Faithlife Sermons

Working Out James

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Reminders, next week we will be having a party welcoming the ones moving into youth.
The three weeks after we won’t have youth on Wednesdays because of different camps and VBA but you can come join Renee and Courtney, they’ll still have something fun for everyone.
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Finishing up James

So i wanted to spend a lot more time in James than just two weeks. This may be something we go back into in the fall. Last week we looked at the first part of James. We talked about the overall concept of the book of James, and how basically James says if you’re a Christian, then act like one. We talked about standing firm in our faith and how we will face trials and temptations, which trials are when someone else causes us to suffer, and temptations are areas where we can cause our self to suffer. We also looked at how we may cause our own temptations, but God is the author of all things Good and He will never tempt you with anything evil, but He will always provide a way out. May not be an easy way out, but there will always be a way out.
Tonight, we’re going to look at a verse that tends to be taken out of contexts, James 2:17, but we’re going to look at the surrounding verses as well. So open up your Bible or App to James 2: 14-23
It says:
So what’s taken out of context?
In verse 17 it says So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
There are some people and some denominations that take this verse and say “See you have to work your way into Heaven.”
Non-Christians will say that this is proves the Bible contradicts itself.
In Romans 3:28 Paul writes We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
In other words, Faith is what saves us without having to really follow the Jewish law
So if you take this and compare it to what James said, yes it seems like a complete contradiction.
James said if you don’t have works your faith is dead, but Paul says faith is what saves us not our works.
Let’s clear it up, we’re looking at two separate forms of work here.
What Paul says in Romans is probably going to be the easiest to clear up, so we’ll look at that first.
First lets define law. What is the law that Paul is talking about?
The Old Testament law. The top 10 we think of is the 10 Commandments right? There are a total of 613 laws in the Old Testament.
So Paul is saying, there is no way we can follow the law completely to be right in God’s eyes. So it’s our faith in Christ that saves us not the work of following the law. There is only one person that has followed the law completely and that’s Jesus.
So the law, shows that we are not able to live up to God’s standard, but by placing our faith in Christ, we are saved because Jesus is the one that followed the law perfectly, but still died, rose from the dead, and became our sacrifice.
Before Jesus, the Jews were required to make animal sacrifices for breaking God’s law, Jesus became that sacrifice, so as the Jewish people sin’s were forgiven by the spilling of animal’s blood, our sins are forgiven by the spilling of Jesus’ blood on the cross.
So let’s clarify what James is saying.
James is talking about a different kind of works. Here James is not talking about keeping the law. He’s not saying you have to have faith and keep the law, but what he is saying is what you do, will prove that you have faith in Christ.
Just to clarify, one that I did not just say is that the law doesn’t apply to us and we can completely ignore the law. And I’ll clarify this statement as we go on.
So if I tell you, Yes I believe in Jesus. Does that make me a Christian?
Why or why not?
The devil believes in Jesus, does that make him a Christian?
James 2:19 answered this one It said You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder.
See it’s one thing to know of Jesus, but it’s another thing to know Jesus
The devil knows of Jesus. He knows the Bible and he knows how it’s all going to end, but doesn’t mean that he will be in heaven when it’s all said and done.
A person can know of Jesus. There are people in this church that know of Jesus, but they don’t really know Jesus.
So what’s the difference?
Knowing of Jesus, I’m talking about knowing the stories. You know who He is, you can tell some stories about Him, and you can believe that He is a real person, but that doesn’t mean you have a personal relationship with Jesus.
When you know Jesus, you actually have a personal relationship with Him. This relationship completely changes you. Instead of being inwardly focused, you’re more focused on things of Christ. Instead of looking at a situation and saying how will this glorify me, you look and say, how will this glorify Christ.
When you know Jesus, you actually have a personal relationship with Him. This relationship completely changes you. Instead of being inwardly focused, you’re more focused on things of Christ. Instead of looking at a situation and saying how will this glorify me, you look and say , how will this glorify Christ.
James is saying here that if you have faith in Christ, your actions or works, are going to be different.
Going back up to James 2:15-16 It says If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body what good is that?”
In other words, your faith in Christ, is going to make you want to get that person the food and clothes they need. It won’t be just an I’ll pray for you comment.
Not saying that sometimes that is all we can do. There are times where the only thing we can do is pray for that person, and that’s okay.
However, if you’re sitting at McDonalds or burger king and have an extra meal, you come across someone that needs it, you’ve got the ability to put your faith into action, or works, by providing a meal to someone else in need.
In verses 21-23 James makes an example of what he’s talking about. It says “was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness and he was called a friend of God.
So the story that James is talking about is in Genesis 22. God had previously told Abraham he would be the father of a great nation and his descendants would be great. Only problem, Abraham didn’t have any kids. So God blessed him with a son named Isaac. In Genesis 22, God told Abraham, to take Isaac, his only son, up to the mountain and sacrifice him. Abraham did exactly as God commanded, but before he sacrificed Isaac, God stopped him and provided a goat to take the place of Isaac.
So Abraham believed in God, had faith in God, and proved he had faith by following through with what God had told him to do.
Abraham couldn’t have said he had faith in God if he wasn’t willing to follow God.
We can’t say we have faith in God if we don’t follow what God has called us to do
Now this takes us back to where I said that we still have to follow the law and to make sure that is clarified.
We do follow the law but we’re not bound by the law. In other words, our faith in Christ takes over, but we still need to follow what Jesus commands us to do.
In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus was asked what are the two greatest commandments. He responded with Love God with all your heart soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.
So the works we do that show our faith come by these two commands, by loving God and loving our neighbor.
If I love God, I’ll put Him above everything else, and I mean everything.
If I love my neighbor as myself, then I’m not going to steal from them, murder them, or any of the other things the Old Testament says.
Now are there times where we will mess up? Of course there are. I mess up on a daily basis, but we recognize our mess up, and ask for forgiveness, and do our best to avoid it again.
My final question for tonight, is what kind of faith do you have in God. Do you know who God is or do you actually know God. Is Jesus just a name or are you and Jesus have a personal relationship.
If you can’t tell the difference, then talk to me after this we’ll clarify it. If you know God but want to have a personal relationship with God, talk to me and I’ll show you how that’s possible.
If you have that personal relationship with God but you haven’t been faithful about it, where you haven’t had believer’s baptism or your not walking with him like you should, let’s get you going.
Let’s pray.
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