Please Review the Text of James 2:14-26 Before Reading the Pastorís Sermon
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (KJV)
Ready. Set. Talk?!
During the stretch drive of the 1978 Canadian Football League season, the Toronto Argos had hastily flown in what appeared to be a potential "franchise" player and signed him to a ten day trial. The team set him up in luxury accommodation and catered to all his lavish needs.
In a short manner of time though, the Argos had discovered that this player was actually a con man. His specialty was in fooling franchises across the continent into providing him with all expense paid trips.
This con man both looked like a football player and talked like a football player but he was no football player. The moment that he set foot on the field, it became embarrassingly apparent to Argo management that his only true skill was "talking the talk" and not "walking the walk".
The moral of this story boils down to this: talk backed by inaction amounts to nothing, whether it be on the football field or more importantly, in our walk with the Lord. This player claimed to be a star talent but could not verify it on the field. He had no God-given talent to succeed on the field.
The same can be said about those who profess to be born again believers. If you say that you are born again and show no signs through God-driven works, you too may be nothing more than a professor rather than a possessor of what James calls "saving faith".
In todayís review of James 2:14-26, we learn that "faith" which does not manifest itself in God-driven works proves itself to be a faith that will not save. It is nothing more than mere talk.
The Byproducts of Salvation
Right about now, some of you may be thinking, but isnít James contradicting the Apostle Paulís repeated teachings that we are saved by faith alone and not by any works that we may do? Not at all.
James is simply clarifying a critical dimension in our understanding of faith. That is, he is basically stating that works are the certain byproducts of salvation.
If you have never displayed any God-driven works, then you should question your salvation. The key here is God-driven works and not acts of "goodness" merely initiated by you to win His favour or for personal self-interest. God-driven works can be anything from a desire to share your testimony; to resisting sin by relying on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit; to assisting someone in need with an outstretched hand: to a simple smile, a word of encouragement or dedicated prayer, just to name a few.
Now those of you who are young in the faith, do not assume that you will immediately change all your negative habits the moment that you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. God, The Goldsmith that He is, usually takes His time removing the heaps of dross or gunk existing in all of us so that we can better reflect His image.
Conversely, if you have not begun to reflect His image in any way then you should ask yourself whether you have sincerely accepted the Lordís call for salvation or not.
But letís get back though to the crucial doctrinal matter that the book of James teaches us on saving faith. I will try to clarify this matter by use of an analogy involving a lit candle.