Summary: There are two kinds of dead faith and only one kind of living faith. And God is the Judge of which kind we have.
Passage: James 2:14-26
Intro: Last winter we had a nasty cold snap here.
1. lots of trees that looked dead on our campus, but that have all come back
2. daughtter Amy and her husband Brycen not so fortunate.
3. 3 Ficus trees, all lost leaves, and in spite of valiant efforts, never recovered, and died.
4. final judgment that they were dead?
5. they did not produce anything consistent with life, like leaves.
6. we need to look at this powerful passage in James that speaks of living faith and dead faith.
7. need to put our fingers on the wrists of our faith to see if it has a pulse.
8. and James gives us the characteristics of dead faith and living faith in time for us to respond with joy or concern.
9. going to see the two kinds of dead faith, the one kind of living faith, and ask ourselves some hard questions.
I. Two Kinds of Dead Faith.
1. James is continuing in the same vein as earlier chap 2.
2. living faith does not show favoritism, and from that example, James expands to principles here in vv14-26.
3. begins w/ question: What good is it=where’s the profit? (clearly none)
4. notice “claims” to have faith, so this gives us our first identifying characteristic of dead faith.
5. it is all talk and no action.
Il) anyone can talk, anyone can make claims. I can claim I am a millionaire, but Jan may have something to say about that!
6. now used to James and his examples.
7. Christian desperately in need of clothes and food. Gumnos=naked.
8. what’s the response of the faith claimer?
9. “Go in peace”, Jewish way of saying, “Have a nice day!!”
10. every language has this type of dismissive phrase.
Il) Sayonara, hasta la vista, dasvadania, see ya later. Like yelling at a homeless beggar, “God Bless You” as we drive by.
11. despite spoken well-wishes, “does nothing about physical needs.”
12. this faith is dead because is produces nothing but words, and talk is cheap.
Il) have you had anyone make a promise to you that they do not keep? Sister used to stall doing dishes, “I’m letting them soak”, then, “the water is too hot”!!
13. faith without works, v17, is one type of dead faith.
14. second kind is intellectual assent.
15. the argument goes on in v18, with someone holding out for an acceptable separation; that faith and works do not have to be “married”, but can remain single and still be living.
16. James Singles out a classic Jewish statement of faith, the Shema.
PP Deuteronomy 6:6?
17. guess who else believes this, so deeply that their hair stands on end!! (literal)
18. Satan and his demon friends don’t just believe, they know!!
Il) every time a demon came face to face with Jesus, there was a confession of His deity.
19. certainly demons produce something, but it is not life!
20. Bible calls what they produce “acts of death”?
21. clearly a person can claim to have faith, or even have an intellectual faith in the facts. But no personal application.
Il) If I believe planes are safe, I will fly on one if I need to be somewhere. But if I believe but will not fly, then my faith is dead
22. but as we’ll see, living faith, saving faith, has one unique characteristic.
II. One Kind of Living Faith.
1. James uses two examples to prove faith is more than claims and intellectual assent.
2. both well known to his Jewish audience; Abraham and Rahab.
3. both were given the opportunity to believe God, and both manifested that faith through God-honoring action.
4. Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice, and Rahab hid the Jewish spies in Jericho.
5. but the principle here is critical: living faith will always produce works of righteousness.
6. how do we know that something is alive? It produces something!
Il) our bodies manufacture new skin cells, bone cells, hair cells, etc. And living things reproduce themselves!
7. living faith produces works consistent with the nature of the One who gave us the living faith in the first place.
8. v22 spells it out very clearly.
9. in terms of Abraham, his faith and his actions were “working together,” a fine translation of the word sunergei
PP of transliterated and Greek, with English “synergism.”
10. synergism are two or more things working in concert to achieve a common purpose.
Il) mousetrap a perfect example of synergism. Which of these parts can we remove?
PP Mousetrap photo (w/out the mouse)
11. without any one part, the trap is dead instead of the mouse!
12. marriage is another example.
13. when God made Adam He said, “this is one half of a synergistic relationship, so I need to make the other half.”