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Nov 06, 2016

Faith Breathing

Faith Breathing

Passage: James 2:14-26

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: James

Keywords: balance, faith, health, respiration, righteousness, vitality, works


Probably THE most important message I’ve ever given on the relationship between faith and works in a Christ-follower’s life, this sermon looks at what live, active, real faith is in the life of a Christ-follower. As breathing in and breathing out are both essential for our bodies to stay alive, so faith and works are both essential for our spiritual lives to be healthy.



James 2:14-26

November 6, 2016

Billy Graham has said, “Faith is taking in the Gospel; works is taking the Gospel out.” I’d like to change that statement just slightly this morning to help you feel what I think today’s passage in James 2 is all about. 

Faith is breathing in the Gospel of Jesus;

works are breathing out the life of Jesus.

This is spiritual respiration, “faith-breathing” if you like.  It is what keeps the life of a believer in Jesus fresh, vibrant, living, active, energetic and renewed.

So I want you to try something for a moment.  As you do, keep an eye on the people around you.  If they pass out, please grab them so they don’t hit the chair or floor in front of them.

  • I want you to breath IN, either one deep breath or little, incremental breaths until your lungs are full of air.
  • Now I want you to breath OUT, exhale.

How did that feel?  Do it again.  Good feeling, no.  Why?  Because it’s good for your body.  It keeps giving every cell of your body what they must have in order to survive:  fresh oxygen while taking away, eliminating carbon dioxide. 

            But what happens if you just concentrate on one side of the respiration equation?  Let’s try it. 

  • Breath in…just in…no out. Keep breathing in…NO out!  Come on, people.  Oxygen in…ONLY!

How’d that work?  Great…for about 20 seconds.  If you were a pearl diver, you might have enjoyed it for 90 seconds or 2 minutes.  Anyone here a pearl diver?  Didn’t think so.

Now let’s try the other side of the respiration equation: exhaling

  • Take a deep breath…and let it out…slowly…slowly…more slowly…until it is ALL out. But DON’T breathe in!  OUT only! 

Doesn’t feel so good after a while, does it?  You get the point.  Breathing is a two-part experience of inhaling and exhaling.  Do just one part of that equation and pretty soon you won’t even be doing that.  We’ll all be attending your funeral. 

This has everything to do with what James is telling us about faith and works in chapter 2. Let’s read it together.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

            For those of us who may have been raised in the Protestant theology of justification by faith in Christ alone, this passage may at first brush give us a little heartburn.  It seems to go counter to Paul’s words in Romans 3:28, ‘For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.’ He also said in Rom. 4:5, ‘But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.’ That makes it sound like faith and works are two separate things, never to mix or be confused. 

            This issue is far more important than some obscure theological discussion that should be relegated to Moody students in some soteriology class.  It is, according to James and Paul, something that should affect us every day of our lives, not just the day we trusted in Jesus Christ by faith.   Let’s read vvs. 14-16 again.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

            Translators have correctly inserted the word, “Can such faith save them” in verse 14.  The original Greek doesn’t have the word “such.”  But it does have the definite article “the” with the word “faith.”  In English it would be translated woodenly, “Can the faith save him?”  In Greek grammar, this is called the “article of previous reference.” It should be translated, “Can that [or, such] faith save him?” It refers to the faith that James has just mentioned: a faith that someone professes to have, but it has no works.

            James is saying that there are different kinds of faith, even in the spiritual realm of relationship with God. 

ILL:  We all exercise different types of faith every day of our lives.  From morning to night…and even at night…I’m exercising faith that allows me to live a normal life. 

  • Faith in people I’ve never met who made the toothpaste I use every day, faith in other drivers, faith in politicians…maybe.
  • Faith in objects like chairs and tables and pens and grocery carts, etc..

ILL: I love to fly…as long as the flight isn’t too long, or too crowded, or too bumpy, or too hot.  Seriously, I really like flying!

