NTB-20-JAMES-2 - James: Faith Into Action
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“James: Lesson 2”
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now,
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” James 2:17.
Welcome to our study of the book of James.
James is all about the practical nature of Christianity. It's about being
doers of the word, not hearers only, James 1:22. In chapter 1 we noticed to
be doers the word we have got have a Christianity that faces trials, that
controls the tongue, and that tries to help others who are in need.
Now chapter 2 will teach us about the real nature of our faith. James
deals with two points related to faith.
First as we think about the Christian and his faith, it cannot be
prejudiced. James 2:1-13 James will say in James 2:1 “My brother do not
hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with prejudice or partiality.” God's not
concerned about some of the things we elevate today and the way we view
certain people based on their status in life.
And then James 2:14-26 will teach us that a true faith must
absolutely, must be combined with works to be affective and a faith that
honors Almighty God in each and every day.
Now let's talk a little bit first of all about what faith is. In the Scripture
faith could be defined as trusting God based on His word. The Bible says it
is indeed a necessity. Hebrews 11:6 says “Without faith it's impossible to
please God.” I know first and foremost that faith is a necessity. I've got to
have a habit to please God. How do I get faith? Romans 10:17 says “Faith
comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” I get it from the Bible,
from the word of God. As I study about God, learn about His nature, and
watch His dealings with man, and how that He's always been faithful, I can
put my trust in God. We learn by example. Like in Hebrews 11 what faith
really is. The Bible says, of the people in the days of Joshua, “By faith the
walls of Jericho fell down after they'd encircled the city.” Now what is faith
there? Think about that example. Here you have the people, and they’re
marching around the city. God tells them to march once a day on six days
and on the seventh day march seven times, blow the trumpet, shout, stomp
and do all those things. Was it just their belief in God that was faith there?
No, it is combined with action. They had to march. They had the do it seven
times the seventh day. They had to shout. They had to blow the trumpet.
Did all that make the walls fall down? No, it was their faith. Real faith is
always trust that causes one, that motivates one, to obey God and do His
Christians often sing the song “Trust and Obey” that's the idea. Trust
and obedience are not diametrically opposed to each other. They go
hand-in-hand with each other. In the opening verses of this book James will
teach us that our faith cannot be prejudice or partial to people maybe we
like or we don't like. Notice again James 2:1. The Scripture records “My
brethren do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory,
with partiality. As God's people we've got to realize there's neither Jew nor
Gentile, male or female. We’re all one in Christ Galatians 2:29. Unlike
Jonah who was extremely prejudiced, God gave Jonah that message. The
command ‘Go to Nineveh and preach to them.’ Jonah got on the boat and
went the opposite way. He hated those people. He was prejudice. When he
did go and preach to them and they responded Jonah got mad. He went
outside the city and sulked. Why? He was very, very prejudiced against the
Assyrians, the Ninevites of that day. We can't be prejudice with the gospel
based on other things that might cause us to be that way.
For example, sometimes we look at things that God's not at all
concerned about. God is not concerned with skin color. God is not
concerned with ethnicity. God is not concerned with money. God is not
concerned with men more than women. God is not concerned whether
you're a Jew or a Gentile.
What's God concerned about? God's concerned about the fact that
every person has a soul. Let's think about in these terms, and this is really
what James is trying to drive home, don't be prejudice in sharing the gospel
with someone. Why? Because each and every person has a soul. Genesis
1:26-27 God said “Let us make man in our image, and the image of God
He made them male and female.” Genesis 2:7 records that God breathed
into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Each and every
person regardless of the language they speak, regardless of the color of
their skin- whatever-they have an eternal soul that is going to live
somewhere forever. We should never hesitate to take the gospel to
someone based on those things alone.
James gives us an example that was prominent in their day. It’s
recorded in James 2:2-4 concerning the rich and the poor. He uses this
illustration he says in essence, let's say that in your assembly there comes
in a rich man and you roll out the red carpet for that rich man. By that we
mean James records ‘You say to him set right here in this fine seat or we
pull out the best place for you. We want to sit right here given that special
place. And then you got another man comes in, this man he is not dressed
in fine clothes or jewelry and is not somebody you really like to rub elbows
with. This man's dirty. He just got off from a hard-working job and is dirty.
He doesn't smell as good as you like from the smell maybe. What do you
say to him? You stand here in the back or sit here my footstool, get out of
the way in essence and don't touch anybody and don't bother anybody.’
The rich man we want elevate him. The poor man we want to lower him.
James will say that is contradictory. Who is suppressing you? It is not the
poor people. It's the rich people. Who is it that were receptive to the
gospel? Those who were poor were the ones who followed Jesus many
times. The basic principle is this: rich or poor doesn’t matter to God.
