False Pictures: The Problem of Spiritual Growth
Speaker: Dr Jon Lovelady | Series: False Pictures
We continue our series, “False Pictures” from the Book of James with the sermon, “The Problem of Spiritual Growth.” We turn to a question that is as old as the Christian faith: are we saved by faith, or are we saved by works? Commentators try to make the Apostle James and the Apostle Paul out to be polar opposites on this issue, but when we take a deeper look, we discover that both were trying to correct the problems of their time. The Christians of James’ time did not believe that good works were beneficial to spiritual growth. They were content only to believe in Jesus but they did not think they had to act like Jesus! James recognizes the immaturity of their faith and wants to help them grow in faith and faithfulness! He paints several “false pictures” which we still believe today, and these pictures prevent us from finding the fullness and strength of following Jesus. As you read James 2:8-18 let these words challenge you to grow in faith and faithfulness. Again, we are using The Message to help understand our scripture: James 2:8-18 (MSG) You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period. Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time. Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.