Apostle James on Faith with Works

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Apostle James on Faith with Works

  1. 1. James 2:14-26 Faith and Works
  2. 2. James 2:14-26 Some Bible teachers suggest that Paul and James disagree with each other about the place of faith and works in a person’s salvation. They don’t. In today’s text James did not attack Paul’s teaching that a Christian is saved by God’s grace. Instead he corrected what A. T. Robertson called “the ceremonial ritualism of the Pharisees.”
  3. 3. James 2:14-26 But James has to walk a fine line. He is writing primarily to Jewish Christians who cut their teeth on the law and its obedience. James could not deny that responsibility but had to reteach them how God viewed and used our works.
  4. 4. James 2:14-26 Israelites in Isaiah's day imagined they could be treacherous and disloyal as long as they offered worship to God. Many, though not all, Jews in James's day assumed they could be halfhearted and double minded as long as they attended synagogue and observed a few ceremonies.
  5. 5. James 2:14-26 Wrong priorities can ruin the character of a church. Straining at gnats by emphasizing merely formal observances such as church attendance is one way churches fail to produce genuine, Christ like people.
  6. 6. James 2:14-26 James’s readers struggled to reflect God’s mercy toward the poor (James 2:1–13, last week’s lesson). The readers’ faith in the God who graciously met their needs was not being expressed in their meeting the needs of others (compare 1 John 3:17, 18).
  7. 7. James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?
  8. 8. James 2:14 Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as truly “our Lord” benefits us and should also benefit others. If someone claims to have faith in Jesus, but a faith in Jesus that does not benefit others, he does not have true faith and his faith does not benefit anyone.
  9. 9. James 2:14 A traditional understanding of "works of the law" in Paul's teaching was that Jews were trying to earn salvation by merit. James was not talking about works as a sufficient basis to merit salvation. Many commentators have come to think "works of the law" means the idea that Jews are saved by being Jewish.
  10. 10. James 2:14 Isaiah said God was tired of the sacrifices and worship of false believers (lsa. 1:11-15). What God wanted was works of mercy, doing good (vs. 17). This is almost exactly the same message as in James 2.
  11. 11. James 2:15,16 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?
  12. 12. James 2:15,16 The Apostle Paul wrote, “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints” (Ephesians 1:15). True faith in Jesus as Lord results in “love toward all the saints” (that is, “all Christians”).
  13. 13. James 2:15,16 Whenever true Christians see a brother or sister in Christ who needs clothing or food or has other needs, Jesus has a plan for His followers to meet their needs. In faith, His followers will seek to follow His plans to benefit others.
  14. 14. James 2:15,16 James showed how unreasonable it is to say to a needy brother or sister in Christ, “keep warm and eat your fill,” when they have no clothes or food. A true faith in Jesus Christ will lead a true Christian to respond reasonably in love.
  15. 15. James 2:15,16 James showed how unreasonable it is to say to a needy brother or sister in Christ, “keep warm and eat your fill,” when they have no clothes or food. A true faith in Jesus Christ will lead a true Christian to respond reasonably in love.
  16. 16. James 2:17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
  17. 17. James 2:17 One definition of faith is mere “intellectual belief,” the definition of faith that James is using. The problem with such faith is that Christians make decisions and live daily with the conscious commitment that Jesus is their Lord and they want to do His will; this type of faith is not enough by itself and so dead.
  18. 18. James 2:17 What makes this kind of faith "dead" is that it is "alone." Just as there is no genuine compassion without action (vs. 16), so there is no real faith that is faithless toward God, His commandments, and the needs of brothers and sisters. Salvation is about life.
  19. 19. Question What should be our personal policy for addressing the needs of those who request help?
  20. 20. James 2:18,19 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder.
  21. 21. James 2:18,19 Mere intellectual belief without good choices and helpful actions based on true faith will do harm by sins of commission or sins of omission. Doing good works in the name of Jesus verifies our living faith to us and others.
  22. 22. James 2:18,19 A person's beliefs can change, can be held hypocritically and can be a mere figment of the imagination. But deeds require effort and over time show real character and belief. Consistently wrong choices can indicate a wrong intellectual belief or misplaced trust, no matter how much a person says he is a Christian.
