A Faith that Lives is a Faith that Works
Thesis: To prove that Biblical faith is an obedient, active faith; thus, Christians must “show their
faith by their works.”
(1) There is a lot of misunderstanding in the world today about the meaning of faith.
(2) In our text today, James discusses this subject and clearly teaches us that a faith that lives is a faith that works.
I. This understanding of faith is logical (vv. 14-19).
A. James illustrates this by discussing a case of someone in need who comes to us (vv. 14-16).
1. If all that we do is merely wish for help for the one in need, then we truly have not helped him at all.
2. In other words, actions speak louder than words and demonstrate what we truly mean (cf. John 14:15).
B. James then correctly concludes, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead being by itself” (v. 17).
1. One’s faith is demonstrated by one’s works (v. 18).
2. Faith without works is the faith of demons (v. 19).
C. Therefore, true faith = belief + works.
1. The “works” in no way take away from the unmerited grace extended to mankind by God Almighty.
a. This point is undeniably clear: God loved us “while we were yet sinners” (Rom. 5:6-8).
b. We do not do anything to earn our salvation.
2. Nevertheless, the “works” is first the acceptance of the free gift and then second the continually proper response to that gift.
II. This understanding of faith is Biblical (vv. 20-25).
A. James utilizes two illustrations to help bring home this point.
1. First, he discusses Abraham (vv. 21-23).
a. This event is recorded in Genesis 22:1-8.
b. Abraham was “justified by works.”
(1) “Justified” is from edikaiothe, which means “to pronounce or declare one to be just” (Woods 143).
(2) Still, the preposition “by” (Greek, ex, “out of”) demonstrates that “it was out of works that he was justified, not by means of works” (144).
c. Abraham “believed God” (cf. Gen. 15:6).
(1) Obviously, belief and works goes hand in hand.
(2) Neither works alone nor faith alone is how one accepts and responds to God’s gift, but rather a combination of both aspects, which, in the true sense, are inseparable.
2. Second, he discusses Rahab (v. 25).
a. This event is recorded in Joshua 2:1-24.
b. She was saved because of her belief in God and her actions taken in hiding and protecting the spies sent by Joshua.
B. Another passage that clearly teaches this is Hebrews 11.
1. Example after example is given of the heroes of the faith believing God and acting upon that belief.
2. Without such a faith, it is impossible to please God (v. 6).
III. This practice of faith is necessary (v. 26).
A. Otherwise, our faith is:
1. Dead (v. 26)
2. Useless (v. 20)
B. Listen to Jesus:
1. “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
2. “Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).
C. “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:3-6).
- Do you have a living faith?