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James 1:1-11 James 1:12-27 James 2:1-26 James 3:1-12
  James 4:1-17 James 5:1-20  
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James 2:1-26

 

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.  For if there come unto your assembly [margin: "synagogue"] a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:  are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?  But ye have despised the poor.  Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?  Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?  If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.  But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.  For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill.  Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.  So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?  can faith save him?  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 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.  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.  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:  the devils [demons] also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the alter?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  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.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." 

 

We Have To Understand What Real Faith Is

 

"James chapter 2, James is going to tell us that faith without works is dead.  Ah, tough book, if we don't look at it the right way.  Martin Luther felt like it shouldn't have been part of the New Testament.  [Comment:  Coming from where Martin Luther was coming from, out of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1500s, Martin Luther would not have been a part of the New Testament Church of God James was the head of in Jerusalem in 45AD.  The whole early Church concept of grace and works taught by James and the apostles was totally different than what Luther taught and understood, the paradigms were totally different.  For a research paper on the early Church, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm.  If Luther disagrees with the James the brother of Jesus, I would take the side of James and not Martin Luther.  That's just me.]  Some felt, as they brought the New Testament together, that it shouldn't be included.  It seemed legalistic in some ways.  [and that was well after the death of the 12 apostles, James and Paul, under the auspices and guidance of the proto-Catholic church, so again, who do you side with?  I'll take the 12 apostles, James and Paul when it comes to forming opinions about the Book of James.]  But remember, James is the head, becomes the head of the Church in Jerusalem.  James says for the Gentiles to just stay away from idolatry and immorality and they'll do fine.  No legalism there.  James, an upright man, James a very godly man, James the Just.  Remember, James, Old Camel Knees, prayed until his knees were deformed.  But most importantly we're looking through the eyes of a man whose older brother was Jesus Christ.  We're looking through the eyes of old Camel Knees.  And that's why he says some of the things he says, that's why he hates partiality, he hates the wrong use of the tongue, because he was surrounded with it.  He hates false religion, religion that just talks and doesn't walk.  That's why he says ÔYou have faith?  Faith works, I watched it in my older brother.  I watched it in the apostles gathered around him.  And it was a great contrast to the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who constantly surrounded us, who talked the talk and didn't walk the walk.'  So he's saying to the believer, ÔFaith works, mature Christians practice their faith, they don't just talk about it.'  So there's grace all the way through this, we just have to remember old Camel Knees, remember the instrument, the pen, the quill that God is using to write this piece to us.  Chapter 1, he said mature Christians, they endure trials and temptations.  And he led us through that, and showed us our way through it in a remarkable way.  Chapter 2, now he's going to tell us that faith works, saving faith works, you're not saved by works you're saved by faith. But if faith is genuine it demonstrates itself.  It doesn't have to be defended, because it demonstrates itself, you can see faith in the life of someone whose a genuine believer.  We're telling people in the world about the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, that he can transform a human life, and James says ÔWell, let us see it, if that's what we believe.  Jesus Christ sets us free from sin and death, and he transforms, he saves us eternally and he saves us from the lifestyle that was destroying us, he delivers us.'  So let's see what that looks like.  And I think it's important too.  They say today, nine out of ten Americans say they have never doubted the existence of God.  90 percent of Americans say they have never doubted the existence of God, 90 percent of Americans say that they pray.  70 percent say they believe in life after death.  80 percent of Americans say they believe in miracles, and seven out of eight Americans say that they're Christians, 7 out of 8.  Teenagers in America today, 95 percent say they believe in God.  93 percent say they believe God loves them, I guess 2 percent that believe, but don't believe he loves them, I don't know.  93 percent say they believe God loves them, and 75 percent of teenagers in America say when they're alone and they're troubled, they pray, not publically, but when they're alone.  Now analysts look at those statistics and this is what they say, "That American faith is a paradox, that it's only skin deep."  Because at the same time, American culture is the most religious and the most secular in the western hemisphere.  With those statistics you wouldn't think we'd have problems with crime, theft and drugs and pornography and all the things we see around us.  The statistics don't hold up to the reality of how we live.  So we have to understand what real faith is.  What is Biblical faith?  And we need to know that, because we're told in Ephesians chapter 2 that we're saved by faith, so we need to know what it is.  It tells us in Hebrews chapter 10 that we live by faith, we're saved by faith, it says the just shall live by faith.  It tells us in Hebrews chapter 11, it's impossible to please God without faith.  So we have to understand what faith is.  And James is just a straight-shooter, no compromise, tells us what real faith is like.  How it operates in trials, how it operates in temptations, and now he says, ÔThis is how faith operates among you.' 

