Living Faith – Part One: Faith WIthout Works is Dead

Living Faith – Part One: Faith WIthout Works is Dead


James 2:14-19 ESV  What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  (15)  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  (16)  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  (17)  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  (18)  But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  (19)  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

James 2:17 ESV  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

  • So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
      • Without works, your faith is dead, it is worthless, it is not anything.
      • Without actually doing good deeds, serving, helping, working, acting on your faith… without works your faith is deceased, it is expired, it has perished, it is fallen, it is lifeless, defunct, extinct, and inert.
      • Without works your faith is worthless, meritless, good-for-nothing, trash!
        • CAN I BE MORE CLEAR?!
  • That’s what we are talking about today.
    • It’s part one of a two part message titles “Living faith”, because I don’t want my faith to be dead… I want living, prospering, growing, God-pleasing faith. I WAN’T LIVING FAITH! I WANT ALL OF Y’ALL TO HAVE LIVING FAITH.
      • If you want your faith to be alive, say amen!
        • If you want prosperous faith, say amen!
        • If you want GOD PLEASING FAITH, say amen!
          • IF YOU WANT DEAD FAITH… well just sit around and do nothing…
          • Because faith without works is dead.
  • Faith without works is dead.
    • Let’s hear it from James once again so you know it is not me talking, but the Holy Spirit through the scriptures…

James 2:14-17 ESV  What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  (15)  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  (16)  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  (17)  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

  • Faith without works is dead.
    • If you don’t know what James means by works, he simply means “Doing good deeds”.
      • What James is very clearly saying here is “You are not a real Christian if you do not do good deeds. Your life is not pleasing to God if you do not do good deeds.”

  • Point one this morning is something we preach a lot: Works can not save you.

Point One: Works Can’t Save You

James 2:17 ESV  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

  • Believe it or not, this is a controversial statement…Martin Luther, who famously opposed the Catholic church with his 95 theses…The man who started the reformation and is the reason that the protestant church exists, and not just the catholic church…The man who united Germany as one country under the Word of God…Martin Luther who is probably one of the most important father of the faith outside of the Bible…This man seemingly HATED the book of James… going as far as to calling it “An Epistle of Straw”.Meaning, unlike the other, stronger books of the Bible, James was weak and nearly worthless.Why?! Why would this father of the faith have such an issue with James?Because the Catholic Church used the book of James to argue that good works can save you from your signs.That good works can save you from hell.
    • And Martin Luther is 100 percent correct when he says that good works do not save you.
    • Again that is our first point this morning, WORKS CAN’T SAVE YOU.
      • Faith in Christ alone saves you.
        • In Martin Luther’s time, the Catholic church said things like “Give money to the church, that will save you.”
        • “Serve in the church and volunteer your labor, and that will save you”.
        • “If you have relatives or friends who have died and gone to hell, you can save them too by doing good works and paying enough money to the church”.
      • And Luther was like “No! No amount of money or volunteer work will save you, only Christ and faith in Him can save you!”
        • This is called the doctrine of Sola Fide, which is Latin for “Faith Alone”.
        • And Luther was right, only faith in Christ saves. We are saved by grace, through faith, and not by works… that’s what we learn in the book of Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  (9)  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

  • As clear as James is, Paul is just as clear in Ephesians…
    • But people STILL get this wrong!
      • So many people think they are getting to heaven because they are a good person.
      • I have witnessed to thousands of people on the streets, and when I do I always ask “Do you think you will go to heaven or hell when you die?”
        • And they always say “Heaven”
        • And then I ask “why?”
          • I would say that 80-90% of people respond “Because I am a good person”.
          • In other words “Because I do enough good works to be considered good by God”.
            • They think because they volunteer at the soup kitchen once a year, throw a little money in the offering plate, and donate their clothes to goodwill when they are done with them that makes them a good person.
          • But that is problematic, because the Bible says no one is good except for God.
    • Now, this sermon is not about that… I have preached sermons upon sermons about this, I have brought out the scales to prove that our “good” deeds will never outweigh our bad deeds…
      • The only way to be saved, period, is by the grace of Jesus Christ, His death and Resurrection, and our faith in Him.
  • So we have these people who believe wrongly that their good works can save them… but James wasn’t talking to those people.
    • James was talking to people who were on the other end of the spectrum…
      • People who believed that just because they once said a prayer… because they once believed in Christ… because they sing the songs and listen to the sermons…
        • That because they have what they think is faith, that they do not need to do any good in their lives.
        • They think they can sit in the back, be lazy, be passive, and one day they will just die and wake up in heaven.
          • And James is like “Bro, that is not how this works”.
  • That brings me to point two this morning: Works are Evidence of Salvation
    • Point one this morning is that works can not save you, but point two is that works are Evidence of Salvation.

