JAMES 2:14-26 “A SCREEN DOOR ON A SUBMARINE”
A) Faith without works is like a song you can’t sing,
* It’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine! * James makes the same point:
* Faith without works is dead, noting that works is what defines a Christian life.
* There are those who read this scripture and say, “What about the Apostle Paul’s belief that we’re
saved by grace through faith?”
* “We can’t work our way into heaven; it’s only through faith!”
* Martin Luther said, “The most damnable heresy that has ever plagued the mind of man was the
idea that somehow he could make himself good enough to deserve to live with an all-holy God.”
B) So, which is it: faith or works? Paul or James?
* First, we have to understand the context within which each of these men wrote.
* Paul was writing to non-Christians who believed they could work their way into heaven.
* If they maintained the proper ordinances, followed the script, and did the “right” thing, they
were guaranteed a place with God.
* Paul was attempting to undo this belief by offering God’s grace, the idea that we can do nothing
to earn God’s favor. * He loves us, and when we come to faith in His Son Jesus Christ ...
* God’s grace showers down upon us.
C) James, on the other hand, was writing to Christians,
* Those who had already come to faith in Jesus Christ.
* The tone of his letter is one of irritation - v.20
* He’s asking them questions about Abraham and Rahab, almost sarcastically, with a “don’t you
get it” type of attitude.
* In speaking to fellow-believers, James was pointing out that faith and works do not stand in
opposition to one another! * James is telling Christians this .......
D) It is only through works that faith can prove and demonstrate itself!
* And it is only through faith that works will be attempted and accomplished.
* Faith is bound to overflow into action, and action begins only when someone has faith in some
great cause or principle, which God has presented him or her with!
* Example: Marlene Moore and the nursery!
* It is a picture perfect example of Marlene’s faith overflowing into works!
* Faith had to be in place for her to have an understanding that God was leading her, and it was
only through works that the ministry has evolved into what it is today!
E) Faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine; it’s useless!
* When I have a headache or a sore back, I take Aleve to feel better!
* Faith without works would be like my going to the medicine cabinet, pulling out the Aleve,
believing that it will make me feel better, looking at the bottle and putting it back!
* Believing that it will make me better, but not putting that belief into action, does me no good!
* That is James’ point ... What good is your faith if you’re not putting it into practice?
* Let me give you a good example of what I am talking about .......
F) We stepped out in faith with a budget that reflects the mission and ministry of this church,
* But if that faith is not followed with works, it too will be dead!
* Meaning if the approval of our budget, which is the faith, is not followed by each person’s
increased financial commitment, which is the works ... it is useless!
* James has made a strong statement, challenging the people to live out what they profess!
* That’s our challenge! * A few weeks ago, I came across a statement in a book that says: “If you
don’t live it, you don’t truly believe it.” * If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it!
G) If you say you’re a Christian, but you’re a gossip, are you living it?
* If you profess to be a Christian, but you have racist beliefs, are you living it?
* If you say you believe, but don’t love your neighbor, are you living it? * That’s our challenge!
* So how do we live it? * How do we make James’ challenge a reality?
* I’d like to suggest two things ... First, you’ve got to enter into a relationship with God whereby
you can expand and deepen your relationship through worship and Bible study!
H) Think of the Scriptures as an accurate map! * A map tells you how to get to a certain place!
* But just looking at a map won’t automatically take you there!
* Getting to your destination means you have to make the effort ... pay the cost ... take the time for
travel ... stay at it until you arrive! * In a word, persevere!
* So it is in the Christian life of deepening your faith, which leads to works!
* God’s map is reliable and available! * It is also clear and direct, but there is no hocus-pocus in
its pages that automatically sends you to your destination!
* The Bible’s trustworthy truths are of immeasurable value, but you can’t rub it on yourself three
times a day hoping that the next morning you will suddenly know and experience all its truths!
I) God does not offer a formula that produces fully mature Christians overnight!
* Christian growth comes through hard-core, gutsy perseverance of applying what you hear.
* It is by developing that type of commitment to growing your faith that works will be delivered.
* I read of a circuit-riding preacher who entered one church building with his young son, and
dropped a coin into the offering box in the back!
* Not many came that Sunday, and those who did weren’t too excited about what was said.
* After the service, the preacher and son walked to the back, and he emptied the box.
* Out fell one coin. * The young boy said, “Dad, if you’d have put more in, you’d have gotten
more out!” * The same applies to our study of Scripture;
* The more you put in, the more you get out!
J) The second way to prepare yourself to live out James’ challenge is to:
* Discover your gifts, get involved and use them!
* Scripture tells us that we have each been blessed with gifts from the Holy Spirit!
* Some folks say, “Oh, I can’t teach,” or “I can’t do that.” * That’s okay!
* We’re not gifted in the same way, which is a good thing, because we need multiple talents and
abilities in this church.
K) Yes, we need teachers, and yes, we need leaders, but we also need people to do other things:
* Hand out bulletins, visit shut-ins, clean the church, cut grass, and help out with odd jobs.
* The body of Christ has many parts, and I ask you to discover where it is you fit in this body!
* What are you doing as an active, lively part of the body?
* There’s a need for caring, giving, compassionate people!
* I repeat ... Faith and works don’t stand in opposition to each other!
* Faith and works represent two sides of your experience with God.
* No one will ever be moved to action without faith, and no one’s faith is genuine, unless it moves
you to action!
A) I’ll leave you with a quote by Billy Graham,
* He had this to say about faith and works and their relationship to each other:
* “There really is no conflict between faith and works. In the Christian life they go together like
inhaling and exhaling. Faith is taking the Gospel in; works is taking the Gospel out.”
B) We don’t need any screen doors on this submarine! Amen!