Faithlife Sermons

Faith That Works

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Genesis 15:1–6 CSB
1 After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great. 2 But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Abram continued, “Look, you have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.” 4 Now the word of the Lord came to him: “This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
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God overlooked Abraham’s sinfulness and considered him righteous because of his belief, or faith.
Three groups of people —
1. Those who believe they are justified (or in right standing with God) because of their works (or good deeds.)
Romans 3:28 CSB
28 For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
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2. Those who believe they are justified (or in right standing with God) because of their knowledge about Jesus.
James 2:24 CSB
24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
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3. Those who really are justified because of their faith in Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8–9 CSB
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
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Paul and James are writing to address two different groups of people. Two different sides of a pendulum.
The first group believed they were saved because of their good works.
Romans 3:19–4:5 CSB
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are subject to the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment. 20 For no one will be justified in his sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law. 21 But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, attested by the Law and the Prophets. 22 The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as an atoning sacrifice in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. 26 God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. 28 For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law. 1 What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about—but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. 4 Now to the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.
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no one will be justified by the works of the law, because you only have to break one to be guilty.
The Second Group believed they were saved simply through their knowledge about Christ. They claimed to have placed their trust/faith in Jesus but they showed no fruit or evidence of their salvation. They didn’t believe they were saved because of their good deeds, they believed they were saved despite not having any good deeds.
And this is what James says to them:
James 2:14–26 CSB
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe—and they shudder. 20 Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works in offering Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete, 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 justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
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Can such faith save him?
in the same way faith is dead by itself.
I will show you faith by my works.
faith without works is useless.
by works, faith was made complete
faith without works is dead.
So what saves him? — Faith
So that brings us to the third group: Those who are saved by God’s grace through faith in, not knowledge about Christ.
Ephesians 2:8–9 CSB
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
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Paul also said to the Galatians
Galatians 2:21 CSB
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
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You can’t earn salvation, and that is good news, because you don’t have to. You are simply commanded to repent and believe the gospel.
Jesus said:
Mark 1:15 CSB
15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
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As Paul said in Ac 20:21
Acts 20:21 CSB
21 I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
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Acts 2:38 CSB
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
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2 Corinthians 5:17–6:2 CSB
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 1 Working together with him, we also appeal to you, “Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.” 2 For he says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!
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