Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book of James - Part 6: Faith and Works

The Book of James
Part 6 - Faith and Works
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org


SCRIPTURE READING

James 2:14-26
 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
   Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.









INTRODUCTION

Many times over the years, I have heard those who lay claim to faith, and exclaim with all assurance of their future home in heaven, while at the very same time, they live here on earth in a selfish, self-centered existence contradictory to scripture living a life that falls very short of glorifying the Lord.

While words are easy to say, claims easily made, the Word of God tells us that if we truly have faith, we will have a natural response to God by glorifying Him with our lives and how we live.

Those who claim faith, and to belong to the Lord, yet do not live in accordance to God’s Word, being doers of the Word in their lives, are spiritually dead, and have no place in the Kingdom.

Grace is where our salvation lies, but if our faith in the Lord is not followed by the deeds in our lives, that faith is worthless and dead!

Anyone can claim the Lord and Faith, but those who truly have faith will respond to the Word of God by living a life pleasing to the Lord, and be a true reflection of God and His mercy in this world.

James poses a question deep within the Word of God in this letter to the twelve tribes who have claimed to believe the Word, and have faith.

We too, should read this, and ask ourselves this very same question, looking deep into our faith, and our lives and how we live them.

Deeds are simply our response to our faith in God and His Word.

A response is any behavior that results from an external (God’s Word) or internal (God’s Spirit) stimulus.

James’ question to you today in the Word of God is;

Do you have “proper” faith, and are you responding properly to that faith?




       I.            TO CLAIM AND NOT SHOW

a.      James asks, v14 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”

                                                             i.      Illustration - “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”

                                                          ii.      Conclusion - “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

                                                       iii.      James makes it clear...there is no need to seek the concordance, study guides or theological manuscripts and papers to try and decipher what is being said here...if your so called “faith” is not followed by your actions...it is DEAD!


b.     We see far too many examples of this in the world, and even more in the church. 

                                                             i.      Too many religious people think that their “good deeds” make up for their bad deeds in life.

1.      This is not scriptural, not Christian at all...this is actually Hindu/Buddhist belief in karma, that good deeds bring good in your life, while bad deeds bring bad.

a.      The scriptures teach us the exact opposite, saying do not judge a person’s relationship with the Lord by the things that may happen to him in this life.  For example, Paul suffered much, and the Book of Acts tells us, many judged him and said he was an enemy to God because of this suffering...but it was the exact opposite.  It was because he was a friend to God, and an enemy to this world.

b.     If karma were true, Jesus and the apostles and prophets would not have suffered so much in life...for they did good deeds continuously.

                                                          ii.      Some also believe that good deeds bring them closer to the Lord...This too is not scriptural, nor Christian.

1.      Our salvation is based solely on Jesus Christ taking sins penalty. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

2.      He alone is our savior from sin (John 1:29)

3.      He is the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

4.      The work necessary to provide salvation was fully accomplished by Jesus Himself, who lived a perfect life, took God’s judgment for sin, and rose again from the dead. (Hebrews 10:12)

5.      Titus 3:5 makes it clear, “not because of righteous things we had done...”

                                                       iii.      You can “DO” works and good deeds until you are blue in the face, and unless it is in response to faith in God’s Word, it is useless.


c.      Scripture teaches us about works and faith.

                                                             i.      Works destroys grace (from where salvation comes) (Romans 11:6) = dead works

Stimulus - To obtain salvation, reward, praise (not in response to God’s Word or Spirit)

Our Faith - our ability

Deeds/works/action/response - may be good (philanthropist)

Results - praise of men (You have already received your reward Matthew 6:2)

1.      Grace is God’s giving us something we cannot earn or deserve. According to Romans 11:6, “works” of any kind destroys grace—the idea is that a worker earns payment, while the recipient of grace simply receives it, unearned. Since salvation is all of grace, it cannot be earned. Faith, therefore, is a non-work. Faith cannot truly be considered a “work,” or else it would destroy grace.

2.      Remember, our deeds, action, works, whatever you want to call them, is a response to external (God’s Word) or internal (God’s Spirit) stimulus!  It CANNOT be a response to our desire to obtain something...or we are truly putting our faith into our ability, and ourselves.

a.      Works without faith, are to obtain rewards...whether those rewards be a closer relationship with God, forgiveness for a sin or bad deed, or for the praise of being a good or “holy” person.

3.      Suppose someone anonymously sent me a check for $1,000,000. The money is mine if I want it, but I still must endorse the check. In no way can signing my name be considered earning the million dollars—the endorsement is a non-work. I can never boast about becoming a millionaire through sheer effort or my own business savvy. No, the million dollars was simply a gift, and signing my name was the only way to receive it. Similarly, exercising faith is the only way to receive the generous gift of God, and faith cannot be considered a work worthy of the gift.

                                                          ii.      Faith without works = dead

1.      Faith itself is NOT a work, but that faith MUST bring fruit, which is the good fruit of deeds.

Stimulus - External (God’s Word), Internal (God’s Spirit) - PROPER STIMULUS

Our Faith - In God’s Word or Spirit

Deeds/works/action/response - none taken

Results - none

2.      Nothing from nothing leaves nothing....
a.      The old Billy Preston song...

b.     Faith without works is dead...the proper stimulus is there, the faith is there, but it goes no further.

                                                       iii.      Works in response to faith = righteousness! (PROPER FAITH & WORKS)
1.      The following is the Scriptural process of Faith & Works

Stimulus - External (God’s Word), Internal (God’s Spirit)

Our Faith - In God

Deeds/works/action/response - Good fruit produced in our lives

Results - Faith that is ALIVE & and our deeds counted as RIGHTEOUSNESS!


2.      This is the proper stimulus, faith, action and result!

                                                         iv.      Ask yourself with this understanding, am I living righteously?



   II.            BIBLICAL EVIDENCE

a.      v18 addresses the fact that there are currently millions in this world who believe faith in God is enough...but there is no saving grace in believing there is a God!

                                                             i.      You believe in the one true God...good!  Even the demons believe that and shutter.

b.     James continues and gives biblical illustrations to help the readers understand how righteousness comes from faith acted out.

                                                             i.      v21-24 “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”

1.      Examine Abrahams Faith

Abraham’s Stimulus - External (God’s Word) or Internal (God’s Spirit)

Abraham’s Faith - In God

Abraham’s Deeds/works/action/response - OBEDIENCE

The Results - Faith that is ALIVE & made COMPLETE, and credited to him as RIGHTEOUSNESS!

2.      And he was called God’s friend...

III.            THE PROPER RESPONSE TO GOD’S WORD

a.      This is the PROPER response to God’s Word!



CONCLUSION

Proper faith, which is ALIVE will produce good fruit in our lives.  We will live in accordance to the scripture, and our lives will be a reflection of our faith, which is made complete through our works.

And that work which is done in proper response to God, will be credited to us as RIGHTEOUSNESS!


Stimulus - External (God’s Word), Internal (God’s Spirit)

Our Faith - In God

Deeds/works/action/response - Good fruit produced in our lives

Results - Faith that is ALIVE & and our deeds credited as RIGHTEOUSNESS!


Are you living righteously?