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August 19, 2022 12:00 am
When James makes the bold statement that we are not only justified by faith but by works as well, how can we reconcile that with the Apostle Paul's message that salvation is through faith alone? Stephen gives us the answer in this emphatic look at one of history's most debated questions.
30 years Abraham is experiencing prosperity he's thinking is God good or what he's probably thinking my tests of faith are over.
I made it good to go.
You know I'm there right before God. There's no more stuff out there for the court of public opinion. I put in my dues and God comes along and says take your sign that you're always on the one you love making the burnt offering is that our life is on display for the world's for many of us that's a bit uncomfortable. We think of our faith as a private matter.
However, God wants to use the lives of Christians to show unbelievers. The reality of the God who saved us. In today's lesson. Stephen is referring to that as the court of public opinion. So here's the question for today. What conclusions would people draw about God from observing your life dynamic faith results in a changed life working to see what that means today here on wisdom from the heart.
Few weeks ago I visited a man in an intensive care unit. He four years was a Christian scientist Christian scientists deny the atonement of Christ on the cross for sin. They believe in a universal salvation. They say there's no need for any mortal ever fear the coming judgment of such thing. Now this man lay in the final stages of cancer. Having courageously battled it for two years.
His daughter and son-in-law were hoping and praying that we would be able to talk together.
He was open to that before I got to their home.
He was taken to the hospital now in the last stages of cancer. They asked him if I can come and visit and he agreed. I asked the nurse if I could come when everybody else was gone after hours and she was a believer and she said will make that happen. So I returned that night around 9 o'clock.
We were uninterrupted for nearly an hour said the opportunity to deliver to him the gospel of Christ, we sentenced the urgency of of this hour. Little did we know that within six days if he was going to die and nothing I said to him was new. He watch the lives of his kids. He heard the gospel before, but he never personally trusted in Christ, believing that he was indeed the God man is cross work was sufficient for his sin. When I finish explaining the gospel to them. I asked him what he wanted to do about it. He said he wanted to think about it. I pray for him and left without foretelling them to make sure he told his family if and when he decided to accept for himself the personal claims of Christ. Five days later one day before he died he informed his family. The Jesus Christ lived in his heart, his own personal savior's funeral held in our chapel to place two days ago. So what about you. I wonder today. Do you have faith. Who knows, but today may be your final opportunity to hear the gospel and receive it. This may be the day before you die. James is giving us a tour of three faiths, so to speak.
James chapter 2 is where I invite your attention. Only one of these faiths is genuine. Only what is the real item that I want to follow this carefully dead faith affects only the mind is James is describing it it it intellectually acknowledges the words believes in the validity of the words, but that's it.
Demonic faith affects the mind and the emotions I mean the demons have an emotional reaction to the truth of God. They shot her.
Now James is going to illustrate for us 1/3 kind of faith and it is dynamic faith. Dynamic faith affects the mind, the emotions and moves forward to affect the will illustrated this with me ask a question you think is going to win the Super Bowl as a prophet.
Someone is going to win the Super Bowl to row my illustration I get back to my question will never minded illustration okay living to give you a different one. Suppose you have an incurable disease. And I tell you, there's a doctor in California is given his life to studying the disease and he found a cure.
He's written about it and I give you a copy of the book you promise to read it. I see you a few months later and I and I ask you what he is saying you say all that the doctors amazing. Did you read the book all I rented my name is written all through the book it's it's like he knew me inside and out.
Do you believe that that he is the QR I certainly know what you going to California and I really don't like to fly makes me uncomfortable what you say I just read the book she genuine faith in Jesus Christ goes beyond admission and acknowledgment into acceptance and James for the point of this context is saying it will ultimately be seen in action to illustrate his point of dynamic faith, which is what we call the third is going to take the life of someone that every Jew would immediately identify with and recognize affect everyone of us would Jew or Gentile.
It is father Abraham. Look at verse 21 of James chapter 2 was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar. You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says and Abraham believed God, and was reckoned to him as righteousness. And he was called the friend of God. So you see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. Now she read that immediately.
There's a tension begins to build his think this is the portion of James letter that was so irritating to Martin Luther, the reformer, he was so adamantly opposed to the Roman Catholic dogma of salvation by works, salvation you merit salvation you earn. You such a strong defender of salvation by grace alone through faith alone that he missed the point James affect the ended up calling the entire letter and epistle of straw but on closer inspection, it becomes clear that James has something in mind, let me recommend that you get out your pencil or pen and and be prepared to write into the margin of your Bible to references that may help you as you go back later on if you look back at James chapter 2 in verse 21. James writes was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar in the margin of your Bible.
Write the text Genesis 22 is that's the account of Abraham offering Isaac preparing to offer him as a burnt offering to look back at what James says in verse 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Next to that verse right.
