Summary: Message 16 in our exposition of James continuing the discussion of the nature of true faith.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Faith that Works” Pt 2
Today we continue our discussion of the nature of true or genuine faith or belief.
The whole book of James paints a portrait of genuine faith.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-27
II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13
III. Faith’s True Nature 2:14-26
Any attempt to understand Scripture must include an understanding of the specific words inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The verb form appears 248 times and translated believe, trust or commit.
The noun form appears 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 of this term indicates an inspiring persuasion concerning a person or proposition that generates action. It describes a persuasion that inspires action.
At a general level…
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. Sufficient persuasion. Persuasion that causes us to embrace the person or proposition. Sufficient persuasion to inspire ready response. Such persuasion hinges on a credible person and a valid proposition.
There must be sufficient persuasion to inspire response. You cannot divorce belief from action. Belief and action are two sides of the same coin. Biblical faith centers on the character of God and the authority of His propositions.
Faith is God’s sufficient intellectual and emotional persuasion regarding His person, promise, power and purpose to inspire our ready response.
Faith without corresponding response or action is not faith at all. Action without a link to God’s will is not genuine faith. Spending all my savings on some venture apart from God’s will is not faith.
Talking about giving money to a cause directed by God is not faith either. It becomes true faith when in response to God’s prompting, I give the money to the cause He called me to support. Saying I trust in what Jesus did on the cross to pay for my salvation and then try to pay for it myself is not faith. We are saved by God’s grace by responding to His persuasion in our heart to trust Him. True faith requires both intention AND action.
That is the central point James seeks to make in this section of his letter.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith/belief but does not have works/action? Can that faith/belief save him? James 2:14
Notice he did not ask can faith save him? We are saved by faith. He asked can that faith i.e. faith divorced from action, save him. Mere intent to trust Jesus for salvation does not save. Mere intent to obey scripture does not generate growth.
As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from response/works is dead. James 2:26
The whole of our interaction with God requires genuine faith.
But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Rom 14:23
That is a daunting statement.
God implants truth into our heart. (Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ)
Hebrews identifies Jesus as the author and perfector of faith.
We personally embrace that truth. (mental and emotional)
We act (will) on or respond to that truth.
We trust God for the outcome.
Our action is based on a sufficient level of divine persuasion concerning the truth and the God who said it. The Bible communicates tons of truth requiring a faith response. Many claim to live by faith but fail to act on the things He reveals to us. James already emphasized the necessity of hearing AND doing the word of God.
Abraham did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith/belief, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Romans 4:19-21
Divine persuasion inspired Abraham’s belief in God demonstrated by his willingness to sacrifice his son.
Divine persuasion inspired Rahab to believe in God and risk her life by protecting the Israeli spies.
Notice the extreme contrast James choice.
Father Jewish Abraham
Sinful Gentile Rahab
Both received salvation by a faith that worked.
Without faith/belief it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6
• Without it there is no salvation. (Gal 3, John 1:9)
• Without it there is no spiritual growth. (Gal 3)
• Without it you cannot please God and even stir His wrath. (Heb 11, 3:17; Ex 3-4)
• Without it there is no rest. (Heb 3-4)
• Without it there is no life. (Gal 2:20)
• Without it there is no victory. (1 John 5:4)