Sunday School Material 2-16-14: Show Your Faith By Your Works

(James 2:14-26; 2/16/14)

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that believers are called to have a living faith. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to have and nurture a living faith.

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Body:
Read James 2:14-19

I. Evaluating Genuine Faith. James talks about the need for faith to have accompanying works. He illustrates with how useless a religious expression is to a person who needs food and clothing. His point in our Sunday School materials that faith and works go together.

Applications -

- Living faith. Notice in vss. 14-19 the idea of faith without works being dead. There are too many who behave as if their knowing about God and confessing to believe God is more important than their obeying God’s word.

Think about how many people rob God of enthusiastic worship, faithful service to those in need, and giving to God as God has prospered them. Even demons know about God and believe enough about Him to tremble.

Think about how many people never tremble in the presence of God. Knowing and claiming to believe in God without obeying Him is dead faith. Let’s work on having living and obedient faith in God.

- Love gives. Notice in vss. 15-16 of our Sunday School material that faith obeys God’s command to love and give. Love doesn’t look at a person in need, while holding on to a surplus, and spit out nice churchy phrases, instead of responding to the need.

On one hand, there are those who have been irresponsible and who will continue to be irresponsible, as long as someone else takes responsibility for them. They need empowerment more than more charitable handouts. 

On the other hand, we don’t want to be guilty of being tight fisted. If we make a mistake, it is better to err on the side of mercy. Let’s make sure our claim to trust God and to love people has some corresponding actions, instead of simply empty words.

Read James 2:20-26

II. Illustrating Genuine Faith. In our Sunday School material James talks about the foolishness of claiming that faith without works is pleasing to God.

He illustrates with Abraham’s faith and works, when he was offering his son Isaac. He talks about Rahab's faith and works in taking care of the spies.

Applications -

- Effective communication. Notice in vs. 20 that James refers to people as “you foolish people.”

On one hand, there are too many hypersensitive people who could not go any further in the conversation, because they are so offended by being in any way identified with being a fool.

This crowd needs to grow up and toughen up. Being a fool is not the worse case scenario. A worse situation is having no one to point out your foolishness and even worse is to remain foolish, after becoming aware of your shortcomings.

On the other hand, we should be careful with our word choices. Some times, especially with immature people, just one word can derail an entire conversation. Let’s work on effective communication. This calls for sending respectful messages and receiving with less sensitivity.

- God’s use of sinful people. Notice in vss. 21-25 of our Sunday School material that God remembered Abraham’s and Rahab’s good points, in spite of their bad and sinful points.

There are too many people who magnify the sins of sinners and minimize all that God is doing in and through their lives. All of humanity sins; thus, we should not be so shocked to see sinners continuing to sin. Saved people are not sinless; they are forgiven.

Let’s work on appreciating what God can do through people, in spite of their sins. Nothing in this application should encourage us to simply sin at will. But the point is that our sins don’t have to be the end our walk with God.

- The separation of body and spirit. Notice in vs. 26 of our Sunday School material that humans are the combination of at least body and spirit. When body and spirit are separated, the body is said to be dead. All of our bodies have a date with death.

We should make ready for the death of our bodies, by way of our life insurance policies, wills, living wills, and gifts to our churches.

But more importantly, we should make ready for our spirits being with the Lord, by way of accepting Jesus as our savior by faith. Let’s make sure we are ready for the separation of our bodies and spirits.

Conclusion: Let’s work on having and nurturing a living faith. God has much for those who obey His will.

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