BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 26, Day 5: James 2:14-26

Summary of passage:  James asks what good is it to have faith without deeds? Faith by itself without action is dead. You show your faith by what you do.  As shown by deeds, Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar which showed his faith complete by deeds.  A person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

Rahab was considered righteous when she gave lodging to the spies and sent the soldier off in different directions.  Faith without deeds is dead as the body without the spirit is dead.

Questions:

13) This is subtle and tricky.  Faith in Jesus Christ alone will save you.  You are saved by faith and receive salvation and a place in heaven when you accept Jesus in your heart.  But when you do have this faith, you are a changed person.  This new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) you have become has a new kind of faith: a faith that desires to prove itself through works.  This saving faith that we not have has works along with it.  James says in verse 17 faith now has action that accompanies it.

It mimics the saying “Actions are more powerful than words.”  You can say you believe in Jesus all you want.  You show you believe in Jesus through the actions of your heart.

14)  According to many commentaries I read, this is considered by some to be the most difficult verse in the entire New Testament to reconcile.  Wonderful (read sarcasm here). Further, one said the faith of demons should not be compared with the faith of human beings according to Hebrews 2:14.

Demons know Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 8:29) and they yield to His Lordship (Mark 1:24;  5:7; Matthew 8:29-30).

As in Hebrews 11, we see the pillars of faith (Abraham and Rahab) mentioned here yet again.  How by faith they followed God without question (Hebrews 11:8-13; 31).

I’m going to make my own conclusions here on the difference:  Man/Abraham/Rahab followed God out of love; the demons followed/obeyed God out of fear.  This I believe is the crux of the matter.

Side Note:  One commentator I read said demons are angels who have sinned.  This was interesting so I wanted to share.  Of course, we don’t know but it’s something to ponder anyways.

15a)  No.  I don’t despite the evidence in this passage.  I would like to hope so.  But I don’t.  I believe those who are converted on their death beds don’t have the opportunity. But Jesus is happy to have them despite the fact they didn’t have time to do good works. This is what Paul says (Ephesians 2:9).

It also brings into my mind the falling away passage we studied in Hebrews 4:4-6 (another passage I have difficulty with).  I believe once you accept Christ you are his.  You can’t fall away unless you deliberately deny him afterwards.  But those who stumble still have him.  For there is nothing in this world you can do that Jesus will not forgive.  He has claimed you and even after you accept you, you sin.  But He always remains.

Do I believe most people who are born again will produce good works?  Yes.  You have no choice.  If you accept Jesus, you are a new person and His.  Therefore, the deeds will follow.  But as I mentioned I do believe in exceptions.  So I don’t think every person will accomplish this.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I don’t know honestly.  I can’t see myself through their eyes and no one has come up to me and said, “Wow!  You are obviously God’s as I see through such-and-such evidence.”

I hope they see something but I have such a low opinion of myself right now I would say nothing.  For I’m not where I want to be in my daily walk with Christ.  I’m just not.  So I’d say there is no evidence of my faith right now.

And to me I could care less what others thought/think of me or if there is evidence (in their eyes) of my faith.  It only matters what God thinks of me and what He knows I am accomplishing.  And right now I feel I am failing miserably.  It’s my daily prayer for God to heal my heart from past pains so I can move on to what He has for me.  For the devil will not claim me.  And I will win.

Conclusions:  This passage was very, very difficult for me to chew on.  Very.  For I believe once you accept Jesus in your heart you are in Heaven.  You do not get into heaven by works.  Yet works is what makes us alive in Christ.  Christ puts works in our heart once we have him and the Holy Spirit within that we must act on.  Otherwise, we are dead.

Yet I believe there will be people in heaven who do not have works to show for their faith.  But they have faith.  This is what I believe at least.

This concept is very difficult for me to reconcile.  You don’t need works to get into heaven yet if you have faith you produce works.  And I just don’t see works in my life.  So does that mean my faith is dead?  It’s a bit of a dichotomy, isn’t it?

