Summary: Works prove our faith, not vice a versa.
June 3, 2007
Immanuel Baptist Church, Wagoner, OK
Message Point: Works prove our faith, not vice a versa.
Focus Passage: James 2:14-26
Supplemental Passage: Ephesians 2:8-9
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. Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That's just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands? Wasn't our ancestor Abraham "made right with God by works" when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn't it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are "works of faith"? The full meaning of "believe" in the Scripture sentence, "Abraham believed God and was set right with God," includes his action. It's that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named "God's friend." Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works? The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn't her action in hiding God's spies and helping them escape--that seamless unity of believing and doing--what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
Problem: Many folks think you have to earn your way to Heaven.
I. Real faith is not just something you say: (verse 14)
"Not everybody who says to me `Lord, Lord' is going to enter into the kingdom of heaven."
II. Real faith is not just something you feel. (verses 15-16)
Old Peanuts cartoon, with Snoopy outside shivering in the cold. “Be of good cheer”.
III. Real faith is not just something you think. (verse 18)
"Faith is like calories. You can't see them but you can sure see the results."
IV. Real faith is not just something you believe. (verse 19)
Demons shudder (or hair stands up on end). Believe in Hitler, but not a Nazi. Many will miss heaven by 18 inches, for they believed in their head but not their heart.
V. Real faith IS something you DO!
a. Abraham (vs. 20-24)