 

Real Faith Is Loving Faith

 

Loving Faith Doesn't Show Partiality

 

Chapter 2, the first 13 verses talk about loving faith, and then verses 14 to 26 talk about living faith, dynamic faith.  He says this, "My brethren," and here he is, 19 times again he calls us his brothers, you know, he's sensitized to that, because if he got to be the brother of God, so do we, he knows it's not by DNA [except through God's DNA, the Holy Spirit, (cf. Romans 8:1-16)].  "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.  For if there come into your assembly [margin: "synagogue", i.e. the early Church met in Christian synagogues, talk about being Judeo-Christians J] a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;" jeans, Hawaiian shirt, you know [that's what Pastor Joe wears all the time in services J] "and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing," now that meant something vastly different in that day [laughter], it's just beautiful clothes, ok, "and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:  are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?" (verses 1-4)  He's saying something to us about love.  And faith loves, he says.  It manifests itself in love, but it's a particular kind of love.  Again, he's telling us when you walk in those doors, all partiality ends at the entrance [to God's Church, whichever church that may be for you].  We are a culture and a society unto ourselves.  And the world wasn't like that.  There should be no distinction between us racially.  And some of us might struggle with that.  We may have grown up prejudiced, we may have grown up, we come to Christ and that person sitting next to us, no matter what the color of their skin is, is our brother or our sister, and we're going to spend eternity for them [and with them].  And we should be willing to take a bullet for them, and they should be willing to take a bullet for us, we should be willing to lay down our lives for one another.  And that's reality.  And it may grate on some of us, and if it does, it isn't grating on the part of you that's Jesus, it's grating on the part of you that's carnal.  There should be no class distinction.  James is saying if some wealthy guy comes and sits in your church, you know, like the rich young ruler, rich, young, powerful, "Lord, I've done all these things from my youth, what lack I yet?"  ÔTithing envelopes!'  Of course that's what the church would say.  ÔThat's the only thing you still lack, tithing envelopes!  Take these, you're rich, young, powerful, we want you in our church.'  And the great temptation is to treat somebody rich differently than you're going to treat somebody whose poor, and we only do that because we have covetous hearts.  ÔIf I'm nice to the rich guy, he might give me something,' hey, that is bottom-line.  James is saying, ÔYou'd better not treat somebody in a $600 suit differently than you treat somebody dressed like a carpenter, because you never know who you're dealing with, and you'd better take it from me.   Because my older brother, the blue-collar worker, was God.'  And James at one point, it says in Mark 3:21, that his kinsfolk, his family [Jesus' family that is, his brothers, sisters and mother] said to Christ that he must be beside himself, that's schizophrenic.  Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm schizophrenic, and so am I, [laughter]  that's next to yourself, two people.  You know, James is very sensitive to this [that he misjudged his brother], he's going to talk about the mouth too, because of how ungracious he was to his own brother until the Resurrection, which of course changed all that.  Somebody comes into your church, how do we treat them?  James says, ÔYou say you have faith?  I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna come and sit in the back row in your church, and I'm gonna watch how you treat people.'  Not the pastor, all of us.  How do you treat the stranger?  What do you do if you come in on Sunday [or Saturday] morning, and someone has sat themselves in your spot?  [laughter]  I've seen that look on your face.  ÔAlright, you get away with it this time, because you're a newcomer, but that ain't happening again.'  They got nerve to come in and park in your spot.  So anybody whose been here for any length of time knows that belongs to you.  What do we do if someone comes in physically different?  Deformed?  Wheelchair?  Blind?  The folks that sit here with the signers here on Sunday, how many of us have walked over to them and said "Glad you're here"?  Jesus, it says, went into the synagogue on Sabbath [yes, he kept the Sabbath J], and there was a woman that came in, and it says she was bent in half, and the Greek grammar means she was bent in half, her head was at her feet.  [See http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm and scroll to the section detailing where Jesus kept the Sabbath for this account.  It's quite telling, as Pastor Joe is bringing out here.]  That was her view of the world, dust in her face, rain running down the back of her head, filthy hair, deformed.  And it says ÔJesus saw a woman, somebody's little girl, he saw a woman.'  He didn't see a monstrosity, he didn't see something that he wanted to turn away from, he saw a woman.  And he prayed for her, and she was healed.  The ruler of the synagogue said, ÔCan't you heal on the other days of the week instead of the Sabbath?'  He said, ÔYou know, you hypocrites, if your animal falls into a pit, you take it out.  This daughter of Abraham hath been bound these 18 years, and should not she be loosed?'  A daughter of Abraham.  He didn't call anybody else in the synagogue that.  She was a believer.  Some of us don't come to church because we have a hang-nail.  ÔWell I don't think I'm going to church today, my fingernail hurts.  I'm not gonna go to church today, somebody said mean things to me,' well this woman was bent in half, and had every reason in the world to say ÔGod don't love me, why should I go to the synagogue where all they do is snicker at me behind my back,' and she was there, she was there.  James says if we understand that Jesus is "the Lord of glory," then a rich person doesn't look a whole lot better than a poor person.  Because compared to his glory, nobody's really measuring up.  And love understands that, because he came and he walked among us, sat with tax-gatherers and sinners, loved people.  "My brethren," and James hates the class distinctions, he saw his older brother wrestle with the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Jesus said ÔYou love to be seen of men, you love the best seats in the synagogue, you love to give your alms to people while others see you,' he said, Ôwhen you give, you guys, don't be like the hypocrites, don't do it to be seen of men,' he detested the esteem of men, Ôthat which is esteemed among men is an abomination to God,' he said in one place.  James says, ÔMy brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons, don't let it happen,' he says, Ôin your fellowship.'  Don't let it happen here.  If you see somebody making fun of somebody here, take some ownership, this is our family, it's the best dysfunctional family going.  It does not improve anywhere out there.  You say to that person, ÔYou know what?  I don't want to hear that here.'  If you hear somebody make a racial remark here, you say to that person, ÔThat doesn't belong here.  That person's bought in the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, and they're destined for glory, just like you, just like me.  And only by what he's accomplished.'  Don't ever let that slide. 

