beyond dead faith.
James’ question almost reaches exasperation.
The issue is not event oriented, but lifestyle oriented. Literally, “ a man claims and keeps on claiming”
Yet “has no actions and keeps on having no actions”
Question: is this kind of faith what appears to be saving faith. Structured to demand one answer: NO.
Yet James never answers the ultimate question… His question is not whether a person is saved if they show no actions. It is “what good is it?” What good are they, for the kingdom of God. For the one who died for them.
Purpose of God in salvation is to work something good in your life.
Test of effective faith. Let’s say
- doesn’t have sufficient clothing
- doesn’t have enough food to make it through today
- Who asks? A brother or sister (natural or in Christ)
- The action: a blessing without action
Take Lord’s Supper. Meaning behind the symbol is the fulfillment of promise. He promised; he delivered. We remember.
In light of His sacrifice, what kind of faith do you have today? Effective or dead.
2. Effective faith is beyond demonic faith. (v.19)
Fear and tremble.
Example: the Gadarene demoniac.
Black preacher in North Carolina. Attendance at his church would decline when the weather turned warm and his people began to go to the beach. Preaching this passage he observed “the first thing them pigs did when they got full of the devil is run off to the beach.”
Listen: it is not enough to be scared of God; to be scared of hell. The true desire for salvation is accompanied by a true desire to change.
3. Effective faith is dynamic faith.
Ex. 1 – Abraham.
Moment of truth – risked everything when he raised the knife.
Lord I believe. Help my unbelief.
Ex. 2 – Rahab – risked life by faithful defense of spies.
Who is this James guy anyway to ask such questions? Brother of Jesus; leader of the Jerusalem church.
Effective faith produces new life that grows.
Body – no spirit –death
Faith – no spiritual activity – death (hell is ultimately life outside of God’s presence)
Celebrate victory over death – raised to walk in newness of life.
How are you walking?