Many of my sermons, for one reason or another, don’t get recorded. Not only was this sermon not recorded I can’t find my script for it either! So here is my Powerpoint. And here’s a sketch of what I said…
…How about this for a show of faith:
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice… Jesus, Son of the Most High God!
Don’t you want faith like this? He’s whole-hearted. He’s full-throated. He’s clear on the identity of Jesus and he doesn’t care who knows it. Do you want faith like this?
I hope not. This is Legion (Mark 5:6-7)
James wants us not to have demon faith (James 2:19)! Can such faith save? (v14) Perish the thought.
James wants to knock on the head ridiculous ideas about being saved by faith.
You see, it’s not as though our faith saves us rather than our deeds…
Faith isn’t some commodity that gets us across the salvation line.
Neither do deeds “top up” faith, as though together “faith + deeds = salvation”…
No that would be ridiculous. Neither deeds nor faith save us in that sense.
Actually Christ saves us, and faith is being united to Him.
The Bible speaks often in terms of trees…
Living faith always produces works.
It is “faith alone” that saves, in the sense that the reformers meant it. But such saving faith is never alone. This is what James is getting at with his examples of Rahab and Abraham.
In both instances the faith that saves inevitably produces good fruit.
But think of Abraham’s case. There’s a lot of disobedience in there too!
The faith that saves works.
Hear Luther on the subject:
It is a living, busy, mighty thing, this faith; and so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly. It does not ask whether there are any good works to do, but before the question rises; it has already done them, and is always at the doing of them. He who does not these works is a faithless man. He gropes and looks about after faith and good works, and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, though he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works. Faith is a living, daring confidence on God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in God’s grace and knowledge of it makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures; and this is the work of the Holy Ghost in faith. Hence a man is ready and glad, without compulsion, to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, in love and praise to God, who has shown him this grace; and thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire. (Luther’s preface to Romans)
And finally Jesus:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:1-5