 

Loving Faith Doesn't Teach The ÔHealth & Wealth' Doctrine

 

"For if there come unto your assembly [margin: synagogue] a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel," dressed up like a millionaire, "and their come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:" or sit on that footstool, maybe it's one the carpenter of Galilee made, when he was dressed in vile raiment, "are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?" you've become judges with evil thoughts.  "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (verses 2-5)  He had said that up here in chapter 1, he said, "Let the brother of low degree rejoice that he is exalted, let the rich in that he is made low:  because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth:  so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways." " (James 1:9-11)  He had said that earlier.  Now look, it's important, because there are teachings in the Church [greater Body of Christ he's talking about] that say, ÔIf you're prospering, and you're healthy, that's the signature of the fact that God loves you, and God's honouring your faith, and he's blessing you.  But if you are sick, or you're struggling financially, there's either sin or unbelief in your life,' and that kind of teaching causes the very division that James, the brother of our Lord, Jesus' half brother, is saying to us, ÔDon't let that happen where you're at.'  And it's promoted in the Church [greater Body of Christ, i.e. in various denominations], because everybody wants the best parking spot, everybody wants to drive a Mercedes, everybody wants to do this, and they harangue God's people, Ôand if you do this, you give on triple-tithe Sunday, and you put in your tenth, and then you put in above that, you're going to prosper,' of course the guy whose saying it is driving a Mercedes, because he's sucking the money out of everybody's wallets that's sitting in front of him, condemning them.  But it says here, there's poor, and there's rich in the Body of Christ.  And because the Lord of Glory is the Lord over all of us, they're to be honoured, there's no class distinction.  Paul said he learned how to be abased and how to abound.  Joni Erikson is one of my heroes, she's a paraplegic and sits in a wheelchair, has more faith than I do, has touched the lives of millions of people.  I'd probably sit home and crumble till I died.  James says, love works, there's loving faith, loving faith understands glory, he says loving faith understands grace.  "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen" this is God's choice, "the poor of the world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (verse 5)  You know, we go through that in Hebrews chapter 11, Abraham wandered, looking for a city whose builder and maker is God, all of these people, what they did by faith, and then they were driven, they were in caves, they were impoverished, they were beaten, they were sawn in half, those whom the world was not worthy of.  James is saying the same thing.  He says loving faith understands grace, that I don't deserve to get in anymore than anybody else, I'm not better than anybody else.  Because God has promised to those who believe, rich or poor.  "But ye have despised the poor.  Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?" (verse 6)  Now James is speaking in a day certainly when the Sadducees, who were the ruling class in Jerusalem, and they were hedonists, all they cared about was they didn't believe in the world to come, they only embraced the first five books of Moses, and they were in cahoots with the Romans, and they were powerful, and they were wealthy.  And he's saying, ÔIsn't it rich men that oppress you, because of their wealthy position?'  Let me tell you something, that has not changed.  The pimp oppresses the prostitute, he's richer than her.  How many people running sweatshops, oppressing the poor, how many people in politics, how many people in government, how many people in the New World Order, how many New Agers, how many people persecuting our kids in school because they believe in Creation?  How long is it going to be before it comes down on our heads because we believe in Christ, because the rich of this world want something else?  It hasn't changed.  Humankind is still sinful and needs to be saved.  Genuine faith can be distinguished from that, James is saying.  It understands God's glory, it understands God's grace.  He says, ÔRich men oppress you, why would you honor one above someone else?  They bring you before judges,' "Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?" (verse 7)  And man oh man we hear enough of that, don't we? 