When I fly, I’m exercising faith in the airplane manufacturers, the pilots, the maintenance crews, the airline, the air traffic controllers, literally thousands of people.  So if I tell you that “I have great faith in our flight system in America”…if I tell everyone “I love to fly”… but you never see me book a flight or pack a bag or board a plane, wouldn’t it be safe to question my “faith” in flying, my self-proclaimed “love” of flying? Absolutely.  There is not one shred of evidence that I have faith in flight. 

This is James’ critique of many supposed “Christians” whose lives never really display the life of Jesus.  He’s not saying that salvation is by faith + works.  He’s saying that saving faith IS a faith that will produce evidence of Christ-like works. He’s addressing the question, “What is true saving faith.”  He’s proclaiming, not that we’re saved by faith plus works but that we’re saved by genuine faith as opposed to counterfeit faith.  

ILL:  If I hand you a $20 bill that is only printed on one side, are you going to accept that as payment for the $20 bucks I owe you?  I hope not.  You should be calling the Feds and reporting me as a counterfeiter.  That kind of counterfeit work is obvious.

            That’s what James says too.  Counterfeit faith is pretty obvious too.  Here’s what he says.

15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Notice a couple of qualifying factors here:

  • The person being talked about is “a brother or a sister”. In James’ use of that term, he’s not just talking about biological or family siblings.  He’s talking about brothers and sisters in the faith…in Jesus.  It’s family you know, love and are related to by the bond of Christ

Does that mean we should not give food and clothes to people outside of Jesus?  I don’t think that’s the point of his teaching.  Jesus made it pretty clear that loving my neighbor isn’t limited to people “like” me. (Luke 10—Good Samaritan)  It can be strangers about whom I know little or nothing about spiritually but still are in need.  But this illustration is focused on spiritual brothers and sisters. 

  • Secondly, the N.T. is consistent in saying that food and clothing are the “bare necessities” of life and that God will supply those 2 things to the person who seeks God and His kingdom first (Mt. 6:33). Might it not be God’s design that that be met through the church, God’s family? Family doesn’t let family starve or die of exposure!

James is clearly saying that, if we have exercised living, real faith in Jesus Christ, then when this situation pops up (a brother or sister among us in need of the bare necessities of life), our new heart in Christ will compel us to love that goes to the store with them and takes them shopping

            That is SO different from how the government tries to solve those needs, isn’t it?  If you get an EBT card, do you also develop a friendship with someone at the EBT department?  Do they take you shopping?  Invite you to share lunch?  Pray for you? Try to find you a job?  No. Because some impersonal bureaucracy will almost never want a friendship with you.  But PEOPLE with the heart of Christ will…or they don’t have real faith in Christ.  It’s that simple. 

APPHonestly, this is one of the shortcomings of having a “benevolent fund” that the church uses to even help each other with basic needs.  If it isn’t used in conjunction with loving relationships that give friendship as well as finances to buy food and clothing, I don’t think we’re exercising our faith in ways that transform us and the person being helped. 

It doesn’t even work to “pay the pastor” to do it.  It doesn’t exercise my faith to use your money any more than it exercises your faith to avoid spending time with people in need. 

Jesus didn’t pay his disciples to go feed the 5,000.  He could have asked for a coin instead of loaves and fishes.  He could have handed out 5,000 denarius (a day’s wage) to his guys and had them play banker to everyone and called it a day.  Instead he took the time to break bread and fish with them, to have them sit in groups and experience fellowship and friendship

APP:  I’m not sure there are any of us here today who even fall into that category of not having food or clothing.  But the love of Jesus alive in a true believer in Jesus should still be calling our hearts to compassion and relationship with each other when we see needs, right? 

  • What would happen if we set out to come downtown once a month to meet someone’s basic needs by taking one of the people standing on the street corner to lunch?
  • …or actually spent 30 minutes with one of the dozens of people who come to our bike shop for help every week?
  • …or joined one of the teams going into the residential buildings downtown to just get to know, to befriend, and to be changed by one resident of one of those buildings?