Point Two – Works Are Evidence of Salvation

James 2:18 ESV  But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

  • Do you see what James is saying here?
    • He is saying “I will show you my faith by my works”…
      • In other words, my good works prove my faith.
      • My works are evidence that proves that I have faith.
    • So it is not that works produces salvation, it is that salvation produces works!
      • Let me say that again because some of yall didn’t get that…
    • It is not that works produces salvation, but that salvation produces works.
        • So then, if I have two people in front of me, and I know that ONE is a Christian and one is not… but I am not sure who is who… how can I decide?
      • Well they both say they are Christians, they both say they have faith…
        • But one of them doesn’t really do much… they don’t have any good fruit… they don’t do any good works.
      • The other serves in their church’s children’s ministry, they give faithfully to tithes and offerings, making sure to fulfill their missions faith pledge, they repent when they sin, they study their Bible, they pray for their enemies, they sometimes open their home to the homeless, they give to the poor, they evangelize to their families and coworkers, they, in short, obey everything God has told them to obey…
        • Now which of these two people would you say is the real Christian?
        • Some would say “Well it’s impossible to tell, they both confess Christ!”
  • Let me give you a metaphor to make this clear… a modern day parable to prove this point, ok… follow with me… imagine your friend comes to you and want’s to show you his prized apple tree:
    • “Pastor Christian! I am so excited you are finally coming over to see my apple tree! You know I come from a long line of apple farmers, my grand-daddy actually watched over one of Iowa’s biggest apple orchards!”
      • “Well I do love apples, I am excited to see it and taste’s it’s fruit!”
    • “Oh yes yes yes, my apple tree truly is beautiful… I even occasionally water it, and sometimes I even give it fertilizer!”
      • “You only occasionally feed and fertilize it?”
    • “Yeah, you know, like on Christmas and Easter… you know, when it is important to!”
      • “O.k. well, that’s seems odd… but I guess…
    • “Here we are! MY PRIZED APPLE TREE!”
  • “Uh… this is your apple tree?”
    • “Yup! Ain’t she a bute?”
      • “Bro, this tree is dead”
    • “No she is not! SHE IS A STRONG AND MIGHTY APPLE TREE! All I had to do was plant one little apple seed, and now I have an apple tree”.
      • “Dude, this ain’t an Apple tree, this is firewood!”
    • “No! What do you know?! This is an Apple tree! I know it is! I go to an apple appreciation club every single Sunday (well as long as it is not raining and my kids don’t have a volleyball or baseball game that Sunday…) But MOST Sundays I sometimes go to an Apple Appreciation club… that is how I KNOW this is an apple tree”
      • “If that is an apple tree… where are the apples?”
    • “What do you mean?”
      • “THE APPLES MAN! WHERE ARE THE APPLES? If this is an apple tree, let’s see it’s apples!”
    • “Well it doesn’t need to have apples… like I said, I planted an apple seed, and I feed and water it like twice a year maybe, and I try to go to the Apple Appreciation club on Sundays when I can… I mean look, I even use an IPHONE! I am all Apples all the time, this is definitely an Apple tree… right… right?!”
      • “That’s not an Apple tree, it doesn’t have any life, it doesn’t have any apples… it’s just dead wood… here let me show you my apple tree.”
  • “You can tell this is an Apple Tree because the way it is! IT HAS APPLES MAN! APPLE TREES GROW APPLES!”
    • “Yeah but my tree is an apple tree too…”
      • “No man, your tree WAS an Apple tree… but your tree is dead. And here is the proof. My tree has apples and your tree doesn’t”.

