Summary: Christian influence is no small matter.
James 2:14-18 KJV
One sunny Sunday morning, Henry Jones awoke to find his wife standing over him, shaking him by the shoulder.
"You have to get up," she urged. "We have to get ready for church."
"I don’t want to go to church," he replied. "I want to stay in bed."
Crossing her arms over her chest, his wife demanded, "Give me three good reasons why you should stay in bed and not go to church."
"OK," he answered. "First, I don’t get anything out of the service. Second, I don’t like the people there. And third, no one there likes me. Now can you give me three good reasons why I should go to church?"
His wife responded, "First, it will do you some good. Second, there are people who really do like you, and they’ll miss you if you aren’t there. And third, you’re the minister!"
Christian influence is no small matter.
According to Rick Warren, there are two basic reasons people don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior:
(1) they have never met a Christian; and
(2) They have met a Christian.
The Word must get out
The Portuguese, Spanish, and English kept secret their first discoveries on the West African, and South and North American coasts. An essentially economic decision, each country wanted to preserve a monopoly on whatever resources it found there. To protect their findings, maps and charts of the voyages were often kept in a lockbox aboard ship with two locks and two keys. When the mariners returned home, their documents went into state archives to shield them from prying eyes. The records from Francis Drake’s epochal world cruise were hidden from the public for ten years. They were so well hidden, in fact, that they have never been found.
Christians have been like the explorers: we have kept secret the knowledge of our discoveries in Christ. Truth must be shared, not hoarded. It reaches its greatest victory in sharing, not in acquiring. Christians cannot withhold Scripture from the unsaved hoping everyone will somehow get to where we are in faith. That might work in geography, but not in spiritual life. God must reveal himself before we can understand him. Thus Christians must communicate what God has revealed in Christ. Very few people will ever find out about God on their own. How will they ever find their way to heaven unless they have Christ’s map?
James 2:14-18 KJV
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
James’ theme is "faith." But here faith is not saving faith, or justifying faith. James’ theme is practical: he looked at the lifestyle, which is to be produced by faith in Jesus. James knew, with Paul, that true faith generates obedience, and so he gently encouraged the early Jewish church to live a life that was worthy of their profession of Jesus as the Christ
1. Theological beliefs--are yours active or dead?
A USA Today/CNN Gallup Poll was disclosed in December of 1994 with some interesting research on what Americans say they believe.
Of those polled, 90% believe in heaven. Only 73% think there is an opposite of heaven, even though the word for that fiery place is probably part of their daily vocabulary. Believers in angels number 72%. But less than 65% are convinced that the devil cannot make you do anything. While there is an increase in the past decade, of those who believe in theological absolutes, more folks also believe in reincarnation and psychic contact with the dead.
Today there is more openness about what people believe. Yet those beliefs will not necessarily secure for them a place in heaven. The Bible says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder" (James 2:19 NIV) There must be some evidence that your beliefs have transformed your life to the point that righteous actions are visible. God inspired this warning: " Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James 2:17 KJV).
Faith and works
Two gentlemen were crossing the river in a little boat. They began to argue about faith and works. The man who was rowing them across the river was a fine, enlightened Christian and on hearing their discussion he turned to them and said, "I believe I can solve your difficulty. I hold in my hands two oars. The one I call faith and the other works. Now watch it. I pull the oar of faith alone. You see, we can only go around and around; we cannot go forward. Now I pull the oar of works; again we move around and around. Now, see, I pull both of them together and on we go." Then the Christian ferryman added his conclusion, "In my opinion, a faith without works is dead, or works without faith will not suffice" (James 2:26).