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www.wolcma.org http://www.wolcma.org en "Genuine Faith" Part 1 http://www.wolcma.org/sermons/2018/01/genuine-faith-part-1 <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-sermon-series"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-label-inline-first"> Sermon Series:&nbsp;</div> James </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-sermon-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">January 7, 2018</span> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-pastors-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> What are our chances of going to heaven? If we were to die this very moment, the answer for all of us is either 0% or 100%. We are either lost or we are saved. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-sermon-passage"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> James 2:14-19 </div> </div> </div> <p>[READ TEXT]</p> <p>What do you think your chances are of going to heaven?</p> <p>Have you ever thought about that?</p> <p>A few years ago, USA Today did a survey on the street asking people what they thought their chances were of going to heaven.</p> <p>One older man answered, &ldquo;My chances are about 50/50. The older I get, the more I think my chances will improve.&rdquo;</p> <p>Another man, a younger man, said, &ldquo;My chances are about 85%. I don&rsquo;t think the entrance exam will be that tough.&rdquo;</p> <p>One woman said, &ldquo;My chances are kind of slim, maybe 50/50. You have to be more than a nice person. But I&rsquo;m still in the running.&rdquo;</p> <p>If someone were to answer, &ldquo;My chances of going to heaven are 0%&rdquo; we would wonder what kind of monster that person is inside.</p> <p>On the other hand, if someone were to say, &ldquo;My chances of going to heaven are 100%&rdquo; we might think of them as being holier-than-thou.</p> <p>What about us?</p> <p>What are our chances of going to heaven?</p> <p>If we were to die this very moment, the answer for all of us here this morning is either 0% or 100%.</p> <p>We are either lost or we are saved.</p> <p>Our faith is either real or it&rsquo;s not real.</p> <p>A truth that James emphasizes in this text and that the Word of God teaches throughout is that what we do reveals who we are.</p> <p>James is not speaking simply of beliefs and intentions in general but of the foundational belief of saving faith.</p> <p>The genuineness of a profession of faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord is proven more by what a person does than by what he claims.</p> <p><strong>I.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>GENUINE FAITH IS MORE THAN AN EMPTY CONFESSION.</strong></p> <p><strong>James 2:14 = <em>What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?</em></strong></p> <p>This person may believe the basic truths of the gospel.</p> <p>This person may believe in such things as the existence of God and accept Scripture as the Word of God.</p> <p>This person may believe that Jesus is the Messiah.</p> <p>This person may believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day.</p> <p>The theology of this person is not necessarily in question.</p> <p>The issue is that he has no works.</p> <p>The 2 questions asked in this verse basically say that faith that is not accompanied by good deeds has no saving value.</p> <p>The questions in this verse set up the hypothetical case of a person who claims to have genuine saving faith.</p> <p>Notice that James does not say that the person actually has faith.</p> <p>The question <em>Can such faith save him? </em>is structured in the Greek text in such a way that it expects a negative answer.</p> <p>James is asking, &ldquo;This faith can&rsquo;t save him, can it?&rdquo;</p> <p>Faith without works cannot save.</p> <p>It takes faith that proves itself in the deeds it produces.</p> <p>It is not speaking of deeds performed to earn merit before God.</p> <p>It is not saying that we can earn our salvation through good deeds.</p> <p>But it is saying that when there is genuine faith present, it will affect a believer&rsquo;s behavior.</p> <p>Where there is true salvation, God reaches down and creates in that soul a desire to forsake sin and live for Jesus.</p> <p>It doesn&rsquo;t mean we are perfect but there should be some desire to forsake sin and live for Jesus.</p> <p>When pagans in Ephesus placed their trust in Jesus Christ they confessed their sins.</p> <p>Those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone.</p> <p>This doesn&rsquo;t mean that new Christians immediately understand the full implications of the gospel and know everything they should do or shouldn&rsquo;t do.</p> <p>Those things come with ever-increasing awareness as one grows in the knowledge of God&lsquo;s Word.