James 2:18 ESV  But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

  • Man the people that I know without a doubt are saved are the ones who not only proclaim Christ as savior, but they prove it with their works.
    • They show up to church early, and leave late.
    • They serve in areas because there is a need, not because they want to.
    • They help others with projects, they use their skills to serve others.
    • They are constantly loving on people, serving people, helping people.
    • They preach the gospel to others.
    • They raise their kids as Christians.
    • They sacrifice, they suffer for others, they lay down their lives to please God and bring people to Him.
  • One theologian said it like this: “Faith without works is dead; works without faith is dead. Neither is complete in itself. It is like fire burning without fuel and fuel burning without fire. One can say that this is possible, but it is not; it is contrary to the creative makeup and the laws that govern fire and fuel.
    • Man I know someone has Living Faith when I see the fire burning brightly in their lives.
      • And talk is cheap, yall… SO MANY PEOPLE TALK A BIG TALK… but never do anything about it…
      • On the other hand you have people like the Fanns, they came to church for like one week… and then they show up on a Thursday to help set up chairs and tables and they stick around to help clean up.
        • And I didn’t even know these people… but I knew their faith… why?
  • Now let’s move on to point three this morning… Passivity is Evidence of Dead Faith

Point Three – Passivity Is Evidence of Dead Faith

James 2:15-16 ESV  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  (16)  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

  • Passivity is Evidence of Dead Faith, that’s our final point this morning… Passivity is Evidence of Dead Faith…
    • Saying something but not doing it… WHAT GOOD IS THAT?
    • Pretending to be something… pretending to do something… but never actually doing it… just slapping on the name tag and sitting in the back doing nothing… PASSIVITY IS EVIDENCE OF DEAD FAITH….
  • Listen, talk  is so cheap y’all… so many people talk a big talk but never actually do anything…
    • They just remain passive… talking a big game, but never acting… never doing any good works… just talk talk talk while being passive passive passive…
      • Passivity is Evidence of Dead Faith…
    • If everyone who told me they were a good Christian actually behaved like a good Christian, man this church would never have need to look for volunteers again.
    • But instead I get a bunch of people who want to talk to me about how much faith they have and yet never serve and never do any good works…
      • Some are bold enough to ask to share with the church about how much faith they have…
      • They talk about how great of a Christian they are, and all they have accomplished for Jesus…
        • But then I never see them serve.
        • I never see them sacrificing for others.
        • I never see them loving on others.
      • Listen, if you don’t serve God, you don’t get to speak from this pulpit…
        • If you come here every Sunday but never lift up a finger to serve God… then I am not going to ask you to speak… I am not going to let you speak.
        • Because we want people with living faith speaking from this pulpit, amen?!

James 2:15-16 ESV  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  (16)  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

  • David Jaramillo came to me and told me that he thinks our church needs a food pantry.
    • I told him, that sounds great! YOU should run that ministry.
      • And you know what he did? HE DID IT! He started the food pantry!
        • But imagine if David said “We need a food pantry as a church, I feel this is what God want’s” and I said “You should run it” Imagine if David responded “No, I am really to busy, and I just have a lot of other things going on right now… I just thought you should know that people are starving in the church.”
      • WHAT?! What good would that be? I guess David would have maybe felt better about himself?
        • But it would not have solved anyone’s problems…
        • Talk without action is worthless.
        • Faith without works is dead.
      • But works is Evidence of faith, and the food pantry is evidence of brother David’s faith. BTW, we have tons of food, if you or anyone you know needs food please see Brother David after church.
  • Listen, take a moment and examine your life right now… does your apple tree have apples?
    • Are you serving God, are you serving His bride, the Church? Are you serving your family, your neighbors, your coworkers?
      • Or are you content to just stay in your own lane, not ever reaching out to help people, to serve people, to love people.
  • Listen, believing in God isn’t enough. It is good you believe in good… but so do the demons!

