Notes from a sermon preached on Sunday, August 27, 2017 by Dr. Greg Sloop at the Kannapolis Church of God in the morning worship service.
Faith Without Works: Useless Words
James 2:14–26 (NKJV) 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.
Faith – believing what you cannot see. Faith is the entry point to salvation, healing, and many other blessings of God. However, it is not the final destination.
Works – the outgrowth of a relationship with God, of forgiveness and gratitude. An example is seeing someone in need of clothing or food, and simply wishing them the best. Good wishes sometimes helps a little, but supplying the need of a brother or sister actually puts legs on those wishes. Faith is great. It is the emotion, passion, or belief that what is unseen or yet to be will become visible and will be someday. But that hope without an accompanying action is incomplete.
More Than Just Knowledge
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?
Belief by itself can be salvific, but not relational. To believe in God is enough to be saved, but it is not enough to maintain a relationship with Him. Even the demons believe in Jesus. They understand who He is, and they tremble at His greatness. However, they do not have a saved relationship with God. They work against Him, or they ignore Him, or they avoid Him. So many people today say they believe in God, even go to church (so do demons), but do not have a relationship with Him.
The outgrowth of this truth is that faith without works is dead. Believing is not enough. Talking about Him is not enough. Even going to His house is not enough. God saves individuals to call individuals, so that when they respond to that call He can use them in His kingdom. God never saved a person to simply accept the gift and do nothing. Faith without works is Dead!
Works Lead to the Promise
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.
Abraham – had faith, but when God called him to go to Canaan, he responded. He got hung up in Haran for a while, but after seeking God and hearing from God again, he re-started his journey and inherited the Promised Land. To what is God calling you? If God has called you, He has a destination in mind for you. That destination may be your promised land! Abraham’s faith was accounted to him as righteousness, but he did not stop with simple faith. He put action behind his faith and inherited the greatest gift He could know.
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.
Rahab the harlot was not even a believer of Yahweh when faced with a decision to help the followers of Yahweh spying out Jericho. She saw something in their belief and sacrifice that enlivened her faith in Yahweh. When she believed in their cause, that would have been admirable. However, she chose to hide the men from the officials of Jericho. She risked her own life and the safety of her home in order to protect the men of God. She was justified by her works, along with her faith.
The body ceases to live when the spirit departs. In the same way, faith without works cannot live.
What works should you do to fulfill your calling?
Hollow Words are Meaningless
Recognition of God is Not Enough
Faith That Produces Action Will Help You Fulfill Your Calling