Expressing Christ through Service

Core Convictions  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:39
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This is the third in a series on our core convictions.


Scripture Reading

James 2:14–26 ESV
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 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? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
Thank you Justin.
Good morning everyone.


Midweek Gathering will not be meeting at the church this week but in our care groups. If you have questions about your care groups, please see me after the service.
Update on Growth Campaign
We’ve been making some improvements from the growth campaign
parking lot
We’re still in need of R-Kids volunteers. This isn’t just babysitting for an hour. This is a real area of service in helping disciple young children in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are interested or sense a desire to help, would you please fill out one of the connection cards in the back table and place it in the giving box, or fill out a connection card by scanning the code in your bulletin?
Finally, we are having a baptism service on November 12th. In the bulletin last week it said October 12th but that’s because I forgot what month it was that day. So yes, November 12th during the service. We would be honored to walk through baptism with you.


God loves his church. We’re at the end of a short series where we’ve been examining three of our core convictions. Last Sunday we reflected on John 15:1-17 which is a picture of what our relationship to God looks like and how we are supposed to view one another. In this passage we saw that God is the vinedresser, Christ is the true vine, and we are the branches who should bear fruit. Jesus is sharing this to show us how to glorify God.
John 15:8–9 ESV
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
We are also commanded to love one-another, as the church.
John 15:12–14 ESV
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
The works (prayer, service, worship, self-sacrifice) in a believer’s life glorify God and proves that they are attached to Christ just as branches are attached to the vine and bear fruit.
This morning I want to examine the nature of faith and fruit, or works in the life of the believer. How does a believer express Christ within them and that they are in Him?
Just as fruit on the branch proves that the branch is alive, deeds are a necessary evidence of true faith.
This morning, we’ll move through James 2:14-26, one of the most well-known passages in James and we’ll draw our attention to three aspects of faith and work and how we should view them:

Propositional Outline

A profession of Faith vs. An engaged faith
Faith and Works cannot be separated
3. The Faith of those before us.
Let’s Pray.
Father, we come to you humbly this morning. It is not of any work of ours that we are saved, but by your grace alone. You call us to faith and repentance because of the work you began in us. You are mighty to save us from the wrath that we rightly deserve. Thank you that Jesus laid down his life for us.
Forgive us Father when we don’t know what to do with our faith. We are often complacent people. We buy into the notion that we should all have a passive income, a generosity that requires paid interest, and a convenient faith. Remind us that our faith was purchased with the greatest price ever paid, the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
We thank you for a faith that we cannot lose, purchased at a price that we cannot repay. Thank you for our fellowship as brothers and sisters in Christ. May we serve one another well.
I ask that you would let me preach words that honor you. May your Word shine before us this morning. Let our hearts desire to respond to Your Word by faith.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.

James 2:14-17

Have you ever had to work with a business or construction professional, only to find out that they really didn’t know what they were doing?
I’ve been that professional.
In my early days as an HVAC installer, I was installing a new furnace and air conditioner. I was almost done with the project, but the AC condenser outside wouldn’t turn on. I did some “thorough investigating” to find a loose wire, put it in its proper place, and turned the system on to test it.
The next thing I knew, the fire alarms were going off because the thermostat was smoking, as was the furnace and the control board outside.
I had mistakenly assumed that the wire I hooked up was 24v when it was a 220v wire. I blew up all of the control wiring components.
The customer and my boss were very gracious to me. I replaced the components I broke, and the system was fine after that. My employer and I learned a lot together when the company was younger.
Even though I was a “professional”, I was still new at the trade. I really wasn’t a “professional.” My skills, in that one unexamined moment, exposed the limits of my professionalism.
James 2:14 ESV
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
If my previous professional career were summed up in that one moment, I’d be done for. I grew in my skills, acquired multiple certifications, and eventually became the service manager of our company. My skills and care for people proved my professionalism. Whereas before, I was a contractor in name only. I was a nominal professional. I professional in name only.
When we profess to be Christians, our deeds and care for people prove our faith in Jesus. When we are young believers, or stuck in a rut believers, we can become Christians in name only. Nominal Christians.
When we profess our faith in Christ, we are professing something of inestimable value. It’s not something we earn since we are saved by grace through faith just as the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10.
Ephesians 2:8–10 ESV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

