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Dead Faith

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
August 23, 2021 4:00 am

Dead Faith

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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August 23, 2021 4:00 am

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Now you believe people with dead faith always substitute words for deeds they want you to believe that they are what they say when you must understand that we are what we do. True faith will always be seen in works of faith will not be seen at all, and that be said of your faith in Christ.

Is there a way that others and you yourself can know that the faith you proclaim actually exists when the Bible answers that question with a resounding yes.

As you'll see today on grace to you when John MacArthur launches his series from James chapter 2 titled show me your faith but before we get to the lesson.

We have an important announcement you're going to want to save the dates for a special event that were planning for next May and John for listeners who may be familiar with the truth matters conferences that grace to you as hosted over the years they'll already have some idea of what were putting together the big difference this time around, though, is the location so tell us about it tell me that is a huge shift for us.

We've had a number of truth matters conference is a Grace Church and we feel like we've we've sort of made it difficult for people prickly from the Midwest and the East to come all the way to California.

So this time for our fourth truth matters conference the dates May 18-20, 2022 were going to Kentucky.

Yes that's right were click to Kentucky to the answers in Genesis conference center at the Ark encounter. This location is going to allow some of you folks who might not be able to make it to California for past conferences to be a part of this one little history, 2011, we had the original truth matters conference. Then in 2013 we really had an epic conference. Truth matters strange fire focusing on the charismatic movement. Hundreds of thousands of people continue to download those messages from that conference had a huge impact, then 2019, we did truth matters, the sufficiency of Scripture that was an appropriate theme and we celebrated grace to use 50th anniversary.

Now the theme of the 2022 conference is recovering a biblical worldview will take a look at social justice issues critical race theory, gender, sexuality, and all those things that are just assaulting and tearing apart not only our own culture, but evangelicalism. I'll be speaking so will Ken ham Justin peters Jeff Williams Mike Riccardi Don Greene and Phil Johnson and our good friend in my treasured brother Darrell Harrison. He'll be on site during the conference podcasting lives. It's going to be a great event May 18-20 and 2022. Registration will open very soon for more details. Keep checking the website Jide yes friend. This conference will be three memorable days of teaching and worship and fellowship with grace to you listeners from all over again for the details, go to Jide after the lesson, but for now, stay here as John launches his study show me your faith. We come now to our study of God's word and how grateful I am in my own heart for this wonderful occasion to look at the precious revelation of our blessed Lord.

Let's open our Bibles to James chapter 2. Looking at verses 14 through 20.

Let me read it to you. What does it profit my brother and the old man say he has faith and has not works can faith save him.

If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say under them depart in peace, be warmed and filled notwithstanding, you give them, not those things which are needful to the body. What does it profit.

Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead being alone yeah man may say, thou hast faith and I have works. Show me thy faith without thy works and I will show thee my faith by my works.

Thou believe this that there is one God thou dualist well. The demons also believe, and tremble, but will now no vain man that faith without works is dead. Just sort of paraphrase James faith plus nothing equals nothing.

James, for example, describes the kind of faith that equals nothing.

He calls it didn't say in verse 17 in verse 20 and again at the end of the chapter in verse 26 dead faith.

Now another believe people with dead faith always substitute words for deeds they want you to believe that they are what they say when you must understand that we are what we do trust not in words trust only and movement. True faith will always be seen in works dead faith will not be seen at all. Now the point that you want to understand as you approach this passage is that there is a kind of faith that does not save in Matthew. For example, chapter 3, the ministry of John the Baptist draws our attention and many people were being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. In verse seven, when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them all generation of snakes who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come, bring forth therefore fruits fitting repentance and think, not to say within yourself. We have Abraham as our father. In other words, don't count on your heritage demonstrate by your works, the legitimacy of your faith in chapter 5 of Matthew.

In verse 16 Jesus said, let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. In other words the light that shines out of the life of a believer is the light of good works demonstrated deeds in chapter 7 of Matthew the same sermon on the Mount verse 21. Not every one that says Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that is the will of my father is not the Sayers.

