Friday, December 23, 2011

Digging Deeper (James 2:21-26

 Digging Deeper 14 James 2:21-26
 This week is a very special week for those of the Christian faith; it is a time of celebration of Christ, not only His birth but who He is and who we are because of who He is. But notice the phrase above, “those of the Christian faith.” When we approach Christmas by faith we see more clearly the impact of the birth of the Christ child!
Now let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word. James 2:21-22 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected. Abraham was justified by works? Really? You can do something that will justify yourself? The word justify is translated from the Hebrew word “dikaioo” it means to bring out that which a person is. Abraham being justified by works does not mean that because he was willing to sacrifice Isaac that he was given faith, righteousness and a relationship with God. Abraham’s obedience revealed who he was, a man of faith! If someone says that they are a reader but they never read then are they really a reader? Select your example. A person would justify that they are a reader by reading and a man’s faith is justified by his works. There is a difference in saying that Abraham had perfect faith and saying, as the scripture, does that his faith was perfected. We think of perfection as without blemish but we know with a little study that Abraham’s faith was not without blemish (see passing his wife off as his sister, which was a half truth if there is a such of thing, never the less it was a lack of faith concerning God’s promise Genesis 12, 20) This is the point that James is making, just profession of belief and trust in God is incomplete it is not until works of obedience that faith is completed.
James 2:23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. What an amazing title to have “friend of God” Abraham was called a friend of God not because he had faith but because others saw his faith. Verses 24-25 reiterate the same point that works exposes faith. Note again that justification here is simply a revelation of who you are. Works in themselves have no power and really mean nothing if they are not exercised by faith.
James 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James leaves no confusion concerning faith and works. A dead body cannot justify life, it does not breath, it does not have a pulse, there are no brain waves, it has no movement it is simply dead. And so is faith, faith that does not work is useless and void of power it to is simply dead. It is not works that save us from our sin, works do not create faith, it is a gift from God. But works are a must in the life of a believer because works justify who we are in Christ. It is impossible for others to see your faith without seeing your works! And works will give you the reputation of being a friend of God!

Now that we have dug a little Deeper what do we believe? 

What do we believe about God? 

1.   God knows we are not perfect but is looking at our perfected faith.
2.   God alone is the giver of faith.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   Our works are a revelation of our faith.
2.   We do not have faith because of our works we have good works because of God’s gift of faith.
3.   Our works reveal that we are a friend of God.

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, December 16, 2011

Digging Deeper (James 2:18-20

Digging Deeper 13 James 2:18-20
     It seems as if God's Word is the most neglected part of a believer's life. I recently became the proud owner of a Magellan 9550 7" screen GPS used it for one short trip and now feels like I can never go on a trip again without it, I feel equipped with the Magellan 9550 I can't get lost, I can go anywhere anytime. Now, what does that have to do with the importance of God's Word? Nothing really, but it seems a good illustration, I have found the directions for a walk with God in His Word and now I don't feel like I can live without it, and can do anything or go anywhere with it. Have we become so dependent on ourselves that we no longer feel a need to consult the instructions?  There is much emphasis placed on ministry and there should be but where does the faith to do God's work come from? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
As we dig deeper in God's Word concerning the actions of faith, which manifest as works, let's go there with the mindset or should I say "heart-set" that God's Word is the authority on good works.
Let's dig a little deeper in God's Word. James 2:18 but someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without works; and I will show you my faith by my works." There is a challenge in this precept. The challenge is to show evidence of faith without works. That is an impossible task. Faith is not something that we can see with our eyes, faith is a gift from God planted in our hearts. Only when the fruit of faith, works, are produced can faith then be seen. The writer of Hebrews took it from a little different angle Hebrews 1:11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith is the part that is not seen, so James is simply saying works are not interchangeable with faith rather works are the expression of faith and it is impossible to see faith without them. Anyone can say,  "I can build a house" and believe that they can build a house but until they build the house their words and belief are useless. Someone can say they have faith but if there are no works then it is simply dead faith. "I will show you my faith by my works"  Believing I can build the house does not build the house.
James 2:19  You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. It is a good thing to believe that God is God alone! But just believing that there is only one God is not walking in faith. James gives the example of the furthest from walking in faith namely demons, they believe and even fear God but there works are evident that their belief does not affect what they do. Even when there is genuine belief, that belief is dead if it does not evidence itself by works. Works in the life of believers has gotten a bad reputation in contemporary teaching because of the false teaching that works are rewarded with faith which is 180 degrees from the truth. The false teaching that somehow we can do enough good things to merit a relationship with God or to maintain a relationship with God has caused many to avoid the subject of works for fear of giving works to much power. But there is a tremendous amount of power in works of a believer because they are generated by faith. What would we say about a man that says he can build a house but never does, can we really call him a great builder or do we say he says he is a builder. What about someone who says they have faith but there is no works, do we call them a person of faith or do we say "they say they have faith"?
James 2:20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless. It is foolishness to think that faith accomplishes anything on its own. Faith that is never used by definition is useless. There is not an effort here to put works ahead of faith that is impossible. Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. It is a strong statement to say that faith can be useless, but are we not foolish to think that just saying we have faith will accomplish something for God's glory. James 1:22But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. What is our faith doing?
Now that we have Dug a little Deeper what do we believe? 
What do we believe about God? 
1. There is one God.
2. God expects faith to produce works. 
3. God is pleased when we exercise the faith given by Him.   