I just believe in my heart God wants our faith first and foremost.  He wants us.  He wants our hearts paramount.  Everything else is secondary:  our works and whatever else we do for Him.  As long as our hearts stay true to Him the rest falls into place.  Including works. We shouldn’t have to think about works.  They should just flow naturally out of our heart that is now God’s.  It should be joyful and unforced.  It should be with love and a deep gratitude.  It should be God/Holy Spirit–not something I could ever do or take credit for.

End Note:  Question 15b did not sit well with me after pondering it for a bit.  In this world where it’s a daily struggle to counter our culture of always being in each other’s business and trying to keep up with the Jones, I thought this question was in the same vein.  This was my first response at least.

We are not of this world and this question could be taken in the context of “Well, what have you done lately to show your faith?”, promoting pride over humility.  Yet, at the same time, we are to walk our faith and show non-believers what a believer’s life should look like.  So taken in this context it makes us ponder, “Are we walking our faith?”

I hope it’s the latter.  But for me, having been raised in the culture of nothing less than perfection will do, I did not like the wording of this question.  It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough and I’m inadequate in some way (something I already feel anyways.  Is any of us truly doing enough?  Consider Paul’s life…).  I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances God has given me.

I would have preferred apparent to “God”.  For He is all that matters.

If you are broken like me, you probably took this question hard like I did and immediately threw up walls because that’s what you do when you are reminded of past pains.  Then I read Matthew 5:16 where Jesus says, “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

So it is all for God.  It’s for others to see God through us.  For His glory.  Never ours.  We do good deeds not for ourselves or what it brings us but what it brings God:  other broken people who need Him as much as we do.

Hopefully, in the end, maybe just a bit of our brokenness will be mended in the process.

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25 comments on “BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 26, Day 5: James 2:14-26

  1. Lu says:

    i would consider Satan’s angels as demons. Isaiah 14:1w-15 to refer to Satan being kicked out of heaven. And Rev 12:4 says he took a third of the angels with him. for them to have left heaven to join Satan would be sin. So I would say demons are abgels who have sinned.
    Just my opinion.

  2. Dee says:

    You are to hard on yourself. Don’t let Satan win. You have a great gift from God. You write, and you are doing it for the glory of God. I don’t know how many people read your blog, but for most, it is your words well written that help us understand. You dig deeper and write from the heart, that is your evidence of faith that IS apparant to others. Don’t let Satin tell you differently. You don’t need to boast about it, just keep doing it for Gaod be the glory.

    • robynharris says:

      Well said! I agree with this! Thanks for leading, digging deeper and questioning questions. You have helped and encouraged others in their growth. The Christian life is a journey. You have evidence of active faith by your blogging, as it helps others!
      Some are the hands, some are the feet, other of us may be a toe…They all are equally important. Whatever God has gifted you in, do these good works for His Glory, that men may come to know the Father through you!

  3. E>H> Little says:

    I empathize with your feelings, having been down the same emotional path.However, you are a very gifted person in expressing your thoughts and I often find them very clarifying. I often hear responses to various questions and wonder how that answer was arrived at, especially after having looked and read at least six bibles and one commentary.
    Stay in the Word, ignore the devil’s insidious thoughts, and continue to love the Lord. You truly do an excellant job and I thank you for all of your assistance.
    Lillibet

  4. Ivone says:

    I think you do a great job of showing evidence of your faith by enlighting others through your blog! I really appreciate and love your insights, and truly pray for you to never feel down or not doing big enough things. I think you do!! God bless you !

  5. moraa says:

    I think that your faith is evident through the way you answer the questions. You have taken time to expound it in such a way that some of us are able to get some insights into the lessons. Keep on doing such a good work just the way you know how and we will all be blessed together.

  6. Don Huguley says:

    your blog is a tremendous gift and a definite “work” that speaks volumes about your faith … keep up the good work!!!

