Summary: This is a study into what it means to have "real faith".
Having Real Faith
We have been making our way through the book of James. If you will recall – I have said that the book of James is a very practical book. It is perhaps one of the most practical books in the Bible. James has been telling us that we need to put our beliefs – our faith - into practice. Today we are going to look at what it means to “Have Real Faith”.
Let me be very up front with you – there are a lot of false religions out there. There are a lot of people who think that they are Christians but they really are not. In the verses that we are going to look at today – from the book of James – he will talk about the difference between having real faith and having false faith in Christ. James will tell us what it means to have real faith. What we are going to look at is the most controversial and misunderstood passage of scripture in the book of James. Every false religion uses this passage to prove that you have to work your way to heaven - that you have to work for your salvation. Folks – let me be up front and open with you – if you don’t get anything else out of this sermon – get this!
We don’t work our way to heaven.
The entire New Testament teaches that we are saved by faith alone. Many of the writings of Paul tell us how to become a Christian - how we can be saved. By the time the book of James is written – he is talking about how live the Christian – not about salvation of the Christian. In other words – James is talking about “how to behave like a believer” – not about “how to become a believer”. There is no contradiction in the Bible on how a person is saved. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible says:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)
I want you to notice something very important in this passage of scripture. When Paul is writing to the Ephesians – he says, “We are saved by grace – through faith – not by works". That is what verses eight and nine teach us. But notice that verse ten goes on to say that – “we are created in Christ FOR good works.”
Jesus taught it this way:
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:8 (NKJV)
You see Christians work for Christ. Why? So that we can BE saved? No! We work for Christ – because we have BEEN saved! We have been saved by grace through faith – not because of the works that we have done – but we are saved so that we can do good works for Christ because of His grace for us. We are saved by a free gift of God and because He has given me and you that gift – we now work for Him.
Let’s go ahead now and focus in on the book of James. Let’s look at five facts about faith:
1. Real Faith Is Not Just Something You TALK ABOUT
In James chapter two verse fourteen it says:
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” James 2:14 (NKJV)
Notice that in this verse it does not say that person has faith – it just says that he talks about having faith. In other words - He knows the right language. He knows the right phrases. He knows what to say when he is around Christians. He can talk the talk – but the question is – can he walk the walk?
Today we tend to label people as Christians if they make the slightest sound about being a believer. But it’s more than just talking like a Christian that is involved in real faith. Jesus said it this way:
"Not everyone who says to Me, ’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 7:21 (NKJV)
Not everybody who has a Christian bumper sticker is a believer. Not everyone who wears a Christian tee shirt knows Christ as their savior. Not everyone who listens to Christian music is a Christian. Not everyone who is a professor of Christ is a possessor of Christ. Talk is cheap. If you say that you have accepted Christ as your savior and there has been no change in your life – be concerned! Real faith is NOT just something you talk about – it is NOT just something you say – it is something you live. Real faith involves your life - not just your lifestyle.