James uses, in verse 18, the word translated show.
It's a wonderful word. It means to bring the light. It means to exhibit. It means to put on display. Take your faith.
Let people see it. What are they seeing? They're seeing works. Oh, but wait, that comes from your faith. And that's James' point here as he begins his inspired comments on the nature of genuine faith. Faith in Jesus Christ produces works. We know that the Gospel teaches us that we can never be saved by working or earning our salvation.
Do you know that? Salvation is God's gift to us. But the Bible also teaches that genuine faith in Jesus Christ changes us. The work of God in our lives results in us acting like Christians. Here on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen is in a series called Faith Works. It's from the book of James and we're exploring the relationship between faith and works. It's important that every believer understand this, so stay with us.
This is the conclusion to a lesson Stephen called Show and Tell. You know, if the world wants to see a living, genuine profession of Christianity, they will never ever examine your faith. They don't know how, but they will examine your life.
And oh, do they know how to do that, don't they? It isn't what you say, it's what they see. And so John writes to the believers in 1 John chapter 3, Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. Why is he writing that to Christians? Because it is possible for Christians to have useless faith. And then he goes on and he adds this interesting phrase, We will know by this, that is that we're loving in deed and truth, that we are of the truth and will assure our heart before him.
In other words, faith that works not only gives the world an assurance that we really do have a credible Christianity, that it's more than just words, it also gives us assurance by the way we live, doesn't it? So if we want to outline James as he describes dead faith, the first word we could use from verse 14 that came to my mind as I outlined it is the word inactive. That's one of three words I'll give you today.
The word inactive. The person, this person is someone who says but never does. He never takes his faith into the open.
He as it were sits in the chair. It is a show and tell Christianity, but for him there is no show, it's only tell. His Christianity never gets past the stained glass experience. What he says in here, what he quotes in here, how he prays in here, how he goes along in here, how he puts something in the plate in here, how he says hello in here, never makes it out of here into Monday. Stays on Sunday, that's what James is after. There really shouldn't be anything different about our vocabulary in here as it is out there. Now the second word that describes dead faith is the word indifferent.
It is not only inactive, it's indifferent. And James again loves using illustrations. I think he's a wonderful homiletical example for men who are going to be preaching and teaching and it's a wonderful thing to study with men in the seminary classroom. Certainly with all the teachers who are in this auditorium in this hour. And many people believe again that the letter of James is actually a sermon that was transcribed.
And there's good argument for that. He'll deliver some truth and then he'll illustrate. He'll deliver some more truth and illustrate. And that's what he does now.
He's rattled everybody's cage and he says okay let's stop and let me give you an illustration. Verse 15, look there. If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food and one of you says, note that, one of you says to them go in peace, be warmed and be filled and yet you do not give them what is necessary for the body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead being by itself. Again, James is saying that true faith never travels alone.
It always has the traveling companion of works. Now James describes a scene here. If you've been with us at any time in our earlier studies, he's already done this in the assembly. He had a rich man come in and we called him Mr. what?
Mr. Bling. If you remember that, I just want to say the word one more time. He came in and the poor man came in. He describes the scenario and the activity that happened in there by the deacon who served as the usher. Now he's going to take us into an assembly and the implication is the assembly and he's going to show us, he describes as a brother and a sister. Now what he's using is these terms.
He's using these terms in the broader metaphorical sense. He's saying these are believers. The rich man or the poor man were unbelievers. They came in late.
They wanted to check out Christianity. These two come in. They're a brother. They're one of the brothers, so to speak. They're one of the sisters.
They're part of the assembly and that will be important as we'll note later. And they come in and James describes them in verse 15. The first thing he says about them is they are without clothing. Now that word is often translated naked. The word is also used in the context of someone poorly clad, which is obviously the reference here. This brother or this sister comes to church wearing clothing that has become so threadbare and so tattered and so useless that it doesn't do anything for them. It doesn't help. In fact, it's as if they don't have anything on. And James even uses a verb tense that tells us this is the consistent condition of the brother, of the sister. It isn't like their other suit was down at the dry cleaners and this is the only one they had.
No, this is the only one they have. And it's so threadbare it's useless. It's unable to keep them warm or protect them from the elements, so it's obvious they have a need. James then adds in verse 15 that these two church members are also in need of daily food. This is the only time this exact expression is used in the New Testament. It's a little different than the disciples prayer where the Lord taught us to pray for our daily bread.
