Faith in Action
An old blacksmith realized he was going to have to
retire soon, so he picked out a strong young man to
become his apprentice.
The old fellow was crabby and exacting. “Don’t ask
me a lot of questions” he told the boy,
“Just do whatever I tell you to do.”
One day the old blacksmith took an iron out of the
forge and laid it on the anvil. “Get the hammer over
there. When I nod my head, hit it real good and
The town is currently looking for a new blacksmith.
Today we are going to look at a passage from James
regarding faith. Turn with me to the first chapter of
Faith and Testing
James says we should be joyful when we are tested
because testing makes us more complete believers.
Testing or trials can come from the outside world or they
can come from God Himself.
When they come from the world, the reason for them is
the fact that we live in a fallen world and these tests are
a result of the sin of mankind. Our response to them
should be to draw closer to God and trust Him to stay
near us through the trial.
When they come from God they are for our benefit and to
encourage our growth. Paul had to endure a thorn in his
side and after he prayed about it three times, God told
him His grace was sufficient for him. God didn’t remove
the trial, He gave Paul grace to endure it.
Faith and Prayer
There are a lot of people that will tell you that you can
get whatever you ask for from God if you have enough
faith. This is not what James is talking about here.
James states specifically that if there is anyone who
doesn’t have wisdom, they should ask God through
prayer and because of His generosity will give it to him.
There are two key points here.
1.The prayer is for wisdom
2.The person praying must have faith.
a. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the
conviction of things unseen.
Faith and Temptation
Let’s make something abundantly clear.
God does not tempt anyone!
Satan is the temper and deceiver.
James says that temptation comes from our own evil
desires that exist inside of us.
When we get carried away and enticed with the lust that
exists deep down inside of us.
John described this in I John 2:16 “For all that is in
the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the
eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the
Father, but is from the world.”
When we think like the world, we begin to live like the
world. We put things like sexual gratification, fornication,
lust, greed, power, possessions, influence and pride
above our relationship with the Father.
Notice the progression that James describes
Lust after it is conceived gives birth to sin
Then sin when it is accomplished brings death.
The problem with giving in to temptation is that it shows
a lack of faith.
Jesus was tempted in the desert but never succumbed to
the temptation. He resisted.
Notice the parallel between testing and tempting
Testing is for our good,
Often comes from God
Helps us mature into who God wants us to be
Tempting is to bring us down,
It never comes from God, always from the devil
It draws us farther from God and leads to death.
Faith and Action
This concept we are going to cover very quickly because
James develops it in greater detail in chapter 2.
Basically, the idea is that faith requires action. If we
come to church and hear the message but never put it
into practice, what good is that? It’s like looking at
yourself in the mirror and forgetting what kind of person
The point is when we know what God wants us to do we
need to do it!
James closes out the chapter with two final points.
Those who don’t control their tongue deceive themselves
and their religion is worthless.
True religion is to do the ministry and help the widows
and orphans and to keep unstained from the world.
Turn to James 2:14-26
James starts off with a question.
What use is it, my brothers if someone has faith but no
works? Can that faith save him?
Then he gives a real world example.
You see a brother or sister naked and hungry and tell
them. Go in peace, be warm and filled!
The phrase go in peace was a typical Hebrew farewell.
But is that really what God would have us do?
The point being, if we see another believer in need, we
should help them.
But the greater point of this section of Scripture is that
faith requires action
Faith and Works
Some people like to argue that James and Paul disagree
on the issue of faith and works.
For one, Martin Luther called James the epistle of straw.
He thought that James misunderstood the concept of
justification by faith. I’m here to tell you that James fully
understands faith and knows that the works come as a
result of his faith, not that works earn him faith.
What we have to understand is the differing points of
view of James and Paul.
James had a pastoral view
Paul had a missional view
James was ministering to existing believers
Paul often ministered to new believers
James dealt with people living the Christian life
Paul dealt with people starting the Christian life
James defended against those who thought moral
conduct was irrelevant and faith was the only thing that
He also defended against people with superficial faith
Paul defended against legalists who thought their moral
conduct could gain them entrance into heaven.
Lest we think that Paul only preached that salvation was
by faith alone, let’s recall his words to the church at
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand so that we would walk in
To be sure, faith requires action.
Jesus was our perfect example of how we should act.
He loved on the least of these
He served His disciples.
He washed their feet and taught them how to serve and
As I was praying this week for the message God put the
story of Elijah on my heart.
It’s found in I Kings 19.
The word of the Lord came to Elijah and told him to go
stand on the mountain.
Then a strong wind came breaking the mountain to
pieces but the Lord was not in the wind
Then an earthquake came but the Lord was not in the
Then a fire but the Lord was not in the fire,
Then there was a gentle blowing
And it was then that the Lord came and spoke to Elijah.
God speaks when we are still and focused on Him.
Psalm 46:10 says to cease striving and know that I am
Today, we have an awesome opportunity to help put a
dent in poverty and to show our faith by putting it into
action. I’m going to ask you to bow your head for a few
moments and listen for the gentle whisper of God.
Ask Him if He would have you get involved with the
ministry of Compassion International.