Summary: It is not enough to claim faith; there should be some evidence to prove your claim.
James 2:19-26 July 18, 1999
“Oh yeah? Prove it!” Part II
Introduction - It is not enough to claim faith; there should be some evidence to prove your claim.
Tomorrow evening, one of the most important events that we will conduct all year will begin at 6:30. That event is Vacation Bible School. In preparation for that event, I and several members of the church passed out flyers at the Benedum festival yesterday. But prior to that, I took some time on Thursday and Friday to hand out flyers in our neighborhood. Rather than putting a flyer in every door, I tried to concentrate my efforts on those houses where children lived. Now I don’t have a map telling me where children live in our community, but their presence is not real hard to spot. All that you have to do is look for swing-sets, and big wheels, and plastic pools, dolls and toy cars. There is plenty of evidence of children’s presence at any home where they live. Whenever you come to my house, you will immediately see that there is definitely no doubt that children live there. Toys are everywhere!
This morning, we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Suzanne Talton, and she is my mother. She lives just to the west of Atlanta, Ga. My mother has told me countless times that she loves me, and in different ways, she has communicated to me that what we are doing here in West Virginia is very important to her. She wasn’t real happy about us moving up here because it put us 8 hours further away from her than we were. But she was willing to make the sacrifice of our company in order that we might do what God wanted us to do. In order to show her love for me and my family, she got on a plane yesterday morning and flew here to spend the weekend with us. The words “I love you” and “What you are doing is important to me” are proved by the fact that she came all this way to see us. Words are proved through actions.
This morning, we are going to once again look at James’ teaching that there should be something substantial in our lives to back up our claim that we have faith in Jesus Christ. Living faith should produce actions of faith in my life. If there are no actions, then according to James, my faith is dead, useless, powerless. And if my faith is dead, useless, and powerless, then I am still bound to my sins and on my way to hell.
Last week, we looked at verses 14-19. We saw in these verses that a false faith is a faith that simply believes the facts. It is the faith of the historian. He accepts the reality of what has happened in the past, but he doesn’t see how that action in the past affects his life today, so he doesn’t do anything about those facts. This kind of faith – a faith that simply believes the facts cannot . . .
I. Simply believing the facts cannot . . .
a. save (vs. 14) – It is not the facts of the Gospel – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus – that saves me. Those facts tell me who Jesus is, the sinless son of God who died to pay for my sins. Then once I know who Jesus is and what He did for me, then I can place my faith in Him! That is what saves me.
b. satisfy (vs. 15-17) – Knowledge about Jesus will never satisfy. Only a relationship with Jesus can satisfy.
c. show (vs. 18) – Knowledge about Jesus can never change you on its own. But once you place your complete faith in Him, He changes you which produces works in your life. By those works, people can see the reality of your faith.
. . . but it should make you . . .
d. shudder (vs. 19) – The demons know all the facts about Jesus. They have seen all of God’s works up to this point. They know His power and His character. Their knowledge of God and His attitude toward them makes them shudder with fear, but it doesn’t save them. The most dangerous place that you can be in is to know all about God and know how to get saved, but never personally place your complete faith in Jesus Christ.
Trans: These are the limitations of false faith. But then the question becomes, “How do I know if my faith is genuine?” James deals with that question, as he gives us five characteristics or tests of true faith.
II. True faith will . . .
a. cause you to give up everything for God (vs. 21)