Fifth week of James. Last week we looked at how showing partiality to people based on their outward appearance is putting ourselves on the judgment seat, dishonoring to the people we look down on, and makes us liable for judgment. Most of all, the judgement of man is without mercy, however, the mercy of God triumphs over judgement.
This week we are looking at another difficult passage in James.
Has anyone in here ever tried to buckle a kid into one of those new car seats? The ones with the two metal peices that are supposed to fit together to buckle the kid in? the first time you tried, was it easy? No! They are infinitely frustrating aren’t they? If you don’t understand how they work together, you may just give up. On the other hand, once you figure it out, it just makes sense. That is kinda the way Faith and works fit together, they have one way that they work, and you may not see it at first and get frustrated, but once you understand it, it clicks.
So, lets go ahead and read the passage for this week…
Here is the question I want to pose to you today. How do you know if you have saving faith? How can you know that what you believe in your head, has truly made an impact on your life?
Well, James here in this passage tells us that saving faith has fruit, just as we saw in chapter 1 how the trials of various kinds will serve to prove our Faith, so also works are the evidence that reveals the truth of our conversion.
Before I get too involved here, I want to explain something to us. Cause if you are paying attention, you heard something that seemed contradictory in the two texts we read this morning. Did you catch it?
Lets look again at the Romans 4:1-8 text that reads….
Here Paul speaks of Abraham’s Faith as the basis of His Justification before God. So, what does James mean by saying that Abraham was justified by works when he offered Isaac on the alter? This seatbelt is not fitting together right now is it?
Lets not give up, lets keep looking into this.
When Paul talked about Abraham’s faith justifying him, what illustration did he use? He used his conversion, from Gen. 15 when God took Abe out and told him that his offspring will be as numerous as the stars. It says as both Paul and James quote that He believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. So what of James’ example?
Well, James, in speaking of Abraham’s works brings up something that happened years later in Gen. 22 when God asked Abraham to take his son Isaac up the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. Lets Read that passage, it is found in Genesis 22:1-19.
So, if we look at these two texts together, we have a narrative of how Abraham’s Faith interacted with his works.
We see from Paul that Abraham was considered Righteous even before he was circumcised. It was a result of his believing what God said to him about his future. Jump forward to the story with Isaac, Abe is faced with a test of that Faith the God will be true to his word. God asks him to kill his only son, the seemingly only way God’s promise could be fulfilled was through Isaac, and God asked him to Kill him. Here is the moment that Abe had to “prove” his trust in God’s word, and he did.
So what does that say of his faith? It says as James implies that it was not at the moment of his offering of Isaac that he was declared righteous, it was at that moment that his righteousness was manifest in a real way. It was tested, and proven to be true. He really did believe that God was trustworthy. Do you see how these texts work together? they are not contradicting one another, but in fact working together to give the full narrative of what is going on as faith works itself out in the lives of believers.
Now that we have dealt with that bit of this text, lets look at what God, through James wants to say to us in this text.
Faith and works cannot be separated and saving.
1. If they are separated, they are dead. v.14, 15-17, 18-19, 26.
- Believing God means you trust what he says so much that you act on it, no questions asked. 21, Abraham believed that God could raise his son from the dead, and fulfill his promise.
25: Rahab believed that God could save her, and she risked her own life to rescue the israelite spies.
What is God asking you to do, to walk out your faith in Him? What don’t you trust Him for? Family Situation, finances, health concerns, salvation? What is he asking you to trust Him for so much that you will act on it? The truth is, there are things that he is asking all of us to do. There are promises he has made, and requests he has made of us in His holy Word. How are you responding to those?
Like when my little Jane jumps of the 8th stair up into my arms when I come home from work, she has complete confidence that I will catch her. How is your confidence when you are asked by your Heavenly Father to jump?
Lord, let the faith of the Christians in this church be walked out all over the place in Powhatan and to the ends of the earth.