 

Loving Faith Understands The Word Of God, God's Law

 

"If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:  but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors." (verses 8-9)  Now it's going to say Ôaccording to the Scriptures, that loving faith understands the Word of God,  if you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, you do well,' of course, first from Leviticus, "Thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge against the children" ok, vengeance is yours Lord, I know that, so you get Ôem.  But it says more than that.  It says "Thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people," that's tough, isn't it?  You know, my grudges are limited, they're sanctified.  [laughter]  They have a shelf-life on them, I know I'm not allowed to do that, soÉ"nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." (Leviticus chapter 19:18)  Of course Jesus picks that up, and he says Ôthe greatest of all the commandments is this, you love the Lord God with all your heart, mind and soul and strength, and love thy neighbour as thyself, and in this is fulfilled all the Law,' it's the royal law.  It's royal for a couple reasons.  First of all, if you can get hold of that, you know, it says if we pray anything according to his will, he'll answer those prayers.  And I'm preaching to myself, too.  How often do I, you don't have to answer for yourself, we can all think of how carnal I am, ok, how often do I get on my knees and say ÔLord, cause me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and cause me to love my neighbour as myself,' ?  He says that's the greatest commandment, and we know if we pray anything according to his will, we can have the petitions we ask.  How often do I do that?  ÔLord, help me love you with all of my heart, and love my neighbour as myself.  That's your will, your Word says you'll help me do that.'  And I'll tell you why it's a royal law, because if you do it, you'll manifest in your life your royalty.  You're joint-heirs with Christ, we're going to rule and reign with him, you have royal blood in your veins, as it were, a royal Spirit.  If you love like that, it's a royal law, because it shows you're a king.  If you don't, hatred turns you into a slave.  Hatred makes your emotions slave, makes your attitude slave, it produces stomach acid, and aggida, and ulcers, and it is destructive.  The royal law, the law of heaven, of the King, is to love and forgive, that's what he did when he came.  [Comment: btw, and this is where all kinds of arguments springing up about the Law of God being or not being done away with.  The whole Law of God is summed up in loving God and loving thy neighbor as thyself, which is a condensation of the Ten Commandments, which show us how to love God and how to love mankind, our neighbour, i.e. by not killing him, not committing adultery against his wife, not stealing his stuff, not lying to him, and not coveting anything that's his.  Where people get hung up is on the other side of the Ten Commandments, the other table of the Law, and that is, the stone tablet containing the first four.  Everybody's ok with the first three commandments on that first stone tablet, but the fourth commandment is a major sticking point.  James is referring to the whole Law of God (minus of course the ceremonial laws, cf. Hebrews 10), as this was written around 45AD, and the early Church was Judeo-Christian at that time, both in practice and ethnically (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm).  Most of the New Testament hadn't been written yet, so all James had to refer to was the Old Testament in his writings, and his reference to "the royal law" points directly back to the Old Testament Law of God and the Ten Commandments.  The fact that Sabbath-keepers got that one right---so what?  Pastor Joe, like James, is going deeper than just an argument over days of worship, he's going to the heart and the core of James' message.  Sabbath-keepers get all sticky on this point, yet they ignore the fact that their attitudes about Sabbath-observance mirror those of the synagogue leader who criticized Jesus Christ for healing that woman who had been bent in half for 18 years, just because he did it "on the Sabbath" and this poor woman never gave up going to synagogue to worship God on his Sabbath day.  Who was a better Sabbath-keeper?  I'd say it was Jesus and the woman he healed J.  Sabbath-keepers also tend to mirror what James is saying about the rich man all dressed up nicely, as opposed the poorly dressed man, who is discouraged from attending in those clothes, even if it's all he has. ÔHere, sit in the corner, in the back row where nobody can see you,' is their attitude if you show up without a suit, tie and white shirt on.  They call it dress-codes for worshipping God in a respectful manner.  But James sees it quite differently.  Keep the day you believe is correct, and apply what's being presented in how you observe your "day of worship."  James, as Pastor Joe points out, was not a legalist.  He probably kept the Sabbath day, but he observed it as Jesus did, not legalistically, not like some goose-stepping Nazi-Pharisees I see even today, who make me ashamed to be a Sabbath-keeper.] "If you fulfill the royal law, according to the Scripture, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:  but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (verses 9-11)  Oh, we're willing to agree with that, "For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill.  Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law." (verse 11)  If you break one point of the law, you're a transgressor of the whole law.  But there's the royal law, now he's messing with us a little bit, because he's talking about attitude, isn't he.  Galatians in the same law, it says the acts of the flesh, the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, lasciviousness, emulations, strife, envy, in the same list with murder (cf. Galatians 5:19-21).  And James is talking to our attitude.  He says love understands the teaching of the Scripture, faith that loves. 

