Summary: Faith without works is dead so living faith must produce righteous works.
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Pastor James May
The Works of Faith
James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
James 2:16 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?
James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
In the church world of today there isn’t much said about works except to try to downplay their importance in the plan of salvation. We often hear the words, “not by works lest any man should boast” quoted from the scripture and justly so. For our works do not carry with them an ability to purchase our salvation. But these words should never be quoted in an effort to justify those who are idle in the church. I believe that James is telling us that works are as essential to a healthy Christian life as oxygen is to the natural body.
What kind of a church would we be without works?
How could we show the love of Jesus to other people without works?
How can the gospel be preached to a lost and dying world without works?
The question is asked: how can justification take place without the works of the law, even though James says: "Faith without works is dead"?
In answer, Paul distinguishes between the law and faith, the letter and grace.
The ’works of the law’ are works done without faith and grace, by the law, which forces them to be done through fear or the enticing promise of temporal advantages.
But ’works of faith’ are those done in the spirit of liberty, purely out of love to God, and they can be done only by those who are justified by faith. Paul does not say that faith is without its characteristic works, but that it justifies without the works of the law.
Therefore justification does not require the works of the law; but it does require a living faith, which performs its work.
I want to try to present to you a picture of a life that is filled with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and how works prove that faith is alive!
Just this past week we have had a great opportunity to prove that Jesus lives within each of us and that our faith is strong and alive. I was so proud to see the church pull together and work tirelessly at putting together a Vacation Bible School for children. There were 20 kids who came, some of which may have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel or learn about stories from the Bible. We take for granted that our kids have heard these stories and yet, I see more and more that our children, even those raised in church, don’t know these simple stories.
These kids were taught that God can deliver them and that God will be faithful in every fiery trial through the deliverance of Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego from the fiery furnace. They were taught that Jesus is the source of their salvation and that He came to rescue man from his sinful condition through the stories of E.R. the Rescue Dog and the firefighters and puppet shows. Perhaps some of these kids were too young to grasp the full meaning of the truths presented but they will grow up and remember the stories they heard and then the meanings will come.