A Minor Controversy

A quick aside: there have been some people who will pit the Apostle Paul and James against each other regarding this idea of justification. That Paul says that works aren’t required for salvation while James does see them as necessary for salvation.
Is Paul saying something different than what James is saying about faith and works? Not at all. Let me explain.
Rather than seeing the Apostle Paul and James, the half brother of Jesus as opposing one another theologically, it is best to see each of them as approaching two separate issues about faith and works in their writings while being cohesive in doctrine. They are approaching the same belief about faith and works from different angles:

Paul’s Angle

Romans 3:28 ESV
28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
The Apostle Paul is responding to a belief that one can earn God’s favor by their works to receive salvation. Human effort is ruled out when it comes to our salvation. Since salvation is the unmerited favor of God, boasting in our works is out of place. He is talking about being “justified before God.” This is where we get our doctrine of justification. Not that faith shouldn’t be seen.

James’s Angle

James 2:24 ESV
24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
In our passage this morning, James is not arguing that works must be added to faith or that works achieve salvation. He is arguing that genuine, biblical, Christian faith will inevitably be characterized by works. That is how he is using the word “justified.” Trying to add works to a bogus faith is an exercise in futility. Earlier he writes,
James 1:21 ESV
21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
James knows that we receive the implanted Word, which is able to save our souls. It is something that is given to someone. We do not implant it ourselves. This is not a work that we perform. This is a work of God.
God does not contradict Himself. Looking at creation itself we can see that God is a God of order. We should assume no less when we approach His Word.

James Continues

James continues:
James 2:15–16 ESV
15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
This is intimate language. It’s not “if your enemy is poorly clothed,” it’s a deep relationship. Just as James is appealing to the brothers in v. 14, he is illustrating with a relationship between brothers and sisters here.
If someone we dearly loved came to us needing shelter on a freezing night and our response was, “well, hope everything is ok, stay warm out there!” we would make a mockery of our relationship. When James asks, “what good is that?” the only answer should be it’s not just not good, it’s dead.
James 2:17 ESV
17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.


We need to hear this “Go in peace, be warm and filled” sounds a lot like “I’ll be praying for you” doesn’t it? Ugh. The rebuke hurts so much. We should just pray for one another right then and there.
In his letter, James isn’t condemning the brothers and sisters in Christ. He isn’t saying “you guys aren’t saved because you’re not bearing enough fruit. You guys have a dead faith.” He is trying to spur them on. James focuses on how Christians speak and how Christians behave so that they would repent where they need to and that their works would show where their allegiances lie.
Humans have bodily needs and a fundamental test of love for Christians is to share our resources with those in need. Especially a “brother or sister.”
I’ve also received the care of others. One of the reasons we even moved here wasn’t because of our relationship with Adam and Kim, but with Kim’s parents in Eaton, CO.
Catie and I were one of those blessed by the church when we were in need. When Catie was pregnant with our firstborn, we learned that he had a liver that was 4 times bigger than it should be. Catie underwent amnioreductions, minor experimental treatment, and a very scary pregnancy.
We were 23 years old and didn’t know what to do. Our church came alongside of us though and cared for us. Instead of telling us, “whelp, you’re on your own” they proved their faith.
It was Kim Bonus’s parents who put an auction together. People were auctioning pies for $400.00, babysitting for the same, an installed furnace was auctioned off. It was one of the most humbling experiences we’ve ever had. Altogether, the church raised $25,000 dollars for us.
But the church proved to us that they loved us. And, they fulfilled Christ’s command to love one another. I know we’re not the only one’s who experienced a church’s faith expressed like this, but it was a tangible experience of faith in Christ expressed through the works of His people.
We can follow that pattern. God specifically put people in your lives that he wants you to minister to. Christian. we prove our faith when we love those that we are around.
I have lived under the conviction that every Christian is in ministry. While pastors are shepherds, it’s important to remember that they are here to shepherd people with a specific purpose: to fulfill Christ’s commands. That means caring for people in the background while you are serving on the front lines.
The real ministry occurs in the places God has put you. I mean real, physical places. One of my favorite things I got to do when I worked in HVAC was when the service calls turned into counseling sessions or evangelistic opportunities. I’ve shared about God’s love and prayed for people I’ve served when they’ve lost a loved one. Or expressed how God is present in suffering when another customer was watching the fallout from the sniper shooting in Las Vegas. I’ve been able to care for a friend when his wife was caught in adultery.
God didn’t place other people, brothers and sisters in Christ, neighbors, friends, enemies, so we can turn them over to someone we believe is more spiritual to help. Sometimes that may be true. But God is using those opportunities to grow you too. Discipleship doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens when we give and receive care. It happens when we lovingly, painfully rebuke someone. Or, when we need to repent.
It’s not the circumstances, or trials we’re in that prove our faith. God may or may not pull you out of the trial that you are facing. It may last hours, days, or years. But, God calls his people to respond faithfully to what is placed before them. It is the response of the heart, exposed through works that proves his faithfulness.