This is a little different. In fact, most believe that this is a reference to that particular day, that current day's supply. In other words, they don't have anything to eat and it's Sunday. They didn't have anything to eat before they came to church. They don't have anything to eat after they leave church and they don't have anything to eat before they go to bed on that Lord's Day.
That's obvious and everybody knows it. I mean everybody else is going to go to Olive Garden after church or Taco Bell or Cookout or Red Lobster. These are commercials I want payback afterward if you work for any of those organizations. Or you're going to go home and you're going to fry up some pancakes. Or you're going to grill some chicken out on the grill or you're going to go see what's been simmering in the oven or maybe in the crock pot.
Or maybe some of you kids are going to love this. You get a bowl and you get your cereal and you make some toast and that's the ultimate. The point is we all have somewhere to go and there's going to be a little problem as far as I can tell for all of us. And if that's different let me know immediately after that we've got food waiting. We've got the ability to eat. So we're going to take care of our hunger. The idea here that James is describing is that these people are going to leave the assembly and they have nowhere to go. They have no food waiting. They have no daily supply for that day. So you see what James is doing and again James so clearly illustrates he leaves no potential for a loophole. He is so clear so obvious.
Here it is. They are they are needy and this is a double need. They need clothing and they need food.
They are facing severe absolute destitution. And the point is the church knows it. They know it.
And watch what happens for 16. And one of you says to them go in peace. Be warmed and be filled.
And yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body. What use is that. That's another way of saying are you kidding or what. Go in peace. The common way for the believer in the early century would have been to say something like that that's. To us saying God bless you. It is the peace of God which we want to have bestowed upon you. We say similar things. God bless you.
Which has been contracted down to from God bless or be with thee to God be ye to goodbye. So here the assembly it's wrapping up. Finally I might add. Everybody's really hungry now. And you will be even hungrier before this one wraps up. And they're at the front door. And they're going out. And it's cold out there.
And here's what James is saying. Somebody says God bless you. Be warm. And another one says God bless you. Go get you something to eat.
You need to eat. How utterly ridiculous. This is absolute crass indifference. It is shameless apathy. And it's couched in the hypocrisy of sanctified words like. Words I know I'm all too quick to say and maybe you too. And that is well God bless you.
He's going to have to because we won't. It's interesting one Greek scholar said that this response. Implied a subtle implication of blame.
We don't have time to develop this but this was interesting I'll just mention it to you. The middle voice is used which implies it's their fault. And so in those sanctimonious words there is the nuance of them saying something like.
Well you know peace be with you and if you just exert yourself you would have better clothing. God bless you and if you just do a better job out there you'd have something to eat. Wow that that's a dagger in their heart isn't it.
One author wrote it this way and I love this. He said this family doesn't need a sermon. They need supper. They don't need an invitation to sit in your living room they need an invitation to sit in your kitchen. They need you to open your refrigerator not your Bible.
He goes on right now don't misunderstand. There's nothing wrong with sharing the word. The problem is when you don't obey the word you're sharing. You go back into church history and you discover in the early centuries at least the first two especially. There was a growing realization of God's sovereignty is related to the distribution of need and wealth. And it wasn't that everybody gave whatever they had away that's how it started early because of the persecution and the famine. But still those that had had a sense of responsibility as Paul would write to be rich in good deeds. And those who were poor understood that when they received gifts they were receiving them from God. The wealthy understood that when they were giving gifts they were literally giving to God. And so with that understanding there wasn't a separation in the church between those who didn't have much and those who had a lot. There was actually a union a bond uniting them to God making them conscious of their oneness in Christ that I have. And so God wants me to give to the one who doesn't have and the one who doesn't have says thank you God for the way that you communicate your love through my brother or sister. I found it interesting as well as I explored the entire issue of charity and benevolent giving that the church was careful and it developed a care about the recipients of its benevolence.
It wasn't just haphazard. We are administrating God's funds. We have to be careful. One fourth century church leader wrote great experience is required to distinguish between those who have great need and it is legitimate and those who simply want more money. He who gives he writes he who gives to a distressed and sick person gives to God. But he who gives his choice of words by the way in the fourth century he who gives to a parasite gives it to men who deserve contempt for their audacity rather than pity for their poverty.