</p> <p>But there IS an immediate and new spiritual and moral orientation that God gives every child who is born into His family and kingdom.</p> <p>No one is saved without becoming a new creation.</p> <p>And by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the new creation produces such righteous works as repentance, submission, obedience and a love for God and fellow believers.</p> <p>Salvation does not produce immediate perfection, but it does move people in a new direction.</p> <p><strong>II.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>GENUINE FAITH IS MORE THAN A FALSE COMPASSION.</strong></p> <p><strong>James 2:15,16 = <em>Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, &ldquo;Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,&rdquo; but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? </em></strong></p> <p>Here we have an illustration of the point being made in verse 14.</p> <p>It is the case of a believer, a brother or a sister in the Lord, who is in dire need.</p> <p>This believer needs food and clothing.</p> <p>The phrase <em>Go, I wish you well </em>is a modern translation of the original.</p> <p>The original text literally says &ldquo;Go in peace.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Go in peace&rdquo; was a standard Hebrew farewell.</p> <p>The phrase <em>keep warm and well fed </em>may be somewhat misleading.</p> <p>It seems to suggest that the person is already warm and fed, which is not the case.</p> <p>If we only address a need and do nothing about it, what good is it?</p> <p>Words without action are simply words.</p> <p>In a Peanuts cartoon, it&rsquo;s winter and Charlie Brown and Linus are in the house keeping nice and warm.</p> <p>But poor Snoopy is outside in the cold shivering in front of an empty food bowl.</p> <p>Charlie and Linus talk about how sad it is that Snoopy is hungry and cold.</p> <p>They decide they ought to do something about it.</p> <p>So they walk outside and say to Snoopy, &ldquo;Be of good cheer!&rdquo;</p> <p>But that&rsquo;s all they do.</p> <p>They don&rsquo;t feed him or provide a warm place for him.</p> <p>They simply say &ldquo;Be of good cheer.&rdquo;</p> <p>I&rsquo;m sure Charles Shultz, who was a Christian, had this passage in James in mind when he drew that cartoon.</p> <p><strong>James 2:17 = <em>In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.</em></strong></p> <p>Action is the proper fruit of a living faith.</p> <p>A living faith will surely produce the fruit of good deeds.</p> <p>Therefore, if deeds are lacking, the faith proclaimed by an individual is dead.</p> <p>Notice that the verse does not deny that it is faith.</p> <p>It is faith but it is not the right kind of faith.</p> <p>It is not a living, saving faith.</p> <p>James compares faith without works to words of compassion without corresponding acts of compassion.</p> <p>Compassion is one of the evidences of someone who has truly been born again, one whose faith is alive and well.</p> <p>The story is told of a European queen several centuries ago who left her coach driver sitting outside during the winter while she attended the theater.</p> <p>The drama was so heart wrenching that the queen sobbed throughout the entire performance.</p> <p>But when she returned to the carriage and discovered the coach driver had frozen to death, she did not shed a tear!</p> <p>She was deeply moved by a fictional tragedy but completely untouched by a real tragedy, even though she was directly involved and directly responsible.</p> <p>It is amazing that people can become emotionally involved in a movie, play, popular song or television program.</p> <p>They may weep over tragedies and become incensed at wrongs and injustices in these fictional plots.</p> <p>But they may show no concern or compassion for the predicament of a neighbor who is in real need.</p> <p>In our artificial, self-centered world, fantasy often becomes more meaningful than reality.</p> <p><strong>III.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong><strong>GENUINE FAITH IS MORE THAN A SHALLOW CONVICTION</strong></p> <p><strong>James 2:18 = <em>But someone will say, &ldquo;You have faith; I have deeds.&rdquo; Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.</em></strong></p> <p>The entire NT teaches that we are saved by faith alone.</p> <p>Paul wrote this in Ephesians 2:8-10 = <em>For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith &ndash; and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God &ndash; not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God&rsquo;s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.