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Summary: . In this section of James’ letter, we see an objection stated (v. 18a), the objection challenged (vv. 18b-19), and the objector confronted (v. 20).

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What About Faith and Good Works?

An Answer to the Skeptic

James 2:18-20

Preached by Pastor Tony Miano

Pico Canyon Community Church

April 8, 2001

Introduction: A couple of weeks ago I talked about the way James weaved a courtroom drama throughout his writing, in the first half of chapter two. Last week we also saw what could be described as part of a court trial. James made his prima fascia case for justification by faith alone. He did so by showing his readers that the evidence for their salvation by faith would by the good works that they did as a result of that faith. He made the point that sincere words, in and of themselves, are not evidence of a genuine faith in Christ.

Let’s read the passage again, together, beginning in verse fourteen.

Our focus this morning is going to be on verses 18-20. In this section of James’ letter, we see an objection stated (v. 18a), the objection challenged (vv. 18b-19), and the objector confronted (v. 20). The courtroom drama continues with James anticipating his readers reacting in a way very common to court trials—“I object!”

Unlike a lot of my fellow deputies, I really enjoyed testifying in court. I hated the idea of sitting around all day after working the graveyard shift, only to have the district attorney tell me the case would be postponed until the following day. But I really enjoyed taking the stand.

I enjoyed testifying because I really liked sparring with the defense attorneys. Some of the defense attorneys—not many—but some, were easy to get along with. They understood that the banter in the courtroom was not to be taken personal. Each side had their job to do in order to win their case.

I was able to have the kind of relationship with some of the defense attorneys that was cordial, even friendly, before and after the trial, and strictly adversarial during the trial. One tactic I liked to use before the trial started, when the suspect’s attorney was someone I was friendly with, was to sit down next to the defense attorney who would be sitting next to his or her client. I would shake his hand, ask him about the family, compliment his tie, and then get up and walk away, giving the suspect a very friendly smile. It really messed with their mind. One time, after doing this, as soon as the judge entered the courtroom, the suspect jumped out of his seat and demanded a new attorney because the one he had was a friend of the deputy who arrested him.

During the trial, the relationship between officer and defense attorney is, as I said, adversarial. The gloves come off and each side fights to win their case. One tactic commonly used by defense attorneys is to try to get the testifying officer to either change his testimony or become upset. Polls have shown that over 50% of perspective jurors believe that police officers are lying whenever they take the stand. If an attorney can get an officer to do or say something on the stand to support this opinion, he has won his case, whether or not his client actually committed the crime.


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