“God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the
truth,” Galatians 2:6. Unlike Peter, who played a hypocrite, we’re not being
prejudice. God Himself is not a respecter of persons, Acts 10:34 clearly
teaches these principles. Now God has chosen the poor of this world the
same way He chooses any of us. The Scripture teaches more often the
focus is on the spiritual matters. Poor people don't often trust in the riches
as much. They're looking for something more than what we have in this
earth life. 1 Timothy 6:8 tells us not to trust in riches; they can drag us
down so much.
Do you remember Luke 12:15-21? Think about that example that
Jesus set in order for us. The rich fool had a great crop year. He said to his
soul, ‘Soul you've got many goods laid up for many years take it easy. Eat,
drink, and be merry,” in essence. What did God say to that man, that rich
man, who trusted in riches and not God? God said “You fool this night will
your soul be required of you.”
Look at Luke 16:19 following. You have got Lazarus and the rich
man. The rich man fared sumptuously. He had everything he needed.
Lazarus is there eating like a dog at his table almost. He wasn’t concerned
about spiritual matters. Is the Bible trying to say that a rich person can’t go
to heaven? No, that is not the idea at all. He's emphasizing that those who
haven't rooted themselves deeply in the riches and cares and pleasures of
this world are open and are often receptive the gospel. They’re rich in faith,
and they can be heirs of the kingdom of God if they will obey the gospel of
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we mentioned, James says what you're doing doesn't even make
sense. You're honoring the rich and the rich is the one who oppress you.
They're the ones who hurt you. They're the ones who put you in jail or
prison. Why are you honoring them? Honor those who are receptive to and
obey the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Now here's the major point that James tries to drive home: All forms
of prejudice and partiality are eradicated, are done away with, by the royal
law all laid down in James 2:8. Notice what that law says. If you really fulfill
the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.” How do you deal with partiality and prejudice? You have got to
love your neighbor as yourself.
The greatest commandment was to “Love the Lord God of all your
heart soul mind and strength,” Mark 12:30 following. The second like unto it
Leviticus 19:18 “Love your neighbor as yourself.” What's that mean? I have
got to realize my neighbor, person across the street, the person who may
be hard-working and poor, I have got to love them just like I love me. I need
to do this regardless if they’re the same color as me, regardless if they've
got money, or not regardless if it is somebody I'm going to rub elbows with
in a social circle. That doesn't amount to anything. What really matters is
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Don't you want to go to heaven? Don't
you want to one day spend eternity with God? That's the motivation. You’ve
got to stop for just a minute and put yourself in that person shoes. Love
them. See them as a soul and strive to share the gospel of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ with them. That's what practical, real Christianity is all
Let's realize that prejudice and partiality is a sin. Look in James 2:9.
“But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law all
as transgressors.” If we hesitant to take the gospel to someone, if we’re not
as kind and is inviting to people into our assemblies, because they don't
talk like, dress like, look like, or act like we do- friend we committed sin.
That's against the will of God. It's against the will of God, because God
created man in His own image. When I think or speak badly about
someone who I may not like based on certain external features, that person
is created in the image of God and I need to be very careful. God made
them just like He made me. In the kingdom of Christ, Galatians 2:26-29,
there aren't these classes, hierarchies, or areas where somebody's above
somebody else. You're all one in Christ Jesus. Let's realize that is contrary
to the will of God, and we must, we absolutely must, be faithful to the Lord
and live true to Him each and every day of our life.
Now let's turn our attention then to the words of verses 12 and 13.
This is really they idea- instead of being partial- I need to do unto others as
I would have God do unto me. Look in verses 12 and 13. “So speak and so
do as those who He judged by the law of liberty, for judgment is without
mercy to the one who show no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
What's the point here? I want to do unto others as I want God, not them, as
I want God to do unto me. We’ll be judged by the perfect law of liberty. How
do I want God to judge me? Do I want God to be a hard, angry, prejudice,
and partial judge? No. I want God to be merciful. I want God to be gracious.
I don’t want God to look at the exterior. I want God to see my heart. I want
Him to know that I strived. I want to mercy and grace of God no doubt to
prevail. Friend, that's how I want God to do with me. The Bible says we
need to do the same. I want to be kind. I want to be inviting. I want to be
open. I want to share the gospel with anyone regardless of where they
might be or what they might've come from. We need to have the heart of
God who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
Now as James thinks about this idea of real faith not being prejudice,
not being partial with the gospel, putting our faith now an action James then
deals with the idea that faith alone can’t save a man. Look at James 2 and
noticed the problem in verse 14. James says “What does it profit my
brethren if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can faith
save them?” Now this is the idea, the major question here is this: can faith
alone save a person? The context of these verses- it's the idea faith and its
application and living it every day as a child of God. And so, can someone
be saved apart from works by faith only? That's what James is trying to
discuss. Faith, as we said, is my belief and my trust in the Lord. Proverbs
3:5, do I trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean on my own
understanding, but do I acknowledge Him in all my ways?
