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James 2:1-26 Faith & Works

  FAITH & WORKS                       JAMES 2:14-26

BACKGROUND

Couplets: Horse & Carriage; Love & Marriage; Salt & Pepper; Come & Dine; Stew & Cornbread  FAITH & WORKS

James stresses three points about this spiritual couplet:

INQUIRY     ILLUSTRATION     INSISTENCE        INSTRUCTION

Following v.13 which stresses the importance of showing mercy.

I    INQUIRY (14)  What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 

James wrote to Christians from a Jewish background who knew freedom from works producing righteousness. But they then went to the other extreme of thinking that because salvation is by grace, then works didn't matter at all.

Is it possible to have a faith that produces no works?

Can this kind of faith save?   Is an inoperative faith genuine?

NOT ACCORDING TO GOD  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them  (Ephesians 2:10).

  

 APP:  The demonstration of a living faith is seen in loving action toward God and toward others. Good works may not come immediately after we exercise our faith in Christ, but they should come ultimately.

 

II   ILLUSTRATION (15-17If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 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? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

NON-PRODUCIVE FAITH   Be warmed and filled: James illustrates to his readers that just wishing someone well without putting any effort out to help them is not showing faith in action.

 What does it profit? Real faith puts forth its hands to help as well as comfort. If it doesn’t, then the faith is dead and useless.

 What are some marks of saving, profitable faith?

 It is faith that believes what Jesus did on the cross and in the tomb.

 It is faith that looks Jesus Christ, not self.

 It is faith that wants others to come to the same belief.

 It is faith that both hears the Word of God and does it.  Matt 7:24-27

 APP:  Professing your faith is just the beginning of our walk with the Lord. We must put feet to our faith in order to prove our faith.  Living faith produces loving action.

 

 

III  INSISTENCE (18-19)  But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble!

(18) How can faith be proven w/o works? Some might try to say that some have the "gift" of works and others have the "gift" of faith.  Real Faith Works.

James is clear and logical. We can't "see" someone's faith, but we can see his works. You can't see faith without works, but you can demonstrate faith by works.

Believing one in God is one thing. Even demons do that. But accepting in faith His Son as Savior is something entirely different.

 

APP: Faith & Works: Like a two-part ticket. Works alone isn’t good for passage, and faith detached from works is not genuine. While we are definitely saved by faith, not works, saving faith is defined as being profitable because it produces works

 

IV  INSTRUCTION (20-26)

4. (20-26) Abraham as an example of living faith.

 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Faith that cannot be tested cannot be proven. Faith devoid of works is dead.

JAMES GIVES TWO EXAMPLES OF FAITH PROVEN BY WORKS

(21-23) Abraham first had faith (Gen. 15:16), then put it to the test.(Gen 22)  Proving his faith showed his justification.  Abraham was so complete in his obedience that he counted Isaac as dead and set him on the altar.  Obedience showed he truly trusted God. A friend trusts his friend.

(24) Answers question in v. 14

(25) Rahab, a Gentile,  exercised her faith in God by harboring the spies.

 

CLOSING ARGUMENT (26) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also:

You can have a body with no life. It’s called “corpse” because it’s dead.  Similarly, you can have a faith with no life devoid of works. It is also called dead.

 

APP: James stresses that God intends for us to live by faith. That entails putting our faith to work in our lives.    A working faith is a productive, profitable faith.

 

WHEN PEROPLE SEE US, DO THEY SEE A PERSON OF FAITH OR A PRETENDER OF FAITH?