Formations lesson for Sept. 8: Faith Consistent with Works
August 23 2002 by T. Wayne Proctor , James 2:1-26

Formations lesson for Sept. 8: Faith Consistent with Works | Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Formations lesson for Sept. 8: Faith Consistent with Works

By T. Wayne Proctor James 2:1-26

Consistency. Now, that's a word I like. I like consistent, dependable people. I like people who show up on time and do a great job without complaining. I like productivity, but I also like a person who takes time for others.

James was talking about the person who was consistent - their actions matched their words. The key phrase in James 2 is "Faith without works is dead." Another term he uses is "barren." In other words, a faith that doesn't bear Christian fruit is no faith at all.

Preferential treatment (James 2:1-8) We struggle with our own prejudices and biases. We have more than we want to admit.

These early Christians had their difficulties in treating all persons equally. Their "sin" was the improper treatment of the poor - this might be our "sin" as well. Christians, like James, who had spent time with Jesus, knew God's love for all people.

He also knew that for the church to be God's, it must be "inclusive." The pauper deserves the place of honor as much as the prince, yet as James observed the church, the pauper was treated as a second-class citizen.

James further makes the point that religious persecution had come from the wealthy, not the poor. We must, however, be careful not to heap disdain upon the wealthy. Some of the finest Christians in our churches are people of financial means and influence.

Tim Owings, pastor of First Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga., recounts a person describing First Augusta as liberal and cold, full of rich folk. Owings asked the man had he ever worshiped at First or been involved in its ministries. He had not. He then challenged him to experience the church before passing judgment. He did and even joined this fine congregation.

Degrees of sin? (James 2:9-20) James clearly makes the point that sin is not to be measured by degrees. Showing partiality (v.9) is a sin equal to adultery or murder. While James does not use the term "sin of omission," this is exactly what he is describing. Obviously, no individual can feed or clothe the whole world. But every church can be involved in a ministry or multiple ministries to help the poor. One of the best investments churches make is when they send mission teams to our inner cities or a third world country.

Christians need to get their hands "dirty" and cross cultural and racial boundaries.

Examples of Abraham and Rahab (James 2:21-26) These Old Testament heroes (see Hebrews 11) put faith into action. They risked much to serve God.

Further, we see that one doesn't have to be perfect in order to do a sacrificial or redeeming act. Rahab is always an interesting example because of her involvement in prostitution. Yet, we also understand that Rahab's good deed was not her "ticket to heaven." Rahab became one of the Hebrew people, and I believe her future was much different than her past.

The use of Abraham and Rahab as examples of faith-works is interesting in that Abraham and Rahab represent extreme contrasts: man and woman, Hebrew and Gentile proselyte, saint and sinner.

James Adamson writes "By his choice of Abraham and Rahab, James shows not only that the acid test of faith is works, but also that this principle has universal application, embracing both patriarch and prostitute."

It is most important when we read James to remember that faith and works are consistent with each other. Faith comes first, but works naturally follow.

Remember this statement: We don't do good deeds to become Christian; we do good deeds because we are Christian. That, my friends, is the consistent truth of Scripture.

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8/23/2002 12:00:00 AM by T. Wayne Proctor , James 2:1-26 | with 0 comments
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