07/12/15 Useful or Useless - it's up to U!

Posted by Pastor Steve Siegrist on Monday, July 13, 2015 Under: Sermon

Life is a Test Series - James 2:14-24

Intro: The greatest tragedy of the church today is people who profess Christ and yet do not live for Christ. Millions profess Christ and they are baptized and confirmed and made members of the church, but they do not follow nor live for Christ. They do not live pure and righteous lives, nor do they give all they are and have to reach the lost and needy of the world. Are they saved? Do they have a genuine faith? This is the discussion of this passage. This is the second temptation that is common to all Christian believers: the temptation to profess faith without works.

Text: James 2:14-24

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Application: Works are the key to a vital Christian faith! If faith is not married to works your faith dies…

There are a couple of ways to look at it!

1. Two Questions: Vs. 14

"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?"

There are two questions that every believer needs to ask himself. (1) Can a man have faith and not do good works? (2) Can faith without good works save a man? Every thinking person who is honest knows that the answer to these two questions is, "No!" A person who really believes something does something; he acts. Yet this is the curse of Christianity and of the church. Millions profess faith in Christ and belong to the church, yet they do not live for Christ. They live for the world and self. They have been baptized and confirmed, joined the church and attend worship services, but they do what they want when they want. They just go on and live like everyone else in the world. The only difference between their lives and unbelievers is that they sometimes get up on Sunday mornings and attend church. There is little if any difference between their behavior and speech during the week.

2. Two ideas:

Useful or useless; Vs. 15-17

"if a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

Faith, if it does not do good works, is dead. True faith loves and cares and is compassionate and reaches out to help the needy. A person can talk about believing in Jesus Christ until he is blue in the face, but if he is not reaching out and helping the destitute of the world just like Jesus did; his faith is dead—utterly meaningless. No person really believes in Jesus Christ unless he is following Jesus Christ and doing the works of love and righteousness which Christ did. True faith is an operative faith, a faith that really works. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-27 This deadness is uselessness! You must put Christ first, even before your family or yourself, you must bear the cross of death-to self. That's how it works! That is FAITH!

3. Two arrogant men: Vs. 18-26

Two more things to look ati n this test; there are two men of arrogance. James is painting the picture of two men, ut only one man speaks and what he says is only one sentence. The man says to another imaginary man: "You have faith and I have works." The picture is that of two arrogant men. Vs. 18: “But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” The imaginary man has faith. He believes that he is saved by faith—that God accepts him because he believes in Jesus Christ even if he fails to live for Christ. Once he has believed in Christ—professed and been baptized and joined the church—God has accepted him and will take him to heaven when he dies. The imaginary speaker claims to have works—that God accepts him because he does good works and lives as good a life as he can. He believes that the important thing to God is to be religious and do all the good that a person can. If a person does this, God will never reject him; God will accept him no matter who he is and no matter what religion he follows. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

James pulls no punches: it is not a matter of faith or works. To say and profess faith alone will not save a person, and to follow works to become acceptable to God will not save a person. James handles both men of arrogance with one clear statement: "Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." A person who truly believes in Christ works for Christ. He follows and lives for Christ. True faith must have proof; it must be backed up; you must show and demonstrate that you believe.

Vs. 19-20 "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

The man does well to believe in God. But believing in God is not enough. There is a dead belief and a living belief, a belief that does not lead to salvation and a belief that does lead to salvation. The demon’s or evil spirits believe in the deity of Christ, but the demons are not saved. Their belief has not affected their lives and behavior at all. It takes us back to useful or useless! True faith is a living faith, a faith that works, a faith that stirs a person to live for Christ.

4. Two Good Examples: Vs. 21-26

Example ONE: Vs. 21-24 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. This is a verse that causes great problems for some people, for it seems to say that when Abraham offered up Isaac in obedience to God's instruction, he was justified. That is, Abraham was justified by works. Is a man justified by works? Is that what is meant? No! What James is saying is that Abraham proved that he was justified; he proved that he was justified by what he did—by his works. Abraham's faith was proven to be a true and living faith by his works.

“And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:6

James plainly declares that when Abraham offered up Isaac he was proving his faith. He believed; therefore, he did what God said. This is true with any person. If a person believes Christ, he does what Christ says; he follows Christ. If a person does not believe Christ, he does not do what Christ says. He goes about doing his own thing; he does not follow Christ. Faith only is dead faith, an inactive and worthless faith. True faith is a living and active faith—a faith that proves itself by living for Christ and working for Christ.

“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3

Example TWO:

"Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by work when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

Rahab, the converted harlot who proved her faith by works; she showed a living faith. Moses was a prophet, Rahab was a prostitute considered lowest of persons, however; she believed in God, and she did do good works. She cleaned up her life and follow God. You see what Rahab did, when the spies for Israel were being hunted down by the Jericho soldiers, she hid them. Why would she betray her country and protect the Israelite spies? She believed in God and His promises. She said to the spies: I believe in God, she acted. She put her faith to work. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Conclusion: A body without the spirit or breath is dead. It does not move, act, live, or work. It is empty, totally useless and worthless. It is a dead body. So it is with faith: faith without works is dead. It does not move, act, live, or work. Faith without works is empty, totally useless and worthless. It does not live for Christ, does not follow Him in righteousness or purity nor work for Him in reaching people and meeting the needs of a destitute world.

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

It might be one of the most important test you ever take: “Useful or Useless it’s up to U!”

In : Sermon 


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