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The Only Kind Of Faith That Works Is Faith That Works (James 2:14-26) [Bible Study Slideshow]

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James 2:14-26 Bible Study. "Faith" that does not produce works -- acts of godly obedience and mercy -- is not true faith at all. There is a difference between believing *that* Jesus is Lord and believing *in* Jesus as Lord

First presented by Danny Scotton Jr on 1.9.19 at Alpha Baptist Church in Willingboro, NJ

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The Only Kind Of Faith That Works Is Faith That Works (James 2:14-26) [Bible Study Slideshow]

  1. 1. THE ONLY KIND OF FAITH THAT WORKS, IS FAITH THAT WORKS JAMES 2:14-26 BIBLE STUDY 1.9.19 DANNY SCOTTON JR. ALPHA BAPTIST CHURCH TO DOWNLOAD, PLEASE VISIT CATCHFORCHRIST.NET OR HTTP://BIT.LY/C4C-FAITH-AND-WORKS
  2. 2. CAN YOU DO ME A FAVOR? • Ever do a favor for someone, but the next time you see them, they act like they don’t know you? • Have you ever given so much of yourself to others, but when you want others to give of themselves to you, no one is anywhere to be found? • Don’t you think people respond appropriately?
  3. 3. ANCIENT GIFTS HAD STRINGS ATTACHED • In the 1st century Greco-Roman world, there was a complex system of patronage. • Wealthy, powerful patrons would do such favors for clients who were in need. This unmerited favor was called charis (χάρις) (like charity) – which is translated “grace” • Clients were to respond with faith(fulness) — gratitude, public praise, readiness to help the patron, and loyalty. This was called pistis (πίστις) – which is translated “faith” or “faithfulness,” etc. • NT: In response to the grace (charis) of God (Patron) through Jesus Christ, we (clients) should respond with faithfulness (pistis) (all points from Richards and O’Brien, 83).
  4. 4. OUR FATHER GOD: THE ULTIMATE PATRON • Every good and perfect gift comes from God (Jas 1:17) • He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt 5:45b, NIV) • Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” 36 For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (Rom 11:35-36, NIV) • All of God’s commands come after His grace (e.g., Israel given the Ten Commandments after God graciously brought them out of Egypt) (above points from Simmons, 289). • Faithfulness to God is the appropriate response to His Grace
  5. 5. DO YOU KNOW HIM? • Where was Barack Obama born? (Hawaii) • What number president is Barack Obama? (44) • Where did Barack Obama serve as a senator? (Illinois) • We might know a lot about President Obama. But how many of us actually know Barack Obama personally? • We might know a lot about God. But how many of us actually know God personally? • How can we ask and take advantage of God’s favor, and then act like we don’t know Him? • The way we have a relationship with God is to respond to God’s grace through faith(fulness) in Christ
  6. 6. FAITH: IT’S WHAT WE DO • 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes [πιστεύω (pisteuō)] in him shall not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16, NIV) • Faith (noun) = pistis; Believe (verb) = pisteuō • NT: Verb occurs 241 times; noun occurs 243 times • Lit: whoever faiths in him shall not perish but have eternal life
  7. 7. BELIEF THAT VS. BELIEF IN • How many people believe that a bulletproof vest can stop a bullet? • How many people would wear a bulletproof vest and let someone shoot them? • “It’s one thing to believe that the vest can save a life; it’s another thing to trust it to save your own life” (Wallace). • It’s one thing to believe that Jesus can save a life; it’s another thing to trust (i.e., faith) Him to save your own life • Belief that = intellectual agreement; Belief in = active trust
  8. 8. JAMES: BE DOERS OF THE WORD • Throughout, James stresses how “genuine faith must be put into practice” (Stulac). • Possible outline (Stulac): • James 1:1-18 Maintaining faith in the midst of trials • James 1:19-27 Putting faith into practice by being doers of the word • James 2:1-13 An example of practicing one’s faith: impartiality [concerning wealthy members] • 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (Jas 1:2-3, NIV) • Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (Jas 1:22, NIV) • There is a unity between faith and actions (Stulac)
  9. 9. CAN FAKE “FAITH” SAVE? • What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have "faith" but does not have works? Can such "faith" save them? (Jas 2:14, author’s translation moving forward) • KJV: can faith save him? NRSV: can faith save you? ESV, NASB: can that faith save him? NIV: such faith (the presence of the Greek definite article indicates that James is talking about the previously mentioned “faith”) (Black, 77; Moo 104) • How can someone claim to have faithfulness if they do not act faithfully? • Works: generally, “anything done that is in obedience to God and in the service of God.” (Moo, 122; cf. Motyer, 109, McKnight, 228; McCartney, 156, etc.) • Rhetorical: Does a fire produce heat? Does working faith work? Does workless faith work? • Save: final deliverance from judgment on the last day (Moo, 104 cf. Jas 2:13, 5:20; McKnight, 229 cf. Jas 4:12, etc.)
