Summary: Authentic Faith is always accompanied by works.
The Proof of Faith
* To establish a historical event is to depend on two principles; a) evidence. Evidence is all we have left of past events because we cannot recreate them and, b) determine what is probable, not what is possible. All kinds of things are ‘possible’, but generally, the probable is accepted as the established facts.
* In the matter of faith, we can view evidence, but there also must be proof. Proof is something which can be recreated and authentic faith recreates almost daily those spiritual things which points people to Christ.
* Tonight, I am keenly aware of my call to this congregation to a spiritual reawakening or ‘revival’ and as I have been listening, praying, & studying for the weeks to come, my heart is more convicted than ever that revival in this place is desperately needed. As I have studied our text for tonight, it seems to me that the Americanized view of faith is an obstacle to God pouring out His Spirit on His people.
* From our text, let’s consider 5 snapshots James gives us about ‘faith’ with our minds open to what our Lord had in mind for HIS people of FAITH!
1. The Examination of faith – A trip to the doctor will, in most cases, results in an examination. In order to treat ‘whatever’ is wrong with you or to discover there is NOTHING wrong with you, He must check out some things in your body. An examination reveals your health as well as you sickness. (Reread verse 14) Can you hear the almost sarcastic question? What good is it? Is it a saving faith? We do not work to receive our faith; we work to reveal our faith. We do not work for our faith, we faith from our faith. Notice how many times faith and works are mentioned in our text and conclude with me that “faith & works” are partners in the life of an authentic believer (and neither one is a ‘silent partner’).
* Medical professional routinely express thanksgiving for the design of the human body. If there is a problem with your knee which cannot be diagnosed, do you know what the doctor is likely to do? He is likely to compare your hurting knee to your good knee to understand how the nuances of your anatomy. To properly examine our faith, we must have a healthy faith to compare it with. Have you ever considered comparing your faith with someone whom we know possessed a healthy faith? It’s rather humbling to walk through the hall of faith and compare your own faith to that of Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Moses, Joshua, and Enoch. How does my faith stack up against these men of God? Jesus said, “If we have faith only the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains.”
* I submit that a follow up to the examination is;
2. The Expectation of faith – Authentic faith leads to faithful works, every time! In short, this is the clear expectation of faith. A faith with no works was not even on the grid in the first century. People ‘of faith’ lived their lives like people ‘with faith’ who did things ‘by faith.’ Faith was not an abstract concept; it was & is a life-altering truth. To read verses 15 & 16 is to be reminded of 1 John 3:17.
* What are these or at least some of these expectations? Let’s read verse 15-17. I submit that too often the concept for the believer ‘today’ is that we are exempt from helping and caring for others. Practically speaking, when someone has a physical need, it does very little good to say, “God bless you.” Jesus had much to say about helping those who needed help. In fact, Jesus had more to say about reaching out to those in physical need (the poor) than He did about most other topics. He came to bring eternal security to the soul but also, help to the body. Followers of Jesus are expected to be more generous, compassionate, caring, and giving than all others. In fact, these attributes in our lives are there to build a foundation for sharing the love, forgiveness, & the life found in Christ. This is sometimes a forgotten result of salvation.
* Does authentic faith really make a difference? According to Jesus it does. He expects our faith to control our lives. Candidly, if our faith does not control our lives and who we are, James says, “Your faith is dead.” The expectation of faith is that spiritual, eternal, & even life-giving works become the norm and not the exception.
3. The Explanation of faith – Look at verses 18-21 to hear James’ take on a person who claims to have faith, but has nothing to show for it. The state of Missouri is known as the “Show Me” state which basically is the theme of the Christian life. We can ‘say’ we have faith but the question is, “Does our walk match our talk?” James asks this rhetorical question, “If you have no works to match your faith, then how will people ever know about this faith which saves?” The conclusion is that they will never know. James further states that they will never know because we refuse to learn the spiritual principle which says, “If you think you have faith, but you have no accompanying work, it is useless, empty, & vain.” I submit that because of the freedom upon which we practice our religion that the uniqueness of what Christ has called us to be has largely been lost or forgotten. Authentic faith makes a huge impact on the life of the one who possesses & expresses that faith. This faith controls life. We leave nets, change jobs, forsake sin, and live for Him. The change is big.