Summary: Don’t tell me about your faith; show it to me.
THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT FAITH
Text: James 2:14-26
1. Read James 2:14-26
2. Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again -- until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.
William Booth in The Founder’s Messages to Soldiers, Christianity Today, October 5, 1992, p. 48.
3. If Missouri is the "Show Me State," then James is the show me Epistle.
Proposition: James says, don’t tell me about your faith; show it to me.
Transition: James challenges us by asking us three questions about our faith.
I. Do You Have a Living Faith? (14-17)
A. Can This Kind of Faith Save?
1. James begins by asking two rhetorical questions. "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?"
2. The two questions posed in this verse actually declare that faith not accompanied by good deeds is of no saving value whatsoever. - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM
3. The emphasis is not on the true nature of faith but on the false claim of faith.
4. What James is saying is that this kind of faith, which is actually no faith at all, is useless.
a. The word profit here is "pertaining to a benefit to be derived from some object,—Louw & Nida: NT Greek-English Lexicon
b. When someone makes an investment he expects to receive a profit from his investment. Otherwise the investment is useless.
c. If you expect that belief that is not back up by action will save you then you are going to be sorley disappointed.
d. Jer. 7:8 "Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit."
B. Faith That Does Not Have Works Is Dead
1. James illustrates his point by saying "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?"
a. Pay close attention to what James is saying. The person is naked and destitute.
b. This is not a person with little or raggedy clothes; they have no clothes at all - naked!
c. This is not a person with little food; they are destitute - starving.
2. The purpose of the overstatement is to emphasize the drastic need of this believer. His is no mild case of need. He is desperate. - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM
3. Illustration: A young boy, on an errand for his mother, had just bought a dozen eggs. Walking out of the store, he tripped and dropped the sack. All the eggs broke, and the sidewalk was a mess. The boy tried not to cry. A few people gathered to see if he was OK and to tell him how sorry they were. In the midst of the works of pity, one man handed the boy a quarter. Then he turned to the group and said, "I care 25 cents worth. How much do the rest of you care?" James 2:16 points out that words don’t mean much if we have the ability to do more.
4. True faith transforms our conduct as well as our thoughts. If our lives remain unchanged, we don’t truly believe the truths we claim to believe. —Life Application Bible Notes
5. James tells us that if this is the kind of faith we have our faith is dead.
a. If we are going to have a living faith then we have to have a faith of action.
b. If we are going to have a living faith then our actions must be a mirror of the actions of a living Savior.
6. Deeds of loving service are not a substitute for, but rather a verification of, our faith in Christ. —Life Application Bible Notes
Transition: The next question that James asks us is...
II. Do You Have a Showing Faith? (18-20)
A. I Will Show You My Faith
1. In verse 18, James can already hear the argument against his, so he begins to build his case.
2. He indicates that someone will say "I have faith," and another one will says "I have works."
a. He is saying that some people believe "faith and works are not necessarily related to each other and that it is possible to have either one without the other" - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM
b. James is going to take this false hypothesis and put it to the test.
3. James challenges these people to "show me your faith without your works..."
a. The response to the challenge is simple: you can’t show faith without works.