EX: If you want to experience that, see Alfred.  He goes to S. Side Senior Living every Tuesday and leads a Bible study. 

I’m so glad to be a part of a church that doesn’t choose to insulate itself from people in need but rather chooses, sometimes every week, to engage relationally with brothers and sisters as well as those outside God’s family who may be in a needier spot than we are.  The compassion of Christ is always in order.  Sometimes that’s with students who need help with school bills…or just an invitation to lunch or dinner.  Sometimes it’s someone who needs a job in order to pay the bills.  Sometimes it’s a single mom who needs a break from her kids…or a senior who needs a ride to the doctor.  True faith in Christ takes many forms.  And it always flows from the new heart God gives when we’re genuinely born again. 

[Talk about UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES to live and breath true faith:  Thanksgiving Dinner @ Pioneer Pathways or… Christmas @ the Carlyle or… Wed. Bible Study @ the Collins.]

Back to the text.  A key word in James 2:14 is “claims.” This person claims that he has faith. But talk is cheap. James contends that such a claim is tested by encounters with others in need. When any of us in God’s family simply listens to someone in need but don’t DO anything more than mouth words to meet that need, James asks, “What use is that kind of faith?” He actually calls such “faith” dead faith in 2 different verses (2:17 & 26). And in vs. 20 he drills this home by calling it useless faith.

One author (C. E. B. Cranfield) correctly observes, “The burden of this section is not (as is often supposed) that we are saved through faith plus works, but that we are saved through genuine, as opposed to counterfeit, faith.”

Satan is the master deceiver. Since salvation is through faith, it is not surprising that he works overtime to lead people astray on the matter of saving faith. If Satan can get someone to think that he will get into heaven because of his many good deeds, apart from faith in Christ, he is perfectly content to watch that person devote his entire life to good deeds…on the way to hell!  OR, if a person who was born and raised in the church thinks, “I’m going to heaven because I mentally assent to Jesus as my Savior”—but, his faith is merely intellectual and it doesn’t lead to a new heart that God gives to everyone who is born again by faith in Jesus—Satan is happy with such false “faith.”

Paul agreed with James about false faith when he wrote about certain false teachers in Titus 1:16: “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” Their profession of faith doesn’t match their actions. Such false faith does not save.

The Apostle John also dealt with this kind of false profession throughout 1st John. For example, 1 John 1:6 states, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Again, in 1 John 2:5b-6, “By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” The point is the same throughout Scripture: Saving faith results in a changed life of good deeds. False faith is empty profession, lacking good deeds.

Now we come to a couple of verses in James 2 that are, frankly, difficult to understand grammatically.  Suffice it to say that James is putting forward here some hypothetical objection to his claim of useless dead faith as opposed to saving living faith.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

            I think James is effectively saying, “Someone might object with this sort of reasoning.  “Well, James, aren’t there people who are stronger on the “faith” end of the spiritual spectrum and others who are stronger on the “deeds” end of the spectrum?”

            To which James, I believe, responds, “WROHT…I can show you my faith by (evidenced by) my deeds.  I can show you I trust God for my daily bread by sharing all the food I have with others because I really believe God will take care of my food needs if I’m seeking Him first.  But how can you prove to me that you have real, genuine, living, God-pleasing faith without somehow demonstrating that by deeds that bless and help others?  You can’t!!!”

ILL:  It’s like someone claiming they have $1,000 in the bank.  Unless they actually withdraw the money or show you today’s bank balance they were just given by the teller, there is NO way you can prove you have $1,000 in the bank!

Next James illustrates the problem by tackling orthodox theology that doesn’t necessarily lead to redemptive relationship with God. Apparently this problem has plagued the church for a long time.  James says in 2:19--19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Sadly, the churches of our nation have been filled for the last 50 years with people who have right but dead theology.  It hasn’t moved their heart into Christ.  They say the creeds and parrot the dogmas and doctrines but they are still unrelated and disconnected from faith in Jesus that transforms their souls.  People like that have more in common with demons than with Christ.  That’s where my entire family of origin was for most of the years we were all living in the same home.