James 2:19 ESV  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

  • You believe in God but don’t do anything about it? Great, you know have the faith of Lucifer… congratulations I guess?
    • The demons believe in God, but the oppose Him instead of serve Him… Believing in itself is not enough.
  • And let me go further… I am so happy you are here today. I am so happy you chose to worship God and grow from His word with other believers today! BUT SIMPLY COMING TO CHURCH AND LISTENING TO THE SERMONS IS NOT ENOUGH.

James 1:22 ESV  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

  • Truth is, we have had demons come to church before…
    • We do our best to make them uncomfortable here… but sometimes those demons convince the people they are oppressing that simply going to church is enough.
      • Just come to church, sit in the back, maybe sing a song under your breath, maybe don’t… leave early without talking to anyone… BUT AT LEAST YOU WENT TO CHURCH. You can check that off your spiritual to-do-list.
    • Man I have seen it, demons convince people that they are saved simply because they go to church…
  • But listen, remember this point… passivity is evidence of dead faith.
  • How do we know this tree is dead? Well there is evidence!
    • There is no bark.
    • There are no leaves.
      • These things are evidence that the tree is dead.
  • Do you want to know if your faith is worthless, then look for evidence.
    • Are you living a passive Christian life? Or are you DOING SOMETHING about it?
      • Are you trying to help your church grow and succeed in it’s God given mission?
      • Are you trying to help other people come to Christ.
      • Are you helping people who are hurting and suffering?
      • Are you loving other Christians, not just in word but in deed?
      • Are you loving your neighbor, not just in word bud in deed?
  • Now, I started with talking about how Martin Luther Seemingly hated the book of James…
    • But the truth is, he did not hate it at all. And it is a myth that he said it should not be a part of the Bible.
      • His problem was, in fact, that people used these verses from James to suggest that Works can save without Faith… so let me conclude with a few quotes from Martin Luther…


(3 separate slides please)
“We do not condemn good works; nay, we commend them highly and teach them diligently. We say only that they do not take away sin and do not justify.” (Martin Luther – Preface to Romans)

“James does nothing more than drive home to Christians that if they profess Christ by their mouth they must also walk in him by their deeds.” (Martin Luther – Preface to Epistles of St. James and St. Jude)

“Faith is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.” (Martin Luther – Commentary on Galatians)

  • If this message is convicting you this morning, then do something about it.
    • First, talk to Jesus about your salvation… pray and cry out… and if you feel you are not saved, then it is time to get saved.
    • But maybe you are secure in your salvation, but you know you have been slacking.
      • You know you are saved, but you know your works haven’t been up to snuff.
      • Your apple tree has some apples, but it is looking pretty sickly…
      • Well, repent right now before your savior… then DO SOMETHING.
  • Now obviously church is not the only place to serve God.
    • But I tell you what, it sure is an easy place to serve God.
    • We do our best to make it easy for you.
      • So if you are struggling with works, START HERE!
      • Start here where everyone loves you and supports you and is rooting for you.
        • Start here, an organization that exists to please God and lead people to Him.
      • There is no reason that everyone in here can not be serving in this church.
        • Pastor John Butcher, He goes as far as to say “if you ain’t serving you ain’t saved”.
          • Now I don’t know if I would go quit that far, but I am pretty close.
      • The truth is, we are growing as a church, because people are getting saved, and disciples are being made, and lives are being changed…
        • And the word is spreading. PRAISE GOD!
      • Because of that we are going to two services on Easter… we will become a two service church!
        • But that means we need twice the ministers.
        • Twice the door greeters, twice the security team, twice the children’s church teachers and helpers.
            • The only question is, will you be passive, or will you stand up and do the good work of the ministry?
        • If this sermon is convicting you, go and talk to Pastor Jared and Elizabeth today… START SERVING.
      • Now next week we are going to get into more specifics of the works you should be doing, not just at church, but in every aspect of life… but don’t wait until then… start serving now.
  • Gospel Call

Aaronic Blessing


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