</em></p> <p>In Ephesians 2:8-10, we have 3 significant prepositions in this passage:</p> <p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; By grace</p> <p><em>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </em>Through faith</p> <p><em>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </em>For good works</p> <p>If we get these out of order, we&rsquo;re in trouble.</p> <p>If we think we are saved by works instead of through faith for works, we have a salvation problem.</p> <p>But then James comes along and says &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not just faith but faith and works.&rdquo;</p> <p>So who&rsquo;s right? Paul or James?</p> <p>They are both right.</p> <p>They are talking about different things.</p> <p>Paul was speaking out against the problem of legalism.</p> <p>Some of the Jews thought this way: &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve got to keep all the Jewish laws and regulations to be a Christian.&rdquo;</p> <p>James, on the other hand, is not dealing with legalism but laziness.</p> <p>James is addressing those who say &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t matter what you do as long as you believe.&rdquo;</p> <p>Paul and James are addressing 2 different audiences.</p> <p>They use the word &ldquo;works&rdquo; in different ways.</p> <p>When Paul uses the word &ldquo;works&rdquo; he is talking about Jewish laws such as circumcision.</p> <p>When James uses the word &ldquo;works&rdquo; he&rsquo;s talking about the lifestyle of a Christian.</p> <p>Paul focuses on the root of salvation, that which happens to us internally.</p> <p>James focuses on the fruit of salvation, that which happens on the outside as a result of what happened on the inside.</p> <p>We are not saved by the works that we do.</p> <p>The works that we do is the result of being saved.</p> <p>Jesus said &ldquo;By their fruits you will know them.&rdquo;</p> <p>Our behavior is a reflection of what we truly believe.</p> <p>The quotation <em>You have faith; I have deeds </em>could be paraphrased to say &ldquo;One person has faith; another has deeds.&rdquo;</p> <p>To this James responds <em>Show me your faith without deeds.</em></p> <p>James is saying, &ldquo;You say you are a Christian. Prove it!&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Let me see your actions back up your words.&rdquo;</p> <p>---------------------------------------------</p> <p>Faith is odorless, weightless and invisible so anybody can claim to have it.</p> <p>The implication is that faith can not be demonstrated apart from action.</p> <p>Faith is an attitude of our inner being and it can only be seen as it influences our actions.</p> <p>Merely professing faith proves nothing.</p> <p>Not everyone who is a PROFESSOR of Christianity is a POSSESSOR of Christianity.</p> <p>Larry Flint, the publisher of Hustler magazine, claimed to be born again.</p> <p>But nothing changed.</p> <p>Former President Jimmy Carter in his book <em>Why Not the Best </em>tells of a turning point in his life.</p> <p>That turning point came when somebody asked him: &ldquo;If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?&rdquo;</p> <p>Only action can demonstrate that one&rsquo;s faith is genuine.</p> <p>James goes on to say <em>I will show you my faith by what I do.</em></p> <p>We need to act on our beliefs.</p> <p>Our behavior is a reflection of what we truly believe.</p> <p>It can not be stressed too often that no one can be saved by works.</p> <p>Salvation is entirely by grace . . . through faith.</p> <p>Ephesians 2:8,9 = <em>For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith &ndash; and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God &ndash; not by works, so that no one can boast.</em></p> <p>If works could have any part in salvation, it would no longer be by God&rsquo;s grace.</p> <p>But neither can it be stressed too often that <em>. . . faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.&nbsp; James 2:17</em></p> <p>Genuine, transforming faith will produce genuine good works.</p> <p>Faith is like calories.</p> <p>You can&rsquo;t see them but you can sure see the results.</p> <p>You can&rsquo;t see faith but you can see the results.</p> <p>There will be some form of repentance and obedient submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.</p> <p>It will not be perfect obedience but good works will be present.</p> <p>One could say that it costs us NOTHING to become a Christian but it costs us EVERYTHING to live as one.</p> <p>Salvation is free but there is a cost in becoming a disciple of Jesus.</p> <p>Nothing we possess can purchase salvation.</p> <p>And once we are saved, everything we have belongs to the Lord.</p> <p>That is what Lordship means.</p> <p>Those who believe but are not saved have no intention of committing themselves to Christ, His Word and His will.</p> <p>Some Jews in James&rsquo; day had gone from an extreme legalistic Judaism to the opposite extreme of a Christianity that required no works at all.