“Real Authentic Faith"

[Week 4]

James 2:14-26

Verse of the Week

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead..” [James 2:26 NIV]

The Big Idea

After rebuking his audience for their failure to put their faith into action, James continues his explanation of the relationship between faith and works in 2:14-26. His main point is that the actions you take display what you truly believe.

Faith Needs Deeds (vs. 14-19)

James makes a bold claim in vs. 17 when he says that “...faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Though it may seem so at first, this is not a contradiction to Romans 8:28 which states: “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” How do we reconcile these two ideas?

 

The answer is found in the latter part of Vs 18, when James states “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”

 

How does anyone know what you believe about anything? If someone told you that your next meal was going to be poisoned, how would they know if you believed them? The easiest way would be to see if you ate it or not. This is the heart of James’ challenge to his audience to display their faith by their deeds in verses 18. Essentially, what we do is an embodiment of what we truly believe. The demons demonstrate this truth, because their belief in God causes them to act (they shudder in fear!).

Discussion:

  • What are some simple ways that we display what we believe by our actions?

  • How can your next step towards Jesus be evidence of what you believe?

 

2 Stories of Faith and Deeds (vs 20-26)

To drive his point home, James illustrates his argument with 2 stories from the Old Testament.

 

The first story is about the father of the Jewish people, Abraham. You can read the entire story in Genesis 15. It would have been unacceptable for Abraham to simply say “yes God, I believe you and understand what you're asking” and then not act. Abraham was considered righteous when he displayed his belief by acting. Abraham was and is considered the archetype of what it means to be a good Jewish follower of God. His example was one to be followed. The point of this story is clear: if ABRAHAM was considered righteous only after his faith was made complete with action, then certainly this is true of me.

 

The second story is about a very different kind of person. Rahab the prostitute was a citizen of Jericho when the children of Israel began conquering the promised land of Cannan. You can read the entire story in Joshua Chapters 2- 6. Rahab's faith that was put into action was the reason she and her entire family were saved when the walls of Jericho fell. 

 

Rahab was a professional sex worker, who was also a gentile, and also a woman. She could not be more opposite than Abraham, yet both of them were declared righteous by their faith, which was displayed in the way they acted.

 

Discussion:

  • How do the differences between Rahab and Abraham illustrate our collective need for the Gospel?

  • How do the differences between Rahab and Abraham display everyone’s equality at the foot of the cross?

  • What other insights do you notice?

Question Bank
 

  1. How has your week been spiritually?
     

  2. What is God teaching you through this passage?
     

  3. What’s your next step in your relationship with God?
     

  4. How will you turn that next step in to action this week?

Call to Action

  • Share your next step with 1 person inside or outside of group and invite them to hold you accountable.
     

  • Talk about Group with at least 1 person.