Own the vision

As believers, we are to demonstrate how faith works (2:20-26) Are you ready to do this? To be, perhaps the only true believer in Jesus that some will ever see? We often forget that most who claim to be Christian are not practicing the faith. Only about 52% of Americans have a church membership, with about 12% attending on any given Sunday. That is down from 17% in 2005. Moreover, only about 3% of professing Christians have a Biblical world view. With numbers like these, the world hardly even recognizes a true believer, because they are so elusive or rare. Thus, James makes an appeal saying doing live and claim a vain faith. James 2:20~Do you want to be shown, you foolish (κενός kenos) person, that faith apart from works is useless? (ESV) 

(κενός kenos) means empty, vain, foolish. It’s the idea of being empty of intellect or common sense. If we say we believe, and yet have no fruit, works, or deeds, then we are simply foolish. To help us grasp this point James uses two very different people as illustrations of how faith reveals itself. The first is a man, Father Abe, while the second is a woman, Rahab. Understand how James is illustrating the spectrum of faith for us. A Jewish patriarch of the faith, and a female prostitute. 

James 2:21~Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? (ESV) Faith is demonstrated by how Abe responds to the situation his life presents. For him, he left Ur of the Chaldeans, went to a country he did not know, waited on God for decades, to fulfill His promise, then had to trust God as He refocused Abe’s affections for Isaac. Parents, it is not easy to trust God with our children. When they are wayward, or when we have no way of fixing or helping what is wrong. Yet, faith demands that we walk with God and allow Him to work on, in, and through our lives. Abe proves that his faith is in God.

James 2:23~…Abraham believed God, and it was counted (λογίζομαι logizomai) to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. (ESV) (λογίζομαι logizomai) is an accounting term, it means to credit or put on a person’s account. For 30 years Abe has been trusting God, and it is finally born fruit in Isaac and is later verified on the altar as Isaac is offered up in Genesis 22. For his trust and continued belief, Abe is called God’s friend. That is amazing. Friends with God! How is this possible? It is possible because Abe’s actions verified his faith. 

James 2:24~You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (ESV) From patriarch to prostitute, we see how God is not a respecter of persons. What He desires is that we live and walk out our faith in Jesus Christ by doing the work of the ministry, no matter how difficult it may seem. James 2:25~And, in the same way, was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (ESV) Here is the setup for Rahab. Before Joshua leads the Israelites to attack Jericho, he sends 2 spies into the city. They find refuge in the home of Rahab the harlot, whose house is on the city wall. She hides the spies at risk of her own life and then helps them escape by lowering them from her window. Because she works her faith, she is in the genealogy of Jesus Christ and gets included in the Faith Hall of Fame. (Matthew 1:5 & Hebrews 11:31) 

Rahab is not saved by good deeds, but her good works revealed her saving faith, by trusting in God. James 2:26~ For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (ESV)So, own a faith that works! Being a believer in Jesus requires that we practice our faith by sowing seed and growing spiritual fruit. What does your fruit stand look like?

Today, as you head out into the wide world about you, examine yourself and your faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5~Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? (NIV) Ask yourself is my fruit stand ready and available for those you meet? Answer the Lord’s call today, by ministering in the moment. Own a faith that works!

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