Summary: A series in James about possessing a foolproof faith. This message focuses on faith that lives what it says it believes.
Foolproof – A Study of James January 14, 2007
LIVING Faith – James 2:11-26 Sunday AM
Recap: We’re in a series in James about how to have a foolproof faith so that we won’t be fooled into thinking we have genuine faith when we’re only religious and so we can’t be fooled into embracing anything not of God if we’re truly saved.
Insert: Before you this AM I have two apples – can you tell which one is real? Who thinks this one is real? Who thinks this one is real? From where you sit, they both probably look real; but the only way to determine if they’re real is to take a closer look. The same can be said of genuine faith.
Trans: Scores of people claim to have genuine faith b/c their names on a church roll, they live in America, their parents are Christians, or they’ve said a “Hail Mary” or two – but these things don’t define authentic faith.
Trans: As we’ve been learning through James, real faith is marked by how we respond to trials and temptation, how we apply God’s Word, and how we accept people. In James 2, he also says that real faith is alive. James writes to distinguish DEAD faith from LIVING Faith.
Note: Before we go any further, let me clear up a misconception. Throughout early Christianity, many scholars had difficulty reconciling James’ teachings on salvation w/ Paul’s. Some held that James view involved works and was contradictory to Paul’s view of grace. This was such an issue that James almost didn’t make the canon. But what we find isn’t that they stand toe-to-toe fighting one another, but back-to-back clarifying the essentials of saving faith.
Note: Paul explains that salvation is by grace through faith absent of any effort or work of man; it’s completely dependent upon the work of Christ on the cross. If you delve deeper, it’s equally obvious Paul is opposing the idea of legalism and religiosity as a means of obtaining God’s favor. He wants us to understand that it’s impossible to get to heaven by obeying the law and being good. Eph. 2
James isn’t opposed to this idea. He’s concerned that we don’t fall into the fallacy of easy believe-ism – profession w/out a change (see 2 Cr. 5:17). Unlike Paul, James isn’t focused on the means of salvation, but on the result/proof of it. He’s determined to distinguish the difference b/w dead faith and living faith, so he offers a quick test to help us to determine the difference.
I DEAD Faith* vs. 11-20
Note: The first test he offers concerns if our faith is dead. He asks – Is your faith marked by Empty Confession, False Compassion, and Shallow Conviction?
* This portion of the outline provided by MacArthur’s Commentary on James
A Empty CONFESSION
Text: What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
Note: You know the easiest thing in the world to do is to claim to be or believe something. The question isn’t whether you claim it, but can you back it up.
Insert: I’ve shared w/ you I played high school sports. The truth is, I could tell you many things about my abilities and awards and you wouldn’t know the difference. You’d have to decide whether or not to believe me. For example, I could tell you I was a state champion wrestler, but if you asked me to prove it I’d be in trouble. I don’t have the proof. I could prove to you I was 2nd in the state b/c somewhere I have a medal and a newspaper article to prove it.
Note: Many people talk the talk and claim to be Christians, but few walk the walk and actually exemplify a life that follows and reflects Jesus.
Note: James assertion is that genuine faith isn’t an empty claim; it has an accomplice – God-honoring works of service focused on God’s will. Just b/c you have said a prayer, walked an aisle, or have even been baptized doesn’t equate to authentic faith. Real faith has real fruit. Real faith translates into a changed life and not an empty confession.
Quote: It is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies is not alone. Calvin
Insert: Can I be honest. On more than one occasion I have questioned the genuineness of someone’s faith b/c their action were contrary to God’s Word and will. Real faith is about the Father’s business and the Father’s business is the souls of men.
Insert: I’m often frustrated by how many professing Christians get bent out of shape and either leave the church or make you want to leave the church. But I want to give you a quick reference point to authenticate their claims. Is what they are concerned about in concert w/ what God is concerned about? If not, then you can’t let it get you down and frustrate you.