Summary: What is saving faith? Is it something you say, feel, or think? No, saving faith is something you do. Faith is something that must produce action and must be practiced. That's what James says in James chapter 2.
A. One day a nun who worked for a local home health care agency was out making her rounds when she ran out of gas.
1. Thankfully, there was a gas station just down the street.
2. So she walked to the station to borrow a gas can and get enough gas to start the car and drive to the gas station for a fill up.
3. The gas station attendant regretfully told her that the only gas can they owned had just been loaned out, but if she would care to wait he was sure it would be back shortly.
4. Since she was in a hurry, she walked back to her car to see what she had that she could put some gas in.
5. As she looked through her car, she spotted a bedpan she was taking to a patient.
6. The nun carried the bedpan to the station, filled it with gasoline, and carried it back to her car.
7. As she was using the bedpan to pour the gas into the tank of her car, two men drove by and one of them turned to the other and said: “Now that is what I call faith!”
B. Let me ask you a question: what kinds of things might your faith cause you to do?
1. Over the years, I have used the story of the great tightrope walker named Blondin to illustrate the kind of faith that saves.
2. Blondin lived from 1824-1897, and first appeared in shows in England.
3. But he owed his celebrity and fortune to his idea of crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
4. He made history on June 30, 1859 when he made his first walk above Niagara Falls.
a. For his crossing, Blondin utilized a 1,100 foot long, 3 inch in diameter rope stretched across the falls.
b. The crossing took 20 minutes, and he used a 30 foot long balancing pole that weighed 40 pounds.
5. During that summer of 1859, Blondin completed 9 crossings of Niagara Falls, the most difficult one occurred on August 19th when he carried his manager, Harry Colcord, on his back.
a. Six times in all the manager had to dismount so that Blondin could gather his strength.
6. One of the most often told stories of Blondin’s Niagara crossings was when he went across pushing a wheelbarrow.
a. After crossing pushing the empty wheelbarrow, Blondin then asked the crowd if they thought he could do it, with someone sitting in it, and the crowd cheered “yes.”
b. Blondin then pointed to one of the men in the audience showing the most enthusiastic approval and said, “Okay, since you claim to believe I can do it, why don’t you get into the wheelbarrow.”
c. Needless to say, the man made a quick exit.
7. That episode demonstrates that there is often a great difference between the faith we say we have, and the faith we really have.
a. The real measure of our faith is not our “TALK”, but our “WALK.”
b. Saying that we have faith in God is one thing, but really putting our trust in God is another!
8. Incidentally, in case you were wondering, Blondin was 73 when he died in England of natural causes.
C. As we continue in chapter 2 of the letter of James, we see that James expands on his theme of what it means to be doers, not just hearers of the Word of God.
1. James now switches his attention from playing favorites to a faith that saves.
2. Three times in this section (verses 17, 20, 26), He declares that faith without works is dead.
3. He is telling us that faith without deeds is “empty faith,” not saving faith.
4. So, let’s work through this passage and see how James develops the difference between what saving faith IS and what it is NOT.
I. First, What Saving Faith Is NOT
A. As James presents God’s truths, he touches on three things that saving faith is NOT. First, Saving Faith is NOT just something we SAY.
1. In verse 14 we read, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him?”
2. Notice that James doesn’t say that the person in question has faith, but just that the person claims to have faith.
3. The person just talks about having faith. The person knows all the right phrases.
4. There are a lot of people in our country who say they have faith, but they have no deeds.
5. In 1991 James Patterson and Peter Kim took on the task of surveying America. They tabulated and published their results in a book called “The Day America Told the Truth”.