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Summary: A Guide to the basic concept fo faith leading to action.

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James: Religion That Works

“The Idiot’s Guide to Faith”

March 12, 2006

Introduction: If you go into any bookstore today you can find a series of books called “Idiot’s Guides” that relate to any number of subjects. From ballroom dancing to pet photography to getting girls, there is an “Idiot’s Guide” to give you a crash course. Today, we are going to embark on the “Idiot’s Guide to Faith.”

Just so we understand we are all in the same boat together; let’s understand that we all are idiots when it comes to true faith. We think we have things figured out, but in reality we often times are missing the mark. Can we all agree that in some areas of the Christian life we are all idiots?

Look at your neighbor and say, “I’m an idiot!”

Today we want to take a crash course on a subject that James deals with in practical living out of faith. Faith without a practical application isn’t faith, it is knowledge. We want to look today at the connection between the faith in your heart and the actions of your life.

I. Genuine faith is demonstrated in action.

For many of us, faith is an intellectual exercise. We think of faith as being a belief or knowledge that we know in our hearts and minds. However we often fail to make the connection that real faith is displayed in action.

“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying "Sounds good. You take care of the faith department; I’ll handle the works department." Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.” James 2:14-18 (The Message)

Faith is not about words.

We can say all the right things, but if there is no evidence of what we say demonstrated in our lives, our words are meaningless. How does a warm greeting help someone who is cold and hungry?

“Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” James 2: 17 (The Message)

It is only when our words are translated into actions that our faith becomes real.

The Christian faith is not lived out in talking the talk but in walking the walk.

“Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.”

1 John 3:18 (NLT)

Faith is made alive in real action toward real people.

“For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you?”

James 2:15 (The Message)

Faith in action is not for religious ritual, but for following Christ’s law of love.

One of the problems in church life today is that people are caught up in what they know and not what they do. Our works don’t create our relationship with God, but they do reflect it. As a Christian, you are called to love others in action, not simply believe that you should love others.

We try so hard to impress people who don’t have faith with our intellect of faith. We may be a lot like this guy.

** Show video “Real Christians of Genius”

Some people have a distorted view of faith. They are caught up in the mental and emotional side of faith. However, they don’t want to get involved in the day to day issues of life in living out faith.

The works of our life do not rescue us from sin, but are a result of having been rescued.

A Caution: You cannot be restored to God by what you do.

Our relationship to God is based solely on our relationship to Christ.

“God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)

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