2/14 The Faith That Dooms You To Hell [Sermon]

2/14 The Faith That Dooms You To Hell [Sermon] Shoe Leather Theology: Study of James

Faith That Dooms You To Hell
Study of James
By Carlos Jerez

Bible Text: James 2:14-16
Preached on: Sunday, February 14, 2016

First Family Church
317 SE Magazine Road
Ankeny, IA 50021

Website: www.firstfamily.church
Groups Website: www.ffcgroups.com
Online Sermons: www.sermonaudio.com/firstfamilychurch

I can’t think of any other place I would rather be right now than among God’s people worshipping our Creator who sent his Son to die on our behalf and to express that gratitude through prayer, through music and through our focused attention on his Word.  It is my great privilege to be able to be here this morning. And sometimes I just need to pinch myself that I get to do this.  So very grateful.

My name is Carlos for any of our visitors.  I am the campus pastor in Bondurant.  You will see me here every once in a while. As you know Todd is out of the country and so I get to be here this morning.  If I haven’t met you and if you are new, I would love to meet you. Please do me a favor and introduce yourself after the service. I would love to greet you

Well, some of you are aware of my testimony and I have given it in a few different contexts here in the Church and you know that I grew up going to church since I was around five years old or thereabouts. It was around that time of life when I first heard the gospel. What I remember is that I heard that Jesus died on the cross for my sins so that I wouldn’t have to go to hell and if I would ask him into my heart, I would get to go to heaven rather than hell.  Growing up during those years I sat through many Sunday school classes, sat in many church services and I learned a lot about Jesus, about God and about the Bible. And I can honestly say I even knew that I needed to place my faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins in order to be saved or forgiven and, therefore, go to heaven. I could have repeated that to you.  I believed I was a Christian.  I believed I was a follower of Jesus.

Here is the problem, though. I didn’t live like it.  I lived a very self centered, self driven life. I was consumed by what I wanted and what I desired and I organized my life to focus on how can I get what I want.  So much so by the time I was in junior high I was already sexually active. I had experimented with drugs and alcohol and I was living like a lot of my friends who weren’t Christians or wouldn’t even say that they were Christians. However, on Sundays I knew how to act like one.  I knew what to say.  I knew the gospel. I knew how to act like a believer in front of other Christians. You see, I could talk the talk, but I didn’t walk the walk. My faith was a false faith.  Even though I believed that I knew Jesus was the Savior and that it was true, I just didn’t believe it enough to follow it. I didn’t respond to it. And if I would have continued in that lifestyle, I would have been doomed to hell for my false faith.

Thankfully God saved me when I was 21 and gave me the understanding that it is not enough to just say you believe in Jesus. You must respond in kind.  And in today’s passage James speaks about the faith that dooms you to hell.  Beginning in chapter two of verse 14. And as you are turning there just a reminder. I will take questions at the end of the message on this passage. So if you have any you … feel free to text those in and I will do my best to address your concerns or questions. The number is at the top of your notes.

So James chapter two beginning in verse 14. This is what the apostle James writes.  What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works?  Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food and one of you says to him: Go in peace, be warm and filled, without giving him the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead.  But someone will say: You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

Father, as we approach this text, as we hear from you this morning, it is my great desire that we would understand what true saving faith is, that we would be able to discern what false faith is so that we can know for sure that we are yours and be obedient to your Word. We pray these things for your honor, for your glory and in Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you remember as we have been going through the book of James the issue of faith began in verse one of chapter two in the near context.  Here what we see in the first verse where he says: What good is it, my brother, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works. Can that faith save him?  Here we see James is addressing the issue of the profession of false faith.  But in chapter two verse one he says: My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the subject of faith in the near context.  That is why he picks it up here in verse 14. He is speaking of those who hold faith in the Lord Jesus. And to have faith in Jesus simply means this, that you have an internal confidence and trust in the finished work of Jesus the Christ as your Lord and Savior. It means that you trust him completely for your salvation and all that the Bible says about him. That is what it means to have faith in Jesus.

