I like to think I am an effective communicator and an understandable orator. Sometimes my wife tells me otherwise. I am grateful for her truthfulness and her wish to see me become a speaker. She tells me that I know what I am talking about and I know what I want to say, but sometimes I choose words which may it difficult to follow. In my opinion, one of the worst things if for people to leave a sermon more confused than they were at the beginning. They should feel encouraged, challenged, or completely shaken depending upon where they are at that moment in life, but they should never leave confused. It is my goal to give a crystal clear message. I am even more aware of this for this upcoming Sunday.
As a church, we are currently working our way through the book of James in our meetings on Sunday mornings. It just so happens that we are in the second chapter this week and it is my week to speak. I imagine this will be my most difficult week. You see, the passage we are on is the one dealing with faith and works. I will not excuse my belief that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone; however, this is the passage a lot of Christians like to turn into a party and declare their righteousness based on their works. Faith in Christ for salvation comes first and then an outpouring of the deeds.
Can you have faith without works? James tells us that true faith in Christ will be clear by the deeds that are carried out by Christians. This does not include the “Christian” group which claim the title and no outward appearance. This also does not include any group that is striving to end any sort of injustice in the world as most do not have the type of faith described by James. Yes, they may have faith in something. As I sit and write this, I have faith that the chair below me will not give way and cause me to fall to the floor. I have faith in it; however, I do not have any sort of saving faith in it for my salvation. We often have “faith” but are missing true faith.
I love the ending verse of chapter two where James makes the bold statement that faith without works is dead. If you have not been seeing any sort of outpouring of God in your life, I would urge you to look into your life and search out the root of the problem. When I speak of an outpouring, I am not saying that there will be any sort of Pentecostal experience like some would have people to believe. It can be as simple as choosing to buy some groceries for the single father down the street who works all the time and does not bring home enough to feed his own children. God help us if we do not try to help others. God help me get this message clear and be able to deliver it precisely without confusion.
This is only a few basic thoughts I have on this passage and the correlation between faith and works.