James: Encountering the Torah of Freedom – Chapter 2 part 2

Last week we talked about how all aspects of the Law of Moses points directly towards Jesus the Messiah and His function as the fulfiller of the Mosaic Law.

My big idea for today is that we might have a clearer picture of our faith, properly expressed in Christ Jesus. My prayer for us today is that be hearing this message our faith in Christ would be evident by our good deeds, the world would see them and glorify God/our Father in Heaven. If you have your Bibles today you can join me in James chapter 2, verse 14

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 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 considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:14-26

In order to help me share with you today, I have separated my thoughts into 3 sections or points. In the matters of faith…

We Must Allow Our Thoughtful Faith To Evolve Into Active Faith

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:14-17

This passage does a pretty good job of explaining itself. But I’d like to point out a couple of things, while we’re here. I want to make notice of the qualifier words here used to describe faith. Can “Such Faith” save them? There is a subtle distinction being made, and most commentators agree that there is a delineation here between the confessing of faith/intellectual part of faith and the trusting in their savior that transforms the way we operate on a daily basis.

In other words, it one thing to say I believe that Christ died for my salvation/head knowledge, but it is altogether something different when that knowledge begins to permeate my heart in such a way that it alters my behavior. James is not referring to the totality of faith, but only a portion/the mental portion.

I recall, in the darkest times of my life. I was not living for God at all, but I never doubted His existence. My belief was not complete, it was only mental/intellectual. It had not become fully formed. Faith-light/faith starter kit. But when that faith had begun to take root in my heart, it changed me in so many different ways. Because I was trusting in Jesus, I was free to act out in ways that were indicative of my professed belief. My thoughtful/intellectual faith evolved into a faith of action.

I’ll move on to my next point. In the matters of faith…

We Must Allow Our Faith To Be Distinctive

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

James 2:18-19

We want to see this as a humanistic argument, where one proposes that God will accept them because they have done enough good deeds. {a good person} James is really speaking against the Jewish idea that keeping the Law of Moses will save them.

James makes his point by looking to the Shema…

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deut 6:4-9

This is the most central thought in Judaism. This affirmation is not saving faith. Satan and his demons know the truth about Christ and the after-life and they believe. They shudder in fear! James is suggesting that a mere intellectual acknowledgment of God is not the same a trusting/intimacy Him and in His Messiah Jesus. In fact, their belief is strong, they shudder in fear. They know that they will be judged and that there is a terrible lake of fire that awaits them and all those who will be found without Christ.

There seem to be 2 problems/misunderstandings:

  1. We have believed that a person’s good deeds are irrelevant to God and do not affect his decision to count a person righteous.
  2. We misunderstand the concept of “faith alone” as a mental belief in a creed/ emotional response to God is all that is needed for salvation.

Acts 10—The angel informs Cornelius that although he was a Gentile, his prayers and gifts to the poor have presented as a “memorial offering before God.”

Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Romans 3:27-28

The Jewish New Testament Commentary offers a literal translation:

“Wherefore therefore the boasting? It was shut out. Through what law? Of works? Rather, through the law of trusting. For we reason that a person is justified by trusting apart from works of the law.”

Romans 3:27-28—{JNTC}

Our faith lived out in conjunction with our good deeds, with allow the world to see a distinction in our lives and that draws attention to God. Will be distinct in our faith/belief from the physical world and from the spiritual world. Here’s a Quote I saw recently…

“We cannot be fishers of men if we remain in the same element with them. Fish will not be fishers. The sinner will not convert the sinner. The ungodly man will not convert the ungodly man. And what is more to the point, the worldly Christian will not convert the world.

–Charles Spurgeon

We must allow our faith to be distinctive.

I’ll move to my final point. In the matters of faith…

We Must Not Allow Ourselves To Veer Off Course

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 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 considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

James 2:20-25

Not human reasoning/understanding. But by the examples offered by the Word of God. This is James saying, “don’t take my word for it, look for yourselves.” Of course, Abraham is the easy one to cite. He is the patriarch to whom god made the covenant. Everyone reveres Abraham. But then he turns toward Rahab the prostitute. She was a Gentile. And for some reason her desire to do good and peaked at this moment. Her desire to trust God overtook her identity as “the prostitute”. She believed that Yahweh the God of Israel could erase her sin and redeem her life. Not only were her actions clear when she protected the spies. But she changed her whole life. Her Country, family, religion, her job. And God grafted her directly into the line of David and eventually the Messiah Jesus. As a result of Rahab’s faith/her trust in God many actions were manifested. Your faith, my faith today can begin to manifest good deeds that will point people to Jesus. Your good deeds in this way will bring God glory.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:26

Our entire spiritual journey with Christ is about coming from darkness to light. From death to life. Without trust and intimacy with Christ we are dead inside. I want each of you to remember this verse.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9

Will you join me as we seek an authentic relationship united in Christ and each other? Rejecting division, embracing God’s reality in Jesus, and encouraging one another. It’s just between you and God. Here’s the thing, If we love God and abide in Christ we will find ourselves more and more loving each other. You will we more and you will love better. We will experience God in spirit and in truth and we will share that amongst each other. Share all the ways God has shown you mercy and grace. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to stir faith in someone through your testimony? Would you join me as the Holy Spirit moves on us to be unified in the spirit of Christ? These are the kingdom values. This is truly the work of God. The intentional actions of the body of Christ. Remember the devil seeks only to kill steal and destroy. Steal your freedom, kill your joy, and destroy your destiny for hope and love. But God has a plan! He’s stealing from your neighbor, your family, and your loved ones today.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Jesus, He’s the Son of the living God, and we can receive from Him today His Righteousness, His purpose and His calling. Will you call on him today? Your salvation/forgiveness is just one prayer away. Will you trust in his ability to do what He said He would do? Will you believe today? Many of you need a fresh touch from God today. Is there some form of unbelief or a fracture of trust as it relates to God in your life today? God wants to redeem and restore those areas of your life? He wants to restore Joy and hope for you today. You’re hearing this now and the Holy Spirit has brought someone or something to mind. He wants to speak life into this today. He wants to bring healing in this area today. There are areas of deep regret when it comes to your relationship with God and you have rejected Christ as your savior …It’s not too late.

It’s not too late to humble yourself before him today, hold out your arms and open your hands to receive from him today. Will you say yes to Jesus, today? Will you bow your heads with me? Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today. If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here. Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life.

If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. Remember, it’s just you and God here. Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me

Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and on that 3rd day, you rose from the dead. I ask you to come into my heart today. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.

“‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26