James in so many words is challenging believers in Christ in our passage today with some very direct statements concerning our FAITH!
TWO QUESTIONS are posed for us to consider and they demand to be answered in our lives!
1. What use is faith with no works?
2. Can THAT faith save?
We are looking at the Nature of faith… not the question of salvation!
Illustrated by Empty Words…
· Verse 15-16 giving spiritual words without action…
· James is not the only one teaching this in scripture…
· Jesus… Jesus addresses those who give lip service…
o Later He talks about those who clothe, feed & visit the needy and forsaken
o He was not implying that the deeds of faith are effective for salvation. Rather, the deeds of faith demonstrate the validity of the claim to be a believer; without them the claim is empty or “dead”—but more importantly, without deeds the needy do not receive help.
· Consider what John had to say about this…
A Complacent Faith is seen in verse 18
· Content to have faith with no works… easier
· God is truly the only one who can see the heart
· Man is limited to seeing only actions….
o Paul is arguing for our faith to change the way we live!
o Paul is adamant about how he teaches GRACE, salvation by faith
o BUT James and Paul are not two opposing views…
§ W.H. Griffith Thomas stated this… “It has been well said that St. Paul and St. James are not soldiers of different armies fighting against each other, but soldiers of the same army fighting back to back against enemies coming from opposite directions!”
· Our faith should not create complacency but rather spur us to action!
Just as dangerous is The Delusion of Knowledge of Faith
· Be very careful to just talk the talk… we need to walk the walk!
· Intellectual faith is dangerous… it takes faith away from the heart
· Impeccable theology can give us an excuse to abstain from work…
· The demons have impeccable knowledge of God
o Yet there is a difference between the man and the demons… they shudder!
o BUT the dead intellectual faith of the man produces nothing
· To this man James ask… verse 20 are you willing to recognize your foolishness?
Verses 17 / 20 / 26 … that faith is dead, useless, lacking substantial life.
Can a faith that is empty, complacent, and intellectual save?
James give us Two Great Examples of saving faith
o A Jew, Father of the Nation of Israel
o Justified= showed to be right (with God)
o When he offered Isaac (Action showed the faith Abraham had!)
· Rahab: a gentile harlot, woman
· Justified= showed to be right with God
James is not saying that salvation comes as a result of our works, rather the works come a result of genuine faith!
· Our faith should produce evidence
· My sons behave a certain way because they are my boys in my home
o Their actions do not make them my sons, being my sons determine their actions
o If we say we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, why doesn’t your life show it?
§ It is a fair question and a penetrating one…
What does the evidence say about the claims you have concerning your faith?
[i] Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.