The below Bible study on real saving faith takes a verse by verse look at James 2. These free inductive notes are intended as supplement to your own study, not a replacement. Feel free to copy, print, or share them. These notes can be helpful for individual study of the Word or for small group Bible studies.

What is Saving Faith? – Sermon Part 2

See part 1 of this sermon on faith and works.

See part 3 of this sermon on faith and works. 

Text: James 2:14-26 

The writer of Hebrews gives us this exhortation.

Heb 12:1b-2a

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus , the author and perfecter of faith…

Many of you have heard the song, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

The refrain says:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

When we have a conviction of things not seen, we then see the things of the earth in their proper perspective.

It is true faith when we believe God and His Word that we “see” with our spiritual eyes similarly to how we accept things in the natural world around us that we see with our physical eyes.

There is a foolish notion these days that the object of what you believe doesn’t matter as long as you’re really sincere. Folks, that’s utter nonsense! It doesn’t matter at all how strong or sincere our faith is if it has the wrong object.

·        Hideyoshi, a Japanese warlord who ruled over Japan in the late 1500s, commissioned a colossal statue of Buddha for a shrine in Kyoto. It took 50,000 men five years to build, but the work had scarcely been completed when the earthquake of 1596 brought the roof of the shrine crashing down and wrecked the statue. In a rage Hideyoshi shot an arrow at the fallen colossus. “I put you here at great expense,” he shouted, “and you can’t even look after your own temple.”

Ps 115 shows the contrast between our living God who acts and false gods who can do nothing!

Ps 115:3-8

3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.

4 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of man’s hands.

5 They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see;

6 They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell;

7 They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat.

8 Those who make them will become like them, Everyone who trusts in them.

To summarize, true faith is an unshakeable confidence in God and the promises in His Word.

This saving faith isn’t merely intellectual, but permeates every aspect of our life

·        2 Co 5:7

7 for we walk by faith, not by sight —

The Argument

18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

·        This is the key. Faith never operates in a vacuum. Saving faith necessarily produces good works

·        This chart illustrates the two types of faith.

1.            The dead faith says that it is real, but does nothing to show it’s real and in truth is utterly useless.

2.            The saving faith shows that it is real by demonstrating it through its actions thus justifying its claim

·        Let me ask you a question. How many of you have ever seen the wind? Raise your hand if you’ve seen the wind. OK, that was a little bit of a trick question. The truth is we can’t really see the wind. We can see it’s affects like a windmill turning, a kite flying, clouds moving across the sky, or trees bending in a strong breeze, but we can’t actually see the wind.

·        “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

·        The true, living faith, which the Holy Spirit instills into the heart, simply cannot be idle.      Martin Luther.

Next, James cites three examples of faith – one negative and two positive

1.      Demons

2.      Abraham

3.      Rahab

Three Examples

19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

Yes, the demons know beyond all doubt that God is the creator and that Jesus is His Son.

Their knowledge of the Lord is obvious from…

Mk 3:11

11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!”

·        This is a powerful argument that James makes. Demons believe in God and know that Jesus is the Son of God. Even though they have this knowledge, they are unwilling to repent and obey the Lord. Thus, their faith produces no good works and they are obviously not saved. Their faith is useless and dead.

·        The point is this, if yours or my faith are not producing repentance, obedience to the Lord, and yes – good works, then it is the same useless, dead faith that demons have.

·        Faith cannot be mere head knowledge, if it’s genuine it will always produce works.

See part 1 of this sermon on faith and works.

See part 3 of this sermon on faith and works. 

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