Summary: Saving faith is more than something you say, feel, or think, it is something you do.
A. How many of you have heard of the great tightrope walker named Blondin?
1. For many years I’ve used his story to illustrate saving faith.
2. His story really captivates my mind and challenges my heart.
3. Blondin’s real name was Jean Francois Gravelet. He lived from 1824-1897.
4. He first appeared in shows in England, but owed his celebrity and fortune to his idea of crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
5. He made history on June 30, 1859 when at 5 o’clock in the afternoon he began his first walk above Niagara Falls. (Show Slide)
6. For his crossing, Blondin utilized a 1,100 foot long, 3 inch in diameter manila rope stretched from what is now Prospect Park in Niagara Falls, NY to what is now Oakes Garden in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The crossing took 20 minutes, and he used a 30 foot long balancing pole that weighed 40 pounds.
7. During the summer of 1859, Blondin completed 9 crossings, the most difficult one occurred on August 19th when he carried his manager, Harry Colcord, on his back. (Show Slide)
8. According to Colcord, the trip across was a nightmare. In the unguyed section, the pair swayed violently. Blondin was really fighting for their lives.
9. Six times in all Colcord had to dismount while Blondin struggled to gather his strength.
10. One of the most often told stories of Blondin was when he went across pushing a wheelbarrow.
a. He asked the crowd if they thought he could do it, and the crowd cheered “yes.”
b. Then he asked, “How many believe I can push a wheelbarrow across the tightrope with a man sitting in it?”
c. Again, there was a loud response. Blondin then pointed to one of the most enthusiastic men in the audience, and said, “Okay, you get into the wheelbarrow.”
d. Needless to say, the man made a quick exit.
11. Blondin demonstrated that there is often a great difference between the faith we say we have, and the faith we really have.
12. The real measure of our faith is not our “TALK”, but our “WALK.”
13. Saying that we have faith in God and really trusting God are two different things!
14. Incidentally, in case you were wondering, Blondin was 73 when he died in England of natural causes.
B. 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 works.
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 you SAY.
1. In verse 14 we read, “What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a 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”.
a. In the chapter dealing with America’s religious beliefs, they stated that 90% of the people questioned said that they truly believed in God.
b. Yet they also discovered that of those who said they believed in God – 50% had not been to church in at least three months and 30% had not been in a service in a year.
6. Pollster George Barna claims that in his surveys, 4 out of five Americans claim to be Christians, yet what they say they believe has very little to do with how they live their lives.
a. How can 4 out of 5 of us be Christians, and yet we have such problems with drugs, adultery, divorce, pornography and crime?
b. The stated faith of the majority of Americans is not positively impacting their lives.
7. Jesus warned us saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 7:21)