Sermon:  Lemon Faith vs. Living Faith

Summary:  Christian faith is not about saying the right things, but about doing the 
things that please God.  This means that faithful actions need to accompany our words, 
belief, and trust is our Lord.  This constitutes living, complete faith.  Actionless 
faith constitutes dead, incomplete faith which is useless, like a lemon car.  

Know:  Faith is accompanied by action or it is not faith

Feel:  Motivation to demonstrate faith

Do:  Discuss and define biblical faith.  Describe the relationship between God's grace 
and human faith.  Give examples of how biblical faith works.  List some ways that faith 
works in your own life.

Text:  James 2:14-26

Scripture Reading:  James 1:22-25

1.  Earlier this year, shopping for a car
	a.  Saw an add for a newer car, very good price
	b.  What's the catch?  No engine!
	c.  No matter how nice it looks, car without engine useless
	d.  Like episode on happy days when Richie and Potsie buy a convertible
		- To impress the girls
		- Problem, car was a lemon
		- Waited till Arnolds closed, and had to push it home
		- Car that not run is useless
2.  Faith can be like that
	a.  Faith is not about looking good, if so, it is a lemon
	b.  Faith is not about sounding good, if so, it is a lemon
	c.  Faith is about being good, and doing good
3.  Simply put, faith and action go hand in hand
	a.  You cannot have one without the other
	b.  When you dissect faith from action, it is no longer faith
	c.  Turn to James 2
		- Explain something about the word, "faith"
		- Faith, and to believe, are the same in Greek - "pistis and pisteuo"
		- Different in English because faith does not have a verb form
4.  Faith without action is useless.  It is a lemon.  Why?  Reasons

I.  Because action has to accompany words
	A.  Words by themselves have little value
	B.  Look at what the text says
		1.  (v.14-16) - Words do not take care of the poor
			a.  Can wish them well, but they will still be hungry
			b.  Can say you hope things will be better, still naked
			c.  Can even tell them God cares, but will still be cold
			d.  Words without action are useless
		2.  (v.17-18) - To make the point, James gives us a challenge
			a.  Don't tell me about your faith, SHOW me without actions
			b.  I'll show me you my faith without saying a word
				- It is evident even if I don't say a word
				- Faith is not just spoken, it is lived
		3.  Words all by themselves are just empty sound, nothing more
	C.  ILL:  Like the girl that asked the farmer
		1.  Which is correct, the chicken is "sitting" or "setting" on the egg?
		2.  Farmer replied - I don't know, and I don't care...Why? she asked
		3.  Farmer said - "I want to know when the chicken starts to cackle, 
 		    is she laying or lying?
			a.  Just making a bunch of noise
			b.  Or is she being useful
		4.  Cackling is useless without laying eggs - she becomes dinner
	D.  Actions must accompany words
		1.  If not, it is nothing more than cackling
			a.  If just say, "hope things get better" it is "bawk bawk!"
			b.  If say, "I care about poor hurting" and do nothing - "bawk"
			c.  If say, "I care about the lost" do nothing - "bawk"
		2.  Words without action benefit no one - they are a lemon 
		3.  *If your words say, "I believe," then there needs to be action...