Now the reason James asks these rhetorical questions here is because of what he just said in verse 13 if you remember from last week. He says: For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.  But mercy triumphs over judgment.  Then he goes on to say that if you don’t have the right kind of faith, that kind of faith won’t save you from that judgment.  Right?  We know that in chapter one he commanded us to be what? Doers of the Word and not hearers only.  And as we discussed last week the topic of partiality, that was the first section, that was an application to being doers of the Word and not hearers only. And he ends that section on a mention of judgment as I have just shown you.

In other words, he here is going to talk about: You need to have the right kind of faith if you are going to escape judgment. And he first addresses what a false faith is.  You see, James either knew of certain people that he was writing to who had a false faith or he knew that this is just simply a danger in the Church. Either way, he was warning them and us, by the way, that it is possible to say that you believe in Jesus, that you have faith in Jesus and yet your faith be false and you don’t really have it. It is a possibility.  And the consequences of a false faith are severe. A false faith will end up in judgment.  A false faith will end in hell, not heaven. And it is important to know what a false faith is so that one can understand what true faith is.  And fortunately James, under the guidance of God the Holy Spirit teaches us how to prevent us from having a false faith.  And the first insight he gives us is that a faith that does not have works is not saving faith. It is not true faith. It cannot save. Anyone who professes to believe in Jesus, but does not obey Jesus with their works, is not truly saved.

What does he mean by this?  Well, he gives us an example to illustrate the point, doesn’t he? What did he say? He says: If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food and one of you says to them: Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? He gives us an illustration, right?  And he basically says: Hey, you see a brother who can’t feed themselves, who can’t clothe themselves and you tell them: Hey, you know what? You need to eat something and put some clothes on. Hey, have a good day.  He says: That is useless.  You say you have faith and that is how you treat people who are in need? That type of faith is worthless. Those who trust in Jesus know that Jesus said: Love your neighbor as yourself and because they believe in him, they will respond when they see a need that they can meet. That is the illustration. Right? If you say you trust in him, you will demonstrate that you trust in him by your obedience or by your good works.  In other words, think of it this way.  Talk is cheap.  You don’t … you can’t say you follow him, if you are not actually following him, right?  Words can be empty.  And in this sense, that is what James is talking about, which is why he ends in verse 17 here. He says: So also faith without works is dead.

Now let me ask you a question. If someone or something or anyone or anything is dead, what can they do?  They can do nothing.  Why? Because they are dead, right? Real simple.  So the point is clear. James is saying: Your faith without works is dead. It has no ability, it can do nothing and in the context he is meaning it cannot save because it is a dead faith. It is not a true faith.  That is not the type of faith that can save.  What James is saying here is that it is possible to say with your mouth—like the story I told you about my own life. I believe in Jesus. I trust in Jesus and yet I didn’t follow Jesus. And James says: That is a false faith. That is not a true faith. That is not a saving faith. Your faith must be demonstrated by your works in order for it to be saving faith.

He goes on to say: But someone will say: You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works. Here James is anticipating an ejection to what he is saying. Someone might well say: Well, wait a minute. You know, we kind of have this discussion that you don’t need to obey the law of Moses in order to be saved and now you are saying that I need to obey? And how does that work? All I need to do is say I believe in Jesus and I am saved, right? I mean that is all I need to do. And James says: No, you need to demonstrate that you actually believe in Jesus or else you will have a dead faith. And the only way to demonstrate that you actually believe in Christ is that you obey him with your works.  It is the only way.

Put another way: a statement of profession in Christ is not enough.  It must be followed by obedience. Your profession must match your life, to put it another way. Even belief incorrect doctrine, including the gospel is not enough.  Remember I told you. That is who I was.  How can I say that? Remember what he said? You believe that God is one. That is from the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 6:4.  Hear oh Israel, Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one.  He is the only God. And that was a confession that a Jew would make that he is the only true God. And James addresses it here and he says: You say that and you know what? That is good, because that is true.  However, it is a fascinating statement here.  He says: However did you know that even the demons believe and know and understand that that is true?

