C2 The Christian life—the relationship of faith and works James 2:14-26
D1 Believers Should Know That a Faith That Is Not Matched by Works is Fake James 2:14-17
James 2:14-17 WEL What does it profit, my brothers, if a man says he has faith and not works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister becomes naked and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say to them, “Leave in peace, may you be warm and filled [with food],” yet you do not give them those things which they need for the body. What good [is it]? 17 So, if faith does not have works, it is dead in itself.
Faith and not works=
  • Some teach faith alone in Jesus Christ alone saves. Others do not. What does this passage mean?
  • In this passage, works are not for saving faith but show what we really believe.
  • This epistle is written to those already saved. They already are believers. The works mentioned are not for salvation. It is a contrast between a phony faith and a genuine faith. James 1:1-2 WEL James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes, which are scattered abroad, greeting. 2 My brothers, consider it all joy when you find yourself surrounded by various trials.
  • We have been taught by our church leaders (or at least are supposed to be taught) the Gospel, Christian doctrine and why we believe this, the Christian life and why we are to live this. Note here, how Paul ministered to the Philippians. He taught; they learned. What he said, he did. His life and words matched whether in private or in public. Philippians 4:9 WEL Those things, which you have learned, received, heard, and seen in me, do, and the God of peace will be with you.
  • We all show what we really believe, by how we live. If we are really Christians, our lives will reveal it.
  • John Wesley comments on this verse:
    • From Jam 1:22, the apostle has been enforcing Christian practice. He now applies to those who neglect this, under the pretense of faith. St. Paul had taught that “a man is justified by faith without the works of the law.” This some began already to wrest to their own destruction. Wherefore St. James, purposely repeating (Jam 2:21, Jam 2:23, Jam 2:25) the same phrases, testimonies, and examples, which St. Paul had used, Rom 4:3, Heb 11:17, Heb 11:31, refutes not the doctrine of St. Paul, but the error of those who abused it. There is, therefore, no contradiction between the apostles: they both delivered the truth of God, but in a different manner, as having to do with different kinds of men. On another occasion St. James himself pleaded the cause of faith, Act 15:13-21; and St. Paul himself strenuously pleads for works, particularly in his latter epistles. This verse is a summary of what follows. What profiteth it? is enlarged on, Jam 2:15-17; though a man say, Jam 2:18-19 can that faith save him? Jam 2:20.
    • It is not, though he have faith; but, though he say he have faith. Here, therefore, true, living faith is meant: but in other parts of the argument the apostle speaks of a dead, imaginary faith. He does not, therefore, teach that true faith can, but that it cannot, subsist without works: nor does he oppose faith to works; but that empty name of faith, to real faith working by love. Can that faith “which is without works” save him? No more than it can profit his neighbor.
  • Precept Austin has a comment on this verse: James 2:14-20 Describes dead faith (including “demonic” faith). James 2:21-26 Describes dynamic, living, useful faith giving three illustrations. James’ objective is to answer the question “What is genuine, saving faith?”. This question makes James 2:14-26 one of the most vitally important sections of Scripture because the truth James explains deals directly with a person’s eternal destiny. The most frightening deception in this life is to think that “I possess saving faith” when it fact in God’s eyes it is not genuine saving faith.
Good works=
  • Not necessarily the works of feeding and housing the poor though that might be, but a non-Christian can do as much and maybe better.
  • These would be Christian works as
    • Galatians 5:22-26 WEL But, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be longing for empty praise, irritating one another, and envying one another.
    • 1 Corinthians 13:4-8A WEL Love is very patient and kind; love is not envious; love doesn’t brag about itself, is not haughty, 5 Doesn’t behave improperly, is not self-seeking; love isn’t easily aggravated, doesn’t keep a list of wrongs, 6 Doesn’t rejoice in injustice, but rejoices in the truth, 7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, calmly endures all things. 8 Love never ends,
  • We who have been born again are to do good deeds.
    • Titus 2:14 NASB Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
    • Titus 3:14 NASB Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
    • 1 Peter 2:12 NASB Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
  • Good deeds do not always mean to given money either.
    • One example given in our passage refers to meeting physical and material needs.
    • Luke 7:22 PickNT
      • So in answer Jesus said to them: “Go and report to John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind regain sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, dead are raised, the poor are evangelized.
      • Pickering comments on this verse: “The poor are evangelized”—what the poor (and everyone else) need most is salvation and a new life, not a free distribution of wealth.
  • The actions of these would reflect
    • Mark 12:28-31 NLT One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
    • Note, that loving God is first, not loving the neighbor. Many, if not most Christian(?) leaders teach loving the neighbor and barely mention loving God.
    • Loving God is in obeying what Jesus has taught, not some voice or impression inside us. John 14:15 NLT If you love me, obey my commandments.
Brother and/or sister=
  • There is an order of priorities in meeting needs: spouse, then children, then our congregational members, then the church elsewhere, and finally the non-believer.
  • Brother and sister here refer to those whom James wrote to in James 1:1-2. They are believers.
D2 Believers Should Know Faith Alone With a Change of Life Seen Is Fake James 2:18-19
James 2:18-19 WEL Someone may say, “You have faith, and I have works. You show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one? You do well; the devils also believe and shudder.
Faith without works= A faith only in the mind, not in a changed heart.
Faith with works= A faith in the heart and mind revealing itself in the good deeds that Jesus wants us to do.
D3 Believers Should Know These Examples James 2:20-26
James 2:20-26 WEL But will you understand, you senseless man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Wasn’t Abraham, our father, justified by works when he had offered Isaac, his son, on the altar? 22 See how faith worked together with his works, and [how] faith was made complete by works? 23 The Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness,” and he was called the Friend of God. 24 You see then how a person is justified by works and not by faith only. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab, the harlot, justified by works when she had received the messengers and sent [them] out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
  • Two examples
    • Abraham James 2:20-24
    • Rahab James 2:25-26
Questions on James 2:14-26
  • What is faith?
  • What are good works?
  • Why are Christians required to do good works?
  • Give some examples of good works Christians can do?
  • What is the relationship between faith and works?
Posted by Choco in 2019 at 10:41
Labels: Christian Life, Faith and works, James  


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