Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
Continuing on with our Of Two Minds series, Pastor Andrew preached through James 2:14-26. The main idea of the message was that faith without action is fake. If the faith declaration we make is real, it will be followed by action.
In verses 14-17 James sets up an analogy to prove his point that a true faith leads to action. He gives an example of someone who wishes a person in need well but doesn’t stop to help. Sentiment counts for little when there is no action paired with it. James says this is just like a declaration of faith which doesn’t change how you live.
Verses 18-20 shows that James is not talking about faith vs. works. It’s about faith that leads to works on one side, and faith that leads to nothing on the other. What do both sides have in common? They both understand and assent to some truths about God, but mere mental assent isn’t faith. Faith is a full trust in what you know, so that it changes how you live. Good works will inevitably follow saving faith.
Verses 21-26 (verse 24 in particular) can be controversial because they sound like they teach something different about justification than Paul. But James and Paul use the word justified differently to address two different false beliefs. Paul says that we are justified by faith, showing people who want to earn their salvation by their works that they can’t. It is a gift from God. James says that we are justified by works, meaning that we can know that we have a saving faith if that faith is leading to good works; we can’t just say we believe and then go live however we want. Both of them agree with each other.
James uses the examples of Abraham and Rahab to show how their faith worked out in different situations, but really, what they did (Abraham’s offering up Isaac and Rahab’s hiding the spies), they did because their faith changed who they were. What they did was a forgone conclusion because they believed God.
James points to the fact that Abraham was called a friend of God through his faith and action. But what did it cost God to come into friendship with us his enemies? It cost the life of his very Son. Jesus died for the enemies to make them friends. That kind of grace changes the way we live.
The application is clear: Practice an active faith. How is your faith growing your obedience? Are you becoming a more generous as person? Are you finding ways to use your gifts to serve the church and the community? Are you becoming more merciful and forgiving? Let us not be one’s who just show up to declare our faith on Sundays and then live faithless for the rest of the week.
James Reading Guide – We have broken the book of James down so we can read it over the course of the whole series together. This companion reading guide can be downloaded in full (with and introduction to the book) at the link provided.
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-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)