Faith in Action
14 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! 20 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. (James 2:14-23, ESV)
Faith alone saves you, but that faith will never be alone!
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.
" 8 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." (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV)
"For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." (Romans 3:28, ESV)
Faith alone saves you, but that faith has fruit!
20 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?
" 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” (Hebrews 11:17-18, ESV)
"v.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"
" 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:26, ESV)
In the final week of our sermon series, we studied James 2:14-26 and the topic of ‘Faith in Action.’ Personally, when I get to this point in James, I find my mind reflecting back to James 1:26-26, our sermon two weeks ago--when the passage covered the difference between ‘Christianity’ and ‘Religion.’ In James 1:26-27 we see specifically what ‘religion’ cannot do compared to ‘faith.’ In today’s study, we will continue to examine this concept and how a true relationship will lead to action!
1. As a group how would you describe the difference between ‘religion’ and a ‘relation- ship’?
Today’s study will look at Ps. 51, a well know Psalm of repentance, because one thing that ‘religion’ can’t do that a ‘relationship’ can is to elicit true, heart-felt contrition over sin. At best religion, without a relationship, will lead to ritualistic, dutiful adher- ence--not heartfelt obedience and action. Psalm 51 illustrates that we should seek to examine our hearts to interpret our actions--this is exactly what we see David doing in this passage. Let’s take a closer look!
2. Ps. 51 is written as a response to David’s actions in 1 Sam 11 and 12. As a group, reflect back to these passages and discuss what you remember of them.
3. As a group read through Ps. 51 in light of what you know from 1 Sam. 11 and 12. As you read these words from David, do you envision someone who had a religion or a relationship with GOD? Why?
4. Let’s look specifically at some of the text now. Look at v4. What do we see in verse four that shows is David has a relationship with GOD and not just a religion?
5. We have all been in situations where our actions have hurt someone. Sometimes it is people that we care deeply about and other times those hurt are complete strangers. As bad as it sounds, it is usually easier to deal with the situations where strangers are affected because we don’t have to deal with existing relationships or emotions and can more easily move on. Read v3 as a group. What evidence do we see here that David has a relationship with GOD and not mere religion?
6. Finally, look at v16 and v17. Discuss as a group how these verses deal directly with the difference between a religion and a relationship.
We see in v10 that David had examined his heart in relation to his actions with Bath- sheba and found that his unfaithful actions were a result of his impure heart. The evidence that having a relationship will lead to authentic ‘Faith in Action’ is that there is no way to respond the way that David does, without having a relationship with the offended! Not David’s relationship with Uriah, nor Bathsheba, nor his deceased children...but the truly offended--GOD! David understands, as James 1:26 says, that religion apart from a relational obedience to GOD is worthless. It is the depth of David’s relationship with GOD that allowed him to repent so openly and completely...religion alone can’t do this for you!