Evident Faith

2021-09-12 – Year B – Proper 19 – The Rev. Canon Christopher M. Klukas
Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 116:1-9; James 2:1-18; Mark 9:14-29

  • I’m glad that we began our worship this morning with “A Mighty Fortress,” one of Martin Luther’s most famous hymns, because today we are going to dig into the Letter of James which Luther deemed “an Epistle of straw” when compared with the letters of Paul and Peter.

Justification by Faith through Grace

  • “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing”
  • Five “solas” including Sola Fide (Faith Alone), and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone).
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith…”
  • Romans 4:1-5 – Abraham and righteousness

Faith Without Works is Dead

  • James 2:17 – “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
    • James even uses Abraham as his chief biblical proof (v. 21).
  • James was concerned about the kind of lifeless faith that changes nothing about a person’s life. The kind of faith that begins and ends with the “sinner’s prayer”.
    • v. 19 “…even the demons believe—and shudder!”
      • Account of Jesus casting out a demon (Mark 9:14-29). The demon believed that Jesus was God, but it was working against God..
    • True faith is not about intellectual assent, instead, it is total reliance upon God for salvation and a gradual, but evident, life transformation that we call “sanctification.”
  • James 2:18 “I will show you my faith by my works.”
    • James is not saying that we are saved by works apart from faith. Rather that works are an exected and natural result of true faith in Jesus Christ.
    • XII. Of Good Works “Albeit that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s Judgement; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith; insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.”
    • Lively Faith – “Our faith in Christ is meant to be lived and it should transform every aspect of our lives. We seek to always be growing and maturing in the grace and love of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15).” (Good Samaritan Values)

Taming the Tongue

  • Wildfires are usually started by something small. James 3:5b-6, 9-10.
  • Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a House Key. Always read her hate mail. One opposition letter came from a pastor she had never met in response to an op-ed article she had written which was titled “The Promise Keeper’s Message Is a Threat to Democracy.” She remembers it as the “kindest [letter of opposition] I had ever received.” This led to a dinner invitation, which led to a friendship, which led to a Gospel transformation in Rosaria’s life.
  • You don’t need to agree with people to be kind to them. In fact, sometimes the kindest thing you can do is disagree with a person. Ephesians 4:12.
    • You don’t always have to assert your opposition. “Do I have the grace to say this little? Or do I always have to say everything there is to say on a subject? If so, I am a brute and a boar. By grace, I put a guard over my mouth. I pray.”
  • How do you speak to the people closest to you when the front door of your house is closed? How do you engage in conversations on social media when they turn political or express a view contrary to yours? How do you treat those who serve you food or coffee at a restaurant?
  • I said a few weeks ago that one of the perceptions of the world towards Christians is that we are judgemental. Often this comes from speaking truth not in love but judgement. This damages your personal witness and the witness of the Church.

Conclusion

  • So how do we tame the tongue? How do we overcome our besetting sins?
  • This, too, is grace. A gift of God. Seek the Lord. Ask for his help. Ask him to help you become the person he created you to be.
  • Ask him to give you an even more lively faith. Cry out to him as the father of the demon possessed man cried out to Jesus. “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

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