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Faith In Action


"21 Was our father Abraham not justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was Rahab the prostitute not justified by works also when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."

Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have our brothers and sisters from around the world here with us today. I want you to know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers daily. We would ask that you would please do the same for us. I believe it's such a beautiful experience that God gives us a glimpses of our relationship with Him, through our relationships with others.
Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Genuine true faith leads to action. Therefore, where there is faith, real faith, saving faith, there will always be good works. And, we we discussed in our last message, it is possible to believe in God, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to even believe that what Christ did He actually did, to affirm the cross and the resurrection and never receive eternal life. It is what James calls "Dead faith." 
Faith is not mere words, intellectual agreement of words without action. Genuine faith works. Faith in action. Faith is obedience, obedience that continues throughout a lifetime and the result will bring about good works. Where there is real faith, saving faith, there will always be good works. If we have the faith that saves, we will surrender to God’s Word, and our surrender will be visible to the watching world.

Let us pray.
Heavenly Father,
Father, we thank You for You Word,  these very powerful truths, help us to examine ourselves to see whether we be in the faith. Lord, you know our heart, you know our hopes, our dreams, our fears and concerns. You know if the desire of our heart is a hunger for Your Word. I pray that every heart with us today, would be found faithful, longing to serve You, no matter the cost.

Father, hear the cries of our heart for the lost, for those who are deceived, we pray that You would touch their hearts, that they would come to the truth in Jesus Christ. May it be for Your glory and increase and for Christ's sake.
In His name we pray

Today's Message: Faith In Action
Open your Bibles with me if you would to the second chapter of the book of James. As we come to our study today, we will be look at the final six verses in chapter 2, verses 21 through 26. This is the second half of a portion of Scripture on the subject of dead faith. I am sure you will recall in our last study, he mentioned it in verse 17 and verse 20. It should therefore, be no surprise to us when James mentions it again in our text today. The subject of dead faith was an extremely important issue in James' day, as it is in the church today. 

In II Corinthians 13:5, the Apostle Paul says "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-unless indeed you fail the test?"
James, just as any faithful pastor would, wants to warn his people about the dangers of non-saving faith. Dead faith.
I invite you to follow along with me as I read to set the text well in our minds as we prepare our hearts for what the Holy Spirit has to say. James 2:21-26

"Was our father Abraham not justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was Rahab the prostitute not justified by works also when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."
In chapter 1, James told his readers to be doers of the Word, and not just merely hearers. In other words, don't deceive yourselves into thinking that by hearing the truth and affirming the truth is enough. Faith that has no evidence of changed life, that has no transformation, produces no product of faith, is therefore not real faith. Lifeless faith, is marked by the absence of righteous deeds. Faith is not known to be real until it is evidenced by doing, movement, or some sort of action, because faith is itself, invisible. True faith is equal to spiritual life. In other words James is saying spiritual life without works is dead. And, dead faith means there is no life there at all.

Here, James illustrates genuine faith through the lives of two well-known people in the Bible: Abraham and Rahab. I'm not sure if he could possibly find two more different people. Abraham was a Jew; Rahab was a Gentile. Abraham was a godly man, but Rahab was a sinful woman, a harlot. Abraham was the friend of God, Rahab belonged to the enemies of God. However, both, demonstrated genuine faith in God!

James, like all of the New Testament writers, were very concerned about people who may be self-deceived as to their faith. Because the pews are literally filled with people who are under the delusion that they have saving faith, I believe this had ought to be a preoccupation of the mind of every pastor today.