  10. 10. JAMES: A RAPPIN’ PREACHER? • 1st century: letters were written to be read out loud. James’ letter may have originally been a sermon (Motyer, 105) • Statement: I have a lot more money than you • Provocative illustration: my money is longer than a politician’s nose • Like a rapper, James uses poetic structure, provocative illustrations, wordplay, and a refrain (a hook) • Never let a (A) fool kiss (B) you • or a (B’) kiss fool (A’) you • Chiastic (chi = χ) structure. Christ = Χριστός (Christos). Christmas = Xmas
  11. 11. THE ONLY KIND OF FAITH THAT WORKS, IS FAITH THAT WORKS • A) James 2:15-17 • Workless “faith” does not work for people in need (e.g., the needs of the needy aren’t met) (15-16) • Summary (refrain): “faith” without works is dead (17) • B) James 2:18-20 • Workless “faith” does not work for justification before God (e.g., even demons believe that God exists) (18-20) • Summary (refrain): “faith” without works does not work (20) • B’) James 2:21-24 • Genuine faith does work for justification before God (e.g., Abraham believes in God; shows radical obedience) (21-23) • Summary (refrain): a person is justified by faith that works – not “faith” that does not work (24) • A’) James 2:25-26 • Genuine faith does work for people in need (e.g., Rahab aids the Israelite spies) (25) • Summary (refrain) : “faith” without works is dead (26) (Chiasm from Motyer, 108)
  12. 12. WORKLESS FAITH DOES NOT WORK FOR PEOPLE IN NEED (A) • If a brother or a sister is poorly dressed and lacking daily food 16 and one of you (all) says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm and well fed," but does not give them what is necessary for their body, what good is it? In the same way, also, “faith”, in itself, if it does not have works, is dead (Jas 2:15-17). • “Go in peace” was a “common Jewish form of greeting, farewell and blessing” that “also emphasizes confidence that a person’s wishes will be granted” (McKnight, 231 cf. 1 Sam 1:17). • It was sincere when accompanied by an act consistent with the well-wishes. This person offers the words of a blessing without the act of a blessing (Richardson, 130). • Could be saying (middle): Take care of yourself! Keep warm and well-fed! Could be saying (passive): May God warm you and feed you (Blomberg and Kamell, et. al., 131). • Religious talk without religious action (cf. Jas 1:27) • Either way, just as words without action does the person no good, “faith” without action does a person no good (Blomberg and Kamell, 131). Such faith cannot save (Nystrom, 147; McKnight, 232)
  13. 13. WORKLESS FAITH DOES NOT WORK FOR JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD (B) • But someone will say, “You [the opponent] have ‘faith’, and I [James] have works.” Show me your “faith” without works, and I will show you my faith by my works (Jas 2:18). • Scholars disagree about exactly how the first part of the verse should be translated. What seems most plausible is that someone (likely an imaginary objector cf. Keener) says that one person has faith and the other (James) has works – as if the two could be separated (Blomberg and Kamell, 134; cf. Stulac). • Opponent may think that faith and works are two separate options – as if Christians may have either but not necessarily both (cf. 1 Cor 12:7-10) (McKnight, 239; Moo, 108). • James essentially challenges him with the impossible: “show and prove” (cf. Moo (Pillar), 130). • How can someone demonstrate a “faith” that produces no demonstrative acts? (cf.