I don’t know if you have ever thought about this, but demons, who are fallen angels, right, spiritual beings, they know the truth very well.  They know. They were once created to worship God and at one time were in his presence worshipping him forever and ever. At one point they fell, but before that they knew the one and true God and worshipped him. And Satan who fell was their leader. He used to lead worship in heaven. They know truth, which is why when the Bible talks about that the source of false teaching comes from demons it is because they know the truth and they know how to pervert it.  And here he says: Correct doctrine, you know the truth? That is awesome. But do you know what?  So do the demons. And what do they do? They shudder. They fear. The implication is that demons aren’t saved. They are not believers in Jesus.  They understand the truth, but they don’t respond to the truth with obedience, is the point.  You see, the point is the knowledge of the truth of the gospel is not enough.  You must place your faith in Christ. And the only way to demonstrate that you have placed your faith in Jesus is that you obey him. Even an emotional response to after hearing the gospel is not enough. Did you notice that the demons had an emotional response?  They were scared.  That is not enough. I am not saying that when God saved you and it was an emotional response, I am not saying that that is not true.  But if that is all you trust in, if you could say: No, I am saved. I remember. It was… I was at camp and I came forward and then I was weeping and I was overwhelmed and it was powerful.  The follow up question is: Well, what is your … what does it look like since then?  Right? The proof is in then pudding, because that will demonstrate that you really were saved at that point. That is what he is talking about, which is why he ends: Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

Here he summarizes all of what he had just been saying.  Faith apart from works is useless.  If you say you believe in Jesus and cannot demonstrate it with your obedience, then your faith is a false faith, is what James is saying.  It cannot save you.  It is this type of faith that will doom you and anyone if you have that type of faith to hell.

Why mention it? Why does James go through this?  Why would we pick such a provocative title?  Think about it.  Eternity is in the balance.  It has to do whether or not you will be forgiven of your sin and go to heaven or be sent to hell, which, by the way, is unending, unmitigated wrath of God poured on you forever and ever.  I don’t want anybody to go there.  Neither did James, which is why he mentions it. I would rather warn and offend someone with the truth rather than say: Well, I don’t want to judge your faith. If you believe in Jesus, that is ok.  I know your life doesn’t look like it, but, you know, it is faith that saves, so you are ok. No.  You need to know, I need to know that faith must be followed by obedience if it is a true faith. That is the model.

Yeah, I don’t know if you have been aware or have even have experienced it, but there is a danger in our day and age, and not just in the United States, but in other parts of the world, that, hey, it is… all you have got to do is say you believe in Jesus. All you have to do is say this prayer and it doesn’t matter that you obey him—and praise God if you do, but if you just say it, if you just pray the prayer, if you just have this experience, you will be saved.  That is dangerous.

How we receive salvation is by faith.  But proof that we have received it is that we obey. Right?  There is danger in trusting in a one time event.  If you question the fact that you have … I mean, do I really believe in Jesus?  Man, I remember that one time. If that is what you bank your salvation on, that is not good. You are either being disobedient and you need to repent or you are not saved, because if you… I mean, the term believer… every time it is written in the New Testament is the concept of not that you have believed, but that you live your life in continual belief which is demonstrated by obedience.  Knowledge of the gospel is not enough.  Don’t be like I was.  You can spend years listening to the Bible, even reading your Bible, understanding correct doctrine about God and Jesus and the demons and everything else the Bible has to say, but that doesn’t save you. Placing your trust, your confidence in Jesus alone and his finished work and responding to his commands because you do believe is what saves.

I don’t know if you knew this, but some of the best commentators on the Bible, books of the Bible, guys who know how to dig deep into the original languages, who can tell you the outline of a letter and can give you some insight into some old words and how they were used in that time and day and age, some of the best commentaries that I use, by the way, when they handle the language, the writers of those commentaries don’t even believe. And yet they know truth.  You see, knowing is not enough. Knowing, it begins there.  But it needs to respond. Saving faith is a responsive faith. Saving faith is not merely in the head. It starts in the head. It makes its way to the heart and it fleshes itself out in a desire to obey and it does obey.  The faith that dooms you to hell is a false faith.

