Living Faith – Part Two: The Works of Living Faith

Living Faith – Part Two: The Works of Living Faith


James 2:20-26 ESV Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  (21)  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  (22)  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;  (23)  and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted 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)  And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  (26)  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

  • Last week we introduced this section of scripture with the sermon that was simply “Faith Without Works is Dead”.
    • James makes it abundantly clear that faith must have works.
      • Faith without works… faith without good deeds, it is a useless, worthless, dead and rotting faith.
      • We talked specifically about three things, three important things to understand before I get into today’s message.
        • First we made it clear that works do not save us.
          • No amount of good deeds, no amount of acts of service, no amount of tithing, no amount of volunteering… none of that is going to save you.
            • We are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone.
            • It was His sacrifice, His gift, His choice to save us… not our works, but His, that save us.
            • Works DO NOT SAVE US.
          • But then we talked about the second point: Works are evidence of Salvation.
            • No works don’t save you, faith does, but faith without works is dead.
            • If you have a living apple tree, it will produce apples.
            • If you have living faith, you will produce good works.
            • The natural product of our faith is good works!
          • Finally, the third point we talked about last week was that Passivity is evidence of dead faith.
            • If you are a passive Christian, a Christian who does not do any good in your life, that is evidence that your faith is dead.
              • THAT SHOULD CONCERN YOU.
              • The solution is one of two things: Get saved, because maybe your faith was never alive to begin with… or if it was alive but is now dead, repent, give your life back to Jesus, and start doing good for His Kingdom!
  • So that was what we talked about last week. But this week we are going to focus on the topic of living faith, and we are going to talk about the works of living faith.
  • The works of living faith. That is what we are going to talk about today.
    • What specific kinds of works do we expect to see coming out of a person with living faith?
      • What should their faith be producing.
        • We talked a bit about this last week, and we talked about serving in the church as an easy way to produce good works with your faith.
        • But we know that we are not just Christians on Sunday mornings, amen?
        • We are Christians all day every day, and not just that, but all night and every night too!
          • So our faith should be producing good works all the time, not just at church, but at home, at school or at the office, with our family, friends, neighbors, and strangers.
          • We are Christians! We have living faith! Our living faith produces good works, and it should be producing them always.
          • Let’s pray then get into it.
  • Our first point this morning is that Obedience is a Work.
    • What kinds of work should living faith produce? Well the first work, and most consistent work, our faith should produce is obedience.
      • That is our first point this morning, obedience is a work.

Point One – Obedience is A Work

James 2:21-22 ESV  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  (22)  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;

  • James here gives us an example of what living faith looks like and what kind of works living faith should produce… and in this example the work produced is obedience… the obedience of Abraham.
    • Now if you don’t know the story James is referencing, let me break it down for you…
      • It comes from Genesis chapter 22. God had told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham’s only son, on an altar at the top of a mountain.
      • So, in faith, Abraham took Isaac up the mountain, tied him up, put him on the altar, and at the last moment, God stopped Abraham from killing Isaac, and provided a Ram to be slain instead.
      • We learn more details in Hebrews 11, that the reason why Abraham had no problem with the idea of Sacraficing his son was because God had already promised that Isaac would have many children.
        • Abraham knowing that God can raise people from the dead, and that God would never break His promise, reasoned that if he killed Isaac, God would simply raise Him from the dead, because God had already promised offspring through Isaac.
      • The whole story of Abraham and Isaac is Amazing!
          • Imagine hearing God so clearly and believing in him so much that you would be willing to do that knowing that God would raise your son from the dead!
    • But James presents the argument that that faith is only amazing because ABRAHAM DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
      • How lame would the story have been if the story was “And God speaketh unto Abraham ‘Sacrifice thy only son’ and thus Abraham having faith speaketh unto God ‘I believe you can raise the dead!’ and then Abrahma stayethed home and he did watcheth Netflix for the rest of the evening, forgetting all that the Lord his God had speakethed unto him”.
        • Would that have been faith… saying “Yes Lord” and then never actually doing it?
          • Would that have been obedience?!
            • NO! Obedience is a work! YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING FOR IT TO BE OBEDIENCE!
  • It’s like when I ask my kids to do something…
    • “Ezra, turn of the computer and get ready for bed”
      • “Ok dad”
      • “Son, I said turn off the computer and get ready for bed”
      • “I said ok dad”
      • ….
      • “I AM DOING IT DAD!!!!!!”
      • “Then why is the computer still on”
      • “Hello?!…EZRA…?!”
    • Then I have to walk over there, physically turn off the computer, and discipline my son…
      • Why? Because he was disobedient.
      • Obedience requires you to do something… it is a work.
  • And so we look at Abraham’s obedience and we call it faith.
    • Because living faith produces good works.
    • And the first and most consistent good work that a faithful person should have is obedience.
      • Obedience to God and to His Word.
  • One of the things that I love about Baptism is that it requires physical obedience.
    • You get saved, you now have a measure of faith… you are full of the Holy Spirit…
      • And now Jesus tells you to do something, something that requires submission and physical obedience.
      • Jesus says “Go and publicly celebrate your faith by having another Christian submerge you underwater”.
      • I have heard it said, and I believe it to be true, that the best reason to be baptized is because Jesus tells you to!
        • Baptism teaches the work of physical obedience…
        • And when someone refuses to be baptized, I question their salvation.
          • Because I have seen children and grown people alike who are TERRIFIED of water… who have overcome horrible traumatic water based events… I have seen such people still say “YES! I will be baptized. I am afraid… I am petrified… but Jesus tells me to, so I will!”
  • Faith without works is dead. Faith without the work of obedience is dead.
    • Now if you have been with us for a while you have probably heard me read plenty of verses about obedience.
    • Jesus says “Why do you call me Lord Lord and do not do what I say?”
    • 1 John talks about how we can’t call ourselves Christians if we don’t obey the Word of God.
    • Even in the Great commission Jesus says “Teach them to obey all that I have commanded you”.
  • But today we are talking about living faith… so instead of focusing on the negative side… let me give you two positive verses that should encourage you to obey.
    • In Dueteronomy 28 verses 1 through 8, God is speaking to the people of Israel, and He gives them this promise… and I believe these promises are prophetically true for you here today too, if you are saved and obedient… Here is what God says in Dueteronomy:

