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8 Developing A Dynamic Faith James 2:14-26

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Developing A Dynamic Faith James 2:14-26 Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/developing-a-dynamic-faith-tim-bond-sermon-on-faith-49446.asp

Developing A Dynamic Faith James 2:14-26 Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/developing-a-dynamic-faith-tim-bond-sermon-on-faith-49446.asp

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  • 1. Developing A Dynamic Faith James 2:14-26 Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/developing- a-dynamic-faith-tim-bond-sermon-on-faith-49446.asp
  • 2. James 2:14 NET What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm and eat well," but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it?
  • 3. 17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that — and tremble with fear.
  • 4. 20 But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness," (Genesis 15:6) and he was called God's friend.
  • 5. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
  • 6. Over the centuries, the human race has passed along a lot of wisdom from generation to generation. “Wise old sayings” are a part of everyday life, and we use them without thinking. “A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.” Lots of great insights into life have passed through the centuries this way.
  • 7. Now I want to ask you a question. Which old adage offers the best council about life in general? A. “Look before you leap.” B. “He who hesitates is lost.” Do you think A. is in general the best choice for a philosophy to live your life by? Do you think B. is in general the best choice for a philosophy to live your life by? I’m sure we have some division among the group. Wouldn’t you say, “It depends.”
  • 8. It is interesting, isn’t it. Two exactly opposite adages, yet it really does depend. If you were speaking to a group of cliff divers, you might want to remind them of the adage “Look before you leap.” If you were talking to a farmer whose harvesting equipment is broken at planting time, you might need to remind him, “He who hesitates is lost.” There is some tension between these two ideals.
  • 9. In the Bible there are also opposing concepts that have a tension between them. It doesn’t make either of them not true, it simply means they are speaking to different situations. Proverbs 26:4 NET Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you yourself also be like him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own estimation. Two statements that seem to contradict but are both true, depending on their application.
  • 10. Now it’s not too hard to overlook the tension between old adages and even a proverb about how to answer a foolish person, but it is not always so easy to overlook the situation when it strikes at the core of the faith. You cannot ignore the issue when it is something as fundamental as salvation.
  • 11. But some have tried to say that there is the same kind of tension between whether we are saved by faith or we are saved by what we do (works). They say that there is some disagreement between Paul who wrote Romans and James who wrote the letter we are studying. Paul writes For we consider that a person is declared righteous by faith apart from the works of the law. Romans 3:28 NET
  • 12. Paul says that a person is made right with God, by faith. It is a cornerstone of Christianity that if we are to have a relationship with God, it must be based on faith and trust in Him. Then we read in James 2:24, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Now over the years some people have said that what Paul wrote and what James wrote contradict one another and they can’t both be true.
  • 13. Martin Luther found a solution to the problem. When he read Romans 3:28 he wrote in the margin of his Bible “Sola Fide” which means “Faith Only.” (Latin: by faith alone) On the other side he said that James shouldn’t be part of the Bible. There are many Christians who have followed Martin Luther, not by throwing James out of the Bible, but by saying we are saved by “Faith Only.”
  • 14. Much of Christianity believes Paul and ignores James, when in reality both James and Paul are looking at the same thing from two different sides of the coin. Paul is saying “You can’t work your way to heaven, it takes faith to please God.” James is saying, “You have to have faith to please God, but the only faith that is pleasing to God is faith that does something.” God wants you to have a dynamic faith, not a dead faith!
  • 15. Did you notice Paul adds 3 words in Romans 3:28 that lets us see it in a different light. “works of the law” Let’s get a clarification on just what Paul is writing about here. Romans 3:19 NET Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
  • 16. 20 For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. In looking at the rest of this chapter in Romans it becomes clear Paul is teaching that in Jesus, we gentiles & all mankind, are not bound to the law, but faith in Christ.
  • 17. He ends that chapter with this statement: Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! Instead we uphold the law. Romans 3:31 NET Our faith should drive us to do good works & have proper interaction with God & mankind just as the law commanded. Do you realize on the great judgment day we will be judged by what we’ve done?
  • 18. Matthew 16:27 NET For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 2 Corinthians 5:10 NET For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil.
  • 19. Revelation 20:12 NET And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened — the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each one was judged according to his deeds.
  • 20. Does this fact not make you pause & reflect? If Christ were to return today how will you be judged? Has your faith in Him driven you to actively do good works? Let’s spend a little bit of time digging into what James has to say. The passage breaks down like this: -vv. 14-18 James describes Dead Faith - v. 19 James explains Demonic Faith - vv. 20-26 James points to Dynamic Faith
  • 21. Dead Faith 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm and eat well," but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it?
