Summary: faith without works is dead
Show Me Your Faith.
I once heard a pastor say, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I believe that it was Augustine who said, “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is never alone.” Good works do not save, we are saved by grace through faith, but it is not enough to claim faith; there should be some evidence to prove your claim. I could tell you that I have children, and even if you were to come over to my house and not see my children, you will still see the evidence of them by their toys, sippy cups, and their clothes.
We can claim that we have faith all day long, but there should be some evidence to prove it. There should be some evidence to back up our claim.
This morning, we are going to 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. Saving faith should produce actions of faith in our lives. If there are no actions, then according to James, our faith is dead, useless, and powerless. And if our faith is dead, useless, and powerless, then were still bound to our sins, and have fooled ourselves.
So let’s go up a few verses and lets look at verses 14-19 (read). We see in these verses that anyone can have 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 but never acts on them cannot . . .
Save, look at vs. 14 (read) – It is not the facts of the Gospel – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus – that saves us. Those facts tell us who Jesus is, the sinless Son of God who died to pay for our sins. Then once we know who Jesus is and what He did for us, then we can place our faith in Him! That is what saves us. Let’s say you were drowning, and someone threw you a life preserver. Now if you didn’t know what a life preserver was then you wouldn’t know that it could save your life, but even if you did know what a life preserver was, if you didn’t believe that it could save your life, then you would never reach out to grab it. However, when you know what it is, and you have faith in what it can do, then you will have works, reaching out and grabbing onto the life preserver.
A faith that only believes the facts but doesn’t act on them can’t Satisfy (vs. 15-17) – Knowledge about Jesus will never satisfy. Only a relationship with Jesus can satisfy. Christianity is not religion, ritual, or rules, it’s a relationship with Jesus Christ.
And it can’t 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.
The demons know all the facts about Jesus. They had seen Jesus do miracles, signs, and wonders. They knew His power and His character. Their knowledge of God makes them shake 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. And there are a lot of people in the world, who attend church, and know about Jesus but they aren’t saved. They don’t have eternal life, but instead have fooled themselves. In Matthew chapter 7 Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven (read Matt. 7:21-23). So the question is, “How do we know if our faith is genuine?” Well, James deals with that question; he gives us some characteristics or tests of true faith.
True faith will . . .
1) Lead you to repentance. Look at James chapter 1 vs. 21 (read). It will cause you to turn from your sins, and surrender your life to Christ. Now I’m not saying that a Christian will never sin, the Bible is clear that we as Christians will struggle with sin until the day we go to be with the Lord. But it also clearly teaches that Christians should not be dominated by sin, nor practicing sin, or living sinful lifestyles.