Summary: Message 15 in our exposition of James. This message and the next deal with the core concept of James -- Faith.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Faith/belief that works"
Welcome to our fifteenth appointment in front of God’s mirror. The whole Bible serves as a mirror that accurately reflects the true nature of our faith in Jesus. James called his readers to not only gaze into this divine mirror but do something about what it exposes.
Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22
But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25
James talked the primary faith testing aspect of life in a broken world; trials.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-27
II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13
To prefer or prejudge someone based on some external criteria or association with a specific group is sin. To judge someone based on nationality, color, economic status, intelligence, looks, ability, is sin.
But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:9
The divine family rule is to treat those who love Jesus equally. The rule for all people is to love others as we love ourselves.
Today we tackle what some see as a giant theological controversy in James’ letter. Some say it caused Martin Luthor to consider this letter the “straw epistle.” James wrote about the nature true of faith. James wrote to make sure that those who claimed to genuinely believe in Jesus truly demonstrated that belief by their corresponding behavior. When we started this journey through James, I suggested several descriptive titles for the letter i.e. Behavior of Belief, Ten Tests True Trust (Faith), Faith that Works, The Practice of Righteousness,
Faith that is real. Faith in Action.
III. Faith's True Nature 2:14-26
Here we encounter the core concept of the book. James address the nature or characteristics of genuine faith or belief. Before we dive into the text, I want to spend some time trying to understand the basic concept of faith.
To do that, we begin with the word itself.
The verb form is used 248 times and translated believe, trust or commit.
The noun form is used 244 times and is translated faith or belief.
That makes nearly 500 references to the act of believing or the concept of faith.
The core concept has to do with an inspiring persuasion concerning a person or proposition. This is true on a natural level as well as a spiritual level. Here is my attempt at a general definition of faith.
Faith is sufficient intellectual and emotional persuasion regard a person or proposition to inspire ready response.
There are several factors to consider in this definition.
What is the source of the persuasion?
What is the level of persuasion?
Does the persuasion captivate both intellect and emotion?
Is the persuasion sufficient to inspire eager action on my part?
What is the level of integrity of the person I am persuaded to trust.
What is the level of veracity of the proposition I am persuaded to believe.
Most actions that require faith have to do with people or propositions. Biblical propositions requiring some sort of action appear all through the Bible.
Let’s consider some examples.
The Bill Gates Give Away Scam
Some time ago and email was circulating claiming that Bill Gates was testing a way to give away million of dollars to those participating in an email experiment. Some were persuaded to act on the email and forward it on to all their friends. Technically the object of the trust had the money to fund such and experiment. The source of the persuasion however was highly suspect.
Scientists persuade people to embrace the lie of evolution all the time.
Philosophers persuade people to stop believing in God.
False teachers lead people astray from the truth of the Bible all the time.
People develop anger toward God and stop trusting Him because He did not do what some preacher told them was in the Bible. If you just have enough faith you can fulfill all the desires of YOUR heart despite the fact it was not God’s desire.
Faith is rarely blind. We respond based on data or experience. Our response hinges on the trustworthiness of our source of persuasion. Faith also must have an object. Faith is only as effective as the object of our faith. The level of persuasion has little to do with the outcome. Take this dilapidated chair. A normal person would access his knowledge base to discern that the structural integrity of this chair leaves something to be desired. Yet a skilled manipulator might manipulate my mind and emotions to convince me to eagerly, with great faith, sit on the chair with disastrous results. A high level of persuasion but a faulty object.