1. Faith is at the heart of man's response to God.
a. Without it one cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).
b. Gospel is power of God for those who have it (Rom. 1:16).
c. Sinful man is justified before God by faith (Rom. 5:1).
d. Christian life lived by "faith in the SOG" (Gal. 2:20).
2. But what is faith? (abstract question); more practically, What does it look like? What does it involve?
a. An insight on faith from the OT.
b. What James says about faith.
c. What Paul says about faith.
I. AN INSIGHT ON FAITH FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT.
A. Hebrews 11:30--"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down."
1. Reading Josh. 6:1-22 one gains insight into what faith involves.
a. Israelites to march around 1x for 6 days.
b. March 7x on 7th day; priests blow trumpets; people shout; walls come down! (6:2-5).
2. Remember: Heb. 11:30 says walls fell "by faith."
B. According to some definitions of what faith involves, the conquest of Jericho would have happened like this:
1. Joshua asked the Lord, "How can we take Jericho, this mighty walled city?" God said, "Why I have given it into your hand, it has already been done. Just accept that by faith." Joshua and the people responded, "We believe that you have given Jericho to us, and we receive that promise by faith." Then, in that moment, the walls crumbled and the Israelite army entered the city.
2. The story does not read that way!
a. Walls did not fall when God gave his promise.
b. Walls did not fall when people assented to promise.
c. Walls fell when the people marched! (Heb. 11:30).
II. WHAT JAMES SAYS ABOUT FAITH (James 2:14-26).
A. Saving faith is obedient faith (read text).
B. That which gives faith its saving value is obedience to God.
III. WHAT PAUL SAYS ABOUT FAITH.
A. An Apparent Problem When Paul is Compared with James.
1. Paul so frequently stresses justification by faith apart from works (Rom. 3:28; Eph. 2:9; Gal. 3:11, etc.)
2. Some have had real problems with this tension:
a. James: emphasis on just. by faith with works.
b. Paul: emphasis on just. by faith w/o works.
3. The key is understanding the meaning of "works."
B. In the NT "Works" is Used in Three (3) Senses:
1. Works of the Law of Moses.
a. By these no one is justified.
b. Rom. 3:19-20; Gal. 2:15-16.
2. Works of Human Merit.
a. Actions in which man trusts his own efforts.
b. No saving value--Titus 3:5.
3. Works of Obedience to God.
a. This is part of a living faith acc. to James.
b. Paul calls these works "the obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).
C. What's the Difference Between Works of Merit and Works of Obedience to God?
1. Maybe nothing! Difference is the motivation.
2. Faith has two essential components:
a. Proper motivation.
b. Proper action.
3. It takes both elements to make up NT faith.
1. This is the dynamic of faith (Gal. 5:6).