Genesis 15 and you can see immediately how James has reversed the order of two events that occurred to make a point. The apostle Paul we use. In fact, this very same quote from Genesis 15 that Abraham believed it, but he's getting his to prove that that that Abraham was justified by faith apart from works.
Romans four now James comes along and uses the very same text from Genesis chapter 15 to show that the justification is not by faith alone, but by works of his right to this tension is is a tall or is it James, do we take about no, no need to take a vote because they both happened to be right. They are both looking at the life of Abraham, the same text but there looking at it with two different perspective.
Let me explain. Need to keep in mind that there is such a thing as justification in the eyes of God. That is by faith. The analogy of Scripture shows over and over again. It is faith alone. There is also justification in the eyes of mankind that is not by faith because they cannot see faith.
That's an intangible, invisible element that can only see works so these are the two sides or sides of the coin: justification, faith and works vector to general meanings for the original word justified to Keio appears often one has to do with the legal declaration that you are righteous. Literally you are right with God. This is the way Paul most often use the quote or the word I should say we quoted from Romans 324. We are justified as a gift by God's grace to give you are declared right with God, and it must be a gift because none of us could ever be good enough to be cleared by a holy God. You're right you're right shifts to give one side of justification in the court of God's opinion declared righteous. There's another side and the other side of justification is vindication before men, that is justification in the court of public opinion in God's court justification takes place in a moment in the transaction of salvation in the court of public opinion. It takes place every moment throughout the day. Sometimes we succeed in nearly as much as we like to often we fail. So, depending on which side of the coin you happen to be emphasizing.
You can either promote justification by faith or justification by works, justification by faith is in the eyes of God. Justification by works is in the eyes of men. I hear something really interesting.
Assuming nothing else has been herself both the apostle Paul and the apostle James illustrate their particular side of the coin with the same life. The life of Abraham, and they use the same verse from Genesis 15, which reads Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him. It was counted to him as righteousness.
But I want you to understand before we go any further. The Paul uses the verse to prove the fact that Abraham was justified before he ever did anything Genesis 15 Declared Righteous Takes Pl. before Genesis 22. He offers Isaac James will use the life of Abraham to prove the fact that what Abraham did actually revealed he belong to God. Paul is emphasizing the roots of salvation. James is emphasizing the fruit of salvation that look at verse 22 again in James chapter 2 you see that faith was working with his works, faith was working with kids is the word soon. Erica gives us the word synergy is a synergy between faith and works, and as a result of this synergy verse 22.
Faith was perfected.
That work perfected again is James favorite word you can translate it mature shown to be grown-up.
Did you notice how James began verse 22.
He says you see DC talk. Look at the life Abraham offering up Isaac loved his faith has grown at this point it has been 50 years of growth, by the way that one author said that Abraham's life is really nothing more than a series of surrenders to God as God prepared him to make the ultimate surrender to God. Think about he was first told to surrender his father and his family and home and leave them if you ever had the testifying. He was told to surrender the well watered planes of Jordan to his nephew Lot and he passed that test of faith.
He was later told to surrender Hagar and Ishmael that Ishmael would not be the son of the covenant promise when God later came to Abraham who was now more than 100 years old is a conversation that fascinates me.
Isaac is been born. Isaac is now in his 30s and got some in Genesis 22 James is highlighting and here's what God says Abraham take now your son, your only son, the son, whom you love, Isaac mean how many times you say anything Abraham was hard of hearing or or maybe a little slow.
Nobody was stubborn and so he's probably got these little thoughts in his mind and maybe there's a loophole in here but listen again to what God says in and imagine with me how Abraham has every loophole closed.
Abraham present Lord, take your son sounded good. I have two sons.
No take your only son okay but Ishmael and Isaac are both technically, the only son of the mother. No take someone whom you love what I do love Ishmael, Abraham, take now your son, your only son, the one whom you love, Isaac, and the conversation James will say you go and watch Abraham on Mount Moriah and you tell me is this not the greatest vindication of a person's faith you've ever seen or heard of before watching surrender son to God. God promised Abraham a son.
This covenants on this promise.
When he was 75 years of age. His wife Sarah, 65 years of age life expectancy. During this period of time from what we can tell, is about 120 years means are still a slight chance that Abraham and Sarah might have a child of their own time passes, slim chances dwindled down to none. 10 years after the initial promise.appears again reminds Abraham of the promise and says no, Abraham, I am your shield and your very great reward. Abraham retorts with some sarcasm and why am I still waiting for the sun God told Abraham to go outside and look up at the sky and try to count the stars you're going outside. I've read that you can see about 100 stars, clear night, but that on closer inspection, seven, or airplanes, and through your satellites right. Not Abraham, it's clear it's dry, dark God says receipt will outnumber them. And then what happens.
Nothing for 14 years.