  14. 14. WORKLESS FAITH DOES NOT WORK FOR JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD (B) • You believe that God is one, you do well! Even the demons believe that – and shudder! (Jas 2:19) • The Jewish Shema is a confession of Jewish doctrine that is recited twice a day (Moo, 110). It’s Taken from Dt 6:4-5 and also Dt. 6:6-8, 11:13-21; Num 15:37-41 (also later it included the Ten Commandments) (McKnight, 240). • 4 Hear [‫ע‬ ַ‫מ‬ ָׁ‫ש‬ (šāmaʿ)], O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Dt. 6:4-5, NIV). Jesus says this is the most important command (Mk 12:29-30) • Demons believe that God is the one and only God. Demons even believe that Jesus is God • What do you want with us [demons], Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God! (Mk 1:24 cf. 3:11) (McKnight, 241, cf. Mk 5:7 Davids, 126). • Shuddering: at least the demons’ belief results in some action! (Moo, 110, etc.) • Believing that God exists is not the same as believing in God (cf. McCartney, 160) – active trust
  15. 15. WORKLESS FAITH DOES NOT WORK FOR JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD (B) • For salvation, correct doctrine is necessary but not sufficient (Davids, 126; Blomberg and Kamell, 135; Nystrom, 150.) • You believe that there is one God? So what? (Keener) • Oh, you want to know – you foolish [empty] person – that “faith” without works doesn’t work? [argos] (James 2:20 cf. McCartney, 161) • Theist = believes there is a god. Atheist = believes there is no god • A (“non-”) + ἔργον [ergon] (“work”)  ἀργός [argos] = not working, unproductive, useless (McKnight, 243; McCartney, 161; Blomberg and Kamell, 136 cf. BDAG) • Wordplay: “Faith” without works does not work (Moo, 111) • Workless “faith” is worthless “faith” (McKnight, 243)
  16. 16. GENUINE FAITH DOES WORK FOR JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD (B’) • 21 Was not Abraham, our father, justified by works having offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith was working together with his works, and by his works his faith was brought to maturity. And the Scripture was fulfilled, the one saying, "Abraham believed in God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God. • Abraham is the father of all Israel (and Christians cf. Rom 4:16- 17; Gal 3:7) and one of the most revered figures in Jewish history (Moo, 111 cf. Richardson, 138). • Abraham – the man of faith(fulness) – would serve as a(/the most?) powerful example (McKnight, 245)
  17. 17. GENUINE FAITH DOES WORK FOR JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD (B’) • He [Abraham] said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you (Gen 22:5, NIV cf. Heb 11:17-19) • “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together (Gen 22:7-8, NIV). • 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Gen 22:12, NIV) • 17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son [μονογενής (monogenēs)] (Heb 11:17, NIV) • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [monogenēs = unique, “of a single kind”] (Jn 3:16a, NIV).
  18. 18. GENUINE FAITH DOES WORK FOR JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD (B’) • The offering of Isaac was seen as Abraham’s greatest work (cf. Philo, Moo, 111; McCartney, 164); he demonstrates his faith with radical obedience. It’s a summary act of his faithful life (McKnight, 249- 50). • When Paul speaks of justification, he is talking about the initial act in which God declares a person righteous (i.e., not guilty) through their identification with Christ through faith and not by any work (Moo, 112) • For James and throughout the OT, righteousness refers to fidelity to God’s standards and is associated with the judgment on the last day. Not sinless behavior, but correct covenantal conduct (Moo, 114; McKnight, 246). • Paul and James both use Abraham and Gen 15:6 to make different theological points (Moo (Pillar), 138). 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6, NIV). • Paul stresses that, chronologically, it was true faith that resulted in Abraham being deemed righteous in God’s sight (cf. Rom 4:9-11). James stresses that, logically, such true faith necessarily entailed works.