It is not enough to only say you believe in Jesus. You must demonstrate your faith by your works.  And then James gives us a biblical example of what he is talking about.  And that begins in verse 21. Look at this.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works and faith was completed by his works.  And the Scripture was fulfilled that says: Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. And he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  For as the body apart from the Spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.  This is the practice of saving faith.

And James uses Abraham as an example of what he is talking about. Or we can put it this way, kind of as proof, biblical foundation of what he is saying. He uses Abraham.  And it is a great example of true saving faith, the story of Abraham. He has a perfect… or he is a perfect example of the relationship between faith and works.  And he defends it with the story of Abraham. And he is absolutely right to do so.

His statement, however, about Abraham being justified by his works can be, when at first glance, a little bit like: Wait a minute. Justified by works? It can almost be a little confusing.  It can almost kind of at first glance you are like: Wait a minute. Doesn’t Paul say the exact opposite?  Think about this. Romans chapter four. This begins in verse one. This is what Paul says about justification. And, interestingly enough, he refers to this same passage about Abraham. He says this.  What shall we say was gained by Abraham our forefather according to the flesh? In other words, what shall we say that he earned by his flesh?  For if Abraham was justified by works he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.

So Paul goes out of his way to say: No, no, no.  Justification is by faith. Abraham was declared righteous by his faith.  But James says it is works. What is going on? You know, it is this seeming confusion that even Martin Luther, one of the reformers had a hard time accepting and receiving the book of James.  He eventually did when he rightly understood it, but at first glance, he is like: Wait a minute. That is not right. After he discovered the gospel by faith alone or through faith alone.  He had a hard time understanding what James was saying.

However there is a solution to the confusion and this is not a contradiction. Actually these two passages complement each other.  And we are going to see how. Now what is the first thought—when we study our Bibles—what is the first thing that we always want to take into consideration when we come to a passage? We want to understand it and rightly interpret it. Context.  I just said it. Context. You need to read what is before, what is after. Where is he going? So if you are only to read the phrase—Was not Abraham our Father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?—if you just read that verse and you stopped right there, then you are like: Wow. That contradicts what Paul says.  But if you keep reading, like we did, you will see he doesn’t contradict, because later on he … what does he say? In the next verse he says that faith was active along with his faith. And then he uses this phrase, which really helps us out. His faith was completed or brought full circle  by his works.  In other words, his faith in Jesus for salvation was by … was, you know, he had faith, but it was demonstrated by his works.  Abraham had a responsive faith. Abraham had a faith that obeys.

James agrees with Paul actually, because if you go on to read: What does he say that made Abraham righteous?  He says his faith. He quotes Genesis. And he says: And Abraham believed God and God counted his belief, his faith as righteousness.  There is no contradiction.

You use, Abraham was saved before he obeyed.  We are not going to go deep into the story, because we are going to do that next week and, oh, it is an amazing story of faith and works and how they work together, the story of Abraham. We are going to do that. We are going to pause next week. We are going to take a time out to look at that.  But when you see and read the story, it was before he obeyed that this verse was written that he believed. Later on in life he obeys this command, which was what? A demonstration that he really did believe.  Make sense? So there is no contradiction.

It is also important to understand when you read passages in the Bible that biblical writers can use the same words, but not always mean the same thing.  What helps us understand what they mean by a word that they use? The other words that surround it, the context, right?  Context.  When Paul speaks of justification in Romans chapter four, when he says—Abraham was justified by his faith—this is what he is talking about, because you will go on to read and this is what he means. He means that what?  Abraham was declared righteous, Abraham was declared holy because of his truest in God and later his Messiah who would come. He was… put it this way. He was credited with Christ’s righteousness because of his faith. That is how he accepted the righteousness, by his faith.

However what James means is he is not contradicting that, but when he is talking about justification, he means that he is justified because his faith is—which is what justifies him—is demonstrated by his works.  You see there is a little difference in nuance there, but context helps us understand that.  Why take the time to explain that?  Because you can misunderstand this passage and think that you somehow have something to do with your salvation. Faith is what? It is the medium or the agent, we can say, on how we receive the gift.  That is how we receive it by faith, by trust, by confidence in Jesus. He says he is the Savior and we trust that. We don’t want to misunderstand and say: Well, actually no. It is that and what I do is what saves me. By the way, that is the Roman Catholic belief.

