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Summary: Faith that saves is a faith that serves, that is how you know that it is real.

HOW TO HAVE REAL FAITH

Grow Up Rather Than Give Up - Part 7

James 2:14-26

2 COR 13:5 "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves."

The Coke Company says’ that their drink is the Real Thing. There are many different religions that claim to be the real thing. Many of these religions offer you religion without a relationship. They offer you a crown without a cross. They offer you salvation without a savior. They offer you peace without the Prince of Peace. They offer you comfort without commitment. There are many religions that offer you a faith but not the Real Faith.

2 COR 13:5 "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves."

James is saying let’s examine this faith you claim to have and see if it’s real. Let’s put it under the microscope of God’s word and analyze it to see what it is made of. James is saying faith and action go hand and hand. James is saying A Faith that saves is a faith that serves.

I want to talk to you today about what James has to say about how to have a real faith. There’s a lot of phony religions out there -- people who think they are Christians and really aren’t. In this passage James talks about the difference between real and counterfeit Christians. Authentic believers and fake believers. He talks about how do you have a real faith.

This is the most controversial and misunderstood passage in the book of James. Every cult misunderstands it and they try to use this passage to prove you have to work your way to heaven. It’s important that you get what I’m going to talk about today so that when those guys come to your door, you’ll know what to say to them. The entire New Testament teaches that we are saved by faith alone. "By grace, through faith, we are saved." James comes along and says, It’s not just faith but faith and works. What is he talking about? James and Paul. They are both right. They are talking about different things.

Paul was fighting the problem of legalism -- the problem of "I’ve got to keep all the Jewish laws and regulations to be a Christian." Paul is talking to that group.

James is not fighting legalism but laziness -- those that say "It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you believe."

They are fighting two different enemies. But they both use the word "works" in different ways. When Paul uses the word "works" he’s talking about Jewish laws like circumcision and things like that. When James uses it, he’s talking about the lifestyle of a Christian -- acts of love. It’s totally different. Paul focuses on the root of salvation -- what happens to me internally. James focuses on the fruit of salvation -- what happens on the outside as a result of what happened on the inside. Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them." Paul is talking about, How to know you’re a Christian. James is talking about, How to show you’re a Christian. Paul is talking about his passages on faith alone, How to become a believer. James talks about, How to behave like a believer. It is not a contradiction.

It’s summed up in EPHESIANS 2:8-10 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, for a life of good works that God has already prepared for us to do." Paul mentions three truths that we all need to know about salvation It is "by grace", "through faith", "for good works". If you get those out of order, you’re in trouble. Paul is saying that we are saved by faith, James is saying that faith that saves is not alone. In other words, true genuine saving faith will produce action ( works.

Let me put it this way. You are not saved by the work that you do. The work that you do is the result of being saved.

But how do I show I am a believer? James says there’s five ways you can know you’ve got the real thing. He gives us five steps or principles here in this passage.

1. REAL FAITH IS MORE THAN AN EMPTY CONFESSION:

v. 14 Real faith is not just something you say, something you talk about. What shall it profit, my brethern, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?

"What good is it my brother if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such `faith’ save him or benefit him?" It doesn’t say he actually has faith; he just claims to have it. He talks about it. He knows all the right phrases. There are a lot of people who claim to be Christians. George Gallup says that 50 million Americans say "I’m born again." But there’s nothing in their lifestyle to suggest that they are Christians. Today we tend to label people as Christians if they make the slightest sound of being a believer. It’s more than just talk that is involved in real faith. Jesus said, "Not everybody who says to me `Lord, Lord’ is going to enter into the kingdom of heaven." Not everybody with a Christian bumper sticker is a believer. Not everybody who is a professes Christianity is a possessor of Christianity. "Can such faith save him? What value is this kind of faith?" Nothing. Talk is cheap.

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Anthony Zibolski

commented on Apr 26, 2007

This was a great sermon on faith. I like the separation of Paul's audience and James audience and the common ground that they preached toward putting our faith toward action.

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