24 September 2012

IS YOUR FAITH LIVING OR DEAD?



James 2:14-26

I have two questions for us as a church family this morning. The first question, is your faith an active commitment filled with love and obedience to a holy an awesome God? That's a  Christian who is a doer of the Word in aspects of his or hers life. A faith that desires to please, not to win favor,  but a life of active obedience to a Holy and Righteous God. A. W Tozer said “Faith, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ." The second question, is your Faith a mere Intellectual exercise?  Which is a Faith that is just professing without action? A person who has orthodoxy but no orthopraxy. The kind of Faith that James is speaking about in this passage.  This is mere empty profession, not a true genuine saving faith found in the mirror of scripture! A big head and shrunken heart.  See when a person has been infected with saving grace found in the Gospel....He or she is has become a new creation. Why? The gospel completely juts you [a person] from the inside out with a passion for Christ and His truth. Paul wrote in 2Cor 5:17-21 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

What does Faith really mean? “Faith” is a conviction based upon hearing (akin to peitho, "to persuade"), is used in the NT always of "faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual." Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true (Phi_1:27; 2Th_2:13). Its primary idea is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in accordance with the evidence on which it rests.What does Works mean? “Works” by implication an act: - deed, doing, labour, work, an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasized in opposite to that which is less than work.

See! James is not talking about “a works righteousness” or “contradicting” Paul’s writings to the church. Actually James is reaffirming or complimenting what’s already been said by Paul and the Apostles.We need to understand before we continue…… it’s by His sovereign grace and work that we are saved, not our works or our own righteousness. Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Faith is a gift and we were created for good works according to Jesus! "CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS UNTO GOOD WORKS" Eph. 2:10. So! Is my faith genuine or is my faith fake? For example: You take a car that is empty. It has no gas whatsoever and then you take a gas can that is filled with gas. Neither one can work without the other……. the car cannot run without gas……the gas is useless until it gets poured into the gas tank. Our Christian walk is very similar …........faith in Jesus Christ is an action reality in the life of the believer. That’s the fruits of Christ righteousness being displayed in the believer……..one of the evidence or mark of the believer. Augustine said "Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe." A working faith is required attribute in the believer by a holy God……..you read throughout scripture the ones who walked by this premise of faith. The very same faith that James is speaking of in this passage is an action that works to display your faith in God. Remember the car and the gas! You add the gas to the car it will run they both work in harmony together. You take one away you'll not be able to go or do anything! 

Ask yourself before we get deeper into the text! Are you obedient to your calling? Our works is to be our desire to please the one that enlisted us into the family in the first place. In 2Timothy 2:4 it says “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” Is this your desire? To be here in church this morning? to study, worship and to fellowship with God's children [the Elect]. Is your Christian life fake or is it alive? Do you believe, but don't have faith? Because you cannot have one without the other! Just like a car needs gas to go. Our Christian life requires a working faith in to produce fruit of Christ righteousness. John Selden says "As in the candle I know there is both light and heat, but put out the candle, and they are both gone.".........We are going to look at 3 requirements to a working faith in the life of the believer.