  7. DR says:

    I don’t know u but from what I have read of you(through your answers) you are well on your way in your walk and headed down the right path (the path of rightousness.) I don’t think we ever feel sufficient,worthy,equipped but God loves us and thinks we are worth transforming. Your answers have much research behind them and you complete your lesson every week (as a leader I have people who have yet to do a complete lesson – sad. I think you would be a wonderful group leader. I am going to pray for that! you are 100 percent right that it doesn’t matter what man says,it is what God says God bless you my sister .i love your thoughts on the lesson when they mk me think differently and when u mk me laugh with your opinions mk me laugh. D

    • atozmom says:

      Ah, thanks. You made me smile. Thanks for the prayers also. Always appreciated. I’m just going through a tough time, trying to decide what to do in this life. I’d be open to a group leader but somehow I doubt I’d ever be asked. I’m too opinionated!

      • Karen says:

        I have recently found your blog…when I googled the difference between organic unity and organizational conformity…and I love it! I have done the studies for a number of years and often struggle with answers…wonder if I’m on the right track etc. I enjoy reading your responses and hearing another opinion before I go to my group time. All of that to say, I know some pretty opinionated group leaders…if you are really interested, let you group leader know. Sometimes they don’t have a big turnover in leadership and they don’t need many, so don’t let not getting asked deter you. I don’t know where you attend or if you go morning or evening, but I think there is always more of a need for childrens leaders, because people tend to think they have to be a teacher or love kids or something… From reading your blog, you sound like you might make a great leader…you might have to give up the blog, though.

      • atozmom says:

        And there’s the rub/conundrum, Karen. I see this as part of my calling for now…who knows in the future…

  8. Peggy says:

    I struggled with this question for years……the burden of sin on my shoulders……I finally had my AH HA moment when I heard a Pastor say when I keep dragging around the guilt of my sin its as if I am saying God is not God enough to deal with MY sin…..That Jesus work on the cross was not enough for My sin…….thats pride….and I finally GOT it! Don’t know if this helps you or not but it is what finally allowed me to lay my Stuff at the foot of the cross and leave it there. From there I was able to write my Prodigal talk for a Residents Encounter Christ at the womens prison here in Kentucky. It was a freedom that changed me and I am thankful that Christ has set me FREE!!! Love you girl…..thanks for what you do here, I know you are a blessing to many others

  9. Sharon says:

    Ditto on Ivones words to you Atozmom and to what DR says. We alll feel sooo weak and if we can say look at me, look at what I do then we are headed for a fall. Also, I dont think God want us to really see all the good we do or did, not now, not yet. That will be your surprise when you see on your crown in heaven ( to keep us from pride). God still has some great surprises in store for us! So maybe God allows the devil to do things to drive us closer to trust only God (Pauls thorn!). The devil is the big deceivere and has distorted our view of ourselves, since day one. We are being renewed from all those carnival mirror images, bit by bit. The enemy tries to take all the things God made good and twist them in our mind just enough so we can’t see the good parts clearly. Be strong, girl! You are very courageous, to God be the glory! I come to your blog because I also want to know if I’m the only one who has questions about the BSF questions, and I love the fact that you do. These questions are often blunt, in your face and bring me to my knees in honesty in fear with God to show me if the enemy is taking my insecurities (doubts) and tweaking them to make them wrong in my mind. Personal, means personal, between me and God. You share on every question, every week! Thank you. You are a woman of courage and because you aren’t just sitting around in the bunkhouse bed your target just got bigger.

    • atozmom says:

      Thanks, Sharon, for sharing. Loved the thoughts that we shouldn’t know all of the good we do to keep pride at bay. Thanks for the encouraging words! Always appreciated.

  10. Vera says:

    I like to read your comments after the lectures in BSF. Ireally get alot out of your comments. thank you for sharing.

  11. Julia says:

    Per part of your answer to 15b where you wrote, “I hope they see something but I have such a low opinion of myself right now I would say nothing.” I just want to tell you, or shall I say God is compelling me to tell you….darling, what about your fabulous blog? This is my second year at BSF and when I get stuck on my lessons and go to the commentary in my Bible and still don’t get it, I head to your blog. Woman, you are doing an amazing amount. I love your genuine writing and your brain how it cranks it out. I imagine you brushing your teeth churning all your ideas in your head ready to write them down. You go girl. I totally appreciate your blog. I’m grateful too.

