We opened up our time together by singing "Tell Out, My Soul" (#47).
Recitation and Review of James 2:14-18
- In 2:14, James does not explain whether faith saves, or whether works save, but rather explains what kind of faith saves. A faith that saves is an active faith, or an obedient faith. In contrast, a latent faith is no faith at all.
- Referring back to James 2:1-13, we can see that James describes a faith that does not discriminate. This is a faith that demonstrates itself. For example, one way to act out faith is to practically love your neighbor as yourself, especially toward those in need.
- It's possible to have a wrong definition or understanding about faith.
- Faith is not just intellectual understanding, nor is faith merely a profession of beliefs. Genuine faith is professed and then evidenced in works.
- If profession of faith is not accompanied by a working out, it is dead and useless and cannot be considered as saving faith.
- We can see in verse 19 that even demons have proper theology and understanding and therefore a profession of a kind of faith, but one would hardly say that this faith is a saving faith, nor would it be the kind that produces good works.
- Also, one who has works but no faith is not saved either. One is not saved by good deeds, but by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Preview of James 2:19-22
- The demons also believe that God is one, and even shudder in fear. They understand the import of who God is, and maybe in some ways we don’t! But that doesn’t really matter; what matters is what we do with our profession of faith. James restates what we've already reviewed; faith without works (in loving obedience to God) is useless.
- It is still important to have right doctrine and to understand God's Word properly. But what matters is not merely having knowledge and understanding, but what one does with it in working out their faith.
- We must have a "faith that works" rather than "faith and works." We believe, therefore we honor the Lord because we believe. This is faith that shows itself in works. Faith and works are not compartmentalized, but are married together in truth and deed.
- When James mentions that faith was perfected (verse 22), we should understand this phrase as faith having been brought to completion, rather than faith having been qualified to a level of perfection.
- James brings up the example of Abraham to show how his faith was proven through obedience via the offering of his son, Isaac, on a sacrificial altar.
- Abraham is called the friend of God. He has been declared righteous before God (v23), and can therefore could be considered a friend. Other biblical references to Abraham being called "friend" can be found in Isaiah 41:8 & 2 Chronicles 20:7.
- The declaration of Abraham's righteousness comes in Genesis 15, before Abraham actually offered Isaac upon the altar. However, it was this act of obedience that finally demonstrated the proof and genuineness of Abraham's faith that he already had.
- Question: Does faith have to be perfected before it is considered legitimate?
- There is tremendous value to having our faith actively being demonstrated as real.
- Testing of faith is valuable and refines faith toward purity.
- Without testing of faith and the production of obedient works, how can we really know whether our faith is genuine? Feelings, hunches, and experiences don't cut it and don't confirm salvation.
- Faith is not confirmed by feelings; faith is confirmed by obedience.
- Question: Is obedience always tied to physical, tangible actions?
- Not always. For example, to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength is not always a physical and tangible act of obedience. However, so much of life that we live is through our bodies in physical action. It would be hard to not use our bodies in service to others.
- Faithful obedience is balanced with both tangible and intangible aspects.