Summary: This sermon is about a faith which works
FAITH AND DEEDS
James 2, Verse 14 :"What good is it brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him?"
A lot of people might use verses such as this to support their argument that the Bible is full of contradictions. In Romans for example(and in many other places), Paul says that salvation is of faith, yet here James is talking about works(deeds).
A friend of mine is always telling me that the Bible contradicts itself and I suppose he might quote this apparent difference in opinion between James and Paul in his defense.
The Bible contains no such contradictions and the writings of James and Paul do not prove any difference of opinion or doctrine.
James also preaches justification through faith. Chapter 2, verse 1 of the book of James says,
"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord...", and in chapter 1, verse 18, "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created."
Romans, chapter 10, verse 17 says that "...faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ..." So we can clearly see that both Paul and James preach salvation through faith and by hearing the word of Christ.
James says faith first and then works, not the other way round. Indeed he is saying that true faith is a faith that WORKS, i.e. it results in action, and if a man claims to have faith but his life points to the contrary then is it really true faith. People will know what kind of person we are by the fruit that is produced.
16 You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. You need never confuse grapevines with thorn bushes or figs with thistles. 17 Different kinds of fruit trees can quickly be identified by examining their fruit. 18 A variety that produces delicious fruit never produces an inedible kind. And a tree producing an inedible kind can’t produce what is good. 19 So the trees having the inedible fruit are chopped down and thrown on the fire. 20 Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit produced.
The Living Bible
True faith results in action. In 1 Thessalonians, chapter 1, verse 3, Paul writes, "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith..." N.I.V.
James 2, verse 15+16:"Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.If one of you says to him, ’Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed’, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good
is it?" N.I.V.
Actions speak louder than words is what James is saying. We find this same principle in John’s
first epistle, chapter 3, verses 17 and 18, " 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 in truth."
Jesus loved with actions and in truth. He spent a considerable amount of time teaching and instructing the people but he didn’t stop there, he didn’t just love with words but he displayed his love by feeding the poor, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.
He didn’t just say to people, "I’ll be going to the cross soon to die for your sins, that’s all you really need so I am not going to help you here, right now, at this very moment." No, Jesus was filled with compassion when he saw suffering and he reached out to those in need.
In the same way it’s not enough for us to point people to the cross and tell them that’s all they need. We have to reach out to them in their suffering, in their pain. We need to be filled with compassion and reach out to those in need. We’ll find that people will be much more receptive to the message of the cross when they see God’s love working in our lives.
A good example of the compassion that Jesus had can be found in the feeding of the five thousand.
We read in the gospel of Mark, chapter 6, verse 34, "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things." N.I.V.
The disciples wanted to send the people away, a bit like the person in the book of James, chapter 2, verses 15 and 16, when he/she said, ".....Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed..."