But we believe, as Paul says, by the works of the law shall no one be what? Saved or justified.

We also see that works essentially mean obedience. You have already heard me say that.  But even in the context it says that.  Because the command was given to Abraham. Offer your son Isaac on the altar, which, by the way, didn’t end up happening. God stopped him.  He was commanded and he obeyed and that is referred to as works. So works essentially mean obedience. And, again, we will take a closer look at that story next week.

Then he goes on to say: You see, that person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  Our works prove that we really believe in Jesus. I mean, stop and think about it. Think about what the Bible has to say about our conversion, our new life, our salvation in Jesus. I am not going to talk about all, but I am going to mention a few.

Thin about this. We receive when we believe in Jesus God the Holy Spirit because God pours him out into our hearts. Romans chapter five verse five. We are partakers of the divine nature. 2 Peter chapter one.  Right? In the person of the Holy Spirit.  1 Peter one verse three says what?  We are born again. We were once dead and now we have new life, right?  Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter five that the old has passed away. Behold the new has come. Why? Because we are new creatures or creations in Christ.  Think of the language. We have been given the Holy Spirit. We have been born again. We are new. We are not who we used to be.  We can now, as Paul commands us to in Galatians five, to what? To walk in the power of God the Holy Spirit. So if that is true of our conversion, which begins with trust in Jesus, it makes no sense if you never obey Jesus and yet say you have that. Make sense?

Wait a minute. You have the Holy Spirit. You are a new creature. You have been born again from the dead and you never obey Jesus, but you say you believe in him? The Scripture says: No. You don’t.  That is what he means.

John the apostle would say it this way.  You say you know him, but you do not obey him.  You deceive yourselves and the truth is not in you. That is the way the apostle John would say it. Saving faith is a responsive obedient faith. And if you put your confidence in Jesus, you will demonstrate that your confidence is in him by your obedience. Your obedience doesn’t save you. It just demonstrates that you are saved. You will respond to him.  You will respond to the one whom you say you love. You will walk as he walked.  In short, you will demonstrate your faith in Jesus by your obedience to him.

And in the same way, here is a fascinating, another illustration, another example. In the same way he says: Was not Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them by another way. At first glance you might think:  Whoa, that kind of looks like kind of Rahab earned that one.

We have time. I want to show you.  Hold your thumb there. We will come back. Flip back to the book of Joshua chapter two. I want to show you this, because this is a very encouraging illustration and example of true faith. So the book of Joshua. I will set the context real quick.  The children of Israel have wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, that generation who did not believe that God can get them into the Promised Land, had died off. That new generation led by Joshua, because Moses had died at this point is ready to go into the Promised Land. They have already had … they have already been attacked by other nations and God fought their battles and the Israelites obliterated their enemies and other people in Canaan were hearing about it.  Ok?

So they get into the land of Canaan. Joshua sends out some spies and he says: Hey, go to the city of Jericho. Go and spy out the land.  Check out Jericho. So they go.  And they stay in Rahab the prostitute’s house. The king hears about it, goes to Rahab. Hey, where are those guys who came in to spy out the land?  Rahab says: Oh, they did come, but they are gone. They just left out the gate. If you hurry you will go catch them, when really all she hid them in her roof is what is going on, ok?

So essentially, think about this. She is a prostitute and she lied.  So how does James use her as an example of faith? This is Joshua chapter two. Look at verse eight. Before the men—these are the ones who came to spy out the land—lay down she came up to them on the roof and said to the men: I know that—and this is the divine Word of God—that Yahweh, the good of Israel, the Creator has given you the land and that the fear of you has fallen upon us and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how Yahweh dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came up out of Egypt and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to Sihon and Og whom you devoted to destruction.  We heard about what God is doing among you.  We heard how no one can stand against you. We heard how you were delivered against the mighty Kingdom of Egypt. We have heard this and we heard Yahweh did it for you.

