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James 1:27-2:26
Worship Set: Salvation is Here
Greatly To Be Praised
Everything Falls

Scripture: James 1:27 through Chapter 2

1. What pleases God?


James 1:27-2:26

Jas 1:27; “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after
orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
NIV

Jas 1:27; “Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out
to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless
world.” Msg.

Biblical Religion: Good behavior, consciously practiced regularly


“Faith put in action is religion.” RG

A. The Bible reminds us that there are two God-ordained religious practices:

1. I am to have a compassionate awareness of powerless and/or disenfranchised people


(that is the widows and orphans, the homeless and the loveless); an awareness that
results in me personally giving of myself and my resources to improve their situation.

Common-man’s translation: Look for needy people and help them.

2. To have a healthy fear of becoming personally corrupted by this world and its affluent
culture; a fear that results in taking whatever protective measures necessary to remain
untainted or polluted.

Common mans translation: Be wise to the ways in which the world will suck you in and do
everything necessary to prevent that while remaining genuinely Christ-like.

B. Breaking down James 1:27-all of chapter 2:

I. God’s looking for true Christians who… (Jas. 1:27)


1. Look after orphans and widows
2. Stay pure in an impure world

Ministry is responding to the authentic needs of others with the love of Jesus Christ by the
power of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian life is always a delicate balance between the positive and the negative. In this
passage, James is instructing us to positively carry on personal ministry by responding to the
authentic needs of widows and orphans. And, in the negative sense, we are to keep ourselves
unspotted from the world.
II. Don’t show favoritism (Jas. 2:1-8)
1. Example of how we esteem a poor man and a rich man
2. God has a value system that we don’t naturally perceive

Act 10:34; “Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show
favoritism.”

To the first Christians who were born Jews and became Christians…their down fall wasn’t
affluence, like perhaps ours is, their downfall was racism. They struggled to break away from
the mindset that only a Jew could be a Christian. So they were prejudiced against anyone not
Jewish.

3. To favor one over the other is a sin.

We favor wealth over poverty…and it’s just as condemning in God’s mind…because He sees
our wealth as hindering our allegiance to His Kingdom. It seems radical for us to denounce
our wealth and lead lives that are more restrained in order to free up finances to take care of
others less fortunate. But where is the balance?

“If we while helping the needy, feel superior…we are not pure in our motive.” RG

To find the balance it helps to know…


III. Law and Faith (Grace) are not opposites (Jas. 2:9-13)

1. To have faith means we observe the law. (Break the Law = No Faith)

Jesus said the Law is “Love God with all your heart soul and mind and others as much as you
love yourself”.

Do I, because of my love for God, provide for others as much as I provide for myself, in time,
energy, resources?

2. Faith and Law translate to mercy. (Uphold the Law = True Faith)

To find balance it helps to know…


IV. Faith and Deeds are inseparable (Jas. 2:14-26)
1. Faith doesn’t exist apart from faith-induced-actions
(Faith has an active arm and not just an active imagination)
2. Deeds are the measurable pulse of faith
(Faith is belief in things unseen that produces things that can be seen)
3. Every believer in all history exercised faith through deeds
(Salvation comes to Deed-doers)

So we now know from James what pleases God. To live the law of love by putting action to our
faith that produces true religion which is to address the needs of the needy while keeping
ourselves pure from the world’s religion.

In order to strike a Biblical Balance in our lives we have to be honest about…

2. What pleases Me?


Francis Chan, Crazy Love; synopsis of Chapter Four Profile of the Lukewarm
Francis Chan:until very recently (4/2010) was Sr. Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley
California.

In his book Crazy Love, Chan, based on his personal journey in Christ unflinchingly challenges
all American Christians regarding their level of commitment to Christ suggesting that our
affluence is a major deterrent to committed Biblical Christianity

In chapter four he plays Biblical “wack-a-mole” with all of us as he lists 17 characteristics of a


lukewarm Christian based on his understanding of the meaning of the Cross and the Love of
Christ.

In my personal opinion; these 17 identifiers are comparatives for us. They challenge us to
compare our love and commitment to the cause of Christ over and against our unwillingness to
take ourselves to the cross on His behalf.

Philippians 3:10; “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship
of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”
I believe it’s also important to include Chan’s disclaimer at the end of his list in which he says;
“We are all messed-up human beings, and no one is totally immune to the behaviors described
in (these) examples.”

