DCLM Search The Scripture 13 November 2022, Lesson 890 – PROOF OF TRUE FAITH
Read DCLM Search The Scripture 13 November 2022 Manual
TOPIC: Proof of True Faith
MEMORY VERSE: James 2:26 – “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”.
TEXT: James 2:14-26
DCLM Search The Scripture 13 November 2022 MESSAGE
In the first part of James chapter two, the apostle condemns the attitude of favouritism and partiality amongst believers on grounds of wealth, influence and social status. He exhorts children of God to be obedient to the royal law. In this second part of the chapter, he focuses on the pivotal place of good works as evidence of true faith. Our text gives a graphic illustration of the faith-and-work relationship. “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” (James 2:22). Works, in the text, do not refer to acts of selfrighteousness with which many religious people attempt to earn salvation.
The Scripture states clearly that, “by grace are ye saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8). Works here are practical manifestations of the grace of God in the lives of the redeemed. These are acts of mercy, help and goodness, free from evil motives. Also, the writer did not refer to the initial justifying faith by which we are saved but a strong belief, complete trust and confidence in God and His word (Hebrews 11:1,6). Christianity demands of its followers good works to all men (Matthew 5:16-20; 1 Timothy 6:18; 2 Timothy 3:17). Neither faith nor works stands without the other. Faith is the root of our relationship and walk with God and works are the fruits which, of necessity, give expression to our faith.
Genuine faith is loyal to God, obedient to His commandments and love neighbours fervently. Faith that does not sincerely love, obey Christ, actively resists sin and the world, does not qualify as saving faith (1 John 2:3; 5:3).
QUESTION 1: EXPLAIN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAITH AND WORKS IN THE LIFE OF A TRUE BELIEVER?
Apostle James corrects the erroneous idea about the nature of living faith and exhorts believers on the practical demonstration of their faith in righteous living and good deeds. He concludes by citing examples of genuine faith from two Bible characters who proved their faith through good works.
THE PROFESSION OF FALSE FAITH (James 2:14-17; 1:22-25; Matthew 7:21-23; 21:28-32; 25:41-45; Mark 11:12-14; Luke 10:25-37; 13:6-9; Galatians 2:15,16; Titus 1:16; 3:4-8; 1 John 3:17,18; James 4:17) “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (verse14). Any profession of faith that is not accompanied by practical deeds of righteousness is worthless and dead. Christianity is not a mental ideology but a hearty acceptance of sacred obligations that makes us act in line with God’s will. Those who claim they have faith but maintain no complementary works are not genuine followers of Christ. Faith itself is active and dynamic. An individual, who truly has faith in God through His word, makes the rules and requirements of faith a normal duty. Faith without works is dead; it can neither save nor deliver.
It cannot attract God’s approval and has no reckoning in His sight. From biblical perspectives, the faith that lacks works is only a head-knowledge and never controls our heart or actions; two, it has no righteous fruits to show; three, it is boastful and centred on human opinions, principles and concepts; four, it is ignorant and bereft of the word of God which is the source of genuine faith; five, believes like the devils, who truly know of God’s existence but never do His will; six, takes no risk, pain nor makes any sacrifice for righteousness; and, seven, is cold, lifeless, blind, sinful and damnable.
James condemns the claim of some professing believers whose lives do not have corresponding fruits of the Christian faith. “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace , be ye warmed and filled ; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (verses 16,17). It is a false and sentimental expression of good wishes which practically does nothing to assuage the pangs of hunger and needs of the poor. The expression of such faith is grossly superficial that carries no cross or endures any pain. It is the type that selects and follows only the path that requires no consecration and sacrifice.
QUESTION 2: WHAT ARE THE MAIN DEFICIENCIES OF DEAD FAITH?
A careful examination of dead faith reveals that it is heartless, selfish and pitiless. It lacks grace for mercy and consideration for others. Since it has no inner propelling force to please the Lord, it cannot show love to neighbours or the needy (Luke 10:31). People with cold hearts and dead faith put self first. Their convenience, safety and comfort come first, and they entertain no thought of compassion about others.
Sometimes they are quick to pray, wish others well or express some feelings of sympathy but cannot in any practical way come to the aid of those in need. “If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, And one of you say onto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit” (verses 15,16). Some people erroneously hold the view that there is a contradiction between James’ teaching in our text and Paul’s position on justification by faith.
A careful examination of the Scripture shows that there exists no difference between the teachings of both apostles. The emphasis on Paul’s teaching was on justification by faith through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16; Romans 5:1). James’ emphasis is on the proof of faith demonstrated by good works, a viewpoint that Paul supported when he declared: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). A sinner only needs faith to get salvation and not works before salvation (Ephesians 2:8).
James posits that a converted sinner must bring forth the fruit of righteousness and good works. Christ sounds a note of warning to people who claim to have faith but neglect its responsibility to the needy, declaring that they would be excluded from His kingdom. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink” (Matthew 25:41,42).
