Martin Luther called James “an epistle of straw” because of this passage. James 2:24 seems to contradict other passages in Scripture like Galatians 2:16 that teach we are justified by faith alone. But where Paul was writing about how to become a Christian, James is describing how Christians should exercise their faith in Christ and what it should produce.
1. We Want Easy Faith
James 2:14-17 describes easy faith, a faith that produces only words not obedience. Easy faith is easy, not demanding. There are several reasons to want easy faith: 1) because we are busy, 2) because we want control; 3) because we are afraid; and 4) because we don’t have faith.
2. Faith That Gives Life Is Faith That Gives All
Easy faith is demon faith (James 2:19). But true faith gives all because, 1) faith unites us to Christ, connecting us to the Vine who makes us bear the fruit of obedience (John 15:5). Specifically, faith produces the fruit of 2) costly worship (like Abraham, James 2:21-23), and 3) risky love (like Rahab, James 2:25).
Reflection and Discussion Questions
Read Galatians 2:16 and 3:7-14. Paul says justification is by faith alone. How should we understand this in light of what James writes in this passage?
Read John 15:4-11. What parallels do you see between Jesus’s call to “abide” in him and “bear fruit,” and what James teaches in this passage?
The sermon listed four reasons we may want “easy faith.” Which of them resonated with you? Are there other reasons you are tempted by “easy faith?”
James teaches that faith that gives life is faith that gives all. What keeps you from giving all for the sake of Christ who gave all for you? What in your life are you tempted to love more than him? Confess this and ask for his forgiveness!
Abraham’s faith led him to costly worship, Where in your life is there costly worship, worship to God that hurts you to give? Where are there opportunities to give God this kind of costly worship? Identify one specific opportunity and do it this week.
Rahab’s faith led her to risky love for others. Where in your life does your faith in Christ produce risky love for others? What opportunities do you have to love others in a risky way? Identify one specific opportunity and do it this week.