The implication is…we all fail at some point when we are being compared to Jesus’ personal
standard.

Chan’s use of lukewarm is based on the warning that Jesus gives to the church at Laodicea; “I
know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold, I wish you were one or the other, but you
are not, you are lukewarm and because you are lukewarm I will spit you out of my mouth.”
Rev. 3:14-16

Here’s Chan’s list of 17 Biblical comparatives that identify Lukewarm-ness.

1. Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they
believe “good Christians” do, so they go. (Isa. 2:13; I Chron. 21:24; Luke 21:1-4)

2. Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict.
(Lk 6:26; Matt 23:5-7)

3. Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved
from the penalty of their sin. (Jn 10:10; Rom. 6:1-2)

4. Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet
they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. (They)
call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers. (Jas. 1:22; 4:17; Matt. 21:28-31)

5. Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do
not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about
private issues like religion. (Matt. 10:32-33)

6. Lukewarm people gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the


secular world. (Lk. 18:11-12)
7. Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a
part. They give him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn’t allowed
to control their lives. (Lk. 9:57-62)

8. Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and (mind)
strength. (Matt. 22:37-38)

9. Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love
themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like
family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. (Matt. 5:43-47; Lk. 14:12-14)

10. Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or
how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. (Lk. 18:21-25)

11. Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more than eternity in Heaven.
(Phil. 3:18-20; Col. 3:2)

C.S. Lewis wrote: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the
present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have
largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so
ineffective in this.”

“We are drowning in our own surplus.” RG

12. Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to
give as much as possible to the poor. (Matt. 25:34, 40; Isa. 58:6-7)

13. Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty.
They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without it requiring too much of them.
(I Chron. 29:14; Matt. 14:44-46)

14. Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god
of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God. (I Tim.
6:17-18; Matt. 10:28)

15. Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at
age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America.
(Matt. 7:21; Amos 6:1)

16. Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to.
They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens—they have their savings
account. (Lk. 12:16-21; see also Hebrews 11) “…and credit cards.” RG

17. Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really
aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with
holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong. (Matt. 23:25-28)

Chan concludes Chapter Four of Crazy Love by declaring that it is not possible to “take up
your cross and follow me” as Jesus commanded, in a lukewarm manner.
(Lk. 14:31-35) Here, Chan speaking of Jesus says; “He is saying that lukewarm, halfhearted
following is useless, that it sickens our souls. He is saying that this kind of salt is not even fit
‘for the manure pile.’”

We’ve talked about What pleases God, and what pleases us…How do we strike a
balance?

3. How to balance the two.

Biblical Balance then is; only achieved when we carefully divide our love (our faith) and
our resources (our deeds) equally between God, others and ourselves. When we hoard
or withhold from either others or God we cannot find contentment…but only a
temporary sense of satisfaction.

Contentment is difficult to achieve when we are looking to insufficient means to arrive


at contentedness. However when we balance our hearts and our actions we are
promised contentedness.

Listen to Jesus and Paul as they discuss this in the New Testament.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are--no more, no less. That's the
moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.” (Matt.
5:5)

“If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to
simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” (Matt. 23:12)

“What I'm saying is, if you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up
flat on your face. But if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than
yourself." (Lk. 14:11)

“As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are
you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything's
going your way?” (I Cor. 3:3)

Conclusion: So what exactly does God expect of us affluent American Christians?

1. I don’t believe God is asking you to sell all you own and give it to the poor.
But I do believe He’s wants you to be willing.

2. I don’t believe that jeopardizing your personal position or reputation for the sake of charity is
what God is asking you do.
But I do believe He wants you to be willing.

Pray & Ministry Time:


Will you with me to determine today to…

1. Pray for compassionate awareness of those who are in need and then personally
give of yourself and your resources to improve their situation?

2. Pray for and exercise a healthy fear of becoming personally corrupted by this world
and its affluent culture and then take immediate protective measures remain untainted
or polluted.

The Holy Spirit can give you this compassionate awareness and this intelligent healthy
fear…won’t you pray with me now for this?

Now go and look for ways to show compassion and healthy fear.

This Week
I will post the notes for this message on our website and I’d like for you to send me short
emails that list how you have been directed by God to be compassionate and what He has
shown you to be fearful of.