 

Loving Faith Understands Judgment

 

Verses 12 and 13, I think he's saying that loving faith also understands judgment.  "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." (verse 12) Now I'm glad when we stand before Christ, we're judged by the law of liberty, we're going to be given our rewards, we're not there at the judgment seat of Christ to be condemned.  But it is the law of liberty, he talked about it in chapter 1, verse 25, "the perfect law" the complete "law of liberty," the New and Old Testament sets us free.  "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment." (verse 13)  Jesus said ÔFather, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.'  Here's his younger brother, in much the same spirit, saying ÔHey, you want mercy?  You show mercy.  Grace received is grace bestowed, and grace bestowed is grace received.'  That it's sowing and reaping.  He's challenging the Body of Christ.  We're not "lost" if we have a bad day, or if we hold a grudge, no, what he's saying is, ÔThis is what maturity looks like.  This is what reality looks like.  I watched it walk in front of my eyes.  I watched it reach out and touch the poor, touch the lepers, care for the broken.  I watched it bind up the broken-hearted.  I watched what it was like, and it can happen, and it was a stark contrast to the hypocritical religious world.'  And James is telling us, ÔGod wants that for you, he wants reality.'

 

There's Dead Faith, There's Demonic Faith, And There's Dynamic Faith

 

1. Dynamic Faith verses Dead Faith

 

Verse 14, now he starts to tell us about living faith, and when he tells us about living faith, he takes us through three things, he says there's dead faith, there's demonic faith, and there's dynamic faith.  First we saw there's loving faith, and now we'll see there's living faith.  Living faith, saving faith, loving faith, they work, they produce something, they look like something.  They don't stand around quietly.  He says, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?  can faith save him?" (verse 14)  [Comment:  Now here is where the two major sides of the Body of Christ disagree, one side saying "works" refer to the works of obedience to God's law, which James referred to as "the royal law."  The other side says this whole section in verses 14-26 refers to works of "good works."  Personally, by context, and Pastor Joe seems to agree, I believe it refers to both.]  Now people want to immediately jump out of their seats, ÔWhat is he talking about?'  Paul said this in Galatians chapter 5, he said, ÔFor in Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith worketh by love.'  Paul said that.  What matters is faith that works by love.  In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul said this, ÔFor by grace you are saved, through faith, that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, and not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.'  He says he tells us there what God has done for us, what God has done in us, and then what God does through us.  What God has done for us, we're saved by grace through faith, not of yourselves, it's the gift of God.  What has God done in us?  We're his workmanship, his poleema, his expression, his poetry.  That's what God does in us.  And that there are good works that we should walk in.  [For more about good works, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Questions.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm for some good studies about what "good works" really are.]  That's what God does through us.  So James is not out of keeping with anyone in the New Testament.  He says people who walk about and say ÔI believe, I believe,' and they're still living in sin, they're living in rebellion, they're disobedient [i.e. to God's laws, "sin is the transgression of the law," 1st John 3:4], he says ÔI have to question, does that kind of faith save?'  It says ÔLet those who name the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'  Paul taught that.  "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?"  There's no works, there's no evidence that it's real, does that save him?  "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 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 15-17)  He says in the same way, faith if it has not works, is dead, being alone.  And he said it doesn't make any sense to say to someone whose cold, and hungry and destitute, ÔBe warmed and filled,'  he's saying you're words that you speak to them don't warm them and don't fill them.  You have to give them a blanket and give them food.  He says ÔIf you have faith, and there's no demonstration of it, is that real either?  It's no different than saying to somebody whose hungry and cold, Ôbe warmed and filled,' that doesn't do them any good.'  And saying ÔI have faith,' and not having any works to go along with it, is the exact same thing, he says.  Even so, faith, if it doesn't work (i.e. doesn't have works), if it has no demonstration, he says, is dead, it's standing alone.  "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." (verse 18)  Now this is the third time he's talking about everything we say.  ÔShow me your faith without works, how do I know whether it's real?  I'll show you my faith in demonstration, loving those that are around me [i.e. good works], bearing up under trials [obedience], faith looks like something.'  You can see it, it manifests.  So there's dead faith.  Faith that's dead may have knowledge, ÔIf you say, if you say, if you say,' three times, intellectual, you know, ÔOh I know, I have Scripture memorized,' Jesus said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, ÔYou search the Scripture because in them you think you have life, these are they that testify of me,' the Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes had the first five books of Moses memorized, many of them, five books of the Bible memorized.  And Jesus told them their faith was dead, it wasn't real, it wasn't real.  And so he says, it's faith without works, without demonstration.  And Old Camel Knees watched his older brother deal with the Pharisees and Sadducees over these issues over and over again, watched him challenging the religious system of the day.  You see, there's no reality, ÔWoe unto you scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!  You close up the Kingdom of God to others, and you yourselves don't enter in.  You take advantage of widows and orphans,' and over and over.  And he's saying here, ÔGenuine faith looks like something, there's a transformed life attached to it.'  Paul said the same thing, the New Testament writers agree.  Intellectual faith loves to argue, here it says, Ôyou say, you say, you say,' you ever get around someone like that?  They're great at arguing and terrible at living, what they say they believe, you have to wonder.  And some people are going to perish, because what they know is 18 inches from reality, and from eternity.  If it's not in the heart, it's not real.  You know people like that [and you're more likely to find people in church like that than out in the world, sadly].  75 percent of people pray, 7 out of 8 Americans say they're Christians, 95 percent say they believe in God, come on.  Where's the disparity?  James is saying this is what real faith looks like.  So there's dead faith, he says. 

