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Christianity Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Part 6: Is Your Faith Alive?
James 2:14-26
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - March 18, 2012
*Is your faith alive?
-- This is an extremely important question, and James helps give us the answer.
1.
He helps us first of all, by giving us 2 pictures of dead faith.
*In vs. 14, James asks: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can faith save him?”
In other words: “Can that kind of faith save him?”
-- Can dead faith save him?”
*The obvious answer is: “No,” and James gives two pictures to prove his point.
[1] In the first picture we see deserted saints.
*That’s what James shows us in vs. 15&16, where he said:
15.
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16. 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?
*How much good do those empty words do? -- They do no good at all.
*Words are important, but actions really do speak louder than words.
And our words without action are worthless and dead.
So in vs. 17&18, James says:
17.
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18.
But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works."
Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
*James McHenry told the story of a woman who went shopping in New York City some years ago.
There she noticed a young boy shivering in the cold November weather.
His face was pressed against a store window, looking at a pair of shoes.
*She asked the boy what he was doing out in the cold, and he replied, “I was asking God to give me a pair of those shoes.”
*She glanced down and saw that his shoes were falling apart.
So this kind, Christian lady wrapped her arm around the boy and led him into the store.
She picked out several pairs of socks and asked the clerk to bring a pair of shoes like the boy wanted.
In a few minutes, he was walking around in his new shoes.
*She paid for everything, turned for the door and said, “You’ll be lot more comfortable now.”
-Then the little boy looked up at her and asked, “Are you God’s wife?” (1)
*No.
-- She was God’s child, with a living faith that would not desert a little boy in need.
That’s the kind of living faith we all need.
*Is my faith alive?
-- James wants us to know, so he gave us pictures of dead faith.
The first picture showed us deserted saints.
[2] And the second picture shows us devilish spirits.
*We can see them in vs. 19, where James said: “You believe that there is one God.
You do well.
Even the demons believe -- and tremble!”
*The devils also believe, and tremble.
Do the devils believe in Jesus Christ?
-- Absolutely.
In Mark 1:21-27, Jesus and His followers:
21. . .
went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.
22.
And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
23.
Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit.
And he cried out,
24.
saying, "Let us alone!
What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth?
Did You come to destroy us?
I know who You are—the Holy One of God!"
25.
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"
26.
And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.
27.
Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this?
What new doctrine is this?
For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."
*Then we find the story of a pitiful man who was tormented by so many demons that they called themselves “Legion,” and a Roman legion could have as many as 6,000 men.
Listen to account from Mark 5:1-13.
1.
Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.
2. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3. who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains,
4. because he had often been bound with shackles and chains.
And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.
5.
And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
6.
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.
7.
And he cried out with a loud voice and said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I implore You by God that You do not torment me."
8.
For He said to him, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!"
9. Then He asked him, "What is your name?"
And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion; for we are many."
10.
Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.
11.
Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains.
12.
So all the demons begged Him, saying, "Send us to the swine, that we may enter them."
13.
And at once Jesus gave them permission.
Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.
*There is no question that the demons believe in Jesus.
But they don’t BELONG to Jesus and that’s the big difference.
When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we belong to Him.
-And our faith should be alive, because Jesus is alive!
-Our faith should be alive, because Jesus is living in us.
-And our faith should be alive, because made us a new creation with His eternal life.
*Of course, we still have to grow in Christ.
We still have to learn how to walk in this new life.
John Newton once put it something like this: “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be.
But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’” (2)
*Is your faith alive?
-- James wants us to know, so he gave us 2 pictures of dead faith.
2. But James also gives us 2 pictures of living faith.
[1] The first picture of living faith is Abraham.
*Abraham was called the friend of God, and we see his living faith in vs. 21-24.
There James asked:
21.
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
22. Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
23.
And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
And he was called the friend of God.
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