James 2:18-20

James gets passionate here. He begins an imaginary, hypothetical conversation.
I always replay arguments I’ve had in the past or make up new ones and how I would walk through them. I don’t think I’m the only person to do this, but I’ve found that when I treat an interaction with a different belief or point of view as an interaction with a person in my mind, it makes it the reality of the conversation more helpful when it actually arises.
James 2:18 ESV
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
James appears to do the same thing here. He’s trying to drive his point home.
How can a dead faith, with no works, be demonstrated? It can’t! Genuine saving faith is demonstrated through our behavior, or our works. Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, demonstrates how fruit helps one identify genuine faith:
Matthew 7:15–20 ESV
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
The fruit, the works, of a person are an indicator of their faith. To recognize that fruit is a grace of God. It helps one recognize a genuine faith from a false faith.
James 2:19 ESV
19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
A core Jewish belief comes from Deuteronomy 6:4.
Deuteronomy 6:4 ESV
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
James believes that it is good to believe that God is one. But, to not respond to that belief, to have no fruit is not good. If demons believe that God is one, their works, at the very least are to shudder in the fear of judgment. To not even do that and claim the faith can’t be a saving faith.
James 2:20 ESV
20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
Remember, James is speaking this hypothetical imaginary conversation. He loves the church, and throughout his whole letter he identifies them as “brothers,” even when he is being strong towards them.
I know a story of a young boy who, when his parents announced their divorce to him and his sibling, sought help from his youth pastor. Late, after a game night he fearfully went to this pastor for counsel. His emotions were angry, and sad and fearful. He felt trapped in his circumstance and wanted to know how to respond to it..
After pouring his circumstances out to this man who was charged to care for him, the pastor responded by saying, “There’s nothing I can do for you, but it’ll be ok.” That was it. The young man went home that night discouraged and even less confident than when he arrived.
The truth was, there was nothing that man could do. It came out years later that he left his wife and, knowing what eternal security is, admitted that he never really was a Christian.
The point isn’t that the pastor should’ve done better. The point is that he wasn’t able to prove his faith in the first place. Just as a healthy seed is planted into the ground, and grows into a healthy plant, faith is proved by good deeds. Just as a dead seed is planted into the ground, faithlessness is proved by a lack of works.


Hebrews 4:12 ESV
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
As Christians, the works that we see in our lives and the lives of other believers should reconcile with Scripture. We are blessed to have the Word of God which reveals the intention of our hearts.
In so many ways, God’s Word is our protection from leading us astray. When we see works in someone who claims Christ that don’t line up with the truth, intentions, and implications of God’s Word, we should confront or flee from that person.
But faith, shown through God’s people, solidifies the belief in the power of God’s Word. When we see faith in action, God’s Word is alive in their lives.

James 2:21-25

“Ok, Gregg that’s great and all. Can you give me an example from the bible of what faith and works looks like?”
Yes! But, I don’t even have to do that. James has already done that for us. He turns to two examples that would be very clear to his readers, and to us since we went through Genesis as a church not so long ago. The examples of Abraham and Rahab.