As you well know, James has been intensely involved in a very crucial teaching on the matter of salvation. James has shown us what dead faith, now he contrasts it with living faith. It is interesting to me, that James structures his argument as though it was a debate. It's as though there is a Jew in the assembly who is arguing that a faith with no works is still a saving faith.
The background for this illustration comes from Genesis 15 and 22.Interestingly enough, James reverses the order of the events for emphasis and places the validation of deed before faith. God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees to lead him into Canaan and to make out of him the nation of Israel. It was through Israel that God would bring the Savior into the world.
In order to make his point, he uses three illustrations of what really represents living faith.  The first of these three illustrations is Abraham. Verse 21, "Was our father Abraham not justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?" That verse, has really caused some people major frustration. It's been a major source of agitation for many people. Martin Luther, for one, got all mixed up about this, in fact, he later called it an epistle of straw, because he couldn’t figure out what that was really saying.  I want to take this a bit slowly, so that you really understand what James is saying.
Just to give you a little background, in Romans 4:3, Paul cites the same verse as James does, Genesis 15:6. "Then he" –Abraham–"believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." Abraham believed God. Paul uses it to argue that Abraham was not justified by his works, but by faith alone. He was looking at the beginning of a person’s right standing with God. However, James uses the verse and the word "justified" differently. James says that Abraham was justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar.
The event of Abraham’s faith took place some 30 plus years before Abraham offered Isaac on the altar. James says that his obedience in offering Isaac perfected his faith and fulfilled the Scripture that refers to his initial faith. So James is not looking at the beginning of Abraham’s faith, but rather at its mature outcome many years later.
James begins with " Was not Abraham our father," there is a sense in which Abraham is the father of all Jews. And, since James, a Jew, is writing to scattered Jews,  so James may be saying "Abraham our father," in a racial sense. A Jewish sense. Abraham,  the great patriarch, was certainly the symbol of all that was Jewish and all that was to be honored among Jews, since he was their honored progenitor. He was also the standard of righteousness for all Jews. 
However, James has more in mind here, he has in mind that Abraham is the not father of only the Jews racially, but of all people who believe in God unto salvation, whether Jew or Gentile. And, in that sense, Abraham is the father of all who believe. Now, this is a very important emphasis that Paul wants us to understand in writing the epistle to the Galatians. There is a spiritual sense in which all who believe are connected to Abraham.
So James says "Was not Abraham our father justified by works," let's just pause there for a moment. This causes a lot of grief for many Christians. "Justified by works? What?" Hold on, justified means to be considered right with God. Now, look at Romans chapter 4, where Paul says "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." So, Paul says is Abraham wasn’t justified by works before God, he was justified by faith.
Then, beginning in verse 9, Paul says "Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised."
Now, go down to verses 16 and 17, "For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,(as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist." Now the emphasis turns from faith to grace. First faith, now grace, that’s his whole point. 
Verse 18 and following, "In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be." Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him," 
Verse 24-25, "but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification." Do you see it?  Paul's entire argument of Romans 4, is Abraham was saved by faith, he was saved by grace, and he was saved by divine power, not human effort. It was God’s work in his behalf. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It was God's power.
Then, here comes James, using the same illustration, and he says Abraham, the same man, was justified by works.OK, follow me here, Romans 4, verse 2, "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God." In other words, Paul is saying if Abraham was justified by works, he could pat himself on the back. Now notice, "But," there's the distinction, "not before God."
You can only be justified by faith, and when you put your faith in God in Christ,then God grants you an imputed righteousness. 
Romans 4:3, "For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Abraham experience that, this is the soul condition of salvation. Genesis 15:6 says that. Abraham believed God and righteousness was put to his account. When it is deposited to you, you don't have it. You receive it as a gift from God. That's beloved, is the beauty of salvation! 
And, that's the way it's always been, in both the Old and New Testaments, whether we're talking about Abraham, or you and me. We are made right with God by His grace and we respond by believing faith.
Now, back to James 2, look at verse 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." James is saying the same thing. James understands exactly what Genesis 15:6 says. In fact, he quotes the exact same verse as Paul in Romans 4. So, here's the key, Abraham was justified before God. 
Because in the future, Christ would die for the sins of Abraham. Just as Christ died for the sins of every believing person. Abraham believed God. That takes us all the way back to God called him out of Ur in the Chaldees. Abraham, who around 75 years old, picked up everything, left a pagan land and followed his faith in the One true God. At that point, he started the walk of faith. And, at that point, he was granted righteousness. 

Now, look at what James is saying again, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works."  Here's the point. Abraham was justified by faith before God, "but" he was justified by works before men. That's the distinction. Works are the only way Abraham's faith can be seen.This is the justification that James has in mind. It's not contradictory, it's complementary to what Paul is saying. James  is specifically identifying when Abraham was justified by works. He says it was when he offered Isaac, his son on the alter. He had already been justified before God.  Now, he was justified before men, the watching world could now perceive the reality of his faith. 

Genesis 22, "Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." So God calls out to Abraham, and he says "Here I am." Then, notice God says "Take now your son, your only son," God's kind of rubbing it in a little, don't you think? Abraham knows that God made him a promise. Issac is around 10 or 12 years old by this time, so Abraham
has been walking in this promise for all these years. When he is 100 years old, God finally gives him a child. Now, he's 110 -112, and everything he knows about the covenant is being violated. God has never required a human sacrifice before. That's murder. 

But does Abraham argue with God? No! He takes Issac and does exactly what God tells him to do. Verse 3 and following "So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.  Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together." That's faith! Abraham believed in his heart that whatever the sacrifice would ultimately be, God would provide it. Because under no circumstance could God ever violate his promise.
And this is where James says Abraham was justified by works. Abraham was a man of great faith throughout his life, now, it reached the pentacle. Abraham was not a perfect man, we know that, right? He lied to protect Sarah in Egypt. He committed adultery with Hagar and produced Ishmael, who fathered the Arabs.
So, Paul says Abraham was justified by grace through faith, he's right. And James says Abraham was justified by works some 40-50 years later. 
Verse 24, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." John Calvin once said "Faith alone justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone. Never." Faith is only part of it, because the result of that faith, is good works. Therefore, Abraham is a classic example of salvation by faith before God, and salvation made evident before men.
Now verse 25, "In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?" James chooses Rahab, because she is so unlike Abraham. This is a very powerful contrast. And yet, when you come to Hebrews 11, Rahab is listed right there with Abraham in the list of heroes. And, in the genealogy of Jesus, Abraham and Rahab are both listed there. James says "In the same way." Rahab believed all she knew about God, the One true God, and it was imputed to her for righteousness. At  hat point, she was justified by her faith.
James' final analogy is very powerful, very vivid, that of a corpse. "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." James is saying "Look at yourself! Do you obey what you believe? Does your behavior correspond with what you say that you believe? You say you believe In God, but do you still sin? Do you honor God, no matter what the cost? Scripture clearly teaches that if God imparts new life to a formerly dead sinner, that new life and the saving faith that God grants will inevitably show itself in a life of good deeds. That's the test of faith!
In Closing..
I want to conclude this thought, in both cases, Abraham and Rahab, was putting their hopes, dreams and life on the line. That's the visible vindication of their justification. Risking it all for faith in God. I believe that this is what God wants all of us to understand. 
If you really believe that your faith in God is more valuable than everything else, you will be willing to put it all on the line, even your own life. A person living well for Christ will continue to sacrifice, even if it costs them everything. Because everything the hold dear has nothing to do with worldly things.
That's the monumental evidence of genuine true faith.
May it be so..
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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