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Building to Last (James 1 & 2; Matthew 7:24-27)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 06 April 2014 00:00


Review: Our Christian walk will not be profitable if we do not apply the truth we have believed.

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

The context is profitability at the coming Judgment Seat of Christ (2:12-13; 3:1). If James 2 is talking about building our lives in light of the Bema, then the whole passage makes sense from the get go. No one who encountered a dead body (2:26), whose life-giving spirit had departed, would ever conclude that the body had never been alive. Or that it wasn’t really an actual body to begin with. Quite the contrary! The presence of a corpse is the surest proof of a loss of life. If we allow James’ vivid illustration to stand for itself, then the presence of a dead faith shows that this faith was once alive. In James 2, James’ point is that only by believing God’s Word + applying God’s Word saves or delivers believers from sin, with its deadly effects, in their lives.

Compare what James has been teaching us to what the Lord Jesus taught in His famous sermon:

James 1:19a So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, …

James 1:22 ~ But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James 1:25 ~ But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Matthew 7:24-27 ~ 24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

In Jesus’ conclusion to His sermon, He contrasts a wise man and a foolish man, both of whom build houses, but with different foundations. Jesus uses their house building as an illustration.

The house represents life, and that’s an apt illustration because we live in houses.

What Jesus wants us to pay attention to is the difference in foundations.

What do these represent? Jesus tells us.

The rock foundation is the concrete slab of hearing plus doing the Word of Jesus.

The soft slab is hearing only.

So Jesus is saying if you base your life on hearing and doing His teaching, when the storm winds blow, your life will weather the storm; your house will not crumble or fall.

Martin Luther could not reconcile Galatians 2:16 and James 2:14, so he disregarded James as being part of the Bible! The controversy around this passage is based on an assumption as to the meaning of the word “saved,” which many misconstrue as always referring to salvation from hell to heaven. But the context and usage of “saved” (delivered, rescued) five times in James (1:21; 2:14; 4:12; 5:15a; 5:20), show that we must always ask:

Faith in what? saves/delivers/rescues whom? from what?

The concept of a believer saving the value and worth of his life for future kingdom service (eternal rewards) as revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ (JSC) never occurred to Luther because as an Amillenialist, the rapture, tribulation and JSC would not even appear on his radar.






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