It is the doers trust not in what people say. Trust in what they do in John chapter 8, we find again a graphic illustration of this very same kind of faith. Verse 30 and 31 as Jesus spoke again. The words relating himself and his father.

It says in verse 30, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on him.

If you continue in my word that is in obedience. You are my mate Sally thought was my real disciples and then you will know the truth and then the truth will set you free from bondage to sin and death and hell and judgment all imply valid saving faith has always been verified by fruits and a false dead faith is indicated by the absence of righteous actions. Now it's clear that many people possess that kind of faith. They believe in God, they believe in Jesus Christ but not to the point of salvation. They may believe the facts about God, the facts about Christ, but they manifest no air revocable commitment to Jesus Christ. They manifest no changed life that comes with true salvation marked by repentance and obedience.

The Lord was so concerned with this. He spoke about in the parable of the soils he spoke about it, no doubt alluding to it in part with the wheat and tares. He spoke about it in John 15, with the abiding and the non-abiding branches.

He spoke about in Matthew seven with the professors and the possessors. This is a common issue in the ministry of our Lord intellectual belief is not enough blood. Let me tell you something that burns my heart greatly. The church of Jesus Christ must deal with the soul damning impression that a simple knowledge of the gospel is evil to acceptance of saving faith. We must deal with the deception and the delusion that knowing the truth equals redemption. It's almost as if people think that what you don't deny you must believe and that that would be sufficient. James will not permit any such deception to go unchallenged. People who believe the facts of the gospel.

But make no air revocable commitment to shun sin and serve the Lord Jesus Christ which commitment is empowered in the saving work itself must be confronted with the reality of their state. In fact, the whole of the epistle written by James is a series of tests by which you can evaluate whether your faith is a living faith, or whether it is a dead now in this wonderful second chapter in verses 14 through 20. He brings up the test of works, and by works, he means righteous action, righteous behavior.

Behavior which is obedient to God's word and which manifests a godly nature. How we live then beloved proves who we are.

This I believe is the comp closet test in this epistle. Now, may I say that no one is saved by works.

Ephesians 289 says, not by works, lest we should boast.

We are not saved by works. If we were saved by works, we would adulterate grace and grace would be no more grace.

No one is saved by works. Listen carefully, but no one is saved without producing works.

That's the issue without producing works. The work of repentance and submission to Christ being the initial ones. So James is dealing with dead faith non-saving faith that is the issue he's writing the Jewish readers they had identified themselves with the Christian faith. Some of them obviously were genuine and some of them were less than genuine fence. All of these tests are given in the epistle, but they had outwardly identified with the Christian faith. Some of these Jews had gone from one extreme to another on the matter of works.

Imagine letting all your life under a system of works know you could live up to the system.

Imagine being required to keep laws. You know you couldn't keep.

Imagine being absolutely overwhelmed with the merely rules that no human being could ever live up to and believing that your salvation was dependent on your ability to do what you couldn't do a tremendous burden. In fact, in Matthew 23 Jesus said the leaders who espouse that system bind on people burdens far too heavy for them to bear. And so here are these Jewish people typically oppressed by a guilt producing burden and along comes somebody preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is all about grace and all about liberation and all about freedom and all about joy and they hear that gospel and they say that's for me while freedom from legalism sounded too good to be true and could it be that some of them miss understood that freedom and went too far the other way going all the way from legalism to an unfounded and abusive liberty.

They were under the mistaken notion that since works were not efficacious for salvation.

Maybe they weren't efficacious for anything. And maybe they weren't even necessary, and could it be that James was recognizing in the congregation to which he wrote some people who were trying to espouse a salvation that was simply believing the facts and requiring nothing. Doesn't sound too far-fetched. It's been espoused in every generation since obviously. Whatever the cause in the background.

There were some who felt themselves secure just being hearers of the word and were self deceived. They were saying all yes that's true all yes that's true but never was it fleshed out in their life know what is the character of dead faith. This is what James wants to point out to us. Let's look at our text, what is the character of dead faith gives us three marks of dead faith.