Now as we talk about works, let's realize it in the Bible there are a
couple of kind of works that are mentioned. There is meritorious that is
often referred to as meritorious works that is works of merit. By that we
mean works that we could say, do certain things we could look up to
heaven and say ‘God I've done this, you owe my salvation.’ The Jews did
this at times. They set themselves in John 8 ‘Because we’re the seed of
Abraham. We're destined to be God's chosen people.’ Jesus said ‘God's
able to raise up a seed to Abraham from these stones. Don't say to yourself
we’ve got Abraham as our father.’ They thought just because they were
Abraham's descendants, they had it taken care of. They were meritorious
works- that's not what James is trying to discuss here. Rather James is
discussing a type works known as conditional works.
John 6:29 teaches us about these works. For example belief itself is a
conditional work. John 6:29 they have asked Jesus “What must we do that
we may work the works of him who sent us?” Jesus said “This is the work
of God from God that you believe on him whom He sent.” Work, what you
mean? It was a conditional work- something they had to accept and do and
live out in their life.
When James talks about works here, he's talking about conditions,
things God has set forth. For example John 14:15 Jesus said “If you love
me, keep my commands.” Are we going to say when we keep God's
commandments that God owes us salvation? No, we are still saved by the
grace of God. I must keep God's commandments. Must I meet those
conditions God is set forth? Absolutely and that's the kind of works that
James is discussing in this context.
Now here's the example that James is going to draw up. Think about
this for just a moment. James says here's what you think about you say
you have got faith and somebody says they have got works. Let me give an
example. Just imagine that a brother or sister is naked and destitute of food
and daily clothing and food and the things he needs for this life. You say
‘God bless you. I hope you get a hot meal and warm clothes and have a
good day.’ Is that real faith? Friend I want you stop and think about that just
a minute. What if someone comes in the church house and they said ‘I'm
hungry. We're cold can you help us with some food and clothing?’ And you
said ‘Now I would, if I wasn’t a faith only Christian. God bless you have a
The person that says ‘I've got faith only’ it's impossible for that person
to do anything to help them if he just is trusting in his faith. So James says
is that real faith? Notice James 2:15-16. James says “If a brother sister is
naked and destitute of daily food and one of you says to them ‘Depart in
peace. Be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which
are needed for the body, what does it profit? Have you helped that
person?” No. What's the point? Verse 17; don't miss these words “Thus
also faith by itself if it does not have works is dead.”
Friend you can't say ‘I'm a faith Christian only.’ There is no such
thing. Faith and works go hand-in-hand in the Bible. How do we know that?
Jesus said it. Matthew 7:21 “It's not everybody that looks up into heaven
and says ‘Lord, Lord’ that's going there.” Who is? “He who does the will of
my Father in heaven.” It’s not enough to look up in the sky say ‘I believe in
Jesus.’ That's faith only. Jesus said that person is not going there. Who is
Lord? “He who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Luke 6:46 “Why do
you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things which I say?” Can you
really call Jesus Lord and not do something, not have some type of action,
or work in your life? Of course not! To really call Jesus Lord, you must do
what He says. Hebrews 5:8-9 clearly says ‘Jesus is the author of eternal
salvation to all who obey Him.’
Now the counterargument this person gives in our context verse 18,
the individuals now thinking to himself ‘well okay so that may sound good
but I'm faith Christian. You’re a works Christian.’ James asked this question
James 2:18 following James says “Someone will say you have got faith. I
have works.” Here's his point. Show me your faith without your works and
I'll show you my faith by my works. Someone says that I'm a faith Christian.
Okay, prove it. How could you prove you were a faith Christian if you do
anything you've got works. James is trying to get them to see that simply
saying ‘I'm a faith Christian, a faith is all you need,’ is a contradictory idea.
Prove to me you’re a faith Christian. If you prayed, if you’ve helped the
needy, if you’ve evangelized, if you’ve obeyed the Bible, you've now
entered into the area of meeting conditions. We’re not just standing in the
camp of faith only. In fact James will say faith can only be seen by our
works. You say you’re a faith Christian, prove it. Now let me show you this
he says, ‘I'll show you my faith by my works.’