ILL:  I grew up in the Congregational denomination alongside parents who had spent 50 years doing the same without a transformational relationship with Jesus.  We had never received Christ personally, never really put our faith in Him by personally opening our hearts to His saving presence and lordship.

            But the moment we experienced being born again through faith-filled surrender to Jesus, all the hymns and creeds of the church that we had been just mouthing too came alive.  The Word of God came alive.  That’s why today I can go to an Anglican or Catholic or Lutheran church with people who are just mouthing the liturgy and have a deeply meaningful encounter with Christ.  “Belief” has traveled 18 inches…from my head to my heart!

ILLIt reminds me of a story I read about a young disciple of Christ desiring to fully receive all that God had for him. So he visited the home of an elderly, respected Christian. He had heard that this old man had never lost his first love for Christ, over all the years.

The elderly man was sitting on the porch with his dog taking in a beautiful sunset. The young man posed this question:
"Why is it, sir, that so many Christians zealously chase after God during the first year or two after their conversion, but then fall into a complacent ritual of church once or twice a week… and they end up not looking any different than their neighbors who aren't even Christians?  I have heard you are not like that.” 

The old man smiled and replied, "Let me tell you a story: 
One day I was sitting here quietly, in the sun, with my dog. 
Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across the field.in front of us. 
Well, my dog jumped up, and took off after that big white rabbit. 

He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion.  Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking. What a sight it was, as the pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks…up stony embankments…and through thickets and thorns!

Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, discouraged by the course and frustrated by the chase. Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit.  In that story, young man, lies the answer to your question." 

The young man sat in confused silence.  Finally, he said "Sir, I don't understand. What is the connection between a rabbit chase and the quest for God?"

"You fail to understand," answered the well-seasoned old man, "because you failed to ask the obvious question. (Pause)  Why didn't the other dogs continue in the chase?  And the answer to that question is…they had not seen the rabbit.

Brothers and sisters, unless we see the Prize, the chase is just too difficult. We will lack the faith, the passion, the determination to keep up the chase unless we’ve truly met Jesus.

APP:  Have you been living an experience of correct theology without transformational relationship with Jesus?  I implore you, surrender your life to Jesus in faith.

James ends this truth by appealing to two O.T. people who illustrate/prove that genuine saving faith always will be evidenced by genuine righteous action.  He points to Abraham first and Rahab second.  We only have time to deal with Abraham.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

            How does this square with what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 4:1-3?  Paul even quotes the same verse James does from Genesis 15:6 that says, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”  Look at that passage.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

This was after Abram had given his nephew, Lot, the better watered plain of the Jordan where Sodom was.  It was after he had rescued Lot and his family from waring kings and yet still didn’t have even one child. 

So God makes this covenant with Abram that he will have an heir, “a son who is your own flesh and blood” (Gen 15:4), even though Abram is 75 years old.  Then he takes him outside to look at the starry Milky Way galaxy and promises his offspring will be innumerable as those starts someday.  And Abram “believed the Lord” and God “credited it to him as righteousness.”  It would be another 25 years (age 100) before he would see the first glimmer of a fulfillment of God’s promise by the birth of Isaac when Abram was 100 years old!

Then, a short 15 years after Isaac’s birth, God would ask Abraham to offer Isaac back up to Him in sacrifice.  The very son God had told him He would use to make a great nation of people from, Isaac, was now supposed to be sacrificed to God?  The N.T. writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham’s faith was SO great that, believing God would keep His word through Isaac, Abraham “reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death” (Heb. 11:19) 

But we would not have known that he really believed God…really put his full trust in God as his Lord and Master…if he hadn’t made that trip to Mt. Moriah, built the altar and placed Isaac on it to sacrifice him.  His invisible faith was made visible by that action.  His living, saving faith was made completed with action.