Another fourth century leader described the art of pretended beggars. Now it is impossible at all times to know who's pretending and who isn't right. I mean I have that decision to make every time I'm at 10 10 and 401 because they're standing in on the corner and I would rather err on the side of them really needing help than not helping. But we have to we have to exercise discernment as a church family and God has given us much which we administrate. We have help for those who come off the street but we want to be discerning at the same time and we have help for those brothers and sisters in our church giving tens of thousands of dollars away every single year which is a great great thrill.
But we have to be discerning. I along with every pastor who's been in the ministry for any period of time knows what it's like has had the experience of being conned. I remember in our old church building which is down try on road now an engineering building.
It was closer to the road. Churches are soft targets so to speak and we hear a lot of things. We get a lot of stories need to be discerning. But I remember early on in my ministry one woman came into my office told me her mother was dying at the hospital and she didn't have money to put gas into her car to make it to the hospital. Could I help and of course I pulled out my wallet and I gave her everything I had which is I believe only about 15 dollars.
And when I left I looked out my window to see her get into a brand new vehicle with a man and they drove away just chatting away. I learned to look out the window first. Several years later in fact just about a year ago I was teaching Shepherd seminary course down the street on Holly Springs at South Hills Baptist Church which by the way has been so gracious the pastor just so just a wonderful guy. Has opened up their church for us to use. We use that auditorium for our preaching classes so that these guys can get a hands on feel for what it is to get behind the pulpit and preach.
We also use their baptismal tank where I teach them how to baptize and you want these guys to know how to do that before they get in there. Otherwise we need a medical assistance team right at the bottom for those that don't make it. Well a woman knocked on the front door we locked it it was dark during our class and heard the knock all the way into the little lobby and into the auditorium and I went open the door and the lady was standing there and she said listen my mother is sick.
In fact she's having a surgery she's in the hospital. I don't have any money for gas to put in my car to get to the hospital. And I said I think I know you. I want my 15 bucks and I didn't say that at all. I said well I am I'm very sorry to hear about that and I tried to discern whether it was a legitimate need just by asking a few questions and I said what is your mother's name.
The whole class is listening in on this pastoral theology class. What is your mother's name. She told me your mother's name and said what hospital is she in. She's a big wake which you know is about a 20 25 minute drive.
It's not close. I said well just a moment and I pulled out my cell phone and I dialed wake hospital when my speed down numbers and and I got the receptionist on the line and I said I'd like to speak to so-and-so. Receptions punched in the name and and she said I'm sorry we don't have anybody here with that name. I said well hold on a minute I asked the lady so how do you spell your mother's last name. She stood right there and spelled her mother's last name for me and I repeated it to the receptionist. A few moments later the receptionist says I'm sorry there's not a woman in this hospital by that name. I said thank you very much. I hung up I looked at this woman and I said your mother is not in the hospital is she. And she really got mad at me and she walked off in a huff muttering I think it was Hebrew under her breath.
In my direction had nothing to do with the peace of God by the way I'll tell you that. You know what this means that even though we might err on the side of you know I don't know this guy. And as I pull up to the corner I try to look at their faces. And if you work with people you can tell there's a look of someone who lives outdoors. And I try to give them money.
I'd rather err on that side. And James isn't saying well with the man didn't know the church would develop discernment what James is saying here is much more clear cut than that. These people are obviously in need. They are known. They are believers.
They are brothers and sisters to the assembly. And he says if we do not care if all we have our words we're not only inactive we are indifferent. We do not have living active faith demonstrable real visible.
Let me give you a third word. It is not only inactive and indifferent. Dead faith is impenitent. That is it refuses to confess. It refuses to be corrected. It refuses to be challenged. It defends itself in its error.
It comes up with all kinds of reasons and maybe you're thinking through them right now about why that's OK for you but I'm not doing anything. And what James does is he introduces us to an anonymous objector who decides to speak. Look at verse 18. But someone may say you have faith and I have works. This man just suddenly or woman we don't know which will blame the man. The man says you know hey hey wait a second you need to understand that you've got that but I've got this effectively isn't it wonderful we're together in the same family.
You do that and I'll do this. James doesn't want them separated he wants them together. Now this is a difficult passage frankly to understand primarily because of the quotation marks. You need to understand that in James Day they didn't use quotation marks. That was a device used later on quotation marks can be helpful.
