faith and the works that are produced by it seen in the simple examples
of James and the implications to us with regard to the assurance of
AIM: That our
faith may truly be exercised in looking to the Lord and thereby seizing
opportunities to serve.
passage of scripture has been troubling to many who hold to the
doctrines of grace and has been a cause of careful delineations of its
1. Such is often the case where misunderstandings and
misapplications have challenged the belief systems of men.
2. As had
been previously discussed, even men such as Martin Luther questioned the
legitimacy of the book of James believing it to counter salvation by
grace alone and justification by faith alone.
3. Paul and James are
not at odds; it is rather that they view faith from two different
perspectives. Paul writes from the standpoint of the believer trusting
in God for his salvation alone and James writes from the perspective of
the character which faith produces.
THESIS: True faith lays hold on eternal life in the person of
Jesus Christ; it rests in the finished work of Christ; it seeks to
please God and so engages in imitation of Christ as its pattern and
I. A pointed example (vv. 14-17)
1. The simplicity of
this example makes it impossible to ignore.
1) It is a source of
discomfort to all of us who have ever acted in this manner and
is a challenge to be alert to such situations.
2. The question is
asked “can faith save him?” The answer is no on two counts – faith is
the gift of God and has no merit in the possessor and true faith has
3. This leads to the question as to
what is “dead faith?”
1) The issue is how it relates to the Word of
God and the practices therein declared.
2) Consider the parable of
the sower and note the outcome of the wayside, stony ground and thorny
ground hearers. All began with faith and came to nothing.
3) What of
the Good Samaritan and other examples of “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
4) It is a faith without evidence of its existence and
4. It is such
a faith that is separate from repentance, and the fruit of the Spirit –
it exists isolation!
II. An expose’ of dead faith (vv. 18-19)
1. Verse 18 is often quoted and justifiably so in that it puts things in
perspective for all.
1) Such would not be the answer of one boasting
of works as the manner of some is.
2) Consider the words of Christ:
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the
works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of
God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:28-29.
connection of works to faith in: For we are his workmanship, created in
Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we
should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10.
4) Where such faith exists,
these things are way of life without thought and are not enumerated and
claimed for merit.
2. An often heard claim is that “I believe in God”
or “I believe there is a God” or even “I believe the Bible is the word
1) All of those things can be said of the demons and the
devil himself – they knew who Jesus was and they were bent on destroying
2) A significant difference is seen in that the devils
tremble at what they know while a dead faith is unaffected.
Justification by works indeed (vv. 19-26)
1. Justification by works
versus justification by grace
1) Romans 4 leaves no doubt that
salvation is not by works in any way shape manner or form.
course, the works described there are law works which are taught as the
means of salvation thereby discrediting the sufficiency of Christ and
His work on the cross.
2. The actions of Abraham justified his faith
1) His obedience was a work of faith in God without question
2) He did not merely express a belief in the ability of God to raise
Isaac – he acted upon it
3) And his faith was not only expressed
toward God it was confirmed to him and us who read of it today.
also was the faith of Rahab the harlot who was counted in the Christ
4. Is it possible that we might have “dead faith?” True faith
is the gift of God and is not dead, but by virtue of these words we must
be diligent that our old nature not produce in us a dead imitation of