 

2. Demonic Faith

 

Now he says there's demonic faith, verse 19, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:  the devils [demons] also believe, and tremble."  Because every day the Jews said ÔHear O Israel, the Lord our God is One God,' the Shema, that said that every day.  He says ÔYou believe there's one God?  Great, you do well, the devils also believe, and tremble.'  "Wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (verse 20)  There's demonic faith.  The devils are not atheists.  Devils are not agnostic.  They came up to Jesus and said, ÔO JESUS, THOU SON OF THE MOST HIGH GOD, WHAT HAVE I DO TO WITH THEE,' [spoken in a real gruff voice]  They knew who he was.  They knew that he was Jesus the Son of God, the Most High.  [They probably could also see the Holy Spirit radiating from Jesus (invisible to us humans) more brilliantly than a naval searchlight.]  ÔDON'T SEND US TO THE ABYSS BEFORE OUR TIME,' they knew judgment was coming (cf. Revelation 20:1-3).  They believed in Jesus, of the tribe of Judah, the son of Mary, crucified, risen, returning in judgment.  Their faith was real.  They have orthodox faith.  But it isn't saving faith.  You know, you might have a relative who says ÔI believe the same thing you do.  My faith is the same as yours.'  ÔNo, it's like the devils.'  That would go over real big.  Jesus said, ÔI am the bread of life, if you eat of that bread, you'll live.'  You can believe intellectually, I grew up in church, my first confirmation, my first communion, everything, I was a wretch.  I knew the songs, I sang Ôthe B.I.B.L.E. that's the book for me,' and it wasn't, I was lying every time I sung it.  And you could know this is a loaf of bread, you can be sitting in your seat tonight starving to death, dying, and I can hold up a loaf of bread in the air, and you can say ÔI know what that is, that's a loaf of bread, I know what that is, that's Jesus, I saw his picture.'  And you can say ÔI know Jesus saves,' but Jesus said unless you partake, unless you eat the bread yourself, it won't do you any good.  Your wife can't eat it for you.  She can stuff bread in her mouth all day, and you will die of starvation.  You can't eat if for her.  Your parents, the Bible says, Ôflesh and blood does not inherit the Kingdom of God,' ÔWell, my parents were Christian,' that doesn't mean nothing.  They can't write that in their will, ÔLeaving my salvation to my daughter.' [laughter]  Now some of us, all our parents are leaving us is our faith.  But if all they leave us is something a lawyer can settle, they haven't left us anything at all.  That's the greatest thing they can leave to us.  But this [holding up his Bible] doesn't do you any good unless you eat it, this loaf of bread.  Jesus said "I am the bread of life.  He who partakes of me shall live forever."  It isn't a matter of joining a religious club.  That's what the Pharisees and Sadducees did, because if you sit in church you're not going to heaven [ie to the Sea of Glass for the wedding feast of the Lamb and coming back to earth with Jesus], if you sleep in a garage it doesn't mean you're a car.  If you sit in here, and go to a donut shop it doesn't mean you're a police officer [loud laughter], come on, I'm just lightening things up.  Because you sit in church doesn't mean you're a Christian.  You can't join the Church [Body of Christ], you have to be born into the Church.  And if you're born again (cf. John 3) you're faith really looks like something.  Because some people are just intellectual believers, say this, say this, say that, and there's no evidence at all.  There's demonic faith, he says Ôat least the devils tremble,' they know, it effects them, they tremble, it means to bristle, it means your hairs stands up on end, it says when they hear the name of Jesus they're terrified.  That's why they came running saying ÔJESUS, THOU SON OF THE MOST HIGH GOD,' they were tortured, ÔWHY ARE YOU COME TO US BEFORE THE TIME?'  They knew who he was. 

