Summary: Don't tell me about your faith, show it to me!

Faith In Action

Text: James 2:14-18


1. Illustration: Samuel Bradburn, an ASSOCIATE OF JOHN WESLEY, was highly respected by his friends and used by God as an effective preacher. On one occasion he was in desperate financial need. When Wesley learned of his circumstances, he sent him the following letter: "Dear Sammy: ‘trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.’ Yours affectionately, John Wesley." Attached to the letter was a 5-pound note (then worth about $10). Bradburn’s reply was prompt. "Rev. and Dear Sir: I have often been struck with the beauty of the passage of Scripture quoted in your letter, but I must confess that I never saw such a useful ‘expository note’ on it before." Someone has said, "Pious talk can’t take the place of helpfulness." To profess faith in Christ as Savior and Lord but ignore the needs of fellow believers is inconsistent. James said that true faith translates into compassion in action. The best commentary on faith is actions.

2. What is faith? It is something that you live out in your daily life.

3. According to James...

A. Faith Requires Action

B. Faith Requires Compassion

C. Faith Requires Evidence

4. Let's stand together as we read James 2:14-18.

Proposition: Don't tell me about your faith, show it to me!

Transition: The first thing that James tells us about faith is...

I. Faith Requires Action (14).

A. Can That Faith Save You?

1. There was an early Church Father named Oecumenius who said, "Take note of what spiritual understanding really is. It is not enough to believe in a purely intellectual sense. There has to be some practical application for this belief" (Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture: James-Jude, 28).

2. That's James point here. What good is faith that doesn't do anything?

3. In v. 14 James tells us, "What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?"

A. The two rhetorical questions about faith without deeds are (1) "What good is it?" (answer: none) and (2) "Can it save?" (answer: no).

B. The first question implies a general lack of any usefulness for a faith without actions.

C. The second question specifies a particular use that is lacking—salvation itself.

D. The combined impact is to declare a thorough uselessness of faith without deeds and, to make it absolutely clear, also to declare its particular uselessness in regard to salvation, which would be the primary point of having faith in the first place (Stulac, IVPNT: James, 108).

E. This person who claims to have faith obviously thinks that his belief alone, without any good actions (deeds done in obedience to God), is satisfactory in God’s sight.

F. However, faith not accompanied by deeds has no saving value.

G. Anyone can say he has faith, but if his lifestyle remains selfish and worldly, then what good is that faith? It is merely faith that believes about Jesus, not faith that believes in him.

H. That kind of faith can’t save anyone. Instead, the faith that saves is faith that proves itself in the actions it produces (Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 1079).

B. Faith In Action

1. Illustration: Henry Blackaby in "Experiencing God" words it this way: What you do in response to God's revelation (invitation to the task) reveals what you believe about God. True faith requires action (135).

2. You can't just talk about faith, you've got to express it outwardly.

A. Galatians 5:6 (NLT)

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

B. It does no good to tell someone about your faith if they can't see it.

C. What good is faith that doesn't reach out to those in need?

D. That kind of faith is like the Pharisee in the parable of the Good Samaritan who saw the man in need and walked by him and did nothing.

E. We need to have a faith that shows the love of Christ in action.

F. We need to have the kind of faith that says, "I love you because Jesus first loved me."

G. It's the kind of faith that says, "Let me help because God showed his grace to me.

H. It's the kind of faith that says, "Let me help you in your hour of need because Jesus helped me in my hour of need!"

I. That's the kind of faith that saves!

Transition: Next James tells us that...

II. Faith Requires Compassion (15-16).

A. Good-Bye

1. James not continues his teaching on faith and works by giving an illustration.

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