Weekly Devotional | Got Faith?
This devotional is based on C.J. Mahaney's sermon, Got Faith?, given on May 1, 2016.
Day 1: Dead Faith—James 2:14-17
- “James is not arguing that works must be added to faith. His point is that genuine biblical faith will inevitably be characterized by works.” Doug Moo
Questions and Reflections:
- Compare this passage with that of Romans 3:21-27. Are Paul and James opposing each other? Explain what each means when they use the word “faith” in the context of their respective letters.
- Why is true faith always accompanied by works?
- Read Ephesians 2:10. Immediately after talking about how no one is saved by their own doing, Paul says that we are created for “works.” Thank God for the grace that not only saves, but empowers righteous living. Ask God for the righteous desire to do these kind of works.
Day 2: Useless Faith—James 2:18-20
- “O it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good things incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done this, and is constantly doing them. Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever. He gropes and looks around for faith and good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Yet he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.” Martin Luther
- “Saving faith results in a distinctive life. A thing as potent as the new birth, if it has taken place, cannot be hidden; it cannot fail to make its presence felt. To have the life of God in us and to remain unchanged is unthinkable.” Alec Motyer
Questions and Reflections:
- Are there any works that you are doing that could not be explained without faith? If so, praise and thank God! If not, confess! Either way, ask God to help you to increase in the sort of faith that drives works that cannot be explained in any other way.
- Scan Hebrews 11. Compare a few of the men and woman of faith with each other. Explain the various ways each of them illustrate James 2:18-20.
- Pick one figure from Hebrews 11 and reflect on how their faith uniquely enabled their good works. Ask that God would strengthen your faith (in his character and promises) in the same unique way. Ask God for an opportunity this week to obey in light of that freshly strengthened faith.
Day 3: Partiality Reveals Worldly Values—James 2:6-7
- “So alongside the famous and celebrated ancestor of the Jewish people, a man, ‘the friend of God,’ he places an obscure Gentile woman of low moral character. Thus he implies that anyone is capable of acting on his or her faith—whether a patriarch or a prostitute.” Doug Moo
- “I pray the Lord to give you a gentle and loving spirit towards all men, and a practical conviction that grace alone has made you to differ. It is easy to acknowledge this in words, but it is a great thing to act suitably to such an acknowledgement.” John Newton
- “A company of travelers fall into a pit: one of them gets a passenger to draw him out. Now he should not be angry with the rest for falling in; nor because they are not yet out, as he is. He did not pull himself out; instead, therefore, of reproaching them, he should show them pity. A man, truly illuminated, will no more despise others, than Bartimaeus, after his own eyes were opened, would take a stick, and beat every blind man he met.” John Newton
Questions and Reflections:
- Whether we were like Abraham or Rahab, we all were separated from God and have been made right by the same faith in the same Christ. Yet many times we act as if our standing with God is superior to that of others. What lie might you be believing that causes you to think this way?
- What is the significance of James using both Abraham, the superstar Patriarch and founder of the Israelite people, and Rahab, a converted Gentile prostitute, to illustrate that “a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
- Read John 6:25-29. Our greatest acts of obedience are always rooted in our deepest faith in God. Ask, therefore, that God would give you a greater and greater assurance of his character and promises according to his Word. Ask for more opportunities to display that faith through grace-motived works. Ask God to give these same gifts to someone you know who is struggling in faith.
Questions for Group Discussion:
- Have you ever felt an unresolved tension when reading this passage before? As if James 2:14-26 seemed out of place in the Bible? Have you ever felt afraid or uncomfortable when reading these verses, as if you may not qualify for salvation according to James 2:14-26?
- In your own words, summarize James’ point in these verses. If he is the teacher, what are the “Cliffs Notes” of his lesson here?
- CJ taught us that in this passage, James is actually defending salvation by faith alone. How can that be?
- What does James mean when he says, “I will show you my faith by my works”? How can works show faith?
- Referring to Abraham, verse 22 states, “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was complete by his works.” How is it that faith drives works? How is it that works can “complete” faith?
- CJ challenged us to think of someone who would benefit from humble and graciously confront regarding the presence of seemingly “dead faith” (faith without works) in their life. Have you thought of anyone? Have you already had that conversation? Pray together about those potential or past conversations.