 

3. Dynamic Faith

 

But then there's dynamic faith.  There's faith that saves.  And dynamic faith is faith that obeys.  It's faith that says ÔI believe Jesus is my Saviour, and my Lord,' and there's evidence of that in the individual's life.  How can we say we believe Jesus, you know there's laws on the books in Pennsylvania that say I have to take care of my kids.  I can violate those laws and have those kids taken away from me.  Do you think I wake up in the morning and say to my wife, ÔBetter go downstairs and make breakfast, the police are gonna come' ?  ÔYou better give them dinner, or the law's gonna be out for us.'  I've never read the statute, I don't need to because I love them, and it flows out of my life.  If we love Jesus Christ, if our faith is real, he's the Lord of Glory, he died for us.  It [God's agape-love] overflows to one another, if we love God with all our hearts, minds and souls it overflows to him.  It looks like something, it's the law of liberty, it's the royal law, it's on the books, we don't have to examine it every day, it's written upon our hearts [cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13, which btw is a direct reference to the Law of God, God through Jeremiah and the apostle Paul said his Laws would be written upon our hearts and in our minds, that's the simple basic definition of the new covenant].  And it looks like something (ie our faith), ÔYes, I'm a Christian, and that's what's different about my life.'  People at work may ask you, ÔWhy don't you do this?  Why don't you go to the beef and beer night with us?  Why don't you do that?  Why don't you go to the bookie with us?'  Peter says your friends will, I love the King James it just shines, ÔThey'll wonder why you don't run to the same excess of riot,' it doesn't say Ôthey wonder why you don't party anymore.'  I was born in 1950.  When I was a kid, "party" was a noun.  It became a verb all by itself because of our culture.  Now it's something you do, it used to be something you went to.  But dynamic faith, real faith, he says, changes lives, it looks like something, it's living faith.  "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the alter?" (verse 21)  Genuine faith looks like something, it obeys.  He offered Isaac upon the altar, and by the way, it tells us in Hebrews that he believed God was even able to raise him from the dead, notice, that was from the ashes, those of you who have trouble with cremation, because he was about to light the fire, and believed that God would have raised him up out of the ashes.  "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?" (verses 21-22)  There was a demonstration of what this man believed.  "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." (verse 23)  It said in chapter 15 (of Genesis) God ascribed righteousness to him because he believed God, and in Genesis chapter 22 he demonstrated that by offering his son.  There was a demonstration of what the man believed.  "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." (verse 24)  He does something, it's living faith.  It has a dynamic to it.  "Likewise also was not Rehab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?" (verse 25)  Now isn't it interesting, he takes the best man and the worst woman and holds them before us, Abraham the father of the faithful, Rahab the prostitute.  Both of their faith, equal before God, saving faith, dynamic faith, obedient faith.  She didn't say ÔI'm just gonna keep hooking, you know, I'll hook to the 2nd half of the tribulation, then I'll get serious.'  People talk like that.  ÔI'm gonna party till we get into the tribulation, and before the end I'll get serious.'  You'll get serious when we disappear, that's when you'll get serious.  [laughter]  That's a shame.  Her life changed, her life changed.  She believed with way less information than we have.  [see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/rahab/Rahab.htm]  And she becomes the great, great grandmother of David the king.  And she becomes the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother of Jesus the Messiah, this prostitute.  Read Matthew chapter 1, the genealogy, Rahab the harlot is there, included in the family of God.  Her blood was running in the veins of James, that's why he's sensitive to it.  Not only Abraham's blood, Rahab's blood was running in his veins.  ÔBy faith Abraham yielded, gave to God, obeyed.  By faith, Rahab the harlot, stood in front of the same Holy God, and was justified, and her faith demonstrated that it was real in her actions.'  "Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way"  "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (verse 26)  The animating power of the frame is the spirit [he's referring to the "spirit-in-man" (cf. 1st Corinthians 2:9-13) which enables conscious human thought and intelligence.  This is not the Holy Spirit, but the Bible calls it the "spirit-in-man" or the "spirit-of-man", both here in 1st Corinthians 2 and in Ecclesiastes].  When the spirit departs, it's just a carcass, just a space-suit.  "as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."  Our obedience, our service to Christ, animates our faith.  He says what's the point of saying ÔOh I'm a Christian,' well if you're a Christian, how can you live like that, like you're living, if you're a Christian?  ÔHey, he whose without sin cast the first stone.'  Sinners have their favorite verses, you know.  ÔTake the beam out of your eye before you judge me.'  I'm not judging you, I'm a fruit inspector.  [laughter]  I'm not a prosecuting attorney, I'm a fruit inspector.  OK?  Your fruit stinks.  Look, we can laugh about it.  Some challenges in the chapter.  Genuine faith breaks down all of the things that divide us, culturally, racially, our stand in society, we're one, we're brothers and sisters, brothers and sisters (in Christ).  Forgive me if I don't know all of your names, and as I'm getting older I'm getting worse, all hope is gone.  I know most of your faces, but we have eternity, we have eternity.  And I think it's something that we need to preserve, genuine faith, genuine faith makes no distinction (ie racially, culturally), and I think that if you hear something that's improper, you see something that's improper, take some ownership around here, it's your family, it's blood-bought, our Dad paid a lot for everybody in this room.  Everybody in this room was the most expensive person in the universe.  And don't be afraid to say ÔHey,' not like a Pharisee, ok, spirit of meekness, there's a right way to do it.  Look, we're supposed to love one another, don't say you heard Joe say, you heard James.  It's not my opinion, James said it.  We shouldn't judge one another along the lines of the world, the way it divides itself, it's not fitting, not for the Lord of Glory.  [There's this acquaintance I have on facebook, he's in the denomination I attend, and he's from the South.  He had the Confederate flag for his facebook wall background.  Now I know where he was coming from, he's for States Rights over the abusively strong Federal government, he's proud of his flag and of being a Southerner, I understand their way of looking at it, being the extreme history buff I am.  I also do not believe he had it on his facebook wall for racial reasons.  But I explained to him, that even though I'm for States Rights over an overpowerful Fed government, and that that flag is blood-bought too for a Southerner, there are some wonderful Black brethren in our church and denomination, and for that reason, I would not fly that flag, even though I agreed with him for the political reasons for displaying it.  I took ownership, without being offensive to him, and he removed the flag and replaced it with something more benign.  Now that's a real touchy issue, both for Black brethren as well as Southerners.  Such things have to be approached from a position of meekness and understanding in order to achieve the desired result.]  We're chosen, rich and poor, and in the Body of Christ there are those who are suffering, illness, poverty, tremendous faith, tremendous faith.  I know Christians in other countries that are persecuted, tremendous faith.  He says not to let those things go on among us, it [our faith] should be genuine. ÔYou say you believe,' he says, Ôyou say this, you say that?' 