II.  Because action has to accompany belief
	A.  Do you believe in God?  Great!
		1.  Hear a lot of people profess belief in God
		2.  Say it in may different ways
			a.  They might say, "Yes, I believe in God"
			b.  Or, "I believe there is a higher being"
			c.  Statistics show that most people still believe in God
	B.  Guess what?  The demons believe too!  (v.19)
		1.  Demons probably have a more vivid belief that anyone
			a.  They have no doubt in their mind God exists
			b.  Their belief is 100% sure
		2.  Demons belief about God is mostly likely correct
			a.  They believe that God is the creator
			b.  They believe God is all powerful
			c.  They believe God hates evil
		3.  So, if they believe in God, why are they doomed? (v.20)
			a.  Belief/faith is obviously not just about what you know
			b.  Faith is about what you do with it
	C.  ILL:  I have discovered something when you are over 40
		1.  There are certain foods you cannot eat after 7
			a.  Just about any kind of spicy food
			b.  Why?  Heartburn
			c.  Will keep you up half the night
		2.  Do I believe it will keep give me heartburn after 7?
			a.  Yes, I have experienced it first hand
			b.  If I don't want heartburn, then I avoid it
		3.  Does that belief protect me from heartburn?
			a.  Depends on what I do with it
			b.  Just knowing it does not save me
			c.  I need to act on my belief
		4.  This is why the demons shudder
			a.  They believe in God, but they did not act on it
			b.  They were disobedient to his will
			c.  Their belief did them no good because they did not act
	D.  Belief without action is useless
		1.  Seems so simple, common sense 
			a.  I believe our team can win, but if no play, belief useless
			b.  I believe medicine can heal, if not take it, belief useless
			c.  I believe the detergent will clean, if not use, belief useless
			d.  I believe in God and Jesus - not act, useless
		2.  That is why it says "Are you willing to recognize foolish fellow..."
			a.  Foolish to think that mental assent has any meaning
			b.  Faith and action go together
		3.  Just knowing is useless in itself, it is a lemon
		4.  *A trusting faith is an active faith...

III.  Because action has to accompany trust (2:21-26)
	A.  The next few verses are very difficult for a lot of people
		1.  Evangelicals and protestants say we are saved by faith
			a.  This is true, the Bible does teach this
			b.  Rom 1:17 - The just shall live by faith
			c.  Rom 5:1 - Therefore, having been justified by faith
		2.  Many say we are justified/saved by faith alone
		3.  v24 - Yet this passage says we saved by works not faith alone
			a. In fact, this the only passage that use phrase, "faith alone"
			b.  But it does not say we are saved by faith alone
		4.  Passage gives two examples:
			a.  Abraham, Gen 22
				- Abraham believed in God right?
				- So, when God asked him to offer Isaac, he obeyed
				- Of course, God stopped him, he was testing him
				- v.22 - Point: His faith was working & was "perfected"
					= In other words, his faith was "completed"
					= Faith that does not act is incomplete
			b.  Rahab, Josh 2:8-14
				- Heard about God, believed he was sovereign
				- She believed God would make Israel victorious
				- She acted on that faith, helped Israelite messengers
				- Became part of Israel, spared in conquest, saved
			c.  Justified by works, not faith alone
	B.  Lutheran theology has affected nearly all non-Catholic theology
		1.  Rom 3:23-28 - Speaks of salvation by faith
			a. (v.23) - All have sinned and fallen short
			b. (v.24-25) - Justified as gift by grace - don't deserve it
			c. (v.28) - Justified apart from works of the Law
				- This is also common sense
				- ILL:  Pulled over for speeding - broke the law
					= Result, I have to pay the penalty
					= What if I say, "I will keep the law now," does 
 					  that remove my guilt?
					= No, only grace offered as a free gift will
				- Truly, man is justified apart from works of the Law
				- All the law does is identify sin
		2.  Rom 4:1-8 - Uses Abraham as an example
			a.  (v.3) - Abraham believed God, credited as righteousness
			b.  (v.4-5) - But if work, what you receive are wages
				- Wages are not a favor, but what is due you
				- But if you believe Him who justifies ungodly, what 
 				  you receive is considered a "favor" or "grace"
				- (v.6-8) - It is grace, not wages
			c.  Therefore, we are justified as the result of God's grace 
 			    and our faith
		3.  James seems to say the opposite
			a.  Jas 2:21 - James says we are justified by works
				- Some people have a big difficulty with this
				- Some go so far as to say James has less value than 
				- Martin Luther called it an epistle of straw
				- But James is scripture too
			b.  Jas 2:24 - James says justified by works, not faith alone
				- James doesn't throw out faith
		4.  Are this incompatible?  Of course not - they interpret each other
			a.  In James there is faith, and there is "perfect" faith
				- One is dead faith, the other would be "living" faith
				- Abraham had a "living" faith that acts
				- Therefore, God credited it to him as righteousness
				- James is speaking to those who think faith and belief 
 				  is just a mental thing
			b.  Remember Romans is not faith vs works
				- Not belief vs. action, but faith vs. works of the law
				- Can't justify self after sinning by keeping the law
				- Law designed to identify sin, not justify
				- Only God can justify based on his grace & our faith
			c.  Not dead faith, but living faith, or perfect/complete faith
			d.  (Rom 4:19-22) - Tells HOW faith is complete faith...
				- Hope against hope he believed
				- He was able to perform - a living/complete faith
				-Therefore, it was credited to him as righteousness
	C.  ILL:  Based on these passages, answer a multiple-choice question
		1.  We are justified and saved by
			a.  Faith alone
			b.  Works
			c.  Faith plus works
			d.  Faith that works
		2.  The answer is D
			a.  We are justified by faith properly defined
			b.  It is a living faith, perfect faith, working faith
	D.  When we say, "I have faith/trust in God"
		1.  It is not just mental agreement, if so, it is a lemon
		2.  Trusting in God means being sold out, committed to him
			a.  Means following his instructions, doing things his way
			b.  Means a life of prayer and devotion
			c.  Means trusting obedience
			d.  Like the song that says, "Trust and Obey, no other way"
		3.  There is no other way
		4.  Action, specifically obedience, is part of trusting