</p> <p>The Jews who were honest realized that they could not possibly keep all the commandments of God or meet His standard of righteousness.</p> <p>The Law was a hopelessly demanding burden they could not possibly carry.</p> <p>Over the centuries, rabbis had added still more burdens in the form of traditions.</p> <p>As a result, when they heard the gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone, many Jews were immediately attracted.</p> <p>Some assumed that this new religion gave everything and demanded nothing.</p> <p>Such people would make a profession of faith in Christ but with the mistaken notion that, because works were not necessary for salvation, they were therefore not necessary for anything.</p> <p>The result, in some cases, was a non-saving faith and a type of living that differed little from the way they had formerly lived.</p> <p>It may even have led to worse conduct.</p> <p><strong>James 2:19 = <em>You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that &ndash; and shudder.</em></strong></p> <p>Faithful Jews believed a creed known as the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4: <em>&ldquo;Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>The writer James commends his Jewish Christian readers for believing &ldquo;that there is one God.&rdquo;</p> <p>This is &ldquo;good!&rdquo;</p> <p>That God is one was a basic truth of Jewish orthodoxy.</p> <p>But accepting this creed is not enough to save a person.</p> <p>To prove his point, James declares that <em>even demons believe </em>the creed.</p> <p>Demons are very much aware that the Bible is God&rsquo;s Word,</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; That Jesus is God,</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; That salvation is by grace through faith,</p> <p>Demons are very much aware that Jesus died, was buried, and was raised from the dead to atone for the sins of the world.</p> <p>Demons know quite well that there is a literal heaven and a literal hell.</p> <p>But all of that knowledge cannot save them.</p> <p>Demons know the truth about God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit but they hate it.</p> <p>The demons know that there is only one God and they shudder.</p> <p>The demons tremble with fear which shows that they truly believe.</p> <p>However, their response is also evidence that their faith is not a saving faith for they are terrified at the thought of God.</p> <p>Belief has not brought them peace with God.</p> <p>Saving faith, then, is not mere intellectual acceptance of a theological truth.</p> <p>Saving faith goes much deeper, involving the whole inner being of a person.</p> <p>And it expresses itself outwardly in a changed life.</p> <p>Shallow conviction is a recognition of certain facts about God and His Word without submission to either.</p> <p>Matthew 7:21-23 = <em>&ldquo;Not everyone who says to me, &lsquo;Lord, Lord,&rsquo; will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, &lsquo;Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?&rsquo; Then I will tell them plainly, &lsquo;I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!&rsquo;</em></p> <p>A mirage is an interesting phenomenon.</p> <p>A mirage DOES NOT only occur in the mind of a thirsty wanderer.</p> <p>The scientific reasons have to do with a dense layer of hot air rising from the ground, reflecting the image of distant objects.</p> <p>The problem with a mirage is that it disappears when you come up close to examine it.</p> <p>It was only a reflection, it WAS NOT the real thing.</p> <p>For the thirsty traveler, there is no fountain of gushing, cool spring water.</p> <p>There is only more heat, frustration and despair.</p> <p>Just like mirages that offer empty hope to a desperate traveler, so there is a faith that never delivers.</p> <p>2 Corinthians 13:5 = <em>Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.</em></p> <p>The Coca Cola company says that their pop is the Real Thing.</p> <p>It seems if you put the word &ldquo;real&rdquo; in front of anything, it sells better.&nbsp;</p> <p>There are many different religions that claim to be the real thing.</p> <p>Many of these religions offer us religion without a relationship.</p> <p>They offer us a crown without a cross.</p> <p>They offer us salvation without a savior.</p> <p>They offer us peace without the Prince of Peace.</p> <p>They offer us comfort without commitment.</p> <p>There are many religions that offer us faith but it IS NOT the Real Thing.</p> <p>This is the real thing as recorded in I John 5:12:</p> <p><em>He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.</em></p> Mon, 08 Jan 2018 16:28:40 +0000 pastor_orville 132764 at http://www.wolcma.org