 

We're Living Epistles, The Only Bible Some People Will Ever Read

 

Well, Paul says we're living Epistles, that we're written on the heart, the message of the apostles, that they wrote into us, "that we are known and read of all men."  I'll tell you this, there are people that will never read a Bible that are going to read you.  And that's why it is so important for us to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk.  Remember, you want to be Walkie-Talkies, not talkie-talkies.  Because there are a hundred people that are going to read you that are never going to read a Bible.  I don't know how many times in church, a widow, somebody in trouble, folks from church would go out over, they brought meals, they changed the storm windows, or changed the anti-freeze, and their neighbors said, "Who are these people?"  "How do I get on this list, I want them to bring me food and change my anti-freeze too."  "No, no, that's our church."  And people have come, and people have been saved.  I know husbands, ÔNow I don't need that church," their whole life, ÔI'm a Catholic, I was born Catholic!' and then dying of cancer, seeing people from our church there, not saying anything, reading to them, bringing meals, helping their wife.  I can think of two specific men that said "If I ever get out of this bed, I am going to that church."  And both of those men prayed and asked Christ into their hearts before they died, because they read the lives that were around them.  People are going to read you that are never going to read a Bible.

[see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm]  James says, ÔYou know what, real faith, the kind that my older brother bestowed on all of us, it looks like something, it acts out, it isn't secret, it's not just intellectual, it's dynamic, and it's life-changing.  It isn't Pharisaic, it's not like the Pharisees and Sadducees that are talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, it's genuine.  It draws no class distinction.  You say O you believe?  You're orthodox.  So what, so does the devil.  Real faith is like the faith of Abraham, who believed in God, but he also followed it with actions.  He yielded to God, gave his best to God.  It's like Rahab the harlot, who believed, but also acted out, gave her life, put it on the line, a demonstration.'  And he says about dead faith, faith without works, ÔIt's like this, it's like the body without the spirit, it's dead,' if you've watched somebody pass away, it just becomes a shell.  The spirit, the person we know and love is the animating factor in that space-suit.  He says it's the same way with faith.  Faith without works is dead.  Works, the demonstration, dynamic faith, is what animates what we say so it can be seen, known and read of all men.  Not legalistic.  James is not a legalist, he's a guy with probably the most blown mind of anybody around back then, finding out his older brother was God, that will be unsettling for the rest of your life, in a good way.  Read ahead.  Now next week we come to the tongue.  And James says real Christian maturity, genuine faith, controls the tongue.  So if you don't show up, [laughter] we'll talk about you.  We'll notice you're not here.  [transcript of a connective expository sermon given on James 2:1-26 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia PA  19116]

 

related links:                   

 

The early Church James helped lead in 45AD, what was it like?  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1a.htm

 

What are some of the good works we should be doing to demonstrate, make our faith living?  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Questions.htm

 

What was Rahab like?  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/rahab/Rahab.htm  

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