A WORKING FAITH IS COMPASSIONATE TO OTHERS (V14- V17) James clearly presents this truth by helping those in need do on to others help those in need this is a working faith! Helping others in Need. In Luke 3:11 “And He answered them, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." This is the same remark that James is saying to us! Help the one in need by acting giving what is required or needed at that point in time. We are to show compassion and kindness to someone which is a working faith. Where a dead faith on the other hand says "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled”. What this statement is saying "go warm and feed yourself and remember God bless”. This statement is worthless and does not show genuine love for others. It’s a lack of compassion, which shows a lack of a working faith found in the life a believer! We see it all the time in people….self-absorbed and could care less about anyone. It’s a person who walks around with blinders.....Think about this for a moment! Don't you find it amazing that so many people can become emotionally involved over a movie, song, or a TV program? Weeping over tragedies and becoming incensed at wrongs and injustices and yet show no concern or compassion for your neighbor….or someone on the street or at work a person who is in real needs people’s fantasy and self centered lives become more meaningful than reality! "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled”. Listen to what John said in his epistle…….1John 3:18-19 “My little children, do not let our love be in word and in tongue, but let it be in act and in good faith.  In this way we may be certain that we are true, and may give our heart comfort before him,” What did the ancient church do to show a working faith? “Acts 2:44-46 “And all those who were of the faith kept together, and had all things in common; And exchanging their goods and property for money, they made division of it among them all, as they had need.  And day by day, going in agreement together regularly to the Temple and, taking broken bread together in their houses, they took their food with joy and with true hearts,." We must show compassion to others, because you never know who you are helping or showing a working faith too! Heb 13:2 “Take care to keep open house: because in this way some have had angels as their guests, without being conscious of it.”

A WORKING FAITH IS EVIDENCE OF OUR OWN CONVERSION (V18- V19) A person who desires to build his or hers life on the foundation of Christ Jesus our Lord. How do we know that? Luke 6:44-45 “for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” If we have not had any growth since the time of our conversion then we are no better off than the demon's that believed! Because Jesus also went on to say! "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great." Luke 6:46-49. A living and active faith produces good fruit for this is a working faith…..Trusting and obeying the word, so that we can bring Him Glory and praises for His wonderful work of Salvation. To all those who believe and follow by obedience because without a working faith it is impossible to please Him. In Heb 11:6 it says “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” It's a trusting and obeying Him to what He said He would do! Because according to this portion of scripture….the demons believed! It’s the incident with the demon possessed man. Luke 8:27-30 says "When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs.  When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me."  For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.)  Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," for many demons had entered him." This is a person who knows the truth about God, Christ, and the Spirit but hates the truth and them!


A WORKING FAITH IS OBEDIENT TO THE LORD (V21- V25) The question we need to ask ourselves is am I being obedient? Is my faith living to serve the Lord? JAMES GIVES US TWO ILLUSTRATIONS OF LIVING FAITH……… Abraham…..and Rehab. Both who were saved by grace through faith yet showed it by their works…..Abraham was told by God to leave his land of Ur, and go to the land Canaan. In Gen 12:1 “Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.” Abraham was told by the Lord not to fear when he meet Melchizedek the Priest of God. Gen 15:1 “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." It was by a working faith that he obeyed the Lord to offer his only son! Gen 22:1-2 “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." George Whitefield said “a true faith in Jesus Christ will not suffer us to be idle. No, it is an active, lively, restless principle; it fills the heart, so that it cannot be easy till it is doing something for Jesus Christ.” THE SECOND ILLUSTRATION IS RAHAB. It says by faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient. Heb 11:31 “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” She protected the spies who were checking out the land. Joshua 2:14 “And the men said to her, "Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you." These two saints are great examples displayed a working faith, trusting and obeying the Lord of all creation! 

Are you doing the same today? James concludes this section by boldly stating in (v26) “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” To sum it up! Just as a body that does not have a spirit is a dead body. A faith that does not produce good works is a dead faith. Gil Rugh said   "faith is a living restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works, but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith. It is quite impossible to separate works from faith as to separate heat and light from fire. Obedient to our calling as His children to follow by His example…with a working faith that gives to those who are truly born again. Not to attain glory, self-righteousness or salvation…..but a working faith that is a desire not a burden to please a Holy and Sovereign LORD! Martin Luther said "Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works." So! Is your faith real, is it genuine” (v18) “But a man may say, You have faith and I have works; let me see your faith without your works, and I will make my faith clear to you by my works.” Or is your faith fake, dead, lifeless, none existent? (v26) “For as the body without the spirit is dead even so faith without works is dead.” My prayer for you and our church family is that it’s real, working and active to do the will of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith. SDG

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