Look what she says. And as soon as we heard it our hearts melted and there was no spirit left in any man. This is verse 11.  Because of you. For Yahweh your God—listen to this. He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. And then she basically says: Now please swear to me because I have dealt kindly with you, that you will deal kindly with me. And God saves her, her and her family get saved.  They are not devoted to destruction.

What is going on here?  This is why I think this is very encouraging, because it is not Rahab’s character. It is not her works that save her. I mean, think about it. She is a prostitute and she is a liar.  But what did she… she trusted that God is God and that he needs to be obeyed. Now her obedience was flawed, but she did have a faith that he was the true God.  And God says: That is the kind of response I want.  It wasn’t her works. It was her faith. But she demonstrated she had faith. She goes: Hey… you know, think about it. She has no knowledge of how to walk with God or how to obey him. She just knows, like: I just need to help these guys, because I fear that God. And she responded in the only way she knew how, because she believed that the God of Israel was the true God.  And she was justified by her faith and she demonstrated she had faith by her works, her obedience.

Let me tell you something.  The example of Rahab closes the door on anyone who would say that this passage teaches that you are saved by your works. There is now way that woman was saved by her work or anyone for that matter.  You cannot save yourself.  God alone saves. Put it this way. Not even your faith saves you.  It is God who saves you and you receive that salvation through faith.

And he ends with: For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from the works is dead.  The body cannot live without the soul.  What makes us living being sis that we have an immaterial nature which we call the soul or spirit.  No soul or spirit, no life.  So faith that does not demonstrate its belief by works, is what?  It is dead. But a faith that obeys and responds, that is truly saving faith.

Now someone might say—and I don’t know if you have heard this. But, Carlos, what about… what a minute… what about the thief on the cross?  I mean he was hanging on the cross. He was about to die.  And he just said he believed Jesus was the King and he got to go to heaven.  Like, so when did he get to demonstrate his works? Right?

Now praise God for what we call death bed conversions when somebody at the end of life places their faith in Jesus and they are saved and that is possible and God does do that and praise God for that. But if that person lives any longer they will continue to respond to God’s commands and obey. I mean, think about what the thief said: Remember me when you come into your kingdom. He has nothing to gain by telling Jesus that other than he believed that Jesus was who he said he was.  If he would have lived longer, he would have had responded rightly, not perfectly, but rightly.

Here is a question. I want to ask you a series of questions. I want you to think of how God would have you respond to what is being said in this passage.  Do you demonstrate that you believe in Jesus by your works or by your obedience? Put it another way:  Do you only say you believe but don’t live like you do?  I would venture to say that there might be some of those in our church.  Or maybe you say you believe and you obey because you think that puts you in right standing with God and that he is more pleased with you or at least he loves you more when you obey and he doesn’t love you when you are disobedient.

Let me tell you something. If you are in Jesus, if you placed your faith in him and you are one of God’s children, he loves you to the fullest already.  You don’t need to obey in order for him to love you more. He loves you more than anyone or anything could ever love you already. But you do respond because of that love in obedience. And you look at your obedience not as: Wow, look, man, God loves me because of what I do for him. No. You obey because wow I love God because of what he did for me.  That is a right way to understand faith and works.

Think about this.  I believe in Jesus.  I obey Jesus, because I believe in him, but are there areas in your life that you compartmentalize and say: Ok, man, I go to church. I read my Bible. I even go to light house.  But there is this one area of my life that, hey, come on.  Just leave that alone.  There is no such thing as your own little things apart from following Jesus.  Man, I go to church. I pray all the time.  And yet, you know, what is the big deal?  I watch entertainment that is sexually immoral, that glorifies sex.  But, hey, man, don’t be legalistic.  We are great. We are saved by grace. I just kind of…I like the story line. Think about it.  How about this one? Loving your neighbor as yourself means that you take time to love your neighbor as yourself. I am just really busy. You are too busy? You are too busy.  Carve out some time for people, because people matter. You can’t obey  love your neighbor as yourself if you don’t have time to love your neighbor as yourself. Well, yeah, I just don’t have time. I mean, I would if I could. No, you can, you just choose not to.  Think about it.

