Friday, March 16, 2012

Real Faith (James 2:14-26)


Everybody who comes to Thailand will notice the presence of  fake products. Thailand is one of the  countries in the world that  allows fake products. It never stop to amaze me how imitations look like the real deal. There are fakes of everything. Fake Ipad, Iphone, shirts, shoes. There are even fake watches and pens. Sometimes, I even think there are fake churches and even fake Christians.

This is what James talks about in this passage. He argues about the case of true faith against fake faith. There are a lot of people who think they are have real faith, they think that they are Christians. We may not be aware of it, but we may our faith may not be real.

In the verses, James discusses the difference between having real faith and having false faith in Christ. The Bible tells us what it means to have real faith. Let’s go ahead now and focus in on the book of James. Let’s look at five facts about faith:

Real Faith is Works It is Not Just About Talking (2:14)
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” James 2:14 (NKJV) Real faith is all about works while fake faith is all about talk.

In this verse, it does not say that a person has faith. The verse talks about claiming he has faith. A person who says he has faith can talk about faith very impressively. In other words, he may know to use the right words, the right sentences. He may know the Bible and perhaps discussed about Christian doctrines. But it does not prove that he has faith.

In our situation here in Thailand, where Christians are a minority, we tend to easily call people Christians. If they talk about Christianity, and claim to be Christian or sound like a believer we right away call them Christian.

However, we know better than that, for the Bible says that:

"Not everyone who says to Me, ’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 7:21 (NKJV)

Not everyone who has fish on their truck is a believer. Not every who wears a Christian T-shirt knows Christ as their savior. Not everyone who sings Christian song is a Christian. Not everyone who profess Christ does not mean he possess Christ.

As the saying goes, "talk is cheap." If we say we have accepted Christ as our savior but there are no changes in our lives. There are no evidences that Christ lives in us. We need to be seriously concerned. Real faith is not just something we talk about. It is not about what we say. It is something you live. It involves your life not just your lifestyle.

Real Faith Acts It Is Not Just About Feeling (2:15-16)
Real faith is more than emotions. Many Christians confuse emotional high with the work of the Holy Spirit. Although, we believe that when the Holy Spirit is working we all get excited. But being emotionally hight does not necessarily mean that the Holy Spirit is working.

We can go to the church, sing loudly, shout amen, pray at the top of our voices but it may not mean that it is the work of God. The Bible tells us that real faith is more than the way we feel. James gives us the practical advice:

"If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” James 2:15-16 (NKJV)

We are part of this church. God put us here for a purpose. I think one of the reasons is that there are many people in this church and around us that have needs. Many of us feel about the situation that our brother and sister in Christ are in, but if we do nothing, what good does it do? Real faith takes the initiative and does anything within our capacity to help. A real believer has a faith that is practical. It gets involved with people. When we become part of God's family, we have family responsibilities. Real believers care about real people.

First John chapter three verse seventeen tells us:

“If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.”
1 John 3:17 (MSG)

Real faith gives. Real faith is generous. Real faith can be counted on in a crisis. Real faith is not just talking the talk – it’s walking the walk. Faith is more than feeling sorry for someone – it’s doing something about it.

Real Faith Shows It is Not Just About Thinking (2:18)
For some people faith is something to think about. A matter to be studied, debated and discussed about. James understand this when he says:

“But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:18 (NKJV)

To understand this verse, we need to imagine two people get together. The one says, "I have faith." The other says, "I have faith too." Then they argue who has the real faith. Then the other says, "show me your faith." I bet he could not show it. The other guy says, "I show you my faith, you can see it through the works I do."

Underline the words "show me." James is saying, you cannot show your faith without works. Faith without works is fake. It is only through works that we can show faith. Real faith is to be seen in our actions. The evidence of faith is works. We can prove our faith to anybody by those who has affected by the things I do for Christ.

If you think you have real faith. If you claim to be a real Christian, people will see it. Real faith is visible. James says that – “I will show you I have faith – by what I do!”

“Faith without works is dead.” James 2:17 (BBE)

Faith in Christ - changes things. If you have faith – it is active – it does something. Faith is not just a though process – it causes action. But that’s not all:

Real Faith Commits Not Just About Believing (James 2:19)
Look at what James chapter two verse nineteen tells us:

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!” James 2:19 (NKJV)

Believing in God does not make us a Christian. There are many people who believe in God and some of them can even quote the some verses. They can even recite the Lord's Prayer by memory. They can even talk about doctrine. Sounds good. But James says even the devil can do th same. He believes.

Real faith involves committing yourself completely to Christ. We are Christian because we believe and trust in Jesus. It is more than head knowledge. It's heart knowledge. We understand that Jesus came and died for my sins, that's head knowledge. But we trust that Jesus came and died for sin, that's heart knowledge. We commit our lives to Jesus.

Many people today will tell us that they believe in Jesus. But if they don't go to the church to worship with other believers, if they don't help other people, don't follow the teachings of the Bible in their daily lives, if they don't practice Christian living. Perhaps we can say that their faith is not real.

Real faith is what we do. Faith is not passive – it’s active. Faith is not just a comment – it’s a commitment. James gives a powerful example of faith in action. Our faith is not determined by what we do – it is demonstrated by what we do. The challenge for us this morning is let us examine ourselves and test our faith. Second Corinthians chapter thirteen and verse five in the Message Bible says:

“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 (MSG)

Ask yourself, Do i have real faith? In the light of the passage we read, ask the question. Am I really a Christian? Do I this kind of faith that the Bible talks about? Is my life different from other unbelievers? Is my life showing evidence that Christ is in my life?

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