  • 22. 17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works. When James is defining the different types of faith, the easiest one to define is the dead faith. It is a faith that thinks “everything’s okay.”
  • 23. It is faith that says, “I believe in God,” but never thinks about how that might affect the way I live. He didn’t have to look far to find an example of dead faith. You notice what is going on here. A Christian is standing arm in arm with another Christian. They are talking. The one Christian doesn’t have any clothes and is starving. The other Christian gives a standard good bye. “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well.”
  • 24. It’s kind of like one of those “What’s wrong with this picture” illustrations. Everybody can see it. Everybody knows that Christians are supposed to take care of others, especially other Christians. Everybody understands that you aren’t supposed to say something with your mouth that you don’t mean, or that you have no intention of doing something about.
  • 25. What has happened is that the one who ignores the need of others has taken the name of Christ, but failed to adopt the character of Christ. Often they have said, “I want the benefits of being a Christian, but I don’t want any responsibility that comes with it.” James says, “It doesn’t work that way. If you have faith, it changes you through and through.”
  • 26. Dead faith is the kind that is nothing more than words on your lips. It is a statement of faith without a lifestyle of faith. What James is warning us about here is this kind of faith is no faith at all. Don’t be content with dead faith.
  • 27. Demonic Faith Just to shock his readers, James really throws them a curve ball in v. 19 You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that — and tremble with fear. He says “You have the right belief about God, well isn’t that great. You are in the same ballpark with the demons except they are one notch better than you. Their belief affects them. At least they tremble with fear.”
  • 28. Have you ever gotten scared just by thinking about something? Have you ever been sitting around the campfire when someone was telling a scary story. Just as the story was getting good and the storyteller’s voice gets real soft, then BOOO! They send a shudder down your spine and you jump. What do you think makes for a scary story to demons? It is something about God. Read the book of Revelation to them.
  • 29. Revelation 20:7 NET Now when the thousand years are finished, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to bring them together for the battle. They are as numerous as the grains of sand in the sea. 9 They went up on the broad plain of the earth and encircled the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and devoured them completely.
  • 30. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever. As Christians we are going to cheer as God triumphs over evil when Satan and the demons are thrown into the lake of fire to suffer for eternity. But that is not a good story for demons.
  • 31. When you read through the gospel accounts of Jesus time on earth, whenever he encountered demons they screamed out who he was. Jesus always told them to shut up, he didn’t need their testimony but they knew Him, they obeyed his command. Demonic faith is the faith that believes in the existence of God, and that belief affects the emotions but not the will.
  • 32. James says if you have dead faith, even the demons are one up on you. They believe…and tremble with fear. If your faith is dead, quite honestly you ought to be scared to death that the ones whose eternal destiny is hell are affected more by their belief in God than you are.
  • 33. Dynamic faith James gives two illustrations of people of faith that lived their life according to what they believed about God. The Odd Couple Abraham & Rahab
  • 34. Abraham 20 But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works.
  • 35. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness," (Genesis 15:6) and he was called God's friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. You’re familiar with the story. God promised Abram and Sarai that if they followed Him they would have a child that would be the father of a great nation.
  • 36. Abram waited and waited and waited until he was 100 and Sarai was 90 for the promised child. Finally amidst laughter and I’m sure a few tears, the child of promise comes. It was a miracle of God for those two Senior Saints to have a child born to them. But an incredible thing happens. Now that they have traded in their walkers for a baby carriage and put away the Ben Gay for diaper rash ointment, God tells Abraham to do something outrageous.
  • 37. God speaks to Abraham and tells him to sacrifice Isaac on the altar. Literally that meant to offer him up like a bull or a sheep in that sacrificial system. To kill him on a stone altar. Abraham loads up the stuff, travels with his only son to the place God shows him to build the altar and with every ounce of energy he can muster he raises the knife to be obedient to God.
  • 38. God stops the sacrifice and provides a ram for an offering. Abraham proves he is totally submissive to God “and it was counted to him for righteousness.” In other words, Abraham was justified by his willingness to trust God implicitly. The book of Hebrews says that Abraham had enough faith in God that he was sure that God would raise Isaac from the dead if that was necessary. His faith resulted in obedient actions.
  • 39. Rahab 25 And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? On the opposite end of the social scale was Rahab. Abraham is the most respected person in all the history of Israel. Rahab is not very high on the scale.