Here is one that I see frequently and not necessarily in our church, but I think in our church culture. Men come to church, husbands, because their wives come to church and they want to bring their kids. And they come and they will come Sundays and they will sit and they will listen to a sermon. They might even sing a few times, but when it comes to the spiritual leadership of their home, they are like: Whoa. That is why I take you to church.

Let me tell you something. If you believe in Jesus, if you say you have placed your faith in him, you must respond with obedience. And he commands you as the father to be the spiritual leader of your home. Now that doesn’t mean you are doing devotions every day before you have a meal. It could.  That doesn’t mean that you, you know, every day you walk your children to a Bible passage. It can, but not necessarily.  But it does mean that you recognize that you are the spiritual leader of your home and you take that responsibility seriously and you do lead your children and your wife in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

How about this one?  What does the Bible say about prayer? Sum it up. Probably the simplest way: Paul said it. Pray without ceasing. Are you a person who believes in Jesus for your salvation and yet lives like you only need him when things get really hard. Continual prayer, dependence upon God your prayer demonstrates your faith.

Now some of you, walking in the Spirit would be another, rather than the power of your flesh.  And some of you I am not here to get in your face and be like: Carlos, I am good. I am walking with Jesus. Man, I don’t do it perfectly, but I am responding and I am walking. Here is my encouragement to you.  Make and continually make Jesus the focus of your faith and obedience, right? Your works aren’t saving you.  Jesus saves you.  But you can demonstrate that you believe in him and that you love him, which James said, by the way, remember earlier? For those who love him by your obedience. And no one has to see that you obey, save God alone. And your obedience is not in vain, because it is proof positive that you are born again, that you are a child of the King, that you will overcome death because Jesus overcame it for you on the cross and that you can now live this life freely with an open hand and say: Jesus, here I am.  What do you want me to do? You give so that I can share? You take because you are wise. But whatever I do, it is for your honor and for your glory, because I am living this life in light of the next.

I trust that you all want to have that confidence, don’t you?  Those of you who have it, remember who the focus of our faith is and why we obey.  I have said it before. It is not so much what you do, but why you do it.

Maybe you have some sin in your life that you need to deal with. I don’t know. I can’t see your heart. Here is the good news. If you believe in Jesus, God doesn’t hate you because of your sin. He wants you to come and confess it and be washed clean and he is ready.  What would God have you turn from, confess and repent of this morning?

So what we have simply seen in this passage, real simple. Good works are evidence of saving faith in Jesus. It is critical to understand what false faith is so that we can discern: Do I have that? Do I need to repent of that and embrace Jesus and demonstrate that I have embraced him by my obedience? God saves through faith. Faith is demonstrated by works.

Brian, did we get any questions?

As the band comes forward and as we transition to a time of communion, I want to point you back to chapter one. Look at verse 18.  Again, another passage that unequivocally states that it is God who saves, not us.  Look at what James chapter one verse 18 says.  Of his own will—that is God—he brought us forth by the Word of truth.

Do you know what that means? It means that because God chose to save you, through the gospel, that you are saved. That is grace. God didn’t look down from heaven and say: You know what?  So and so is worthy and, yeah, I think I am going to send Jesus to die for him, because he deserves it or she deserves it. He says: No. They don’t deserve it.  But I am going to choose to be gracious and I am going to send the Son so that they can be delivered. That is our God.   And that is the event you remember when we come together at the Lord’s table.

Lord Jesus, thank you for rescuing us from our sin. Thank you for completing our redemption on the cross. Thank you that we could never earn it, but that it is freely given.  But, Lord Jesus, we who have been converted and born again, who love you, Lord, continue to mature us and grant to us the desire to demonstrate that we trust you by our obedience.  Thank you for the good works that you have prepared beforehand. Thank you that you created us to walk in them.  Lord, I pray for anyone in this room or anyone who is listening to me online or will listen to this later. Father, if they have a false faith, make that known to them so that they would believe only in Jesus and respond in faith… respond to their faith by their obedience.  Thank you, Jesus, for the cross. It is in your name we pray. Amen.

By |2016-06-27T08:42:42-05:00February 14th, 2016|Sermon Series|0 Comments

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