Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How To Practice Your Faith (James 2)

Theme: Wait for the Judge

2) By practicing your faith (1:18 - 2:26)

This passage strongly emphasizes that someone who has saving faith will also do good works.  Good works fulfill, or complete our profession, in the sense they prove our faith is not a merely dead words.  We are therefore justified (in the sense of showing men we are righteous) by good works (2:18-26), and this passage shows several ways to practice your faith.

By receiving God's word (19-25)

God imparts spiritual life in the believer through faith in His word (cf. Rom. 10:17).  This word gives us new life from above, sanctifies us once for all with regard to our position before God, and also conforms us, little by little, to the image of Christ, with regard to our daily walk (John 17; 1 Peter 1; 2:2;  Heb. 5 - 6).  It is important then, that we receive God's word in humility.

First, to receive God's word, one needs to be swift to hear, but slow to speak and anger.  There are types of anger which the bible calls for (Eph. 4), but making hasty speech or conduct in anger seems to cause a choking effect on our ability to receive or benefit from God's word.  The believer, should receive God's word by being swift to hear, but slow to anger, and by putting away other sinful conduct as well. 

Once we hear God's word, though, we should look intently at it, evaluate ourselves by it, and make corrections in our daily walk.  One who not only hears but does God's word, will be "blessed in what he does."

By bridling your tongue (26)


One of the most important ways to practice our faith is in the way we speak.  This verse says if someone thinks himself to be religious, but doesn't bridle his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is "worthless".  Chapter three deals with this subject in more detail.

By visiting orphans and widows (27)

"Pure and undefiled religion" is the kind that ministers to those who are in need, like the fatherless, and widows. 

By avoiding partiality (2:1-13)

Both the rich and poor are on an equal standing with God (Gal. 3:28).  All believers have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1).  According to this passage (James 2:1-13), giving preferential treatment to someone because they are rich, or treating someone with less respect because they are poor, makes "distinctions" contrary to the doctrine of equality in Christ, identifies those who do so as "judges with evil motives", and violates the command to "love your neighbor as yourself".  When Christ, the Judge returns, it will be revealed that both rich and poor are equal, and therefore we should avoid partiality.

By meeting needs of brethren (2:14-26)

One of the most important tests of whether or not a person's faith is the kind which results in salvation, is whether they show love for other believers.  If someone knows his brother to be in need of something he has, and wishes them well, but does nothing about it, the kind of faith he has is "dead".  Saving faith results in good works, especially love toward other believers.  We are justified in the sense that God makes and declares us righteous only by faith in Christ, apart from works.  We are justified in the sense of showing men we are righteous, only by doing good works.

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The Gospel


Have you heard Christ died for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead? Did you know God saves you from hell and gives you eternal life through faith in this finished work alone, not your merits (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? This is so man cannot boast, and God alone gets the glory (Eph. 2:8-9).

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