How do I know someone is faithful to God? How do I know someone
is really living for Jesus? How can you know that someone is a child of
God? Look at their life. Look at their actions and the way they speak. Look
at the things they do. Look at their good deeds that they have in their life.
They're not doing that to earn salvation. That’s not what we’re saying, nor
is James saying that.
You can't prove your faith without meeting conditions set forth in
Scripture. I love the example James gives. Look at James 2:19. “You
believe there is one God? You do well; even the demons believe and
tremble.” Friend I want you listen real carefully, James says that a faith only
type of faith is a demonic type of faith. If all you do is believe on the Lord
Jesus, you're going to have a front row in the seats of hell along with all the
demons. Why? Because that's a demonic type of faith. You believe there is
one God? Good for you! The demons even believe and tremble!
What’s James saying? It's not just to say ‘I believe in God.’ It's not
enough just to recognize the fact. James is teaching you have got to do
something to show that. Now here's the example look in verses 20 through
23, and I want you to see how Abraham proves this faith by his works. “But
do you want to know oh foolish man that faith without works is dead? Was
not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on
the altar? Do you see that they was working together with his works and by
works, faith was made perfect or complete and the Scripture was fulfilled
which says, Abraham faith, Abraham believed God and it was accounted to
him for righteousness and he was called the friend of God.” Who's the
person in the Bible that Scripture says believed God and was a friend of
God and had faith? How do you know? God said ‘Abraham all the promises
are coming through you for your seed. You got this one son, Isaac; it's
taken a long time, a lot of work to get in here. Here's a want you to do. I
want you take him and to offer him as a sacrifice.’ What did Abraham do to
prove his faith? Abraham said ‘Yes sir God if that's what you want me to do
let’s pack the horse. Bless me and Isaac it up the hill I want to do it.”
Hebrews 11 tells us why he was so convinced in the promises of God.
Abraham knew that if he killed his own son, God would even raise him from
the dead. How do you know Abraham had faith? Abraham had to load up
his son, had to walk that long trek up that mountain, and he took his knife
that he was ready to do it. You think Abraham just believed? Faith only
would be as disrespectful as you can imagine to the example of Abraham
and the God himself.
What's the lesson? Here's the idea James 2:26 kind of solidifies the
point. The Bible records “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith
without works is dead also.” What's a faith only type of faith like? Like that
body laying over there in the casket. It’s dead, and it's inactive. It's lifeless.
It's profitless. It comes to nothing. James is saying if you want to say to
yourself ‘I've got faith only, you’re like a dead body laying the casket- good
for nothing.’ James is teaching us you have to put your believeth in action.
Don't just stand up and say it. Do it. James 1:20 “be doers of the word, not
hearers only deceiving yourselves.”
Now here's one the major points, we left this verse in the context for a
purpose. I want you to notice it now James teaches us this lesson James
2:24. The Bible says “You see then that a man is justified by works and not
by faith only.”
Friend I want you listen real carefully. I want you to make sure you
don't miss this point. James is speaking to us. The only time in Scripture
the words faith only ever occur, did you know God says it won't save you?
Let that sink in just a minute. There have been a multitude of religious
leaders who said that all you got a do to be saved is believe in Jesus and
have faith only. The only time faith alone is ever used in the Bible, God
says faith alone will not save. Be sure to mark it down. Scripture teaches
faith alone is not going to get anybody to heaven.
Do I have to have faith? You've got to believe in Jesus. The real type
of belief though, the belief that motivates one the action. John 8:24 you
have to believe Jesus is the son of God- so much so that you're willing to
act upon that belief by repenting. Acts 3:19 Peter preached “Repent and
turn that your sin may be blotted out.” Having repented, make the good
confession. Matthew 10:32-33 Jesus said “If you won’t confess me before
men, neither will I confession you before my Father who is in heaven. But if
you will confess me before men, I'll also confess you before the Father.”
Then friend take your faith into action. Do what Peter said. “Repent
and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the
remission of your sins.”
What’s James 2 all about? Faith and works go hand-in-hand- like a
hand in the glove. Faith and works complement each other.
Let's each of us strive every day to put our faith in action and follow
Study Questions for: “James: Lesson 2”
1. According to James 2:17, faith without what is dead?
2. According to James 1:22, we should be what of the word?
3. In James 2:1the scripture tells us to have faith without what?
4. What do we need to do to please God according to Hebrews 11:6?
5. How do we get faith according to Romans 10:17?
6. What does God want according to Galatians 2:6?
7. What is the greatest command given in Mark12:30?
8. What does Leviticus 19:18 command of us?
9. What does James 2:9 say about prejudice?
10. According to John 14:15, if we love Jesus what must we do?