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The Evidence of Saving Faith
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: Did James, the brother of Jesus, and Paul, the self-professed “apostle to the Gentiles” contradict one another in their writings? Did these two devoted followers of Christ disagree on the very basics of salvation? Paul repeatedly and passionately proclaimed a salvation through faith alone, and not by works. Yet James suggests that “Abraham was justified by works” (2:21). What gives? More to the point: what role, if any, do works actually play in our salvation?
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. Read James 2:15-16. What’s the primary problem in this hypothetical scenario?
2. What does James mean when he says that “faith by itself … is dead” (v.17)?
3. Why are motives so important to God? What do they reveal?
4. What are some examples of faith-fueled, gospel-empowered works?
5. Why is it significant that “demons believe” that God is one (v. 19)?
6. The pursuit of knowledge is good, God-honoring and biblically commended (Pr. 18:15, Rom. 12:1-2). Why, though, can the reliance upon knowledge be spiritually destructive?
1. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
2. “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ … because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16
3. 01. There is a kind of faith—strictly external—that is lifeless and dead and does not save.
4. “The statement is a religious cover for a failure to act.” – Timothy Johnson
5. Faith + Works = Salvation
6. Faith = Salvation (+ Works)
7. “Far too many believers and their churches succumb to the logic of moralism and reduce the Gospel to a message of moral improvement. In other words, we communicate to lost persons the message that what God desires for them and demands of them is to get their lives straight.” – Al Mohler
8. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12
9. 02. The works that demonstrate saving faith are obedient actions motivated by love for God and a compassion for neighbor.
10. “If [demons] might hold such faith and still remain in perdition men might hold it and go to perdition.” – Albert Barnes
11. 03. We are not saved by theological orthodoxy but by a humble and repentant trust in God and His Son’s substitutionary work.