Tuesday, June 24, 2008

JAMES 2:14-26 | Lesson # 4 | FAITH AND DEEDS

                                                                        JAMES 2:14-26               Lesson # 4

                                                                                                FAITH AND



I.    Greetings:


II.   Introduction:

            Note:  Many of you are excellent cooks.  We have tasted your cooking and know how good it is.  No one believes someone is a good cook

because they say they are a good cook, they are a good cook because they do good cooking.  A good cook does not establish their reputation with

words but with deeds.

            RQ  Would it not be silly for someone to brag about how good a cook they were but they never cooked good food?

            Q Do you know people who claim to be Christians but do not act like Christians?

               An = Some groups may not respond to this question and if they do not go right on to the next question.  If they do respond, cut it short,

lest they get into heavy gossiping about someone they know.  Your object is just to get them to think.

            Q Are there people who do not go to church because Christians do not act out their faith they only talk about it?

               An = Again watch this so it does not become gossiping, but try to get them to think about these issues.

            Q If we are honest, are we who believe also guilty at times, of not living up to what we claim?

               An = As the leader you should admit this first, then see if others will follow.  Usually, it is the strongest believers who will admit to


            Note:  Our goal today is to be helped by James to work on our consistency as believers so as to attract others to the faith and not repel



III.  The Concept of Faith Displayed by Our Deeds:  James 2:14-19.

>>>> Have someone read James 2:14-18.

            Q  What is James point here in verse 14?

               An = James wants us to realize that faith that does not have works cannot save us.  That particular kind of faith does not


            Q  What does James mean in verses 15-16?

               An = James wants us to see the difference between inactive and active faith.  Talk is cheap and the believer must put action along

with words.

            Q How does James describe such inactive faith in verse 17?

               An = It is dead.  Without accompanying deeds such faith is dead.

            Q What is James point in verse 18?

               An = James is not contrasting faith and deeds.  It is not faith versus deeds, but rather that deeds are the fruit or expression or

proof of our faith.  

            This does not contradict St. Paul saying we are saved by faith.  James is just helping us see the difference between real faith and phony


            He then gives us a very startling but helpful illustration....

>>>> Have someone read James 2:19-20.

            Q What is James saying here.

               An = After they give their answers, then let them know that "good theology" is good to have but the devil has a good and accurate

knowledge or theology, and he is still damned.  The devil believes in God and so do the demons.  

            If we believe in a useful manner then we demonstrate our belief by our actions.  If we say we believe that God is compassionate and loves

the poor then we should be like Him and help the poor in a compassionate manner.  If we do not we either do not really believe God would want us to do

that or we do not really care what God would want.

            Note:  In verse 20 James asks his readers a question.  He asks them if they are willing to see that faith without working that faith out in

practical ways is of no value.  He wants them to be willing to see that truth.


IV.  Examples of Faith  2:21-26.

>>>> Have someone read James 2:21-24.

            Q Which of the many stories about Abraham has James chosen to restate to us?

               An = Have someone recount the story if they can.  Then explain that Abraham's offering up his son Isaac as a sacrifice was a

great tangible acting out of his trust in God.  Our greatest treasures are our children and Abraham's son Issac was no exception.  Besides this being his

only heir, Isaac was the key to Abraham's realizing in a tangible way the promises of God that had kept him going all these years.  To lose Isaac was to

lose his future.  

            Q Why did God have Abraham go through the entire act even to the point of drawing the knife before He stopped him?

               An = Faith has to be physically acted out.  We too need to put our actions where our mouth is.  Would this incident have come down

through the ages if it had just been dialogue?  Abraham proved his faith to God (and to himself).

            Q What is James' point in verse 22?

               An = Faith and actions work together, in fact James says Abraham's actions completed his faith.

            Q Are most Christians in possession of "completed faith"?

               An = Most are not and therefore their faith lacks the vitality and power that Abraham experienced.  Remember Abraham did not

naturally have completed faith, but it was acquired through acting out in obedience, in a physical manner, what God commanded.  What Abraham had is

possible for you to have.

            Note:  Notice the results of Abraham's faith in verse 23.  

                        He did not have pride.

                        He did not become a fanatic.

                        He was God's friend.

>>>> Have someone read James 2:25-26.

            Q What was Rahab's profession?

               An = She was a prostitute, a woman of ill-repute.

            Q How did she become righteous?

               An = By what she did (as an act of faith).  She helped the Jewish spies:  gave them lodging and then showed them how to get away.  She

believed in their God and so gave them help.  Her faith was not just in her upbringing or in her mind or on her lips at church.  Her faith was

completed by her actions.  

            Q Why do the Holy Scriptures use Rahab as an example?  We can understand using Abraham but why is a woman of bad reputation used as an


               An = Our faith is not earned by our "not sinning the big sins" or by our heritage.  Rahab was not a Jew (not an Armenian) but a pagan, a

Gentile, a member of an accursed Canaanite race and religion.  She was from the wrong side of the tracks.

            Note:  Are we judging correctly when we consider a person to be good because of their station in life, that they attend church, or that they

are intelligent, or from a good family?  Is that how God judged Rahab?  Remember Rahab not only was saved but from her lineage came King David and

from David came Jesus Christ.  She becomes part of the Messianic lineage.  What an honor!  What a sign of acceptance by God!

            Q What does this say about God?  What kind of person is pleased by what God is pleased by?  

               An = Try to get them to answer this question.  It is not an easy one to articulate.  We do not often really think about God's character

when we read the Scriptures.  After they have given their answers then you might wish to add (only if they did not come up with it on their own):  for one

thing it shows that God is fair.  Everyone has a chance to please God no matter where we were born.  It is equally and fairly open to all.  It does not

matter who our parents were, where we were born, our level of intelligence, or our abilities.  God is fair.  God loves all.

>>>> Have someone re-read James 2:26.

            Q When you see the body in a casket at a funeral is the person really present in that corpse?

               An = No they are not.  The body is then just a shell.  The body without the animating "spirit" is dead.  So faith, or belief without acting

it out is a "dead faith", a "lifeless faith".

            Q What one thing can you do today to obey God?  What tangible thing can you do to demonstrate to God that you really do believe

in Him?

            Note:  Commit to do that one thing today as we close in prayer.  If you cannot think of one thing to act out your faith, then ask God to

show you today.   Ask believing that He will show you as I close in prayer.

            Close in prayer.