Every Sunday, the Worship Ministry meets from 9:15-10:15am for a time of small group interaction. It gives us an opportunity to check in with one another, pray for one another, and study God’s Word together. For the past couple of months, we have been gradually making our way through the book of James and as our guide, we have been using Francis Chan’s study on James (found on RightNow Media). This week, we are wrapping up chapter 2 and we have noticed that a common thread running through James thus far has been this theme of the integrity of our faith. Or, to put it differently, we as Christians not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.
Already, we have been convicted by truths like:
“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” (James 1:22)
“If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
“…do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?” (James 2:1)
For followers of Jesus, James is a challenging, convicting book (as every book of the Bible is!). There are points when James is so straightforward that it feels like a punch in the gut when you read it. I think this is because, as James points out, as followers of Jesus it is still so easy to deceive ourselves. It is an ongoing temptation for us to turn this costly grace we have received into a “cheap grace” (Bonheoffer). How do we deceive ourselves? We deceive ourselves when we think that it is sufficient enough to just strongly believe in Jesus and his saving work on the cross. We deceive ourselves when we think it is sufficient enough to read our Bible, pray, go to church every week, and consider that our “Christian deeds” for the week. We deceive ourselves when we don’t realize that because of the great grace we have been shown, we should be compelled to live like Jesus. This knowledge should cause us to set ourselves aside and put others before ourselves, realizing that Jesus—our Master, our Leader, our Savior—came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.
It is the same Word of God that says “by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8) that also says “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:17). We can assess the vitality of our faith when we look at how we spend our time and energy. What does how I spend the majority of my time say about my faith?
This week, Wayne will show us how one recent new believer in Jesus, Saul, showed that his faith was alive and active. Saul’s life was wholly transformed. He didn’t just start to believe in Jesus—his relationship with Jesus was evidenced by what he did.