Deuteronomy 28:1-8 ESV  “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.  (2)  And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you (man I want to be overtaken by some blessings!), if you obey the voice of the LORD your God.
(3)  Blessed shall you be in the city,
and blessed shall you be in the field. 
(4)  Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 
(5)  Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 
(6)  Blessed shall you be when you come in,
and blessed shall you be when you go out.
 (7)  “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you.
They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. 
(8)  The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake.
And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

  • I say “Lord overtake me with your blessings!”
    • And God responds “I will, if you will obey”
      • You see living  faith is a faith that is overtaken by blessings.
        • There will still be enemies, there will still be suffering, there will still be persecution… of course there will be…
          • But though I am pressed, I am not crushed.
          • Though I am persecuted, I am not abandoned.
          • Though I am struck down, I am not destroyed!
          • Let me tell you this though… I AM BLESSED BEYOND THE CURSE! AND GOD’S PROMISES WILL ENDURE.
  • But maybe you are saying “But pastor that is the Old Testament! Legalism says that blessings are tied to obedience!”
    • But it’s not just Old Testament… it is New Testament too. Jesus agrees… Obedience leads to blessing.

Luke 11:27-28 ESV  As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”  (28)  But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

  • Jesus makes it more clear… you think the virgin Marry is blessed? How much more blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it?!
    • Now of course Marry obeyed the Word of God so she is verry blessed… but you can be that blessed to.
    • Have living faith… faith that produces the good work of obedience… and you too will be overtaken by blessings.
  • Now obviously obedience is not the only work of our living faith, there are many more (though you could argue that they all come through obedience)… but none the less, let me spend a moment talking about some of the other works that living faith produces…
    • I think most of them can be summed up in the fruit of the Spirit…
      • So that is point two this morning… the Fruit of the Spirit are works!

Point Two – The Fruit of the Spirit are Works

James 2:25 ESV  And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

  • So here again James gives an example of living faith… not dead faith that produces no works… but living faith that produced works…
    • If you don’t know this story it comes from the book of Joshua.
      • God’s chosen people where coming into take the promised land…
      • But there was this fortified city with massive stone walls in the way. This was the city of Jericho.
      • So the Israelites sent a few spy’s to spy out the city.
        • When they came to the city the guards heard about it and started looking for them.
      • But there was a prostitute who feared and believed in God… so she hid the spy’s and saved their lives.
    • Rahab is considered a woman of great faith. Why? BECAUSE WHEN THERE WAS A NEED FOR ACTION SHE DID SOMETHING.
      • She served God with her actions. She had faith, and that faith was proved by the work of her hiding the spies.
        • How different this story would have been if Rahab would have been talking to the spies “yeah I believe in and fear God… so good luck! Ok bye!”
          • The spies would have been captured and killed… and Rahab would not be considered a woman of faith.
          • Because faith without works is dead!
  • Now Rahab, though, her work was not a work of obedience (though in the grand scheme of things it really was)…
    • No one had told her to hide the spies.
    • There was no voice from heaven that said “I AM SENDING SPIES FROM ISRAEL YOU MUST HIDE THEM”.
      • There was no Bible verse to follow or obey here… Rahab probably didn’t even know about the commandments of God.
      • Yet Rahab had faith and that faith produced fruit.
  • But lucky for us… Rahab was just living by her faith… but God makes it even plainer for us than even Rahab had it…
    • And He gives us a list of the things that living faith should produce… they are called the fruit of the spirit… and remember this point… point two this morning… The fruit of the spirt are works!

