Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Let's Make Our Faith Visible (Jamesbs4) by John

LET’S MAKE OUR FAITH VISIBLE! (Jamesbs4.ser)
James 2:14-26
1. (Have an apple for a prop. Hold it up.)
2. What do I have in my hand?
3. Could I make you believe it is an orange?
4. Make an imaginary journey to Washington state with me. To Bill Roger’s Filbert Farm. (Dialogue here) “Look at my orange tree! I’m really proud of it!” “Looks like an apple tree to me. Besides, oranges don’t grow this far north. Too cold!” Point: Self-deceit. Wrong place. Wrong tree. Wrong bloom. Wrong fruit. Wrong texture. Wrong flavor. Wrong seed. (Same is true with people. You can tell a Christian by where he is, the kind of life he lives, the kind of fruit in his life, and the kind of seed he sows!)
5. Do you see what James is saying here?
6. All faith is invisible.

I. Real Faith Dynamically Changes our lives.

1. Jesus said simply, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16,20)
(1) Jesus said that to His apostles, so He was talking about the difference between being saved and lost, and the truth. Christians can see the difference!
(2) Real faith can’t be seen! But we can see what real faith does! It is like what Jesus did!
(3) Remember Peter’s experience when Jesus came walking to them on the water? Peter’s faith was stronger than mine, but still weak! But it was also very real! Nobody knew how much faith Peter had, except Jesus, until he stepped out of the boat! Then everyone had an accurate picture of his faith! Or did they? I can hear the apostles now, “Wow! Look at Peter! Man! He really has faith! I wish I had faith like that!” Then he began to sink, and all of the apostles knew how weak Peter’s faith was.
2. Real faith becomes visible when good works grow out of it. ill with Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). The Priest and the Levite were probably on the way to church for worship. They had responsibility! (Remember what James said in 1:27? “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” The Priest and the Levite would have worshipped better if they had helped the helpless! And made their faith visible!
3. Vv 15-17. A faith that attempts nothing is invisible, too, but its works are not.
(1) Such a faith can’t know the mind of God.
(2) How can it attempt anything really godly?
(3) An empty faith has self as its only god!
(4) Lord Halifax said, “A man is to go about his business as if he had not a friend in the world to help him in it.” That’s the world’s far right attitude. The far left says “The world owes me!” Neither is right.
(5) James spoke in v. 16 as if he had witnessed someone saying these things. They may have been said with real feeling, but people can’t wear feelings, and they can’t eat them!
(6) It doesn’t take a special gift of discernment for us to know when a person’s actions don’t measure up to their words! When they don’t, their false faith becomes plainly visible!
4. We can’t divide our works from either kind of faith! That’s what James is telling us in v. 18. (read)
(1) This sounds like an argument James has already heard!
(2) V. 26. A faith without works is a dead faith!
(3) The opposite is also true I think. Works without faith are dead works, valueless! Hebrews 11:6 says, “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.”
(4) Works, good or bad, grow out of our faith, real or false!

II. V.19 REAL FAITH IS MORE THAN AN ORTHODOX STATEMENT.

1. The Jews liked to show their religion by saying, “There is one God” or “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut 6:4)
2. Jewish tradition taught, “Whosoever prolongs the utterance of the word One shall have his days and years prolonged to him.” “Rabbi Akiba faced a martyr’s death. At the end of his final prayer, he recited the Shema. His last words were: “’Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one.’” According to Jewish legend, a voice from heaven was heard: “Blessed art thou, for thy soul and the word ‘One’ left thy body together.’”
3. James points out demons believe God is one, and demons aren’t saved! Anybody can mouth words, but only a Christian can live like Christ!
4. I run into people all the time who say they are saved, but their lives say they are lost! Jesus says for us to believe their lives! ill. (Walter Ettiger?) I talked to a man who told me he attended church for years and never realized Jesus died for him personally. After he started attending another church, he accepted Jesus as his own Savior! All those years he played Russian Roulette with eternity! And he is so glad now that he knows Jesus!
5. The Biblical proofs James gives are the stories of Abraham and Rahab. Abraham started walking on water when he offered his only son Isaac as a sacrifice, and Rahab stepped out on faith when she helped the spies of Israel. Their works just naturally grew out of their faiths!

CONCLUSION:

1. Faith is invisible, but if you observe, the outgrowth of that faith it will tell you whether it is real or false!
2. If you say you believe in Jesus and you are saved, what does your life say? Jesus said we are to look at and believe lives, not words! James says the same thing!
3. What a wonderful time this is to begin putting your faith to work! Be like Peter! Step out of the boat! Make Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life! Begin witnessing for Him by coming forward and making your faith in Him public.
4. Then help the helpless with the same grace Jesus showed all of us, and all of us will know you belong to Jesus!


Emmanuel 2/13/2005

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