Chapter 5 of The Book of James
I managed a restaurant in my hometown for several years. As the building got older, they decided to give the store a facelift along with landscaping for the yard. Beautiful trees were placed on both sides of the dining area. The man in charge of the planting crew told me they were pear trees. “Great,” I said, “When do the pears come in?”
“You don’t understand,” he responded. “These trees don’t bear fruit; they are just for looks.”
“Then how do you know it’s a pear tree?” I asked. He never answered the question.
Shortly after this I moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In front of the mission building where I would be serving, several banana trees grew on each side of the porch. I waited three years for those trees to produce bananas – nothing! Then one day a neighbor came over and told me those trees didn’t bear fruit, they were just there to give the place a tropical look. “How can it be a banana tree if it doesn’t bear bananas?” No one answered that question either.
Can you imagine a society which is more interested in what something looks like than they are in what something does? That’s exactly where we are today. If hard times were to come, a person could starve to death looking at a beautiful tree which doesn’t bear fruit. Give me “the real thing.”
I hope you can see the connection between the trees and the Christian. You can call a tree whatever you want to but, unless the tree produces fruit, there is no proof of what it is. There was a time when these trees would have been cut down from the roots and burnt in the fire for being useless. Why let it stay and take up space?
Can you see how everything you have learned in James is coming together in this chapter? There has been patience as we waited on the tree to bear fruit (Learning How to Wait, Lesson No. 1). By being patient, we have shown mercy on the tree by giving it a chance to produce fruit (Have Mercy, Lesson No. 4).
The tree cannot blame others for its inability to produce (The Devil Made Me Do It, Lesson No. 2). Now the tree must examine itself (Who Dat? Lesson No. 3).
Where do you line up? We will take a good look at ourselves in this study. After you finish the lesson study that goes with this chapter come back to this page and answer the questions below.
It’s the Real Thing, Chapter 5
What kind of tree are you – one that bears fruit or one that only looks good? ______________________________________________________
When someone asks you about your faith, can you honestly say, It’s the real thing…? ____________________________________________
Do you bear enough fruit to prove you are a Christian? (Does your life produce to show other people the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit?) ______________________________________________________
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 [Emphasis mine]
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Lesson Study No. 5
Before you begin this worksheet, read James 2:14-26, and then ask God for wisdom. (James 1:5)
“It’s the Real Thing”
- (James 2:14-17)
One of our clients had completed the program for drug addiction and was serving the Lord faithfully. She went to visit her husband in a secular treatment center so they could seek counsel together. When the counselor asked her what she was doing to stay sober and drug free she mentioned her faith in God. “Your faith won’t keep you clean,” the counselor replied. That statement offended me a little at first but I realized this counselor had probably never seen real faith. She was only familiar with people who “talked it’ instead of “walked it”. You know, the kind of faith described in verse 14.
Can this kind of faith help anyone?
Can this kind of faith save anyone?
Why not? (V.17)
Talk is cheap. What is the only way you can help someone in need?
Note: The same is true of faith. I suppose the world is full of good intentions. What God demands is action.
- (James 2:18)
There comes a time in your faith walk when your words and your works begin to line up. Give some examples which show your faith in action. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Does your life produce enough works to convince other people you are walking by faith in the finished work of Christ?
- (James 2:19-20)
Do devils (demons) believe in one God?
How do demons react to this knowledge?
Does their belief in one God produce any works which would indicate a genuine faith?
Note: When it comes to your faith, if “it’s the real thing,” it will produce works accordingly.
“But wilt thou know,
O vain man,
That faith without works is dead.”
It’s the Real Thing, Chapter 5
- (James 2:21-25)
Look up the word “justify” in the dictionary and write out the definition.
How was Abraham justified? (v.21)
How was Rahab justified? (v.25)
What goes together with faith to make it perfect (mature)? (v.22)
What two things justify a man? (v.24)
- (James 2:26)
What is the body without the spirit?
What is faith without work?
Do you have a genuine saving faith?
I pray you have examined your heart and have found your faith in Jesus to be “the real thing”.
- Write down some truths you have learned from this lesson and how you can apply those truths to your life. Remember, these are “words you can live by.”
7. Memory verse:
For as the body without the spirit is dead
So faith without works is dead also.