What do we believe about ourselves? 
1. Without faith we cannot produce good works. 
2. Our works will not substitute for faith, faith produces works. 
3. We are foolish to think that we can claim faith but have no works. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Digging Deeper (James 2:14-17

 Digging Deeper 12 James 2:14-17

            Before we dig into the passage this week we need to say a little bit about faith. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ Romans 10:17 Christ is the source of our faith. Faith is never something that we drum up ourselves, it is never our faith plus what God can provide, faith comes from Christ we receive faith we do not produce it. Second faith can and should increase. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 As faith increases so does assurance and hope, the more we are convinced of the things that we have not yet seen the more obedient we become . Faith has a purpose. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those that seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 God cannot be pleased unless faith is exercised in the life of a believer. One more thing, if God is not pleased with our lives without faith being exercised, and faith comes from the word of Christ, how important does it become that we study and know the words of Christ. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
            In this Christmas season as always there are debates, is December the 25th really Jesus’ birthday. Should we be offended when someone says “Happy Holiday”? What about the tree should we put one up or not, what about Santa, presents, candy, family dinners? This time of year is a time of celebration but the celebration should be a product of faith, faith that we have received from the words of Christ. Faith that acts to further the cause of Christ. The debate is not what we do this Christmas season the question is why we do what we do. Faith motivates us to be pleasing to God.
            Let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word. James 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?  James uses a familiar expression “what’s it good for” if faith is just an idea what’s the use? At this point James is not debating if someone has faith or not he is merely making a point. “Ok, you say you have faith but it does not affect what you say or what you do so what good is it?” The question here is not if the faith produced by works can save you, the question is can a faith that does not produce works save you.
            James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace,]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? James gives us this illustration but note that this is not teaching that without faith you cannot take care of the needy that is not the point at all. James simply states that just telling someone that is hungry and cold to be full and warm does nothing. Just saying that we have faith without the action of faith is just that, saying that we have faith. Back to Hebrews 1:11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith motivates action, what good is faith if there is no conviction or no evidence of belief and trust? Faith is not a just a good idea it is the motivation for how we live our lives.
            James 2:17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. Now James lays it all out on the table. The fact here is not that faith without works is a weak faith, it is a non-existent faith. It is dead. When something is dead it does not exist. The “idea” of faith is nothing! But faith in action can move mountains.
Now that we have Dug a little Deeper what do we believe?
What do we believe about God?                                                            
1.    God is pleased when we exercise faith in Him.
2.     God produces the faith that we have in Him.
3.     God gives us faith through His infallible Word.
What do we believe about ourselves?
1.     We cannot have a relationship with God without faith.
2.     We cannot please God without faith.
3.    We are saved by a faith that produces works for God’s glory.
4.       Our works are evidence of faith.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Digging Deeper (James 2:10-13)

I pray that God will change our lives for His glory by the study of His Word!

Digging Deeper 11 James 2:10-13

            These past couple of weeks has been full of reminders to be thankful. It is so important that we realize that God supplies our needs according to His riches in Heaven. We must be thankful to God for the clothes on our backs and the food on our tables, the roof over our heads but knowing any one of these or all of these can be gone tomorrow causes us to understand that to be truly thankful is to realize that we have a relationship with God through Christ and that nothing can separate us from. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,   “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-40 It is for this reason that we can always come to the Lord with Thanksgiving. Let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word.
            James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. The set up here is guilt. James is following the previous thought that if we show partiality then we have sinned. How can the guilty be partial, deciding who should receive the grace of God? If we stumble at all we are guilty of all! There is not one of us that have kept the law of God to perfection which makes all guilty of all the character of God.
            James 2:11 For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. God is holy and to do anything outside of His holy character makes us guilty against His holiness. James now makes reference to one of the laws of God; maybe you are not guilty of adultery but if you are guilty of murder than the fact that you are not guilty of the adultery is a mute point. Holiness is pure without any sin at all. That is why that we can never be just guilty of small sins but innocent of the big stuff because of “He who said” is God and anything outside His holiness is sin!
            James 2:12  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. This is a direct reference again to the previous verses concerning partiality. We should speak and act like people who have liberty. We should not be legalistic in our view of others because we to are guilty, rather we should act and speak as people who have been freed from our guilt. It is not condoning some ones sin when we show mercy, we are not freed to sin but we have been freed to enjoy the liberty we have in Christ not to sin. We have not been freed to become judge and jury of others but to show mercy as we have experienced in the law of liberty we have in Christ!
            James 2:13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. The will be no mercy for those that show no mercy. God’s mercy is abundant but at judgment time there will be no mercy. God is the eternal judge so who are we to withhold mercy? Then James makes this profound statement “mercy triumphs over judgment.” When mercy is shown there is still hope, there is still a chance that things can be worked out. But when a judgment is made it is finished. While we are living in this world we experience the mercy of God but there will come a time when mercy will be no more. Hebrews 9:27 And in as much as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. There are grave consequences for not showing mercy to one another. Mercy’s triumph over judgment is good guidance in living for Christ.

Now that we have Dug a little Deeper what do we believe?

What do we believe about God?       
1.    God is holy and to do one thing contrary to His holiness is a trespass against His entire character.
2.    God is merciful.
3.    God’s mercy will not strive forever there is a judgment.
4.    Mercy triumphs judgment.

What do we believe about ourselves?

1.    We are all guilty of the whole law of God.
2.    We are in no position to judge who should receive God’s grace.
3.    Without the mercy of God we are stand guilty before His judgment.
4.      Mercy triumphs judgment.