1.  That is what repentance, confession, and baptism are all about
	a.  They not works of merit - not like feeding poor and other good works
	b.  They are expressions of faith in a gracious God 
		- Gracious God who has instructed us to do these things
		- Gracious God who loves you so much, son died on cross for sins
		- Gracious God who is willing to accept you as his child if you come
		- Gracious God who wants be your Lord and Father, if you accept
	c.  You can come to him today & obey the Gospel (inv)
2.  If you have, your faith is living faith, perfect faith.  Book of James says faith
	a.  Endures under trial
	b.  Practices pure and undefiled religion
	c.  Does not show favoritism
	d.  Controls the tongue
	e.  Manifests God's wisdom, not worlds wisdom
	f.  Produces humility
	g.  Puts God at the center of decision making
	h.  Patiently waits for Christ's return
	i.  Prays for those afflicted
	j.  Strives to restore an erring brother.
3.  Christian life does not mean a flawless life, but a faithful life
4.  Aren't you glad God didn't say you have to be flawless
	a.  He offers us forgiveness as a gift according to his grace
	b.  Our response is faithful obedience, not flawless perfection  
		- Means that when we stumble, sin, fall short, 
		- Not the end of the world, God is gracious
		- Can return, repent, God will forgive


Small Group Notes:  Lemon Faith vs. Living Faith

Summary:  Christian faith is not about saying the right things, but about doing the things 
that please God.  This means that faithful actions need to accompany our words, belief, and 
trust is our Lord.  This constitutes living, complete faith.  Actionless faith constitutes 
dead, incomplete faith which is useless, like a lemon car.  

Open:  (choose one)
- What have you had that might have looked nice by didn't work?
- If you were 100 miles from home with no money, no credit cards, no friends, no transportation, 
and no place to stay, what would you do to survive and make it home?

Explore:  James 2:14-26

1.  In what way(s) is faith without action "dead" faith?

2.  Why are Abraham and Rahab good examples of what could be called "living" faith, or "perfected" 
faith.  (Accounts of Abraham and Rahab in Gen 22 & Josh 2)

3.  How does Rom 3:28 - 4:8 fit with this passage?  (Also read the conclusion to this passage in 
Rom 4:19-22)  How are the works in Romans different than the works in James?  

4.  What is the relationship between faith, deeds, grace, and justification?  How would you define 
and describe biblical faith?


5.  Do you relate more to Rahab's or Abraham's demonstration of faith?  Why?

6.  If you were arrested for being a Christian, discuss and describe the case the prosecutor might 
build against you.

7.  If you were arrested for being a Christian, discuss and describe the possible case your defense 
might use to defend you.