THE PERFECTION OF FAITH WITH WORKS (James 2:17-20; Genesis 18:1-8; 19:1-3; Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; Titus 2:7,8, 3:8; Hebrews 10:24; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 John 4:20,21; 3:23; 5:2,3) “Yea, a man may say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my work” (James 2:18). Faith and good works blend together to produce scriptural belief in God. Neither strong faith in God’s existence nor works alone make up a complete Christian faith. When a sinner truly repents of sin and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, he or she experiences spiritual transformation and a change of life (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The repentant sinner obtains the grace of God to live a life of righteousness in this present world. Saving faith is solely by God’s grace; it is the gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit which empowers believers for gracious deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10; John 3:5; Titus 2:11- 14). No one is saved by works; they are filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). As light and salt of the earth, our faith in Christ should make us lift Him high for the dark world to see His salvation. No matter how resounding our testimonies might be, if people do not see good works trailing our faith, we shall be classified among vain worshippers.
QUESTION 3 : HOW CAN BELIEVERS’ FAITH BECOME PERFECT?
Those who believe in God must be careful to maintain good works. Christ-like benevolence and hospitality are the living proofs of a burning faith. God has commanded us to obey Him diligently. Our commitment and obedience to His commandments are indicators of our faith in Him. Devils, no doubt believe in the existence and majesty of God, but never keep His commandments nor carry out His will. Their own belief makes them tremble in the face of divine judgment (James 2:19). In a similar way, many believe in the existence of God but rebel against His word and live in unrighteousness (Titus 1:16). It is unprofitable to profess Christ without a demonstration of gracious work. “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (verse 20). In public and in private, our goal must be to beam out our Christian virtues that others may behold and be prompted to also believe in God.
THE PRACTICE AND DEMONSTRATION OF TRUE FAITH (James 2:21-26; Genesis 15:5,6; 22:9-14; Joshua 2:6-14; 6:17,22-25; Matthew 26:7-10; Acts 9:36; Hebrews: 11:17-19,31; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Timothy 4:5; Revelation 2:2,3) As a final proof of his teaching, James used two famous Bible characters – Abraham, the revered patriarch and Rahab, the redeemed prostitute – to illustrate true faith, proved by good works. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac… Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Hebrews 11:17,19). Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac was an expression of his faith and commitment to God (Genesis 15:6; 22:10). James used this example to correct the belief that faith can exist without commitment to and love for God. Apostle Paul also used the example of Abraham’s faith to refute the view that salvation rests on the merits of one’s works rather than on the grace of God (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6).
QUESTION 4 : WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR CHRISTIAN JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH?
God accepts only those who believe, not because of any good thing He sees in them, not even because of their ability to keep the law but solely on the basis of Christ’s righteousness reckoned to their account. It is this unmerited righteousness of God that He imputs in man through Christ by faith that forms the basis for Christian justification (Romans 4:16). “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31). Rahab was a sinner, yet her name was listed in the family of Christ’s ancestry (Matthew 1:5) because of her faith. She believed the report she heard about God (Joshua 2:10,11). Her reception and protection of the two spies proved her faith in God. She risked her own life to identify with Israel.
On account of her faith, proved by her works, she and her family were delivered from the judgment that came upon all the people in Jericho. Her faith preceded her works and was the basis for it. In like manner, any sinner who sincerely repents of sin, believes and receives Christ as Lord and Saviour will receive forgiveness from God and will be delivered from the impending eternal judgment.
QUESTION 5: MENTION OTHER BIBLE CHARACTERS WHO DEMONSTRATED FAITH BY GOOD WORKS.
Examples abound of Bible characters who demonstrated their faith by their works. They include, Zacchaeus, who confessed his sins, made restitution of ill-gotten wealth and parted with half of his goods to the poor (Luke19:8,9). Lydia, who after her conversion, showed hospitality to Paul and his company (Acts 16:14,15). The Jailor, after his conversion with his household, washed the stripes of Paul and Silas and refreshed them with victuals in his house (Acts 16:30- 34). Mary, who, in a show of gratitude for pardon received from her Saviour, used her alabaster box of precious ointment wrought a good work by anointing the body of Christ (John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:1-5). Tabitha, was full of good works and alms deeds done especially to widows (Acts 9:36-42). Job, for his care of the destitute and the poor (Job 29:15,16).
And, The Good Samaritan, for his compassion and care for a man robbed and wounded on Jericho’s road (Luke 10:30-36). Faith and works are as essential to each other as the body and the spirit: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (verse 26). Believers in Christ should hold fast their profession of faith without wavering, living in obedience, faithfulness, holiness, steadfastness and abiding trust in the Lord. We should always shine as light in a darkened world, demonstrating faith by deeds of love, mercy and righteousness. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Thank you for reading DCLM Search The Scripture 13 November 2022 Message