I believe in this case in my translation it confuses it because I believe they're improperly placed and they are placed by the way by the translator. Look at verse 18 and I'll quote what I believe the subjector is saying. Here's the quote. You have faith and I have works and quote then James responds quote. Show me your faith without the works and I will show you my faith by my works and quote. In other words James is saying I'm sorry you know it doesn't work in real life like that in fact I'm going to prove to you that you're off in your objection. Because I'm going to show you by having you attempt what I believe is impossible and you'll find out it's true as well.
It is impossible. Here's what he says. You show me your faith without doing anything and I'll show you my faith without saying anything.
On your mark get set go. Who do you think wins. Obviously the one who shows who demonstrates his faith. Why. Because James knows it's impossible to prove you have faith unless you do something. Faith is invisible. Faith is intangible.
One of the difficulties of witnessing is you talk to somebody about the Lord and the first thing out of their eyes. Oh I've got faith. I've got great faith. I've got faith in God. You just can't take that out and put it in a test tube.
You can't measure that. That's why it's a hard difficult argument to overcome. And James knows it's impossible to to test faith without works because faith is invisible. Let me simplify it all by saying this. Faith is like calories. With me.
They are invisible. But you can see the results. So you might rethink Taco Bell. OK.
Throw that in there. Works are the external physical evidence of an internal living faith. To use another analogy. This objector though refuses to bend. See he wants to keep faith and works divorced.
Maybe visitation rights every so often but let's let's let's keep it separate. See this is going to allow him to defend his inactivity. This is going to allow him to defend his indifference which will allow him to defend his faith which James says. It's useless.
If these are separate. In fact James in verse 18. As he challenges his objector to show and tell to take it out into the public square he isn't arguing one against the other he's arguing for them both to be together and he's effectively saying this.
Listen let's reveal our lives and the work of our hands and the words of our vocabulary and the spirit of our character and the excellence of our work and our attitude and show people what Christianity is all about. Our vocabulary shouldn't be any different out there as it is in here. In fact James uses in verse 18 the word translated show.
It's a wonderful word. It means to bring the light. It means to exhibit. It means to put on display. Take your faith and do an out on the road exhibition. Put it on display.
Let people see it. What are they seeing? They're seeing works. Oh but wait that comes from your faith. Understand again works do not create faith. Works do not bring faith into existence. What James is saying is that works are the display and the exhibition of the faith that we indeed have. It's possible to have works without faith. James says it's not possible to have faith.
Without works. I remember when our first born twins were delivered. Our first one came delivered. He came out crying. I mean he just lit up the whole room and that was a good thing. He wouldn't stop. We were concerned about our second son because he had been higher up in his mother's womb and every time there was a contraction his heart plummeted.
And so there was great concern. So when he was delivered though he was quiet still. And I'll never forget we all just kind of held our breath. And then an appropriately placed smack brought about this piercing cry and we all breathe a sigh of relief. I mean he was crying. If he's crying he's breathing.
If he's crying his heart is pumping. It was a beautiful thing. It was the only time his crying was ever a beautiful thing but it was beautiful there.
Now listen. His cry did not give him life. His crying revealed he was alive.
Wailing at the top of his lungs did not produce life. It proved that life existed. That's James point here as he begins his inspired comments on the nature of genuine faith. Faith in Jesus Christ produces life. Life in Jesus Christ produces works.
And works for Jesus Christ. Prove, prove that there is indeed life. That was Stephen Davey and a lesson called Show and Tell. Stephen will continue working his way through this section of the book of James in the days ahead. Before we leave you today I want to make sure you're aware of a special offer we have for you.
During the month of August we have a free gift just for you. As King David neared the end of his life he didn't lie in bed at night dreaming of the next giant he would kill. David really wanted to be was an architect. God had other plans. God's answer to David was no. How do you respond when God says no to your plans and dreams?
That's a difficult situation to navigate. Stephen Davey has a resource to help you. Stephen's written a booklet entitled When the Answer is No. In it he shares with you five practical ways for you to respond when God says no to your plans and dreams.
This is a free digital download that you can access from our website right now. Go to wisdomonline.org for information. Well thanks again for joining us today. I hope you'll be with us again next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-10 01:26:27 / 2023-03-10 01:36:37 / 10