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James 2_14-26 (Faith That Works)

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James 2:14-26 Faith That Works (11-1-09)

Faith is an interesting concept and God has a lot to say about it.

Heb 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (NCV)Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.”

Heb 11:6

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

 Eph 2:8-9

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.”

* A lot of people CLAIM to have faith.

A 2004 survey showed that 92% of Americans claim to believe in God.  92%!!

The Greek word for our English             CLAIM is “lego”. 

It is a Greek verb that has a variety of meanings depending upon its context.

It can mean “to say, speak, tell, to mention, to call, to affirm, to maintain, and to point out with words” ; just to name a few.

But in almost every case it refers to ‘the use of words to express something’; JUST WORDS!!

But what is it that makes a CLAIM a fact?

It will be the goal of today’s message to discover just that!

Dr. Warren Wiersbe points out three different kinds of faith in this passage.


James 2:14

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man CLAIMS to have faith but has no deeds?

Can such faith save him?”

James uses an illustration to show the uselessness of words without action.

James 2:15-16

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.

If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”

1.     The person in the illustration is a fellow believer.

In other words, he is reachable and connected to the observer through Christ.

(James eliminates any possible excuses. He can’t claim that he lives too far away; or that he doesn’t know about the situation; and he even implies that the observer has the resources to help.” 

2.     The physical needs of the fellow believer are obvious.

It’s not as though it was a secret.  I would expect other fellow believers are aware of the situation.

3.     The observer acknowledges the needs of his brother.

But instead of helping he becomes a “well-wisher”; a man with “good intentions”.

“Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed.”

Instead of saying, “Come in, I have clothes and food for you”, he says “Go”.

A similar situation might be praying for God to send clothes to someone when we have a closet full of our own.

Or praying for God to send food to a family in need when our pantry is full.

There is something grossly inconsistent about that.

Ill.  Story about a fire in the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Ill. In 2004.

Maybe we should stay here and pray!   Sometimes we need to act first and pray later.

4.     James says the observer “does nothing” to fulfill the physical needs of his brother.

So, saying the words, “I wish you well; keep warm and well fed” is the same as doing NOTHING!  We know this because James emphasizes, “What good is it?”

James 2:17

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”.

So, we can CLAIM to have faith that will move mountains; but if our FAITH is not accompanied by action, it is DEAD!!

Then James describes what we might call a DEMONIC FAITH!!

James 2:19

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-- and shudder.”

Demons believe in God; not only that, they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Luke 4:33-34 Jesus was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

“In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit.

He cried out at the top of his voice,

"Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?

I know who you are-- the Holy One of God!"

Matt 8:28-29 What we call the story of Legion.

“When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.

"What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted.

"Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"

Acts 19:13-16 My favorite illustration!

“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed.

They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out."

Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.

The evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?"

Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all.

 He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.”

You want to hear something scary?

Demons have a more accurate theology than many human beings!!

They believe in God the Father and the sovereignty of His Son, Jesus Christ.

They know Jesus has the power to destroy them.

They were expecting Him to do so at a later date; which is prophesied in Revelation.

And their understanding of the power of the Lord is evident in the way they feared Him.

* To reiterate; James wrote,

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-- and shudder.”

James appears to be saying, “Believing in God is good, but don’t pat yourself on the back because even the demons do that!”

Mere assent and acknowledgement that God exist does not constitute a saving faith.

Demons believe in God, yet they will be spending eternity in the Abyss reserved for the devil and his demons.

So what is the difference between the belief of the demons and the belief of the Christian?

It can be found in what we might call DYNAMIC FAITH!!

Read Hebrews 11 First!!

James 2:20-26

“You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?

Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.

You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”


* We can clearly see that a “complete faith” requires more than mere assent.

It requires trust, obedience, and action toward the purpose and will of God.

But what it cannot require is perfection.

Even though Abraham proved his faith when he offered his son Isaac at the altar; his faith faltered when he slept with his wife’s handmaiden and fathered Ishmael.

Even though Jacob was the father of the “twelve tribes of Israel” he cheated his brother out of his birth right.

Even though Moses was given “the ten commandments”, he still committed murder once.

And even though Rahab was a woman of faith who welcomed the spies of Joshua’s army, she was also a prostitute.

* Complete Faith is not a matter of perfection but it is a matter of action.


Back to the original question of the morning.

James 2:14

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?

Can such faith save him?”

If I claim to be a father, but don’t show it with my actions, I am nothing more than a man who has the ability to procreate.

If a man claims to be a husband, but doesn’t show evidence of it with his actions, he is nothing more than a man living under the same roof as a woman.

In the same way a person may CLAIM to have faith but if there is no evidence of it, can such a faith save him?

The answer to the question is obvious.

* So, what is the difference between a dead faith, a demonic faith, and a dynamic faith?

* The man with the dead faith responded with his intellect alone.

He claimed to have faith and based his claim on his belief that Jesus is the Son of God.

But James called a faith based on words a “dead faith”.

* The demons went a step further.

They knew without a doubt that Jesus was the son of God and that He could bring judgment on them at anytime He desired.

This confidence in the Lord motivated them to respond with their emotions.

The thought of Jesus bringing judgment on them made them “tremble”.

* But those with a dynamic faith are those who not only believe with their minds, and react with their emotions but they also respond with their will.

In other words, dynamic faith “does something about it”!

All those mentioned in God honor role of faith, did something about it.

When faith called for action, they responded.

They did what needed to be done.

That my friends, is a DYNAMIC FAITH!

Do you need to do something with your faith today?

Has it been sitting idle for a while?  Or perhaps a long, long time.

Is it time to “cowboy up” and put your faith into action?

If you are ready to make a real commitment to Christ today, we want to encourage you to do so, as together we stand and sing.

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