Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Living Proof: Faith that Works

James' faith was real... he died for it. Is your's that real?
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. ~James 1:1

I am excited about the new series Pastor has begun in the book of James. I am looking forward to our study in this letter, from the Lord's brother to “the twelve tribes in the Dispersion”, because of its focused look at what the life of a believer ought to look like.

Pastor pointed out how much James' own life had radically changed after an encounter with his half brother the resurrected Christ. James, along with his other siblings, began by believing Jesus' claim to be the Messiah were the words of a crazy man.

Then he [Jesus] went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” ~Mark 3:20-21

The Apostle Paul wrote Jesus had appeared to His half-brother after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7) and it can be assumed the result of this meeting was James salvation. In a sense, James salvation was justified (proven) before men because of the significant change that was evident in his life as well as his continued perseverance (even to death) in the faith. This is a big part of what James is writing about in this letter. If I am a true Christian, how should I live? If my faith is real, what should that look like?

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. ~James 2:26

Good works and godly living are evidence and the result of true saving faith in Christ. They are the fruit of our salvation not the cause or a prerequisite! John Calvin said this:

“Faith alone justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.”

So James is going to help us examine our lives and test the soundness and validity of our faith. To test and examine our faith is a good and worthy endeavor because the goal is to know Jesus better and determine if we are living lives that are a reflection of Him... or something else. Paul wrote to the Corinthians charging them to do likewise.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. ~2 Corinthians 13:5a

This is what Pastor is going to lead us through with the help of James; looking for living proof of our faith... a faith that is not just filled with empty words, but a robust and active faith evidenced by good works which reflect Christ!

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 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? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. ~James 2:14-17

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