Nothing. How would you be doing by now about you, but but I have a little trouble still waiting, still waiting for the promise. The prospect seem impossible.
That's why Abraham gets tired of waiting in the institutes plan be known as project Hagar, who delivers Ishmael, God rejects him as the covenant see this was Abraham's lack of faith, not act of faith is. Ishmael will grow up resentful to fulfill the prophecy of God's words to Hagar that Ishmael's hand will be against everyone. Genesis 1612 when all the prospects for God's promise to Abraham seem now impossible. Abraham just blown out hundred candles on his birthday cake. Sarah's blown out 90 the shocking news comes she's expecting and nine months later they have a newborn son, Isaac grows up for 30 years.
Abraham is experiencing prosperity he's thinking is God good or what he's probably thinking my tests of faith are over.
I made it good to go. You know, there are declared right before God. There's no more stuff out there for the court of public opinion. I put in my dues.
Then God comes along and says take your son, your only son, the one you love make him a burnt offering to me, and Abraham discovers when maybe you discovered in your own life that your greatest test of faith is the next one. In the story is the wonderful type of Christ throughout this entire ordeal. Isaac, the only son is offered by his father, God offers his unique son Isaac carries the wood of the hill for the sacrifice Christ for time carries the cross beam of wood up the hill.
Isaac willingly mounts the author.
Christ willingly gives himself as our sacrifice Philippians 28. As Abraham raises the knife to take his son's life believing were told in Hebrews that God's going to have to do something evidently is going to be a resurrection, because this is the covenant sonnet from him is going to come this race, so I assume that's what God will do and will come back later together, but he still going through the ordeal. All this pain flow ordeal, he raises his knife to take his son's life and Angel stopped summonses look over there is a ram caught in the second quietest program in history the human population. The world sacrifice is the ram God and promised the Lamb for the chapter ends in Genesis 22. Abraham will say on the mountain of the Lord on this count. This ridge Moriah. It will be provided on that same ridge of hills. We can't know for sure where centuries later, the Lamb of God will be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, fulfilling the prophecy of Abraham and the type Isaac served because we know all we miss what James is saying is the demonstration the vindication of justification before man so as not be too hasty. We have the idea that Abraham is his hands. The pockets of the gallon is whistling as he walks up Moriah's ridge because of that and because we know how it turned out we overlook the pain of now what had been 50 years of waiting, and the thought of taking your own son's life. What is your test of faith. We we tend to minimize the challenges and tests of faith in the lives of others and we magnify our see James is in bringing up Abraham so we can just rehearse Old Testament history improving staying awake in synagogue school.
He is in his and using Abraham's decision of fate as as as in that wonderful know he's using it as an example for us is effectively saying the example of Abraham which accepted the tests of God imperfectly at times completely. At other times is to be our example of living, dynamic faith is more than Old Testament history for Abraham. It was the culmination of 50 years of testing growing and maturing, now out there in the court of public opinion provides this remarkable event which becomes James mind proof of faith. This is the vindication of justification is the same thing. Jesus Christ, by the way would say let your light so shine before men, not in your garage not in your living room not in here.
Anybody can do that come off looking pretty good before med that they may see your good. What works now. Many times you come to church versus you can sign only times you been to the Bible not been there don't care I don't care if you were here today means nothing to them.
They want to know how we demonstrate our faith out there. You see, we have the idea that were demonstrating lives of faith by what we have looked at what I have is in this proof of my faith. James is saying not.
I know you got it backwards.
The demonstration of faith is seen by how you act when there is something you lose something you do not have some answers.
God does not provide some test, some surrender. I wonder what is going to ask you to surrender what is he ask you to place on the altar of your life and effectively said that will not be fulfilled with hard thing.
As he asked a few what is the to put on the altar of surrender that faith would say the altar of surrender to Christ is something every maturing Christian should do but dead faith would never participate in what it acknowledged demonic faith would say the altar of surrender to Christ exists its real and there are many who live for Christ, but they will never surrender your holy state. They cannot dynamic faith would say the altar of surrender to Christ and what he is asking of me today.
It is real and every believer who desires to mature in their faith would submit to that imperfectly at times completely. At other times, and by the way, I am willing Lord to sign on.
I will vindicate out there in the court of public opinion. My testimony that I really do belong to a God and he belongs to me dynamic faith is the demonstration of faith through life. That lesson was called in the court of public opinion. It comes from Steven Davies series from James entitled faith works when we come back next time will continue working our way through this very practical series from God's word. If you have a comments question or would like to correspond with us send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org you can also use that address. If you want to ask Stephen a question about the Bible or the Christian faith. We have a special place on our website were Stephen answers those questions, you can go to wisdom online downward to read the questions that Stevens already received and his answers to those questions and you can ask your own question by sending it to email@example.com. If we can help you personally are number is 86 648 Bible thanks for tuning in sure and join us next time. For more wisdom