  23. 23. James 2:18,19 Demons know that God is one and because of their choices and actions in spite of that knowledge they shudder at the thought, but they do not repent. Some with a faith that is mere intellectual belief have far less faith than demons because they neither shudder nor repent.
  24. 24. Question How has someone else’s deeds from faith made a lasting difference in your life?
  25. 25. James 2:20,21 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
  26. 26. James 2:20,21 Some of those he wrote to thought that all they have needed to do was express and maintain mere intellectual belief in some facts about Jesus to be right with God forever. James would have called a person who believed this “senseless” or without reason and commonsense. Their faith is barren or vain and does not produce the fruits or gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  27. 27. James 2:20,21 The vanity referred to here probably does not carry the sense of "conceited." Rather, this man is vain in the sense of Ecclesiastes 1:2: "ail is vanity." In this usage, "vanity" means something that appears to be real but is not. It is null and empty.
  28. 28. James 2:20,21 God’s request and Abraham’s decision to obey God showed his faith in God, and God saved Isaac from death. Because Abraham believed and did what God told him to do;, “Abraham was justified by works;” his works showed he had the right kind of faith in God as his Lord.
  29. 29. James 2:22,23 True or living faith will produce works that flow from love for God and others. When true faith achieves God’s purpose in daily activity and reasonable choices, that faith is “brought to completion by works.”
  30. 30. James 2:22,23 It is important to remember that works here means works of love, not what Paul referred to in Romans 4:1-5 and Galatians 3:6. Works complete faith, work together with faith, and fulfill faith.
  31. 31. James 2:24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
  32. 32. James 2:24 When Christians take the actions God asks of them, they remain right with God and in a right relationship with God. They do things for God because they consider God their friend.
  33. 33. James 2:24 Belief in Jesus does not excuse anyone from finally appearing before the Judge. In that court, works of love will be at the heart of a verdict of righteousness. God "will render to every man according to his deeds" and give "glory, honor, and peace, to every man that works good" (Rom. 2:6, 10).
  34. 34. James 2:25, 26 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
  35. 35. James 2:25, 26 Works without love, works that only obey the law with the hope of earning credit and rewards from God, are not the works James commended or commanded.
  36. 36. James 2:25, 26 The Holy Spirit inspired James to understand that Rahab had come to believe in the true God and she wanted to obey and serve God. She had come to love God and so His people; therefore, when God inspired her or told her to save the messengers she acted in faith and saved them.
  37. 37. James 2:25, 26 If she had merely said to the Israelite spies that she believed in God, it would not have resulted in deliverance. She demonstrated her faith with the right action, and the Israelites recognized genuine faith.
  38. 38. Question: How does the example of Abraham’s nearsacrifice of Isaac effect how you act on what you believe?
  39. 39. Conclusions James was addressing people who claimed to be Jewish followers of Jesus. Yet they had been showing faithless deeds of wickedness in their actions. They had been partaking in the culture of favoritism in the synagogues outside the land of Israel. They had cast doubt on their claim of faith by acting faithlessly.
  40. 40. Conclusions One needs to be cautious when judging faith in others for several reasons. First, it takes time. As a tree needs time to produce fruit, so it may be with a professing believer. Second, not all works are done in public and therefore may be invisible to others.
  41. 41. Conclusions Still, true faith in the Lord will have evidence that it is genuine faith (Jas. 2:14-17). Faith without works is just knowledge; we are to believe, or trust, in a way that works and reject mental assent alone for salvation (vss. 18-20).
  42. 42. Conclusions God called faithful Abraham His friend and defined faith as a living relationship with Him. (vss. 23-24). Rahab had such faith in the Lord that she risked her life. Our view of people is forever changed when we look to see if they live loving lives and do loving deeds. (vs. 25).
  43. 43. Conclusions Perhaps we should remember that one of the works of genuine faith is prayer. We pray to God only if we know that we need His power to help, only if we believe that He can and will help. We begin by asking God to strengthen our faith and enable us to put it into action.

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