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James 2:14-26 – Faith and Works Go Together

December 26, 2008

Intro: Luther 95 theses: Catholics taught saved by faith plus works…Luther stated James is an epistle of straw…why would he say this? See Romans 4:1-5
–Do James and Paul contradict each other? NO, we’ll see exactly what James is talking about as we go thru passage. Paul is talking about being made right w/ God. James is talking about something a little different.
–James 1 is about not to just be hearers but doers of the word…and warns about hearing and not acting on it…it’s futile and dangerous…it leads to self deception about what you are really like…Cf ‘looks at himself in a mirror, walks away and forgets what he looks like.”
–also talked about place of trials in believers lives that God uses to strengthen their faith…what happens if you encounter trials and inactivity/indifference results…then in it’s not the saving faith of the bible cf. Matthew 13 the parable of the sower…when persecution/trials came, the crop withered away

-vs 14 – 2 questions that both expect no as an answer
-focus is on ‘says’…how relevant in our churches and members…people all the time say they have faith and for us that is the stopping ground from further inquiry about their membership, salvation, etc Illust. church interview…I wanted to interview perspective members about the gospel, was angrily encountered, yet ironically they were interviewing me about my faith, character, etc..!!!
– what kind of works? what type is James looking for? gives example in vs 15, 16
vs 15,16 – is a cop –out disguised in religious, beneficial overtones….Give examples of how the church does this today
-it’s not that they ignored him; they just thought there words were enough…cf. to word faith people…cf to church sitting around talking about the problem but not forming a plan of action to make a change for God’s glory….”if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” Note: God is not just concerned about the spiritual—this is sheer error!…these here that James rebukes is the same mindset in churches that if we are faithful in spiritual aspects although it never shows thru in the physical realm, were not really all that bad….this is subjective, mystical religion and is not biblical Christianity…Recall Gen 1:1 – God made the physical also!
— Substitutes words for deeds—this no good/benefit to it
17- so – is a conclusion based on the aforementioned data… Faith Works by John MacArthur
-illustr – lady witnessed to in Louisville…”I believe in Jesus”… but had not fruit of a changed life…James said the x life is not just internal but it also spills over…it’s measurable….let’s assumed you are weighed in the balance individually/church-wise are you found lacking?
-danger of DEAD ORTHODOXY – we have it in Baptist churches, among conservatives!. CF Nicodemus – how orthodox, conservative was he? Yet he wasn’t saved/changed
Vs 18 – introduces outside testimony/objector who says that faith and works can be separated; someone points out the other’s ‘faith’ and the same person points out my works. What does James say to this?
-note: show me: Grk – not to just display, but carries idea of demonstrating thru logic or acts as opposed to simply putting something on dispay….in other words, show me the connection between your professed life and your outward life…you have to show in a legal presentation of evidence the connection and support it with biblical evidence – not escaping thru circumstances/blameshifting – cf Adam/Eve in Garden- blameshifting, focused on circumstances—Lord didn’t accept their excuses
–ref. Gal. 5:6-faith working thru love
vs 19- what all do the demons know? who God is, what Christ done, how a person is saved, the coming judgment…note the intellectual and emotional aspects…..so what is saving faith then?
-3 aspects of saving faith – knowledge, assent (this where demons are and a lot of church members), trust/commit to the truth; acting on it…..Illustr of chair…also because of its beauty/inherent worth! Faith leads to change …NO change, no Jesus…2 Cor 5:17
Vs 20 – do you need evidence that faith and works are inseparable?  How foolish (empty, defective) can you be in light of the clear teaching of Scripture? You best leave your church’s tradition, what you’ve observed in others, what you feel you’ve experienced, anything that is influencing your thought about the faith/works other than revealed scripture

–vs 21 – 26 You could not find two more different persons!
a. Abraham was the father of the Jews; Rahab was a Gentile!
b. Abraham was a godly man; Rahab had been a sinful woman, a
harlot!
c. Abraham was the friend of God; Rahab had belonged to the
enemies of God!

vs 21- see when Abraham is called God’s friend….live what you believe about who God is…James says if you don’t act you are a FRIEND! of this world- 4:4 Reference John 15:14, 15 -friend of God – 2 Chron. 20:7—Jesus: “you are my friends if you do what I command you.” John

-justified can mean ‘to declare or show to be righteous”  Paul uses it in judicial sense in a legal declaration of righteousness….James uses it in the sense of proof or show it to be true by fruit
vs 22- completed – brought to maturity; Abe’s faith was full grown when he was willing to offer up Isaac the promised seed; his faith had reached its goal in his life – pure obedience and trust in the Lord that resulted in fruitful action/worship   cf. Gen 22:12 – “for now I know that you fear God”
vs 23- fulfilled – to make full; cf OT prophecy like an empty balllon; can’t really tell all what is on the outside as far as words or shape of it but when it’s blown up or made full you can see what it really is!
we are saved by faith alone, but it never remains alone-works always follow genuine faith…James also knows the danger of the other side….works w/out faith doesn’t save….just as the body w/out the spirit is dead, so faith w/out works is also dead…must have the two together…you can’t separate them
24 – James draws a contrast between static (one time) faith and the living dynamic faith walk of perseverance of biblical faith….a faith that doesn’t persevere in pursuing trust in the Lord is DEAD! Not start, then stop a couple of years.
–justified can also mean to ‘show as’ righteous  cf. Paul’s forensic –onece for all focus..we overtly today focused on the Pauline thought to the exclusion of James…today you have to in evangelism get people unsaved! Explain! People with this kind of faith:
1) Know the correct vocabulary for prayer and sound doctrine  But their “walk” does not measure up to their “talk”!  only an INTELLECTUAL faith  fideism…or faith in the sense of belonging to the local social club…..Any declaration of faith that does not result in a changed life and good works is a false declaration:  A DEAD FAITH

vs 25 – Rahab – gentile, woman, no named town, prostitute (in line of Messiah though!) –she had heard and believed the words/deeds of YHWH –not fideism (faith in the abstract) but ground in time/space history reality….see God has not only spoken but acted—cf. the historical resurrection!! Her faith like Abraham’s involved great personal risk and willing sacrifice to follow/obey YHWH! What about you? Your church? Does the world recongnize your sacrifice, do they see it? Or is Christianity/church as usual? Real faith acts, it doesn’t wait on others. Rahab didn’t!!
vs 26 – summary… just as body isn’t alive without spirit, neither is faith without works…It’s like trying to convince people a corpse is alive when the spirit is already left to try and convince others and God that you have saving faith when it has made no lifelong difference/daily difference in your life, your church’s or your community/world’s!!
Dynamic faith involves the WHOLE MAN
a. DEAD faith touches only the intellect
b. DEMONIC faith involves both the mind and the emotions
c. DYNAMIC faith involves the intellect, the emotions, AND the
WILL!
1) The MIND understands the truth
2) The HEART desires and rejoices in the truth
3) The WILL acts upon the truth
3. True, saving faith, then, LEADS TO ACTION
a. It is not intellectual contemplation
b. It is not emotionalism
c. It is that which leads to obedience in doing good works
Faith without works is abstract, ethereal…not grounded in a vital, real relationship
— Conclusion: Ephesians 2:8-10

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