Three descriptions of the nature of dead faith. First of all dead faith is identified by an empty confession is identified by an empty confession, verse 14 what does it profit or of what benefit is it my brother and I think he speaking at that point to a Jewish brother Jewish audience and of course collectively to the church that are identified outwardly as brother.

What does it profit or of what benefit is it though a man say he has faith but has not works. What good is such a claim can faith save. I look at if a man says he has faith for the sake of argument, a man comes along and makes a claim. I have faith. I believe I believe in God. I believe in Christ, he confesses to believe in the death of Christ.

You may confess to believe in the resurrection of Christ by the way, to present tense. What is it profit my brothers, though a man continually go on making the claim that he believed the word in the Greek test means anyone anyone. What good is such a claim from anyone if he has not err God works if he has not product. If he has not good works righteous deeds is the pattern of his life. What good is such that the answer is it's no good at all. That's the obvious answer is nothing but an empty confession and empty profession a claim with no evidence if there are no works, and the righteous deeds you cannot demonstrate a changed life. If, when true faith is placed in Christ. We receive a new nature that new nature will manifest itself in John 15.

As I mentioned earlier, Jesus, and take the branch that has no fruit. Cut it down, tied up and throw it in the fire that fruitless branch I believe represents a Judas disciple represents somebody is outwardly attached, but there's no life flow and therefore there's no product and you know these things. So James adds at the end of verse 14 can and I might imply that faith save him. Such faith is that in that kind of faith acquit a man on judgment day can faith not accompanied by a dramatic change in moral character and conduct be true saving faith. What's the answer no.

Can such an empty confession save from a god look at verse 13. Who will be merciless to the man who shows no mercy.

And you mean to say to me that a man can believe and show no mercy and still be saved somewhat so you can believe and have no fruit and still be saved and Jesus as if I look at your life and I see not the fruit of mercy, there will be no mercy for you why because Jesus himself can evaluate the validity of faith based upon the product of that faith. If salvation is a new birth if salvation is a transformation if salvation is a total change then it must demonstrate itself in the behavior consistent with that new nature. If I am a new person. There will be new factors and how I conduct myself. Look at Romans two in Romans two we have the criteria by which God will judge in verse six it says he will render to every man according to his deeds.

The final judgment will be according to his did you say I thought the final judgment would be on our faith. The final judgment will be on our faith as indicated in our what our deeds and he goes on to the lineage to the people who through patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality will come eternal life.

In other words, it isn't that you're saved by those works, it's that those works manifest that you have a new nature, but the people are contentious and don't obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath will come. The converse of that is true believers will not be contentious.

They will obey the truth, they will obey righteousness, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man that does evil glory, honor and peace to every man that works.

In other words, were going to be judged on the basis of what we've done because what we've done and what we do is the indicator of who we are not somebody's got to say what Whitman is in James in conflict with Paul. This is the typical argument doesn't Paul say we are saved simply and only in totally by grace in Romans 11 six if by grace, then it is no more of works otherwise grace is no more grace and if there's any works and it's no more grace.

Otherwise work is no more work. In other words, isn't he stripping grace of any work at all. Doesn't he say the same thing.

In effect, I think it's in Galatians is not chapter 2 verse 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even as we believe in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law. For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified is Paul saying no works in James saying works and aren't they in conflict. May I suggest you that James and Paul are not standing face-to-face in an inner confrontation, but they're standing back to back fighting two common enemies. Paul is fighting those people who want salvation to be by works. James is fighting those people who want to salvation but doesn't demand anything Paul is saying, salvation is only by grace, James is saying that salvation only by grace produces works. There's no debate here. There's no argument here. There's no tension here.

It is not a face-to-face disagreement. It is a back-to-back defense against two different attackers. Paul is defending himself against legalistic salvation and James is defending himself against the libertine approach that says you can believe and have no change in your life and still be saved. Go back to chapter 1 verse 18 and what did James say of his own will be God kiosk with the word of truth. In other words, he presents a sovereign salvation by grace God saved us by his own will, through the word of truth. James affirms a salvation by sovereign grace. But then he says in order that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation. In other words, to make us new creature to make us different bosses. The same thing we are saved by grace through faith, not of ourselves but we are his workmanship, created on the good works.