James 2:21–24 ESV
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Genesis 22 has a lot of significance to me. Abraham is commanded by God to strike his son Isaac and he was obedient up until the point God told him to stop.
Genesis 22:7–8 ESV
7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
Genesis 22:11–14 ESV
11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
The writer of Hebrews affirms his faith.
Hebrews 11:17–19 ESV
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
Can I share a quick aside? When Isaac was born, Catie and I didn’t know how long he would live. Maybe we would get to be with him for a long time, or we would see him in the resurrection. That’s why we named him Isaac. The writer of Hebrews reveals Abraham’s intentions too.
Catie and I weren’t promised Isaac, but we submitted to God during our circumstances. That doesn’t mean we’ve done that every time, or even that we’ve done it perfectly when we hopefully got it right. We’re glad he’s here, thriving, healthy. We’re thankful that God revealed Himself to us through that time. It was an incredibly difficult and beautiful season in our lives.
But! Back to James.
Remember, James isn’t using “justified” in the same way that we think of the doctrine of “justification.” The doctrine of “justification” is how one is declared righteous before God because of the work of Christ on the cross. When Christ performed that work, all of those who believe in him are no longer under God’s wrath, but are adopted sons and daughters of the living God.
James is using the word “justified” to mean “proved.” His faith was shown, demonstrated, and proved, through his obedience to God.
Abraham’s visible obedience emerged from his invisible saving faith. The faith that no one can see, is shown through tangible action.


James 2:25 ESV
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?
In Joshua 2, we read the story of Rahab the prostitute. In this story, Rahab houses the two Israelite spies from the authorities in Jericho while Israel was scouting out the land to take it over. Even when her own life and safety are at risk, Rahab acts and hides them when the two spies are in danger.
Here’s the story:
Joshua 2:8–11 ESV
8 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
For James to use Rahab means that he doesn’t view her faith as nominal. She heard, believed, and acted in her belief that God is the true, righteous, and all powerful judge of the nations.
Hebrews 11:31 ESV
31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
Rahab’s faith was proved in that moment. Had she not acted, it would have shown just the opposite.
James 2:26 ESV
26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.


Faith isn’t merely something that we profess. It is something that is expressed. While our works don’t save us, they prove the quality of our faith. When we seek to love God, and love one another, we can expect our faith to result in good deeds.
Every example of righteous faith we have in the Scriptures has some action attached to it. We can see the faith of Abraham, Rahab, Moses, the apostles, and Jesus Himself.
There are righteous believers today where you can see their faith at work. It’s not always extravagant looking! Sometimes it’s the intentional manner they listen. Sometimes it’s their service in things unseen like cleaning the toys in the nursery, caring for a relative struggling with dementia, or bringing a poor young family a supply of groceries for no other reason than to bless them. Our faith should demonstrate works.
The greatest example of faith expressed in works is Jesus’ obedience to His father all the way to the point of death on the cross.
John 6:37–39 ESV
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.


As the ushers come forward, let’s turn to the table before us.
If you have received Christ as your Lord and Savior from sin and expressed that faith in Him through baptism, then this is for you. This is an opportunity to fellowship with one another as sons and daughters of God to remember Christ’s sacrifice. His body broken for us. His blood shed for us. That our sin would be covered by the mercy and grace of God.
If you have not received Christ as your Lord and savior and expressed that through baptism I would ask you to refrain from communion. Instead, pray that God would make known the truth of His Son known to you and to teach you true obedience.


Father thank you for the work of Christ, and the example he gave in laying down his life for us. Some of us are needing confidence in expressing our faith. Let our confidence not be in our works, but in Christ. Some of us are young believers who are unsure of what good works looks like. Provide us mentors to, through the power of your Word, can help teach us to live our faith boldly. Where our faith is backslidden, and we feel unsure about our hearts response to Christ, help our unbelief. Turn our eyes to the work of Christ so that we may find our satisfaction in Him.
Be sure to give elements to the ushers and music team.
1 Corinthians 11:23–24 ESV
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Eat the bread.
1 Corinthians 11:25–26 ESV
25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Drink the cup
Would you pray with me.
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