Summary: James teaches that Rahab expressed her faith with obedience,as she hid the spies and did not just express her faith "without works".
1. Open your bibles to James 2:25&26. Let’s read these two verses, “25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
2. The example of Rahab is introduced by James to prove that pleasing God demands both faith and works and not just one with out the other.
(1) The story of Rahab is recorded in Joshua 2. We will turn and study that passage in a few moments.
(2) James says Rahab was justified in the same way as Abraham. Let’s read James 2:21-24 and remind our self that Abraham became justified after his faith was demonstrated by works. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”
3. The selection of Abraham and Rahab as examples is quite interesting and very important.
(1) Abraham was a very religious and honored servant of God.
(2) Rahab was from the lowest ranks of society. Rahab, as a prostitute, was practicing something of disgust to God.
4. The greater majority in the religious world argue against the teaching that James gives about the necessity of both faith and works in order to be saved from their past sins and then the necessity of faith and works for also those who are children of God.
(1) Those who argue that “faith only” is acceptable to God say that Abraham demonstrated works after he was already a servant of God, but such demonstration is not required of one is not yet a servant of God.
(2) They use this line of argument to teach that one does not have to be baptized to be saved. They teach that baptism and other works of obedience are required after one is saved, but not in order for one to be saved. They teach that the “works of Abraham” were done by him after he was already a servant of God and not done by him to become a servant or child of God.
(3) James uses the example of Rahab, who was not a Jew, nor was she already a saved servant of God. However, James teaches that for her to become a “justified” servant of God “works” were demanded of her by God.
(4) Baptism was not a command to be obeyed back under the time that Rahab lived, but if it had of been then Rahab would have been required to be baptized in order for her to become “justified” before God.
5. If you have not been baptized according to the commands of the N. T., as we study things from the bible about Rahab you will learn that it is important that you soon obey what will save you of your past sins.
6. Let’s begin to observe additional passages that give us information about Rahab.
I. FIRST, JOSHUA 2:1-24 PROVIDES US WITH THE DETAILS ABOUT RAHAB AND “THE FAITH AND WORKS” THAT JAMES IS GIVING HER CREDIT FOR DEMONSTRATING, THAT ALLOWED HER TO BECOME “JUSTIFIED”.
1. Let’s read and make a few comments from Joshua 2:1-24, “1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.”
3 So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.” 4 Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” 6 (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)
[It is a fact that Rahab lied to those who came looking for the spies. Some have thought that her example of lying shows that if the reason is good reason, telling a lie is acceptable to God. God did not approve of Rahab’s lie. God never approves of a lie. Let’s ask, then, what made Rahab acceptable to God, in spite of telling the lie?