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Janet's Corner

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Lesson 12: Real Faith Works

James 2:14-26

Works of our faith are inevitable when faith is real.  As Warren Wiersbe says, "Being a Christian involves trusting Christ and living for Christ; you receive the life, then you reveal the life."  When you receive faith, it brings about a change in your life and is revealed through your life.

Last week we looked at the scriptural evidence of this fact other than in James.  Today we turn to the further explanation in James which gives us three examples of works produced by our life in Christ.

In verse 14 we see James has two questions?

  1. What good is it if a man claims or says he has faith and has no deeds or works?
  2. Can that faith save him?

Can the faith that is never seen in practical works, save a person?  The answer James proceeds in showing us is a "No!"  He states that faith without works is dead – barren and idle (like money drawing no interest)– if it is by itself - alone.  John Calvin, a great theologian, wrote,  "It is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies can never be alone."

Faith is not just a profession of words.  Faith is not just something you say,  it is something you do.  So in verse 18 James says show me your faith without the works.  He’s saying it’s impossible!  How can you show me what you believe unless you do something that represents it or represents the one in whom you believe?  Words are not enough.  He uses a startling example in verse 19,  "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder."  James draws on their godly Jewish beliefs. A daily affirmation of their faith was the "shema" from Deuteronomy 6:4 – "…the Lord our God is one Lord!" What is he saying to them? He is bringing them to the reality that anyone can confess that God is one.

Anyone, even the demons believe in the existence of God and say it.  Real faith not only is grasped in our minds and stirs our hearts, but changes our lives.  IJohn 5:12 says "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."  Do you have life through Christ?

So what does a faith that is alive look like?  How is real faith evidenced?  Let’s see how real faith works – the works of real faith – as we look at the examples here in James.

     1.   Real faith works through love. Look at this principle in scripture and

    James’ first example here in James 2: 15-16.

    Our faith is demonstrated through our love for one another.  Remember in the beginning of James chapter 2, James has made it clear that keeping the royal law of love - loving your neighbor as yourself - is secondary only to loving God.  And this is seen here in his example of not just wishing someone well who has a physical need, but meeting that physical need.

    It is the principle that is also taught by Paul in Galatians 5:6

  • "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
  • Real faith will produce love.

It is the principle that is also taught by John in IJohn 3:17-18

  • How can the love of God be in someone who doesn’t share his material possessions with the one in need?  We see the direct parallel to James.
  • We need to love others in action and truth, not just in words.

     2.  Real faith brings about obedience

    The example of the works of obedience that is produced by our faith is given to us through Abraham’s life in verses 21-24.

    The background for this is Genesis 15 and Genesis 22.  God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation and through his son, all the nations would be blessed. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. How do we see that Abraham truly believed?  How do we see the reality of his profession of faith?  In Genesis 22, Abraham’s faith is tested. He is told to take the promised child and kill him.  In verse 12, God speaks to Abraham and says that He knew Abraham feared God, because he did not withhold his only son from God.  And God continues in verse 17 saying that not only will Abraham be blessed, but all his descendants and through those descendants all nations will be blessed as well.  Why? Because Abraham obeyed God. (verse 18).  If you say you love God, you will obey Him.  Abraham did.  We see that Paul calls this the obedience of faith which is an outworking of our salvation.

Romans 1:5

  • Faith brings about obedience of faith

Romans 16:25-26

  • The gospel is proclaimed and revealed so that we might believe and obey. NAS say leads to the obedience of faith

    How was Abraham justified by works (verse 21)?  He was justified by faith before God when God declared him righteous, but his act of obedience (his work),  justified him before men.  His obedience demonstrated his faith.  His faith was seen.  It showed him to be righteous.

    There are many today as Titus 1:16 says that profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him.  Let us walk in the obedience of our faith.

    A real faith produces obedience.

    Are you struggling to obey God? Procalim the desire of your heart – "I desire to do you will, O Lord."  Let God give you His desire.

    3. Real faith is demonstrated by our actions based on our trust in God.

    The third example that James uses is Rahab.  She is definitely a different character than Abraham!  Abraham was a friend of God.  Rahab was among the enemies of God.  Abraham was a godly man, but Rahab was harlot.  Both exercised their faith in God.

    Rahab’s story is in Joshua 2 and 6.  Israelite spies were sent into the city of Jericho before its great fall.  Rahab was the one who protected the spies because she had heard of what God had done for the Israelites in their departure from Egypt and much more on their way to Jericho.  In Joshua 2:11, Rahab declares her faith in God - "…the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below."  She heard and believed and then acts on that conviction.  When the truth melted her heart within her, she responded by doing something about it.  She protected the spies.  Hebrews 11:1 says faith is conviction of those things not seen.  Rahab’s faith was seen by her action based on trust, not on what she had experienced or seen.  Our faith is demonstrated by our trust and action on what we do not see.  We have the full revelation of God through His Word and His Son.  We live on the other side of Calvary and have the Holy Spirit to convict us and teach us.  Rahab had very little to believe in – but her faith was placed in a God who was worthy of her trust.  She proved her faith by her works.

    Have you ever acted in faith because of the testimony of God seen through someone else’s life?

    James sums up real faith in verse 26, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deed is dead."  Faith without works is useless, idle, and barren.  Real faith is alive and is evidenced by our love, our obedience and our trust put into action.  Is your faith dead or alive?

    Remember the theme of James is to call us to maturity of our faith.  Calling us not just to be merely hearers of the Word and so deceive ourselves, but to become doers of the Word.  He calls us to give evidence to our faith through our works.

    Are you walking in love and obedience?

    Are you putting your faith into action?