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man questioning a book Faith or Fiction? James 2:14-26

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(Note for leaders: This is a short study so you may wish to allow more discussion and observations about the Bible passage)

Do you like to read books or watch movies? Which appeals to you more -fictional stories or real stories? A religious person can be like that - he can either have true faith or fiction, i.e., his faith may appear to be real but in reality it is not. He may even have good stories to tell of a spiritual experience. How do we know which is true faith and which is fiction?

Review. The context of James is that Jewish believers from the first church were scattered from Jerusalem to surrounding cities and nations because of persecution. The implicit questions James answers are, why were they persecuted, and how were they to live amongst the Gentile nations where they fled? Furthermore, how were they to behave in their new churches? In previous lessons we learned they were instructed that the persecutions were tests of God to approve them as His servants. They would be awarded if they persevered. They were not to get succumb to the temptations of their new culture. Being forced out of their home away from their beloved city, Jerusalem, with all their friends and family might make them angry and make them want to retaliate, but God said don't do it. Instead, they should live by the scriptures (at this time only the Old Testament Scriptures were available), examining themselves in its mirror and doing good works. It might be tempting to establish new churches by giving preference to the rich, but James says they should show no favoritism, considering the results of that decision, and they should be consistent in their love for believers, exercising particular mercy on the poor.

Some church members at that time, like today, seemed content to just attend the church services and affirm their belief in God. They did not involve themselves in the human needs of the church family. In James 2:14-26 he addresses those thoughts. [Leaders, read this with your class]

What two negative examples does James give about the demonstration of one's faith? (vs. 16-20). What does James say about this kind of faith?

Answer 1

 

What two positive examples of faith does James give us in vss. 21-26? (see also Genesis 22:1-18; Hebrews 11:17-19; Joshua 2:1-11; and Hebrews 11:31) How were they considered righteous?

Answer 2

 

What is the message James is communicating in 2:14-26?

Answer 3

 

Lessons to Live by: (ask for members' input first)

 

Today's Bible memory verse: James 2:26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (NIV)

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Answers:

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A1: 1. Wishing a hungry brother or sister in Christ well but doing nothing to alleviate his suffering. 2. Declare your Belief in God even the devil does that! This kind of faith is dead or useless.

A2: Abraham offered Isaac on the altar. Rahab hid the Israelite spies. Their righteousness was shown by their deeds.

A3: Our faith is demonstrated by our real actions of compassion and righteous deeds. If our faith is not expressed in what we do, we have a dead faith; we are deluding ourselves, and we may not be truly Christians.

Lessons to Live by:

  • Fictious faith is a claim of belief in God without evidence to support it. There is no true relationship with God. Fictious faith is self deluding and non-Christian.
  • True faith in God expresses itself in acts of compassion, genuine belief in God, obedience in even difficult situations, and righteous deeds done in reverance for God
  • How is your faith shown by your deeds?

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