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Believing Is More Than Acknowledging (James 2:21)

Sermon on Sunday 8 December 2019 by Pastor Justin

Is our faith true? If you say you believe, but you do not submit to His will, the book of James says that your belief is dead.

James 2:21 - Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?

Many Christians are confused by this verse. Did Paul not say that we are justified by faith? There is no contradiction here. In Genesis, Abraham was counted righteous because of his faith. Abraham's faith was justified by his belief and his work.

James is not contrasting two methods of salvation. He is contrasting two kinds of faith - living faith or dead faith. It is by your faith, your belief that you are justified. Then you need to justify your faith (proving to other people) through good works.

Dead faith is merely acknowledging you believe God. If you want your faith to be alive, you need prove your faith and belief by your work. Good work is according to His will - obedience, submission, fearing the Lord, loving one another, helping one another. 

Can you prove that you are a Christian? In Genesis 22:9, God tested Abraham's faith. God tests our faith through difficulties. Every small test matters.

Genesis 22:9 - When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

Ephesians 2:8 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -

Faith without works is dead. We are saved by grace. It is not just about believing. We have to show people our fruit. For Christ's sake, we have to live our life in a manner where we glorify God. Be an example in your conduct, your spirituality. We are all called into the world made up of imperfect people who judge us. How you behave as a Christian is being observed by the world. Live up to your faith. You are light (Matthew 5).

James 2:14 - What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 

In other words, will you have salvation? Salvation encompasses prosperity on the soul and good health. How can you have this if you do not do anything?

James 1:22 - But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Jesus always does, then He teaches. Be a doer and not a hearer. Living faith saves, but dead faith does not.

1 John 3:7 - Dear children, don't let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.

A person who is a true believer will have righteousness and bear fruit. When you understand the cross, you will want to live all for Him.

1 Peter 1:2 - God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

When you walk by faith, it is step by step, moment by moment. Give the Holy Spirit time to work in you. Don't rush. God has His timing. A living faith brings a person to salvation. And good works bring the person to faithfulness.

Remember these 3 things:

1. Believing is an act and not a mental acknowledgement. 

James 2:19 - You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble!

But demons will never produce love and unity. They are here to kill, steal and destroy. Their belief has no work. Their belief is dead. 

2. Believing with action versus words of acknowledging without action.

A true Christian bears fruit. Sanctification means setting apart for the purpose of God. When God calls you out of your comfort zone, obey.

James 2:15-17 - If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 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? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:20 - But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

3. Believing with action brings perfection.

James 2:22 - Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?

Together. Faith and work is one body together. It is like how spirit and body are together. If you have faith, you must have works. You must prove your faith. By works, faith is made perfect. 

2 Peter 1:5-11 - In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement our faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

When you have the first fruit and the last fruit, all others will fall in place. 

John 13:34 - A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Your belief will produce work and your work makes your belief genuine. Your faith can only be alive with good works.

James 2:26 - Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

Faith without works is incomplete, work without faith is faithless. Works that come from faith complete it.

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