Summary: Dynamic Faith Works
“Faith That Works”
James 2:14-26 (ESV)
Good Morning brothers and sisters!
What a joy to worship the Lord together as a body of Christ!
Thank you worship team for leading us into the time of worship. As we come to study His word, let us commit this time to the Lord in prayer, shall we?
We are going through the series from the book of James and we are in chapter two. Our text today comes from James 2:14-26 and our topic is, ‘Faith That Works.’
This passage has caused a major theological confusion and controversy among Christians. Even the famous theologian Martin Luther hated the book of James because of this portion of scripture. He called it a book of “straw,” meaning it was useless. He even wanted to cut it out of the Bible. …Why all the confusion, controversy and conflict?
In Romans 3:28 Paul says,
‘One is justified by faith apart from works of the law.’
But in James 2:17 James says,
‘Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.’
It seems like Paul and James are contradicting with each other. So it might be helpful for us to look at the context in which the book Romans and James was written.
Paul is writing to Christians (particularly Jews) who believe that they are right with God on the basis of their race (nationality) and by keeping the law of Moses (legalism). They would say, "I must keep all the Jewish laws and regulations to be a Christian." Paul’s purpose is to tell them how they could enter into the Christian life by faith alone. So, his emphasis is on the root of salvation…which is FAITH ALONE - what happens on the inside.
James, on the other hand, is writing to Christian Jews who were those saying, "It doesn't matter what you do as long as you believe." They were making Christianity a ‘religion’ without a ‘relationship.’ Now, James’ purpose is to tell them that ‘faith in action is not an option for Christians’ because their action is the evidence of their faith. James is talking about, “How to show you're a Christian.” That’s why his emphasis is on the fruit of salvation…which is GOOD WORKS - what happens on the outside.
They are fighting two different enemies. But they both use the word "works" in different ways. When Paul uses the word "works" he's talking about Jewish circumcision and legalism – acts of Law. When James uses the word “works”, he's talking about the lifestyle of a Christian - acts of Love.
The definition of faith according to Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
We all know that faith is a key doctrine in our Christian life. The sinner is saved by faith, and the believer must walk by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. But, if someone stopped you on the street tomorrow and asked, “How can you tell if a person has true faith?”
Would you be able to give that person an answer?
To help us answer that question, James talks about three different kinds of faith in this passage and only one of which is true saving faith.
In vs. 14-17, he talks about the first kind of faith, which he calls…
1. Dead Faith (Vs. 14-17)
James begins this section by asking a couple of questions.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
James does not say “if someone has faith,” he says, “if someone SAYS he has faith …” There is a difference. It is one thing to talk about faith and another thing, to put it into practice. They claim to have faith, but they don’t show it through their works. “What good is it for a man to say, ‘I have faith,’ if his actions do not prove it? Can that kind of faith save him?” The answer is NO! That kind of faith cannot save a person…WHY?...
In vs. 15-16, James explains why that kind of faith cannot save. He says, “One of your Christian brothers or sisters is without clothes and food. You know their need and you have the means to help them. But without giving the things they need, you just tell them, ‘I believe God can supply all of your needs.’ ‘I pray that God will provide clothes and food for you.’
You know that such a desperate situation demands an immediate response. But all you have done is to speak some kind words to them. You know how to say the right thing, but you do not do the right thing. James is asking them, …What good is it? What good is it if you see someone in need and you say, "I feel for you!" but do nothing to help.