Summary: There’s no conflict between faith and works in the Bible- nor in James. Genuine faith will lead to works. (slight evangelistic edge to sermon)
Faith that works. James 2:14-26. WBC 26/10/03am
Blondin (Jean Francoise Gravolet) B. 1824. was one of the greatest tightrope walkers of all time, and there are many legends told of feats he performed. One of the most often told stories of Blondin is of his crossing over the Niagara Falls on a tightrope. He reportedly did that several times. At some point he turned to his large audience, which included numerous reporters from various newspapers, and he asked them, ¡§How many believe I can walk across this tightrope over the Falls pushing a wheelbarrow?¡¨ People cheered loudly ¡X they were sure the great Blondin could do it. Then he asked, ¡§How many believe I can push a wheelbarrow across the tightrope with a man sitting in it?¡¨ 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.¡¨ Needless to say, the man made a quick exit.
That¡¦s the issue, here
- folks who say they believe but
o won¡¦t step out¡K act on it
o no evidence
- won¡¦t get into the wheelbarrow!
Examples, today, might be ¡V
- ¡¥the person who says they believe, but can¡¦t put their life in Jesus¡¦ hands¡¦
- the person who says they¡¦re a Christian- but never goes to church or hangs around with other Christians. Birds of a feather, you know
- or who says they¡¦re a Xian- but act worse at work than anyone else. Bitch, criticise. Difficult
- who passes the needy by. Doesn¡¦t get involved in life of others
James asks the Qn- ¡¥do they really believe?¡¦
- can such faith be saving faith?
- Those outside the church say the same: ¡¥show me! Don¡¦t preach at me. Show me!¡¦
Faith IS what saves. James is in no doubt about that.
- he doesn¡¦t believe people are saved by what they do
o at intro to this chap (2;1), he¡¦s just called them ¡¥brothers¡¦ because they have faith in Jesus
- but James believes genuine faith results in
o changed life
- you¡¦re not saved BY what you do (works) but FOR works
I¡¦ve given examples of OUR day. James gives 4 examples of his day, that illustrate different kinds of faith
DEAD FAITH v14-17
- the ¡¥keep warm and well fed¡¦ person
He makes the example easy. It¡¦s not someone you don¡¦t know who¡¦s ended up gravitating to Winchester
- it¡¦s your brother/sister. Someone who loves the Lord. Has taken life seriously¡K taken responsibility for their soul
o ended up without clothes or daily food
The persons response to this situation is so telling¡K revealing
- their faith is not the thing that causes them to ACT
- seems to be the justification for NOT acting!
¡K you see- they can PRAY! (and they almost do!)
- off you go. Keep warm and well fed. Oh, God bless you
- (Not pooh-poohing prayers for God¡¦s blessing)
But it has me asking (about them AND me!)
- is their faith chosen, selected, designed to
o protect THEM. ABOUT them!?
o Keep comfortable
o A talisman
o A comfortable cocoon into which they can retreat from the challenges of life/reality/faith?
James is SO challenging!
How does he describe such faith?
- it¡¦s dead, really. ¡§Faith that does no work does not work¡¨
- useless- to help the person in need
- useless to the ¡¥professing¡¦ believer- as they don¡¦t have real faith! They have religion!
Now- nobody is saying Christians have a monopoly on niceness, kindness, philanthropy
- there are MANY people who do SO much good
o know what I think?
„X Genetically nice. Born nice.
„X God active in them, though they don¡¦t (yet?) know it
- But the thing with real Xians is- they BECOME active. Nice!
o Born swines, sometime¡K but are changed!
o Illustr: Kirk- it IS a religion of love, based on Jesus¡¦ love
o Janet- SMILE (Kosovo)
o David & Jane Thompson
- Now: probably ALL v nice, beforehand, - but with ME: I was self-centred and selfish!
o So- the change is very marked!
o I had a moment of thinking of OTHERS this week! Miracles DO happen
- Jesus Christ¡K through His people¡K is responsible for many/most of the social changes of our world (one solitary life)
o Slavery, apartheid, gender equality, care homes, orphanages etc, etc. I could go on
o Started by Christians!
Faith works! Genuine faith leads to genuine works. Genuine faith SHOWS. It is a light on a hill
James is really into ¡¥testing¡¦. (because life is!)
- life¡¦s events/people
o are, yes, tests to faith (& I hope you pass, he says)
o are also opportunities to SHOW your faith. Grow your faith. Show maturity
- the beggar. The pest. The boss