Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
faith vs. works or, faith and works, or faith that produces works We are going to look at a passage of scripture that has been miss understood. James chapter 2:14-26 Martin Luther. referred to James as an epistle of straw and unworthy to be included in the Word of God. He felt that James and Paul had a different definition for salvation. Paul said we are saved by grace and not by works, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” Eph 2:8 but lets look a little closer to what Paul says in Eph 2. Read Eph 2:8-10. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. so even Paul says we were created in Christ to do good works. Paul and James were writing to two different audiences for 2 different purposes. Paul for example wrote to a group of Christians in the book of Galatians that were being pressured to be circumcised and follow the Jewish laws. Paul told them that Abraham was made righteous because he believed the promise God gave him in Gen 15. Abraham looked up in the sky and saw the stars. God told him that he would have decedents that were as numerous as the stars. Now this was when he was a very old man. He did not go to a good church. He did not have a Bible. He grew up in a town where they worshipped idols. He heard the voice of God, and moved. And in Gen 15:1-6 God gave him a promise. 1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield,[a] your very great reward.[b]” 2 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.” 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Before Abram became Abraham he believed God’s promise…he had faith and God said it saved him. His faith saved him. Paul’s focus was where does our justification come from. We are justified by faith in Christ. Our works don’t save us…our faith in Christ saves us. So let’s look at what James is saying. Is it really different? Or is it just a different focus? James chapter 2:14-26 14. What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15. Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17. In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. 20. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? 21. Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22. You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. vs. 14 Can “such faith” save him? What does James mean when he says “such faith”? He is talking about faith that is without fruit. Real faith will produce fruit. Then he gives his first of 3 examples….vs. 15-17 In this example he is saying that a person that has faith will help in a real practical way. How many times have you been asked to pray, and you say” I’ll pray for you” but you don’t. I know I’m trying to be careful about saying I will do something, and to do it. If I say I’ll pray…I will. But I also try to be aware of needs. Story of my small group in San Diego. no one paid for my lunch. Are we expected to do everything? No. But our lives should bear fruit that demonstrates real faith. vs 17 “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” 18. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. 20. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? loads of people in our society say they believe in God. They are the folks that say if I die I will go to heaven because I’m a good person. Or have an intellectual knowledge of God, but no real faith. James makes the some what shocking statement that even the demons believe. What do you think, is every person who say they believe really in the faith? So this topic becomes very important if you care about your eternal destiny. There is such a thing as false faith. James gives 2 more examples… read vs. 21-26 21. Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22. You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. I find it interesting that James uses an example from Gen 22 about Abraham offering his son Isaac on the altar? Paul had used an example of Abraham from Gen 15. It’s like James knew Abraham had faith that was planted in Gen 15, and produced fruit in Gen 22. What do you think? an outward demonstration of faith vs inward faith. Should we judge faith? Why or why not? If you have faith but it’s not very fruitful what can you do to help it grow? real faith always manifests itself in active, practical ways James 1:19-21 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:26-27 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Practical stuff!
Friday, April 27, 2012
Read James Chapter 2:1-4 1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? What does it mean to show favoritism? Why do people normally show favoritism? What is the cause? (Being people pleasers. Seeking something in return for our good deeds. Remind of James 1:27) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. the world shows favoritism but it should not be in the church In what ways might believers show favoritism today in the church ? Does God show favoritism? “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52 How can Gods favor be different then favoritism? read verses 8-13 8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! What is the royal law? Why is this called the royal law? How serious is showing partiality? In what way does failing the law at just one point make us guilty of breaking all of it? We have all broken at least one law, what hope do we have? If a person has no mercy towards others, what does this show about his heart? How are showing mercy and being impartial linked?
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
"Here's a great sermon by Francis Chan. Relates back to James 1. Henrik and I watched it yesterday." Thank you Patricia. (to the group) Please send me any input you think the group would like. I'll be sure to post it on the blog.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
James 1:22-27 We judge the character of man by how he acts. If he says one thing and does another we call him a hypocrite. How many of you have heard people say they don’t want anything to do with the church because it’s full of hypocrites? The teaching James covers at the end of chapter one and beginning of chapter two basically instructs believers to be constant with what they believe. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. What opportunities do we have to hear the word? There is an abundance of good preaching and teaching out there. Especially on line. You can download podcasts from some of the best teachers in the world. You can watch sermons on YouTube and God TV on demand and sermon audio.com. You can join audible.com and buy good books to listen to, or borrow books from me. There is no shortage of good teaching, especially in English. But know one can make you choose the teaching of Bill Johnson, or Charles Supergun over what is on TV. You have to go after the word, but it’s more available then ever before. But it is not enough to go to the seminars and listen to the pod casts. You need to take the time to actually apply what you hear. What kind of teaching have you heard lately and how have you applied it? For example, How would you apply what we have already learned in the book of James? Someone read vr 23-25 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. I looked up the Greek words here, and it means to be very intentional , not passive in looking at the word. It is a deep look into the word that you do not forget. “ But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” I’m afraid we are not being taught to look deeply into the word of God, and our culture accepts it if we only choose to apply part of what we learn. What do you think? When James speaks to about the perfect law of liberty, he is speaking to a Jewish audience. And remember that James is the very first book in the new Testament. So when he speaks about the law I think he means the Law of Moses. What do you think? What is the law of Moses? It is the ten commandments. Lets take a look at the 10 commandments. Read Exodus 20:2-17. 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.3 "You shall have no other gods before me.4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand [ generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. 13 "You shall not murder.14 "You shall not commit adultery.15 "You shall not steal.16 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." In what way do you think keeping or obeying these laws can bring “liberty” to a person? I have trouble keeping the Sabbath. Anyone else have trouble with these laws? What did Jesus teach about the law? Read Mat 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” In some ways Jesus made the laws even harder to keep. Read Mat 5 :17-24 17 ¶Think not that I am come to adestroy the blaw, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the alaw, till all be bfulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall abreak one of these least commandments, band shall cteach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and dteach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your arighteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the bscribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 ¶Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou ashalt not bkill; and whosoever shall kill shall be cin danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is aangry with his brother bwithout a cause shall be cin danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, dRaca, shall be ein danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be areconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. And Jesus goes on to say that the law says do not commit adultry, but Jesus says do not even look at a women in a lustful way or you are guilty. What is it about Jesus teaching here on anger for example that can bring liberty? Maybe the perfect law is what James calls the "Royal Law" in 2:8, that is, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (quoting Leviticus 19:18). It is perfect because it sums up, as Jesus had taught, "all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:40). It is one of the two great commandments proclaimed by Jesus: "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12). It is important to note that James led the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 to conclude that keeping the ceremonial law, such as circumcision, was not obligatory for Gentile believers (Acts 15:19-21). This decision was made in place of the position of some Christian Pharisees who contended that "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses" (Acts 15:5). So the "perfect law" is not the Mosaic Law, at least in its entirety. read vs 26 and 27 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. How hard is it to keep a tight rein on our tongues? Earlier James says to be slow to speak. Later he will address how you can control a great ship with a small rudder, and you can control your whole body by controlling your tongues. I’ve actually seen an increase in orphan ministries and compassion ministries. How would you contrast a hypocrite mentioned earlier with a person who is living out their faith in real tangible ways?