  19. 19. GENUINE FAITH DOES WORK FOR JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD (B’) • You see that his faith was working together with his works, and by his works his faith was brought to maturity [τελειόω (teleioō)] (James 2:22 cf. Blomberg and Kamell, 137). • More wordplay; [συνεργέω (synergeō)] = work together with (Stulac) (like synergy) • Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature [teleioō (adj.)] and complete (Jas 1:4, NIV cf. 1 Jn 2:4, 4:12). • And the Scripture was fulfilled, the one saying, "Abraham believed in God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God. (Jas 2:23, cf. Gen 15:6, 2 Ch 20:7, Is 41:8) • Fulfilled = “[bring] to its ultimate significance” (Moo (Pillar), 138 (cf. Mt 5:17); “brought to perfection,” “full realization” (McKnight, 252). • 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by “faith” alone (Jas 2:24) • Works are those necessarily produced by true faith (Moo, 119); “faith” alone is the fake, workless faith
  20. 20. GENUINE FAITH DOES WORK FOR PEOPLE IN NEED (A’) • And also, in the same way, was not Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she welcomed the spies and sent them out a different way? (Jas 2:25 cf. Joshua 2) • Abraham was a man of wealth and prestige; Rahab was a lowly prostitute (Richardson, 142) • Merismus: uses two extremes to indicate everything in between (Blomberg and Kamell, 125) • E.g., In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). From the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same… (Ps 113:3) • Whether a patriarch or a prostitute (Moo, 121), one can and should have faith that works • She did not merely believe that “the LORD [had] given [the Israelites] [their] land” (Jos 2:9), but she believed in God by hiding the spies (Jos 2:2-6), and securing the protection of her family (Jos 2:12-14) • Could you imagine if Rahab said, “Gee I hope you all find a safe place to hide from the king?” (Stulac)
  21. 21. GENUINE FAITH DOES WORK FOR PEOPLE IN NEED (A’) • Just as the body without the spirit [or “breath”] is dead, so “faith” without works is dead (Jas 2:26) • If someone is not breathing, they are not alive • If “faith” is not working, it is not alive • "believing the truth without obeying the truth does not save us at all, any more than it saves demons" (Stulac) • If we call Jesus "Lord,” we are implying that we are his servants • How can we truly be His servants if we our not serving? • Jesus says, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Lk 6:46, NIV)
  22. 22. FAITH: IT’S WHAT WE DO • Paul says that, in Christ Jesus, what “counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal 5:6, NIV). • He also brackets his letter to the Romans by saying he has been sent to call all the Gentiles “to the obedience that comes from faith” (Rom 1:5; 16:26, NIV). • Paul warns that those who live by the works of the flesh won’t inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21, 1 Cor 6:9-11). • Jesus: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Mt 7:21, NIV) • Godly works are products (fruit) of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) (Moo, Pillar, 42); not just a human endeavor • Works: generally, “anything done that is in obedience to God and in the service of God.” (Moo, 122; cf. Motyer, 109, McKnight, 228; McCartney, 156, etc.) • NT: Faith is both a noun and a verb; we have to act like we know God. James is writing to a church! • Knowing about God vs. knowing God personally. Believe that vs. Believe in • We ought to respond to God’s amazing grace with genuine faithfulness
  23. 23. THE ONLY KIND OF FAITH THAT WORKS, IS FAITH THAT WORKS • A) James 2:15-17 • Workless “faith” does not work for people in need (e.g., the needs of the needy aren’t met) (15-16) • Summary (refrain): “faith” without works is dead (17) • B) James 2:18-20 • Workless “faith” does not work for justification before God (e.g., even demons believe that God exists) (18- 20) • Summary (refrain): “faith” without works does not work (20) • B’) James 2:21-24 • Genuine faith does work for justification before God (e.g., Abraham believes in God; shows radical obedience) (21-23) • Summary (refrain): a person is justified by faith that works – not “faith” that does not work (24) • A’) James 2:25-26 • Genuine faith does work for people in need (e.g., Rahab aids the Israelite spies) (25) • Summary (refrain): “faith” without works is dead (26) (Chiasm from Motyer, 108)
  24. 24. BIBLIOGRAPHY • Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. • Black, David Alan. It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998. • Blomberg, Craig L., and Mariam J. Kamell. James. Vol. 16. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. • Davids, Peter H. The Epistle of James: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982. • Davids, Peter H. “James.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 1354–68. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994. • Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. • Moo, Douglas J. James: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 16. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985. (The text appears identical but this is the version I cite) • Moo, Douglas J. The Letter of James. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000. • Motyer, J. A. The Message of James: The Tests of Faith. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985. • McCartney, Dan G. James. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009. • McKnight, Scot. The Letter of James. The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011. • Nystrom, David P. James. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997. • Richards, E. Randolph, and Brandon J. O’Brien. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012. • Richardson, Kurt A. James. Vol. 36. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997. • Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014. • Simmons, William A. Peoples of the New Testament World: An Illustrated Guide. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008. • Stulac, George M. James. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. • Wallace, J. Warner. Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2013.

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