Summary: In this passage James puts the faith only doctrine on trial and we the jury must make our verdict (real faith - For The Real World - part 4).
"The Verdict Is In - Faith Works
Bridge The Gap!"
TEXT: JAMES 2:14-26
Both lawyers with great skill have presented their cases and with precision eloquence concluded their closing arguments. The defense and prosecuting teams stand - the jury is escorted out and the wait for the verdict begins....
Our message today has a long title made up of 3 parts, The Verdict is In -- Faith Works - Bridge the gap!
Now I’ve always enjoyed good lawyer shows. As a kid I watched re-runs of Perry Mason (Della Street, Paul Drake and poor Hamilton Burger).
One show I enjoy most of the time today is law and order...
I also like to read Grissom’s books - he is a master at developing characters, weaving a plot, and putting you on the edge of your seat waiting for a verdict.
The passage that we are about to study today is an important passage, that is, if we consider the Biblical teaching of salvation and justification from our sins an important topic.
It is also, a very controversial passage. (Martin Luther), one of the leaders in the reformation movement had serious problems with this passage. It was this passage that caused the reformer to say the following about the God inspired letter from the Apostle James, "he referred to the book of James as an epistle of straw, he said it had , "no gospel character in it", and he added " I will not have it in my Bible..." (it is said that it tore it out of his Bible). It is also his reaction to this passage in James that led to his unjustified addition of the word "only" to Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, "man is justified by faith alone.." (Rm 3:28).
In these 12 verses in James, the Holy Spirit through the inspired writer, shoots down the most prevalent doctrine within religious groups today, and that doctrine is the doctrine of "faith only". These verses are like a well machined cruise missile that when understood, can with great precision annihilate the destructive strongholds of false teaching of "faith only."
Today, as we study James chapter 2 we will see "THAT THE VERDICT IS ALREADY IN (as a matter of fact it has been in for 4,000 plus years)" -- "Faith Works!!! Therefore, that we need to bridge the gap!!
James in these powerful verses is telling all believers in God, that we must "Bridge the Gap!" And here is what the gap is, > The gap that exist is a gap between theoretical religion and dynamic Christian living.
> A gap between what we think and what we do.
> A gap between faith in theory and faith in practice.
> A gap between what I call head faith and feet faith.
James wants God’s people to understand That FAITH IS WHAT WE ARE, NOT WHAT WE THINK. It is what we do - not only what we believe.
Now when I mention the "faith only" doctrine, immediately many will think about those who reject the Gospel’s plan of salvation throwing out biblical baptism and replace it with the unbiblical practice of praying Jesus into their heart.
But there is another aspect of this "faith only" doctrine, perhaps one that hits closer to home -- and this is where one who claims to be a Christian, one who has obeyed God’s plan of salvation, yet doesn’t think it matters if he really lives the life that he professes to believe, as long as he or she believe the right things.
James in these verses is taking to task that kind of thinking, every bit as much, as he is refuting the pray Jesus into your heart type of faith only.
You see, faith & works as you will see today, when properly understood are contradictory terms, they are not in opposition to each other... they belong together, they are meant to be inseparable -- In fact, to have one without the other is extremely dangerous.
Faith & works are like the 2 chemical ingredients of salt, which is composed of 2 poisons, sodium and chloride. If we ingested either of them alone we would die, but when we combine them properly, we have NaCl which is common table salt - that gives flavor to our food and indeed life and health to our bodies...
Many times throughout his public ministry when presenting an important and penetrating truth Jesus would say, "He that has ears, let him hear."
The teachings in this passage are clear, and they are extremely important, they are literally a matter of life and death, faith and works are inseparable.
As we study this passage today we are going to do it a little different. I am going to present this text in the format of a court case.