Title: THE PROOF OF FAITH
Text: James 2:14-26
The lady flying through the air on the trapeze is in a sad shape of affairs if she does not have faith in the man that will catch her when she makes her leap. If during the show all she does is stay on her platform on her side, the audience will wonder two things: Is she afraid? and Does she not trust the man on the other side to catch her? They will never know whether she is an artist in the air until she makes her flying leap.
Think again with me who the author of this book is and what were his circumstances prior to writing it. It’s James, the half-brother of the Lord. He was a doubter in the proclaims of Jesus until he witnessed the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 15:7). Once he was convinced that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, he made the personal plunge into the cleansing fountain and became a leader in the Jerusalem church. He had sat on the sidelines watching, but once the faith was real, he got into the game. God honored it and used him greatly.
Ergo: it makes sense that James would write, “Faith without works (expression) is dead.” Read Text. To James, he cannot stand a profession without expression of it. There’s nothing more dangerous than to experience an emotional encounter with the Lord and not attempt to put it into action.
1. Many people have thought that the Apostle Paul and James were in opposition to one another in their stands on faith and works. What is the difference in their positions concerning faith and works? (Paul: Man is saved by faith alone and cannot earn his salvation by any works. Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 2:15-16 Paul is not in opposition to James because Paul’s position on faith is talking about the beginning of the Christian walk, when someone becomes saved. James’ position on faith centers on what you do after you are saved, and therefore your works are the evidence that your faith is alive.)
2. Can you think of any other place in the Bible where James’ position is taught elsewhere? (Matt. 3:8; 5:16; Abraham with Isaac; Rahab with the spies).
3. Even Paul did not contradict James’ stand on the importance of works. Examine the following Scriptures and explain how Paul agrees with James’ position. Rom. 2:5-6; 1 Cor. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:10 (In this Paul and James agree: acceptance of faith without allowing it to have any influence upon life is a dead faith.)
4. Can works save a man? Eph. 2:8-9
5. Has a man’s faith saved him if it produces no evidence of belief? Is a man’s Christianity alive if he does not prove it by faith-based deeds? What are some genuine expressions that show your faith is alive?
6. Can a man earn or deserve the forgiveness of God?
7. What is the whole point of the illustration of the hungry brother who comes asking for food? (Sympathy without practical steps to help someone in need is about as dead as faith without works.)
8. Is it a serious thing to be prompted in your heart by the Lord to do something and not follow through with action? Ja. 4:17; Lk. 12:47-48
9. What different argument is presented in Ja. 2:18? (Someone might argue that faith and works are alternative choices of expression of Christianity; that it is either faith or works.)
10. How does James correct this view? (It is only through deeds that faith can be proven alive; and…it is only through faith that deeds will be attempted and done. Illus. – Row boat & oars painted “faith” and “works.”)
11. Will intellectual faith, without any demonstration of it, save a man? How does James prove this point? (2:19 Demons have intellectual faith; they know Jesus is who He says He is. In fact, they tremble before Him, but their faith does not alter them in the slightest.)
12. In illustration, what did Abraham do that proved his faith? (He was willing to sacrifice Isaac at God’s command.) Heb. 11:17-19 How does your faith compare to Abraham’s?
13. What did Rahab do that proved her faith? (She hid the spies at the risk of her own life in order to identify with Israel and God.)
It’s time to take a personal evaluation. Just because we are not going to answer these questions out loud doesn’t mean you don’t have to seriously consider them. For your own benefit, answer them as if you were before God.
1. Are your deeds consistent with your faith?
2. Is there anything the Lord has prompted you to do lately that you have not followed through on? Would He still like you to act on that prompting?
3. Is your faith visible to others? How can you show your faith without showing a “holier than thou” attitude?
4. Has your faith in Christ made a difference in the way you treat people? How would your family answer that for you?