Hi CrossView Church!
Our text is James 2:14-26. Please read over it and pray it into our church’s life. Also pray to invite others who are not Christian or not part of a gospel-preaching church. Especially those who think they are Christians and are disconnected from the church!
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.
20 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
2:1-26 In this chapter James discussed worship in the synagogue. References to the treatment of the wealthy versus the poor are reminiscent of 1:9-11. The focus on the ethics of true spirituality is linked closely with chapter 1.
2:14-26 In this section James continues with the theme of “being hearers and doers of the word” (1:19-27) by focusing on the relationship between faith and works. 2:14 Can his faith save him should be understood to mean, “Can a faith that does not express itself in good works be a saving faith?” The answer is no. 2:15-17 Giving a blessing to someone in need without offering tangible aid is useless. If faith is not accompanied by works, it is dead by itself
2:18 The argument turns to the relationship between faith and works. Beginning in this verse James answered a “straw man” argument (but someone will say) against his assertion that faith without works is dead.
2:19-20 The demons also believe—and they shudder is an answer to the mistaken assertion that belief in God by itself is sufficient for salvation. Demons believe, but it is impossible for them to be saved. Saving faith entails more than mere knowledge. It includes trust and obedience, for faith without works is useless.
2:21-23 The example of Abraham and his offer of Isaac as a sacrifice (Gen 22:1-19) affirms James’s teachings about faith. What exactly a biblical author means by justified depends on the context in which he uses it. For instance, Paul (Rm 4:1-5; Gal 3:6-14) argued that “works of the law” cannot make one “justified” because he wished to make clear that salvation is a gift given only through faith. Abraham believed God, and his trust in God was counted as righteousness (Gen 15:6; Gal 3:6). James focuses more on the role good works play in proving faith genuine. Abraham’s faith was proven genuine by his obedience to God’s command. His faith made his good works possible.
2:24-26 James’s declaration that man is justified by works and not by faith alone may seem to contradict Rm 3:28, but note that Paul was writing about “works of the law,” meaning the Mosaic law, whereas James spoke only of “works,” which has in view good deeds. James’s references to law are to “the law of freedom” (the gospel; see 2:12) and to “the royal law” (v. 8; Lv 19:18), both of which affirm his assertion that true faith is expressed through good works
Main Point: Faith without works is demonic and damning; faith with works is spiritual and saving.
- Question 1: If someone has faith but no works, can his “faith” save him? (vv. 14-17)
- Question 2: If someone says they have faith and insists they do, isn’t that good enough? (vv. 18-19)
- Question 3: Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? (vv. 20-26)