James 2:14-2:26

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Text: James 2:14-26

Faith and Works

I. The sort of faith which does not result in doing good works is not the kind of faith which saves anyone - 2:14

James 2:14 - What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

II. When a fellow believer lacks proper clothing and food and someone wishes him well without meeting his physical needs, it is of no benefit - 2:15-16

James 2:15-16 - 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 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?

III. Faith which does not produce good works is useless - 2:17

James 2:17 - Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

IV. The existence of faith is demonstrated by one's works - 2:18

James 2:18 - Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

V. It is not enough to believe that there is one God because the demons believe this and shudder from fear - 2:19, 24, 26

James 2:19 - Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

James 2:24 - Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

James 2:26 - For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

VI. The reader is again reminded that faith without works is useless - 2:20

James 2:20 - But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

VII. Abraham and Rahab are cited as examples of Old Testament believers who demonstrated their faith by their actions - 2:21-25

1. Abraham's offering of Isaac on the altar demonstrated that Abraham was righteousness - 2:21

James 2:21 - Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Abraham's justification by works in this passage should not be confused with Abraham's justification by faith. This is made clear in other passages.

Genesis 12:4 indicates that Abraham was seventy-five years old when he departed out of Haran.

Genesis 15:6 indicates that, before the birth of Ishmael, Abraham believed God; and his faith or belief was at that time counted to him for righteousness. This is the time of his justification by faith, and it occurred somewhere between Abraham's seventy-fifth and eighty-sixth birthdays.

In Genesis 16:16 Abraham is said to have been eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born.

In Genesis 21:5 Abraham is said to have been one hundred years old when Isaac was born.

In Genesis 22:1-14 , Abraham was in the process of offering Isaac upon the altar when the angel of the Lord stopped him. He was one hundred years plus the age of Isaac at this time. No one knows how old Isaac was when Abraham offered him up as a sacrifice to God, but he was old enough to carry the wood (Genesis 22:6 ) and old enough to understand that they had no lamb to sacrifice (Genesis 22:7 ).

A number of years intervened between the time Abraham was justified by faith and the time Abraham demonstrated this faith by offering Isaac his son upon the altar. They are not the same event, and justification by faith preceded justification by works by a number of years.

2. Abraham's offering of Isaac on the altar demonstrated that his faith had matured beyond saving faith - 2:22

James 2:22 - Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

3. Abraham was referred to as God's friend - 2:23

James 2:23 - And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

II Chronicles 20:7 - Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?

4. Rahab illustrates justification by works when she received the spies and sent them out another way - 2:25

James 2:25 - Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

Joshua 2:1-11 1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. 3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: 5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. 7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. 8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; 9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Note that Rahab is commended for her receiving the messengers and sending them out another way. She is not commended for lying. God did not need her to lie to enable Him to deliver the spies from danger.