James: Faith and Works Part Two
James 2:20-26
James shows us that real and living faith empowers us to do things that seem a bit crazy
Published January 11th, 2023
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Main point summary
Background: This will be for the Anchor Church youth group 1/18 with a youth retreat on 1/20-22 This is preparing for the retreat but could be during the retreat with a slight change of wording. Teaching here: This section, the part that Chris did last week and the part I'm doing this week are a bit tricky. If you read it superficially you would think that you need to do something, some kind of good deed or something that God would respect, to get saved. I am here to tell you that all you need for salvation is faith in Christ as the one who has taken the punishment for our sins and made a way for us to get to heaven. That's it, only that. (read James 2:20-26 here) What James is really saying here is that when we have a real faith in God we will do different things than we would otherwise do. In fact when we have faith we do things that look crazy to people without faith. The Big Idea here is: Faith will enable you to do things that seem crazy but arn't Last week Chris told the story that he as the oldest kid in the family ran his brothers and sisters with an iron hand, a family despot, until he became a Christian and then they all wondered what had happened and who was this guy? Because of his living and real faith he started to treat his family in a different way and gave up a lot of the power and control he had to be a more loving brother. Why would he do that other than he had faith that God had something better for him that simply power in his family? Why would Tyler and Lindsay sell their house in comfy Gilbert and move to a much less comfy part of Chandler? That's crazy unless they believe that God will do something there that they don't even know about yet but believe God has coming. Our trip last fall to Africa, we did a mission to a poor mostly Muslim community that had violently opposed the church that was putting on the clinic. Why would we fly to the other side of the world to serve people of another religion and why would that church sponsor a clinic for the very people who had burned down the church just a few years ago? Thats crazy, but we and they believe that we are called to help the poor and bless those who persecute us. We don't know really what God has planned there but we believe he is doing something and we don't need to know the details. In this section James gives us two examples of people doing things that make no sense outside of a faith that God has something better planned and has the details covered as evidence that a living faith changes how we act and look at life. You all have probably heard the story of Abraham and Issac on the mountain. God tells him to go and use his son, this one who God said he was going to build a huge family, as a sacrifice. This makes no sense on many levels, but Abraham takes his son and prepares to do as God said. We don't get a lot of insight into their thoughts but at some point Isaac asks where the animal for the sacrifice is and Abraham replied simply "God will provide" This is crazy unless Abraham has a faith that God is doing something and will make it all work out in a way he doesn't understand. The other example is Rahab. Rahab lived in a very secure city that was about to have a battle with Israel, a bunch of wanderers who didn't amount to much. She helped spies get safely out of the city. Now why would she set herself up to be killed as a traiter after her city won the battle? This is makes no sense unless she believed that God was doing something with MEH Israel against her fortress city even if she didn't know how. What James is saying here is that all that stuff is evidence of a real and healthy faith in God. The things they have done didn't save them, they already had faith. Two things were accomplished. 1. Those things they did do are evidence that they have a real faith in God. None of the things I've talked about make any sense unless you can see a FAITH that God is doing things yet undefined and unseen. 2. Those things that they did "perfected" their faith or made it more mature and stronger. When Laura and I went to Africa we learned a lot about trusting God in situations that we were not used to dealing with. Through that trip we have a strengthened faith in God working both in the world and in our lives. The same is true for everyone, exercising faith like exercising muscles, using it makes it stronger. Most of us are headed to camp this weekend and it will be an amazing experience, particularly if we believe God is going to do something great that we don't know about yet. They will be teaching on Psalm 23 and there will be a lot of amazing teaching, games, meals and group times. Chris and all of the leaders really want you to get as much as you can out of this retreat. So here are some thoughts for us as we get ready to go. Do you kinda believe that God exists but it doesn't seem quite as important as a lot of other things? This isn't uncommon and its a hard thing to get past. Are you willing to be crazy enough to hear to what God is saying to you this weekend? Crazy enough to open your mind and heart to what he has to say to you. Are you ready for Jesus to speak directly to you and be willing to listen? This may make no sense to you now but he can do things in you that you can't predict Do you believe you are a Christian but still wonder what its all about? Are you crazy enough to listen and hear what Jesus will be telling you? Do you have faith to hear something new? Are you ready to use your faith for something? It may get stronger if you do. Will you all be crazy enough to let down your guard with each other and us and let God work in amazing ways? Will you be like Abraham and be willing to sacrifice something dear to you because you believe God has better things for you? You might get the chance to start that this weekend. Will you be like Rahab and look to God to provide for you rather than relying on the obvious strength of what's around you? We can all work on that. Jesus is here and he's working in you and in Anchor Church. We will have the chance to be a little crazy this weekend, crazy games, crazy meals, crazy people, crazy faith. Lets go!
Main point summary
Faith that enables you to do crazy things is a real and living faith
James 2:20-26
But would you like evidence, 33 you empty fellow, 34 that faith without works is useless? 35
Was not Abraham our father justified by works
when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
You see that his faith was working together with his works
and his faith was perfected by works.
And the scripture was fulfilled that says,
“ Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness ,” 36
and he was called God’s friend . 37
You see that a person is justified by works
and not by faith alone.
And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works
when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way?
For just as the body without the spirit is dead,
so also faith without works is dead.
Big Idea: Faith makes you do things that look crazy but arn’t
CSB says senseless person!
This is crazy, who would sacrifice his son who is the promise for the future family?? Only a person who believes God has something coming that he doesnt know about and FAITH that God will will work it out for his good.
This is crazy, who would betray the people in their secure city to spies from a bunch of nobodies who have been wandering in the desert for decades? Only a person who has a FAITH that God will overcome the strong with the weak and has a plan that is clearly unclear.
The faith he had enabled him to do things that seem crazy but after having done that his faith was strengthened or perfected.
Brent Karding
and not by faith alone.
Sit-R doesn't work here, since 24b isn't the result of 24a. (Sit-R and Ac-Res differ only in that the result is a surprising one in Sit-R.)

Instead, notice that 24a is asserted, while 24b is denied. So this is a Positive-Negative relationship.
Dennis Christensen
Brent Karding
and he was called God’s friend.
Since 23b and c are both Scripture quotations, they should be bracketed together first, and then connected with 23a. So 23a is the Idea, and both 23b and c are the Explanation.
Dennis Christensen
Brent Karding
when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
I like your reversed Ac-Res relationships in 21 and 25.
Brent Karding
I like your Q-A and your Series for the big picture. And I like making 20-25 and 26 the largest bracket.

But I wouldn't say it is Ground, because 20-25 is saying, "Faith without works is useless," and 26 is saying, "Faith without works is dead"—which is the same thing. So it couldn't be a relationship of distinct statement like Ground, but rather it is a restatement. And since 26 begins with "for," that would be Id-Exp. ("For" is nearly always either Ground or Id-Exp.)
Dennis Christensen
Ok, I took “for” ie therefore to be a ground dog whistle.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.