"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES"
Three Kinds Of Faith (James 2:14-26)
1. Faith is certainly an essential element in the Christian life:
a. Without faith, it is impossible to please God - He 11:6
b. The Christian is saved by faith - Ep 2:8
c. The Christian is to walk (live) by faith - 2 Co 5:7
d. Whatever we do apart from faith is described as sin - Ro 14:23
2. It is important to realize, however, that there are different kinds
of faith, but only one that is truly "saving faith"
3. In James 2:14-26, we find James discussing the different kinds of
faith, with an emphasis upon that faith which works to the saving of
[Beginning with verses 14-17, we notice the first kind of faith.
We might call this kind of faith...]
I. DEAD FAITH (Vs 14-17)
A. THIS KIND OF FAITH...
1. Substitutes words for deeds (consider James' example)
a. People with this kind of faith:
1) Know the correct vocabulary for prayer and sound doctrine
2) Can even quote the right verses from the Bible
b. But their "walk" does not measure up to their "talk"!
2. Is only an INTELLECTUAL faith
a. In one's mind, he or she knows the doctrine of salvation
b. But they have never really submitted themselves to God and
trusted in Jesus for salvation
c. They know the right "words", but they do not back up their
words with their "works"!
B. CAN THIS KIND OF FAITH SAVE?
1. NO! Three times in this passage, James emphasizes that "faith
without works is dead" - Ja 2:17; v 20; v 26
2. Any declaration of faith that does not result in a changed life
and good works is a false declaration: A DEAD FAITH!
3. Dead faith is counterfeit faith and lulls the person into a
false confidence of eternal life
C. DO WE HAVE THIS KIND OF FAITH?
1. We do, if our WALK does not measure up to our TALK!
2. We do, if our WORKS do not measure up to our WORDS!
[We need to beware of mere intellectual faith. As Warren Wiersbe said,
"No man can come to Christ by faith and remain the same, anymore than
he came into contact with a 220-volt wire and remain the same."
(compare this to 1 Jn 5:12)
The next kind of faith is found discussed in verses 18-19...]
II. DEMONIC FAITH (v18,19)
A. PERHAPS TO SHOCK ANY COMPLACENT READERS, JAMES REMINDS US THAT
EVEN "DEMONS" HAVE A KIND OF FAITH!
1. They believe in God (no atheists or agnostics here!)
2. They even believe in the deity of Christ - cf. Mk 3:11-12
3. They also believe in the existence of a place of condemnation
- cf. Lk 8:31
4. And they believe Jesus will be the Judge! - Mt 8:28-29
B. WHAT KIND OF FAITH DO "DEMONS" HAVE?
1. We saw that the man with "dead faith" was "touched only in his
2. The demons are "touched also in their emotions" (note that they
"believe and tremble")
3. This is one step above a "dead faith" - it involves both
INTELLECT and EMOTIONS
C. CAN THIS KIND OF FAITH SAVE?
1. NO! A person can be enlightened in his mind and even stirred
in his heart and still be lost forever!
2. True saving faith involves something more, something that can
be seen and recognized: a changed life! (cf. Ja 2:18)
3. Being a Christian involves trusting Christ and living for
a. You first RECEIVE the life...
b. Then you REVEAL the life!
D. DO WE HAVE THIS KIND OF FAITH?
1. We do, if we just BELIEVE the right things and FEEL the right
2. We do, if our service to God does not go beyond...
a. Intellectually adhering to the right doctrines
b. Emotional experiences while attending services
[Thus, James has introduced us to two kinds of faith that can NEVER
save: DEAD faith (involving the intellect alone), and DEMONIC faith
(involving the intellect and the emotions, but stopping there).
He closes this section by describing in verses 20-26 the only kind of
faith that can save...]
III. DYNAMIC FAITH (Vs 20-26)
A. WHAT KIND OF FAITH IS THIS?
1. We know from other passages that such faith is based upon the
Word of God - cf. Ro 10:17
2. Dynamic faith involves the WHOLE MAN
a. DEAD faith touches only the intellect
b. DEMONIC faith involves both the mind and the emotions
c. DYNAMIC faith involves the intellect, the emotions, AND the
1) The MIND understands the truth
2) The HEART desires and rejoices in the truth
3) The WILL acts upon the truth
3. True, saving faith, then, LEADS TO ACTION
a. It is not intellectual contemplation
b. It is not emotionalism
c. It is that which leads to obedience in doing good works
B. TO ILLUSTRATE, JAMES REFERS TO TWO WELL-KNOW PERSONS IN THE
BIBLE: ABRAHAM & RAHAB
1. You could not find two more different persons!
a. Abraham was the father of the Jews; Rahab was a Gentile!
b. Abraham was a godly man; Rahab had been a sinful woman, a
c. Abraham was the friend of God; Rahab had belonged to the
enemies of God!
2. What did they have in common? Both exercised saving faith in
a. Abraham demonstrated his saving faith by his works - Vs 20-24
b. Rahab demonstrated her saving faith by her works - Vs 25-26
3. We learn from this passage that:
a. Faith without works is a DEAD faith - v 20; v 26
b. That "faith only" (the only time this phrase is found in the
Scriptures) cannot justify one - v 24
c. That PERFECT faith necessitates works - v 22
1. It is important that each professing Christian examine his or her own
heart and life, and make sure that they possess true saving faith,
which is a dynamic faith
2. Satan is the great deceiver; one of his devices is imitation
a. If he can convince a person that counterfeit faith is true
b. ...then he has that person in his power!
3. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves as we examine our faith:
Was there a time when I honestly realized I was a sinner and admitted
this to myself and to God?
Was there a time when my heart stirred me to flee from the wrath to
come? Have I ever been seriously worked up over my sins?
Do I truly understand the gospel, that Christ died for MY sins and
then rose again? Do I understand and confess that I cannot save
Did I sincerely repent of my sins, making the decision to turn from
them? Do I now hate sin and fear God? Or do I secretly love sin
and want to enjoy it?
Have I trusted Christ and Him alone for my salvation by responding
to the commands He has given? Have I confessed my faith in Christ
and then been baptized for the remission of my sins as He and His
Has there been a change in my life? Do I maintain good works, or
are my good works occasional and weak? Do I seek to grow in the
things of the Lord? Can others tell that I have been with Jesus?
Do I have a desire to share Christ with others? Or am I ashamed
Do I enjoy the fellowship of God's people? Is worship a delight to
Am I ready for the Lord's return? Or will I be ashamed when He
comes for me?
4. To be sure, not every Christian has the same degree of faith; those
who have had more time to grow should be stronger in faith
5. But for the most part, the spiritual inventory can assist a person
in determining his or her true standing before God
May our prayer be similar to that of the Psalmist's:
"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me and know my anxieties;
"And see if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."
-- Psalms 139:23-24
Note: Much of the material for this outline was adapted heavily
from The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 2, by Warren W. Wiersbe,
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