Sermon for Sunday, 09,09,2018
Text: James 2:1-17
Theme: “A Living Faith”
Often, we Christians are referred to as people of faith, and our organizations and institutions are called faith-based institutions. Have you ever wondered why? The obvious reason is that we are people of faith in God; we put our faith in a God who is not seen. Through faith in God and His Word, we believe in this God of creation and redemption.
By classification, faith is an abstract word. It is our conviction about God and his word, and it is at the very foundation of our relationship with God. Without faith in God, you and I would rather find something else to do on Sunday morning.
Paul makes it very clear in Hebrew 11:6, that, “without faith it is impossible to please Him. He goes on, “For he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
When we put our faith in God, and accept his saving grace, God saves us. Hence, Paul writes, 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
But faith in the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ is not just an abstract conviction. It has a tangible fruit. Faith in God shapes who we are and influences what we do. This is the lesson James is teaching us this morning.
James says faith without work is dead. Sometimes this message seems to be in tension with Paul’s position that we are saved by grace, through faith, and not by works, but it is not. In the 10th verse of Ephesians 2, that I quoted earlier, Paul adds, 10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them.”
Though work does not save us, but when we get saved by grace through faith, our work becomes a testimony of our salvation.
If our faith in God does not show good deeds, James says then our faith is dead. But we want to have a Living Faith; not a dead one. But our faith is not a living one unless its evidence is seen, and impact felt. A living faith is not based on the claim we make, but the good works we do.
Of the many things that could be listed as good work, James emphasizes the treatment of our fellow human beings. His teaching stresses that we all have the same intrinsic worth. Favoritism, based on whatever reasons, should have no place in the church.
In our context, especially now in life of America, the principle would apply to issues of race, immigrants, struggling Americans, etc. We are challenged as Christians to treat with respect, the poor, the minority, and the disadvantage, whether it is the student sitting next to you in class, or the homeless person walking down the street. We should treat them the same way we will like to be treated. This would amount to the demonstration of a living faith.
The second point James makes as a Living faith is how we respond to the needs of the needy. He says what good would our faith be if a brother or sister is naked or lacks food and we don’t help him or her, but tells him to go in peace, and keep warm, and we do nothing to help supply their bodily need? This would be a demonstration of dead faith, according to this biblical passage. s If a
As Paul says, we Christians are saved not by, but for good works.
Each of us here this morning has an opportunity to demonstrate a living faith through our work. For we have several opportunities with in and out of the church to do just that. Right now, we are providing lunch every Monday for our brothers and sisters at the warming center in Marquette. And we are thankful to all of those involved. Keep Kids Warm, a mission project to provide warm clothing for needy kids of our community during Winter, is coming up very soon.
The text makes clear that a living faith is not just something personal, or solitary; it’s not something between just you and God. It is a conviction about God that influences your life. John Wesley puts it this way: “The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness.”
Today, we live at a time when people care less about what we profess or believe. But they will care when they see and experience the love of God through us.
So, the question is not whether we have faith or not. It is whether we have a living faith that is seen though what we do. When we demonstrate a living faith, there is bigger picture. That is, people see God at work through what we do.
It is my prayer that we will allow our faith to influence us in ways that become testimonies of God’s presence in our community.
God bless you.