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  (23)  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

  • Let’s just quickly go through this list this morning, then will wrap this sermon up. How are these fruits work?
    • Love:  Jesus says “how can you say you love me if you don’t do what I say?
      • John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that HE DID something… He sent His only son.
      • It is not very loving to tell someone “I love you” but then not help them in their hour of need.
      • LOVE IS ACTION. Love is a work, not a feeling.
      • It is not “For God so love the World that He felt really warm and fuzzy about it and thinks about it often” WHAT GOOD WOULD THAT BE?! LOVE IS ACTION!
    • The next fruit is Joy: Now joy is a feeling right… well sure… but your joy should overflow…
      • It should turn into dancing, and singing, and shouting, and celebrating… you should be sharing it with others, showing it to others, spreading it to others… THESE ARE WORKS!
    • After joy comes peace: Another feeling, yes absolutely… but more than a feeling, a state of mind and a state of being.
      • People at peace make good decisions, they think through things, they work patiently and faithfully.
      • Peace is not sitting in a dark room doing nothing for the rest of your life.
      • Nor is peace watching TV shows and playing video games until you die.
      • Peace is doing the work of God without the fear of man.
      • It is living life free of anxieties now matter what Satan throws at you.
      • It is accomplishing all God has for you without the burden of worry or fear.
      • In these cases, peace can be considered a work.
        • Never confuse passivity with peace! Passivity is evidence of dead faith… living, working, overcoming peace is evidence of living faith.
    • After peace comes patience:
      • Now there is a word for patience that does not involve works.
        • Patience without works is not patience at all, it is apathy… it is not carrying, it is ignoring the problem, ignoring the challenge.
        • Patience without works is really just apathetic passivity.
        • Ok, so you are frustrating me… what do I do?
          • Well, I begin praying for you.
          • I begin patiently trying to resolve the situation in love, speaking the truth…
          • This is the work of patience.
        • What about waiting on God…
          • It is STILL not passivity. I will wait upon the Lord, and in the meantime I will prepare myself for what I know God is bringing about.
          • If I know God has called me to missions, but it is just not time… then I will begin saving, paying off debts, learning languages, learning evangelism… patience with action… not “Well I guess I will do nothing and if God makes me a missionary at some point that would be cool I guess”.
        • In this since Patience is a work.
    • Now after patience comes kindness… James makes this one really clear.

James 2:15-17 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?  (17)  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

  • Clearly kindness is a work.
    • I think that probably covers goodness too, goodness is a fruit of the spirit and it is a work.
      • To have goodness in your life you must DO good things.
      • Pretty straight forward.
    • Faithfulness is by definition a work.
      • If you don’t don what you say you are going to do you are unfaithful.
      • But if you do the works you say you are going to do then you are FAITHFUL.
    • Next is the fruit of gentleness.
      • If my daughter want’s me to be gentle when removing a splinter… I still have to, you know, remove the splinter.
      • When you are gentle, you are still ACTING, you are still doing a work… you are just doing so with gentleness.
    • Finally, the fruit of  self-control.
      • If you don’t have self-control when you eat, you grow fat.
        • But if you don’t eat at all, you die.
          • Self control is not the lack of action… it is not the lack of works, to the contrary, self control dictates how you do your works…
          • The good you do, you do in a controlled sense… you know when to say yes an when to say no.
          • You don’t over extend yourself… you do good works with self control.
          • And you control yourself not to sin.
            • And that involves work too.
            • Fleeing temptation.
            • Fleeing idolatry.
            • Taking thoughts captive…
              • These are the works of self control, amongst many others.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  (23)  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

  • Listen, if you are a Christian you should be DOING these things, not just having these things…
    • Because faith without works is dead…


  • So, let’s conclude this sermon…
    • What do you do if your faith is not producing works.
      • I want to tell you very clearly, I said it before but it needs to be said again.
      • You either need to get saved… because your faith can’t be living if it has never been born in the first place.

Gospel Call

  • But maybe just maybe, your faith was once living, but it is no longer producing fruit… it is no longer producing works… what do you do then?
    • You repent, you say “Daddy I am sorry, I have not been the Christian you have made me to be. Create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit, revive the works of my hand, and let me being to bear fruit”.
      • Pray as led.

Aaronic Blessing


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