In Romans 4, Paul was looking at God’s initial declaration that the believer is righteous through faith in the blood of Christ (Rom. 3:22). He was looking at the beginning of a person’s right standing with God.  But James uses the verse and the word “justified” a bit differently. James says (2:21) that Abraham was justified by works some 40 years later when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar some.

When James says (2:24) “that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone,” the addition of the word “alone” shows that he is referring to the false faith that he has been talking about in this section (Moo, p. 141). This “bare faith,” or faith that does not result in a life of good deeds, is not the kind of justifying faith that Paul talks about in Romans 3 & 4. [Paul often spoke about “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; cf. 15:18). He often emphasized the role of good deeds as a result of God’s grace in the lives of His people (Titus 2:14; 3:5-8).]

So both Paul and James would agree that genuine faith that justifies always results in a life of good deeds. False faith that is an empty profession does not justify.

For James, the combination of faith plus works yields a synergism. That word is not used much in normal, daily vocabulary. If you consult a dictionary, you will find that a synergism results when two or more things combine so that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

ILL:  For example, ordinary TABLE SALT consists of two chemical elements, sodium and chlorine. By itself, sodium is a highly reactive, poisonous element. Chlorine also is poisonous and reactive. Yet, bringing the two together yields sodium chloride (ordinary table salt) not only is it not poisonous, it is necessary for life.

In a similar way, faith that stands alone is deadly (2:17). Merely to mouth a creed poisons one’s religious life. On the other hand, works alone are just as deadly. The arrogant attempt to work one’s way to God produces futility (Rom. 4). Yet the synergism of a faith that works yields genuine life with God. 

APP:  Where do you think most of us err presently, on the side of dead faith that doesn’t get lived out in action OR on the side of trying to gain God’s approval by adding personal works and good deeds to the finished life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?  I think the former (dead faith that deceives us into thinking we have living faith without a changed heart and changed living).

APPSo, will you allow me to bring this truth home in just one little area of our lives?  PRAYER.  How many of us would say that we have faith in God about prayer—that prayer changes US…that God will meet us when we pray…and answer—sometimes “yes,” sometimes “wait,” sometimes “no, my child”? 

            Yet (don’t raise your hands), how many of us didn’t spend any time this week praying with other believers?  How many of us didn’t pull away from interaction with others enough to spend 30 minutes alone with God praying?  How many of us didn’t spend 5 minutes praying for our governmental leaders and the world-shaping election that will happen in our nation in 2 days?

            So let’s exchange that “dead faith” about prayer for some “living faith” about prayer by spending a few moments actually PRAYING… coming into God’s presence, asking because we believe He hears and answers, and taking action that God can bless this week to actually answer our prayers.  

ILL:  This kind of praying in living faith was illustrated in the life of the famous missionary, Hudson Taylor.  When Hudson Taylor first went to China, it was in a sailing vessel. Very close to the shore of then cannibal islands, the ship got caught in a calm. It was slowly drifting toward the shore.  They could see the savages eagerly anticipating their arrival…and dinner! :O

The captain came to Mr. Taylor and asked him to pray for the help of God. 

'I will,' said Taylor, provided you set your sails ......to catch the breeze.' 

The Captain declined to make himself a laughing stock by unfurling the sails in a dead calm. 

So Hudson Taylor simply said, 'I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.' 

So the captain relented, and it was done.

While engaged in prayer, there was a knock at the door of Hudson’s stateroom. "Who is there?" he asked. The captains voice responded, 'Are you still praying for wind?' 

“Yes” came the reply.

“Well,” said the captain, “you better stop praying…for we have more wind than we can manage.'"

So as we pray, let’s “set some sails” as well.  

We’re going to pray for 3 different groups of people today:

  • For our persecuted brethren around the world.  Today is “International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church”. 75% of the world’s population lacks religious freedom…and we may soon find ourselves in the same boat.

If we pray, we better be prepared to take some action to support them—give some money to some organization that resettles and helps Christians persecuted somewhere in the world…pray each day this week for some persecuted nation…be ready to make room in our home to resettle a refugee family fleeing persecution.