They both say the same thing. Both agree that there is a faith that does not save turn from moment to second Timothy chapter 2 in verse 19 and listen carefully to what Paul writes here to show you how he agrees with James nevertheless says Paul, writing to Timothy.

Speaking of those who air concerning the truth, mentioned in verse 18 in verse 17 there word is is an evil word eats like a disease like gangrene. He says nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure that a lot of people try to knock the foundation apart a lot of people trying to offer another foundation but the foundation of God is immovable and it has this seal. In other words, here is what seals the true, the Lord knows them that are his and how does he know then let everyone that names the name of Christ.

What depart from iniquity.

The mark of true salvation is a departure from iniquity and Titus. If you would notice Paul again making reference to the same thing. Verse 16 of chapter 1. Listen to this. He's talking about people who claim to be believers. He says they profess that they know God and follow. But in works they want, they deny being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate that word reprobate has the idea of a confused, disoriented and wicked mind so they profess to know God, but the denial comes in their works. Doesn't matter what you claim it only matters what you demonstrate chapter 2, he says it again in verse seven in all things showing yourself a pattern of good works. So James is considering an empty profession and empty confession, with no evidence sort of an intellectual external acceptance of the facts of the gospel as opposed to a wholehearted revocable commitment to give oneself totally to Christ and to exchange one's life for his life, one's sovereignty, for his sovereignty. That's basic and Paul is in his particular ministry, emphasizing the beginning of the Christian life insists that no one can earn forgiveness.

No one can earn a right relationship with God that comes only from God's free, sovereign grace, there are no human priest salvation works. You don't have to repent in your own flesh. You don't have to set yourself up for salvation by agreeing to do this or agreeing to do that in your flesh, but were true salvation takes place where sovereign grace reaches down and totally transforms a person there will be an abandonment of sin and abandonment of self to the sovereignty of Christ as a part of that saving work. I think about Ephesus, and when the gospel came to Ephesus in acts 19 immediately. The text says the people who were deep into magic and the cult took all of their magic books. Having heard the gospel and believe that what they do is they burn them all. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they had turned from idols to serve the living and true God. It is an exchange of Masters. So while salvation is all of God is also with in the saving work that repentance and a turning from sin and embracing of a new master takes place, and I don't believe for a moment that a newborn believer understands the full implications of that. I don't think when I was saved I understood the full implications of my sin and turning from my sin.

I don't think I understood the full implications of what it meant to submit the Jesus Christ. That's an ever increasing awareness even now in my life.

No one is saved by works, but no one is saved without becoming a new creation and in the new creation comes the product repentance submission, obedience, love for God and all the other works that the spirit of God would produce. This is grace to you with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John's current study from James chapter 2 is titled show me your faith. Now, as John mentioned before, the message we have an event you want to mark on your calendars.

I'm talking about the truth matters conference happening this May at the answers in Genesis conference center in Williamstown, Kentucky for more information about the conference go to GT get in touch today. The dates for the truth matters conference May 18-20, 2022.

In our theme, recovering a biblical worldview.

John and other well-known teachers are going to be looking at what the Bible says about gender and sexuality. Critical race theory, social justice, creation, and other key issues affecting the church. Again the conference is at the answers in Genesis conference center, Williamstown, Kentucky. It's right next to the art encounter. Get all the details at our website. GT and while you're at GT

Remember, you can listen to every message from the three previous truth matters, conferences, which looked in depth at the gospel and the dangers of charismatic theology and the sufficiency of Scripture to listen to those messages or any of John's sermons from over 52 years of ministry go to GT and thanks for remembering to keep the truth matters conference in your prayers and join us in Kentucky you can again for all the details, go to GT for John MacArthur and the entire staff on Phil Johnson. Thanks for starting your week with Grace to you and join us tomorrow when John looks at what specifically distinguishes true believers from false believers. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you


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