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This week we continue our series from the book of James titled The practical Expression of Our Faith in Daily Living.
Today we are talking about When Faith Is Alive.
James 2:14-17 AMP
Faith and Works
14 What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works.]
15 If a brother or sister is without [adequate] clothing and lacks [enough] food for each day,
16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do?
17 So too, faith, if it does not have works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective].
James 2:14-26 (AMP)
Faith and Works
18 But someone may say, “You [claim to] have faith and I have [good] works; show me your [alleged] faith without the works [if you can], and I will show you my faith by my works [that is, by what I do].”
19 You believe that God is one; you do well [to believe that]. The demons also believe [that], and shudder and bristle [in awe-filled terror—they have seen His wrath]!
20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish [spiritually shallow] person, that faith without [good] works is useless?
21 Was our father Abraham not [shown to be] justified by works [of obedience which expressed his faith] when he offered Isaac his son on the altar [as a sacrifice to God]?
22 You see that [his] faith was working together with his works, and as a result of the works, his faith was completed [reaching its maturity when he expressed his faith through obedience].
23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and this [faith] was credited to him [by God] as righteousness and as conformity to His will,” and he was called the friend of God.
24 You see that a man (believer) is justified by works and not by faith alone [that is, by acts of obedience a born-again believer reveals his faith].
25 In the same way, was Rahab the prostitute not justified by works too, when she received the [Hebrew] spies as guests and protected them, and sent them away [to escape] by a different route?
26 For just as the [human] body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works [of obedience] is also dead.
In Jesus name we pray.
Faith is like calories, you can’t see them, but you can see their results.
Tonight we study a section of James’s letter that is probably the most misunderstood passage in the entire letter.
Some see this passage as a contradiction of Paul’s teaching concerning the way of salvation.
But when the teachings of both Paul and James are understood properly, there is no conflict.
Three things must be kept in mind as we study these verses.
- The situations presented by James were entirely different from those presented to Paul.
Paul had in mind those who denied the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith and insisted on ceremonial works, whereas James was saying that true faith expresses itself in deeds.
Paul was talking about the way of salvation, and James was talking about the life of a person after they have been saved.
B. While Paul and James used many of the same words, they put different meanings into them.
By “works” Paul meant works of the Jewish Law, ceremonies and rituals.
For James, “work” were works of love, proof that faith was alive and real.
C. James’ intention was not to contrast two opposing methods of salvation.
His intention was to show two kinds of faith, one genuine and the other false, one alive and the other dead.
- James said what true produces.
- He tried to show that things such as mental agreement, or saying we accept Christ, do not mean much unless they are proved by the fruits of faith at work.
Almost with an air of disgust, James said, in essence, “What good is faith without works? Does it help anyone?”
B. Note that James did not write, “If a man has faith,” but “If a man says he has faith.”
If you say you have faith, prove it.
C. Note the statement in verse 14, “Can faith save him?”
It may be better understood as “Cath that faith save him?
The reference is to that false, fruitless faith James had just described.
2. James’s theme is that true faith is alive.
- This is another difficult area of the epistle.
James seems to have been dramatising here, as he often did in this epistle.
He felt so certain of what he was saying about faith and works that he saw an imaginary man rising in support of what he had been saying.
This man turned to the one in the assembly who made a profession of faith and did not prove it by works.
This may have been the man James described in the preceding illustration, who had said to the cold and hungry, in verse 2:16 “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do?
With righteous indignation, the first man burst out, “You hypocrite! Of what use are your long prayers, of what use is your profession of faith, since you just had the opportunity to practice it and failed to do so?”
B. What is the principle here?
Faith is something that dwells in the deepest recesses of our heart, and only God can see it.
Others can only see the outward appearance.
But if there is deep faith in the heart, it cannot but manifest itself in outward expression.
Faith and works are the two feet with which we walk with Christ, one without the other produces a spiritual cripple.
C. James shows a bit of sanctified wit in verse 19.
In spite of the fact that demons are afraid of God, they do not obey Him.
Fear can never inspire obedience that pleases God.
Much so called religion today is prompted by slavish fear.
If we try to obey and serve God out of this kind of fear, our obedience and service will never be accepted.
3. James said that true faith produces obedience.
- James was not teaching that Abraham’s justification or acquittal before God depended on his works to the exclusion of his faith.
He was not even saying that his justification depended on works in addition to faith.
He was saying that one’s justification before God is simply by faith, but it is the kind of faith that moves the heart and regulates the life, it is a faith that does not lie dormant but manifests itself in active obedience.
B. For his second illustration, James chose Rahab, who was as far removed from Abraham, as night is from day.
James insisted that her experience with God teaches the same lesson as that taught by Abraham’s experience.
Just as the body without the life giving spirit is dead, so to is faith, which is a mere shell of profession if it is void of fruit.
This kind of fruitless faith brings no glory to God and yields no benefit to the person who has it.
What James was saying is that the union between faith and works is as close as the union between body and soul.
Until next time
Stay in the Blessings
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