    • atozmom says:

      Thank you, Julia, for your uplifting words. It is often when I’m doing something else I get my ideas! And thanks for the reminder of the little things I do. I needed that.

  12. R. Scott says:

    Your faith is evident to many, including me. Earlier today I wrote down a verse: “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” II Thessalonians 3:5. You have evidenced Christ’s perseverance in pursuing this blog, despite challenges of time, child rearing, family issues, and frequent outside criticism. You are honest and you constantly test the messages against scripture, as did the Bereans in Acts 17. God bless you for your gifts to others!

  13. Lora says:

    Please don’t beat yourself up. I came across your blog when I was struggling with my lesson a few months ago. I appreciate your insight and it helps me understand the questions better. You are precious in God’s eyes and even moreso because you aren’t perfect. None of us are! How awesome it is that you are a follower of Jesus and working on your faith walk. Keep it up!

  14. pete says:

    just a few short thoughts; one, I concur with all the fine comments on your “works” and evidences of faith. I saw that in you from the first post of yours that I read ! Keep up the great work and look at how many people you are reaching (from your numbers post)!!
    Two, meditate on Ephesians 2:10 ! We are “created for good works, which God prepared beforehand” That verse has been so
    helpful to me in understanding James !
    Three, came across this quote from Dr.J.C. Ryle in his book,”Holiness”page 92, “I know that people are fond of talking about deathbed evidences (esp. for some loved ones).They will rest on words spoken in the hours of fear, and pain, and weakness, as if they might take comfort in them about the friends they lose. But I am afraid in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, such evidences are not to be depended on. I suspect that, with rare exception, men die just as they have lived.The only safe evidence that we are one with Christ, and Christ in us, is holy life”

    Also, I was recently asked by BSF to be a group leader and, after much talk with God and my wife, I turned it down due to too busy with other “works” to do my best at it, (despite the flattery) Keep at it and it may come to you.
    Blessings
    Pete

    God bless

    • Vera says:

      Pete that was quite an honor to be asked to be a leader in BSF. I have been in BSF over 11 years and very, very good attendance and have not been approached with that type of an offer yet. This lesson of Acts has been very uplifting to me.

  15. Mary says:

    I don’t know if you’ll read this but I too have struggled with this entire book for years. It’s quite different than the rest of the epistles. And I’ve been walking with the Lord for 35 years (since I was 24). However, I am convinced that God has a purpose for my life and it may or may not be visible to others, especially other than those directly involved with me. One ministry God laid on my heart 35 years ago (and which I fight Him about from time to time – like now) is prayer – deep, long, daily prayer. And when I do that, it isn’t seen the same way teaching (SS or Bible – both of which I’ve also done), serving, preaching, and such. I am convinced that it’s between you and God what you are to be about – and sometimes that isn’t going to be apparent to others. If you are homeschooling your children (or even if not but you are active in their lives outside of school because that’s teaching and raising Godly children), right there you are living for Christ.

    I love your column, not for the answers so much but to know others struggle with similar things. I really did struggle witht his lesson.

    God’s blessings!

    Mary

  16. Karen, too. says:

    Atozmom, I, like so many who have written here today find comfort in your answers to these BSF questions. I, like the other Karen above was divinely called to your blog with the organic unity vs organizational conformity question a few weeks ago. I know I should be waiting to read your blog after my BSF’s discussion time, however, I can sometimes not wait to hear what you have written as an answer to the weekly questions. You are a gift and a blessing to me and it appears many others. Please continue your “blog gift” to those of us struggling with their questions or their faith. Your faith is evident to all who are blessed enough to read your blog. Praying you find peace.

  17. [...] discussed this James passage last year (see HERE) and my opinion is you can be justified with no good works for all that is required is faith. [...]

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