  • 40. She was not an Israelite, but a member of a pagan nation that God commanded Israel to wipe out. She wasn’t even wealthy like Abraham. She was a prostitute, financially and morally she was a poor person. But when the spies went into the land to scope out what they would face when they were going to try to conquer it, Rahab was there to help them, to hide them from their enemies.
  • 41. In the end, Rahab was saved from the destruction of the city. James says that in God’s eyes, Rahab was justified by what she did. As James concludes his discussion about faith, he ends with an image that he wants to plant in your mind. 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James wants you looking at a dead body when you are thinking about a dead faith.
  • 42. Some years back the Chinese dictator Mao Zedong died. After he died some of the Chinese leadership was afraid of what would happen to this nation without their legendary leader. They called in his personal doctor to do an impossible task. They wanted the chairman’s body permanently preserved. The doctor didn’t want to do it.
  • 43. He had seen the dried up shrunken remains of Lenin & Stalin in USSR. He was a doctor. He knew that a body with no life in it is doomed to rot. But he had his commands. Twenty-two liters of formaldehyde were pumped into the dead chairman’s body. The result was horrifying. Mao’s face swelled up like a ball, and his neck was as thick as his head.
  • 44. The pressure of the fluid in his body caused his ears to stick out at right angles and the chemical oozed from his pores. A team of embalmers worked 5 hours with towels and cotton balls to force the liquids down into the body. Finally the face looked normal, but the chest was so swollen that the jacket had to be slit in the back and his swollen body was covered with the red Communist Party flag. It’s pretty sickening, isn’t it?
  • 45. There is absolutely nothing natural about a dead body. I have been to a lot of funerals and I have seen many dead bodies. You can put make-up on them. You can fix their hair and dress them up in the best clothes money can buy, but there is something unnatural about a body with no life.
  • 46. There are people who have dead faith & try to give the appearance of life. They go to church a few times. Sometimes they will place a Bible on the coffee table and dust it off every once in a while. There's one guy who carries one around in his car as a kind of “good luck charm.”
  • 47. Some people if they are asked about their faith will pull out their baptismal certificate as if that is their “Get out of hell free” card. But there is nothing natural about a faith that doesn’t affect the way you live. Is your faith better described as dead or dynamic? Let me give you a few ways to check your spiritual vital signs.
  • 48. 1. How do you feel about worship? Is it something that is a priority with you, or is it an insignificant ritual that you just go through because you know you should? 2. What kind of thoughts and goals do you have for life? When you think about the things you would like to do for the next year, 5, 10, are you at the center, or are other people and God in the middle?
  • 49. 3. How do you feel about giving? Is it a painful experience, or are you the cheerful giver Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians? 4. How often do you study the Bible? Is it something that gets no attention in your life, or are you actively pursuing a greater knowledge of God and his will for your life?
  • 50. 5. Lyrics of a song by the Christian music group Acappella makes me think. Everybody said that anybody could do. The important things somebody should do. Everybody knows that anybody could do. All the good things that nobody did. Everybody knows of a task, service, ministry, things God needs Somebody to do, things Anybody could do, but Nobody does. Are you Somebody, Anybody, or Nobody?
  • 51. Billy Graham had this to say about faith and works and their relationship to each other: There really is no conflict between faith and works. In the Christian life they go together like inhaling and exhaling. Faith is taking the Gospel in; works is taking the Gospel out. Actually, what James is saying is: you can't have one without the other.
  • 52. The church is too often populated with Spiritual Zombies, people who think they are living by faith, but who know nothing about what it means to be excited and challenged by the joy of dynamic faith. People outside the church recognize that and it keeps them from wanting to become a part of what they view as a sanctified costume party where people dress up and talk like they have faith, but they don’t do anything that looks like trusting Jesus.
  • 53. When Jesus called out to the men that he had chosen to be his disciples, he said, “Come, follow me.” At that point the choice whether to follow Jesus or not rested on the disciples’ decision whether they trusted Jesus or not. If they hadn’t trusted him fully, they might have said, “Sure Jesus, I’ll follow you!” and then gone about their daily routine, completely unchanged. If that had been the case, that kind of lip service would have been what James terms “dead faith.”
  • 54. But instead of that kind of empty profession of faith, the disciples walked with Jesus daily, wherever he went. They learned from Him, grew in their knowledge of Him, and sought to obey Him every day. As a result of their faith they were even willing to die instead of renounce Him.
  • 55. They did that because they trusted that even if somebody took their physical life away, Jesus would hold for them a life that nobody could take away. He gives us that opportunity for life by sacrificing His life on a cross. He accepted the punishment for our sin, and then He called out to us, “Come, follow me.” Now the question rests with you. Do you trust Him?