Friday, February 14, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 16, 2014

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SHOW YOUR FAITH BY YOUR WORKS
(GOD leads us to act on faith)
(James 2:14-26)

Faith that doesn’t manifest itself through good deeds is equivalent to “no faith at all”, and indeed, is dead and worthless in the eyes of GOD (James 2:17). GOD gauges our faith directly by our actions, and what we say means very little to GOD. Man continues to prove, over time, that he seldom does what he says he will do. On the contrary, man always, 100% of the time, does that which is in his heart. And so “man’s heart” remains the barometer by which GOD gauges the faith of HIS greatest creation, for HE seldom takes into account what a man might say.
It is the duty of the Christian to build his or her foundation on the Most High Faith. We have the charge from CHRIST to demonstrate our love by readily and willingly accepting others, and, by our volition to serve and aid our fellowman whenever, and wherever, the need exists. True faith always manifests itself through good deeds, and serves as evidence of who we really are on the inside.
This section of James’ letter to the Jewish Christians begins with two probing questions;

·         What’s the use of saying you have faith, if you don’t prove it by your actions? (v.14)
·         What good does it do to believe that there is only one GOD, if you don’t act accordingly, by obeying only HIS commandment to show love to one another, through our acts of good deeds towards one another? (Vs.19-20)

Both of these questions help us to focus squarely on the relationship between “Faith and Works”. In his first question James asks, “What good is it?”, or “Of what advantage can it be if our faith in GOD doesn’t manifest itself in our good deeds? Here James wants us to envision a man who says he is a Christian simply because he thinks he has faith. However, this same man hasn’t exhibited any good, or GODly works as a result of that said faith. The man, for instance, hasn’t endured any trials or temptations, doesn’t have the right attitude towards wealth, doesn’t eagerly receive GOD’s Word into his heart, and doesn’t care for orphans or widows. He often shows favoritism toward certain people, and exhibits all of the “bad fruit” that James had previously mentioned in this letter.
Intellectual acceptance of GOD is not, in itself, a “Saving Faith”, because, even demons know that GOD exists (v.19). A “Saving Faith” will always have a discernible positive impact on a person’s attitude and behavior. Faith that does not produce “good fruit” in our life, and, in the lives of others, is NOT a Saving Faith, and cannot save anyone from the penalty that GOD imposes on our sin.
In verses 20-26, James uses the examples of Abraham (Genesis 22:16-18) and Rahab (Joshua 2:1-7) to help us distinguish between “Professed Faith” and “Saving Faith”. In Genesis 22, Abraham, who was declared “righteous” by GOD, had to show his faith through his actions by offering up his own son as a living sacrifice to GOD, simply because GOD asked him too, and without understanding why.
In Joshua 2, Rahab, a Gentile woman, acted on her faith in GOD by risking her life, and the lives of her family to protect the men of GOD who had come to spy out her homeland. And so here, it becomes increasingly clear that, we are made right with GOD by our righteous deeds, and not just, by faith alone (James 2:21-25). And just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also, faith is dead without good deeds (v.26).
“Saving Faith” is a faith that is manifested through good works before and under GOD, even while under pressure and duress from our emotions. Any so-called faith that is not accompanied by good works is not a faith that can save a person from eternal damnation. People like Abraham and Rahab show a dynamic obedience to GOD under pressure and duress that can only be considered as “Saving Faith”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander    





                                 
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