Summary: #10 in the Book of James Series continues with teaching concerning the relationship of faith and works in our salvation.
#10 Faith and Good Works Go Together
The Book of James Series
By Pastor Jim May
There was a man in England who put his Rolls-Royce on a boat and went across the English Channel to the mainland to take a vacation. While he was driving around Europe, the motor on his car quit running. He cabled the Rolls-Royce people back in England and asked, "I’m having trouble with my car; what should I do?" They simply answered, “Do nothing. We will be there shortly.” The Rolls-Royce company flew a mechanic over! The mechanic repaired the car and flew back to England and leaving the man to continue his vacation trip.
As he drove along the man wondered just how much that little repair was going to cost him. When he got back to England, he wrote to Rolls Royce and asked how much he owed them. He received a letter from the office that read: "Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went
wrong with a Rolls-Royce."
In a way, this little story gives us a picture of justification by faith.
Did Christ finish His work? How dangerous it is to join anything of our own to the righteousness of Christ, in pursuit of justification before God! To do so would offend Jesus and make it appear as though his work was not complete and his price of death upon the cross was not enough. We dishonor the power of His shed blood when we try to do anything to earn our justification.
He will be all, or none, in our justification. If He has finished the work, what need is there of our additions? And if not, to what purpose are our works and efforts? Can we finish that which Christ Himself could not complete?
Did He finish the work, and will He ever share the glory and praise of it with us?
It is a hard thing to humble our pride and learn to rest upon Christ alone for our righteousness. God humbles the proud by calling sinners from their own righteousness and causes us to come to Christ for our justification.
The necessity of accepting the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross as our only means of salvation and obtaining the new birth is vividly portrayed in the life of George Whitefield. At 16 he became deeply convicted of his sin. He tried everything to become acceptable to God. He fasted for 36 hours twice a week. He prayed formal prayers several times a day and almost starved himself to death during Lent, but all of this just left him feeling more miserable than ever.
Then by God’s grace he met the great Evangelist Charles Wesley, who put a book in Whitefield’s hand that showed him from the Scriptures that he must be ’born again’ or be eternally lost. Finally, Whitefield understood that he had to trust in Jesus Christ. He believed and was both forgiven and changed. After he became a preacher, he spoke at least a thousand times on the subject, “You must be born again. He learned that lesson the hard way and never forgot it.
Tonight we are continuing our study of the second chapter of the Book of James. The rest of this chapter is also a continuation of the teaching that James gives us concerning the relationship of faith and works in the life of a Christian.
James 2:19, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
We said in our last study that belief in the Lordship of Jesus Christ is not enough. Along with belief, there must be works of righteousness.
James says that the powers of hell also believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and yes, Jesus is their Lord. The problem is that they do not obey him, nor do they perform obedient works of righteousness so that their belief in Jesus only serves to condemn them even more.
One thing that strikes me here is that though hell trembles at the power of God, reveres Jesus as their Master, and knows him as their Judge, I don’t see God’s own people always acting that way.
When was the last time we trembled before God? When was the last time we feared his awesome power and knew that he was a Holy and Righteous Judge who will pass judgment upon us? Most of the church world today knows Jesus is Lord, but where is the trembling and the reverence for Almighty God?
In James’ day, as he wrote his epistle, he was writing to the Jews of his own homeland. The Jews, both then and now, place their hope of salvation in the fact that they belief in the One True God, and they hope to obtain eternal life because they believe. They believe that they are God’s Chosen nation, and that they will make it because of their belief. But we know today that most of the Jews won’t make it, and didn’t make it to Heaven, because just believing in God wasn’t enough. Salvation for the Jews, just as it is for us, is through accepting the blood of the Messiah, Jesus Christ and then living in obedience to his Word. We are justified by faith in His blood, but we are sanctified daily through our works of righteousness.