Let me read you a short note from a friend of ours here in Spokane who has worked for the past 40 years with a very persecuted group of people, the Kamwe, in Nigeria.  Dr. Roger Morhlang, Professor Emeritus of Theology at Whitworth, wrote this week,

“For those of you who don’t know, I worked as a linguist and Bible translator in the Kamwe area 1968-74, as a young man. The Kamwe New Testament was published in 1975, and the revised version—on which I worked at Whitworth—came out in 1997.  Little did I realize, when I began, how much of my life would be devoted to Bible translation work in this language.

“A couple of months ago, exactly two years after the day of terror—Sept. 7, 2014, when Boko Haram invaded the Kamwe area on a Sunday morning, killed up to 200 Christians, and then proceeded to burn down churches and homes of believers, taking away scores of young girls and bringing about terrible devastation—an estimated 5,500 Christians gathered in the largest church in Michika for a memorial service. Most of the people who fled for their lives—including two of the three translators—have now returned to their homes in the area and begun rebuilding.  But people are still anxious, because the center of Boko Haram lies only 35-40 miles away.

“Pray for God’s strong blessing on the young and growing Kamwe church, that their lives may be deepened and strengthened in Christ. More than 95% of the Kamwe (who now number up to three-quarters of a million people) now speak of themselves as Christians—and it was only 60-70 years ago that the gospel first came into the area.  They now speak of themselves as a “Christian community”—a remarkable example of Christ’s work on the borders of Islam in northern Nigeria.

Pray for the millions of Christians in northeastern Nigeria who are threatened by the violence of jihadist Islam; thousands of believers have lost their lives (more Christians were killed in Nigeria than in any other country in 2015), and perhaps up to a million have been displaced from their homes.

OTHER PEOPLE/PLACES?  Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Russia, China, N. Korea, Iran, etc.  75% of the world!

  • For our nation…who will be elected to rule over us in the coming years…and VOTE!
  • For each other, the Body of Christ, whether you are in need or have extra to share with someone. It might be physical needs, emotional needs, job needs, financial needs, family needs, spiritual battle needs.  Some have needs today (and you’ll need to open up a little about them if you want us to both pray and take action about them).  Some have resources today (time, money, counsel, wisdom, encouragement, friendship, food, job knowledge, etc.).


  • Divide into prayer groups of 5-6 people. I will lead us through these 3 focuses of prayer.
  • If you haven’t learned to pray in a group/in public yet, start learning. Focus on God, not yourself or your words.  Focus on pouring out your heart and letting the Holy Spirit (who is very familiar with intercession) lead you.
  • Listen to others and take turns…and don’t make your prayers longer than a few sentences so more people can develop living, real faith by praying.


  • How has this debate between salvation by faith verses salvation by works affected, influenced, or been played out in your own experience with God?
  • Go to the sermon notes at mosaicspokane.com/sermons/ and look up the passages in both Romans 3 & 4, Titus 1 & 2, and 1st John 1 & 2 that you find in the written notes. How do these passages help you make sense of James’ emphasis upon righteous living/works in this discussion of faith?
  • According to James, what should we say to someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus by faith yet who is walking in sin or not demonstrating the heart of Christ in the living out of their faith? Do we have a responsibility to lovingly challenge others this way or is that being judgmental?
  • In what ways are we to “breath in” by exercising faith in God on a daily basis? How might that side of the spiritual respiration equation look on a daily basis
  • In what ways are we to “breath out” by exercising good works on a daily basis? What might your group DO that would help you learn to do both equally?
  • We ended Sunday by praying together. How can prayer accomplish both sides of the “spiritual respiration” equation?  How could you do that in your study group now?
  • How do Abraham and Rahab alluded to by James in this passage illustrate this concept of spiritual respiration (living faith that works)?
  • What ways is the Holy Spirit asking you to be in balance with faith that works?