Faith is a Verb
Passage: James 2:14–2:26
Community Group Discussion Questions:
If you would like to print these discussion questions for use in your Community Group or other study, you must first highlight the text, then right click and select "print" from the drop down menu that appears.
Read James 2:14-26 together as a small group and then work through the following questions:
- In verse 14, James askes an important question: can claims of faith unaccompanied by works really save a person? How would you answer James’ opening question and why?
- Verses 15-16 give a vivid example. Someone walks by their fellow-believer in their church who is in dire need, having the proximity and resources to help, but they do nothing other than wishing them well. Can you think of modern equivalents to this example? What does “dead” faith mean (vs. 17)?
- In verse 18, James quotes an “objector” who suggests that faith and works can be practiced separately like spiritual gifts: some people have faith, others have works. James responds by insisting that faith is proved by works. What examples have you seen among others in your community group where their faith has been proved genuine by their works? Take time to encourage one another by pointing out these evidences of God’s grace in each other’s lives.
- 19 gives the example of demons: they believe, and even have “solid” theology, but they are not saved. Rather, they “shudder” in terror at the reality of the judgment they will face because of their rebellion against God. Why is intellectual knowledge insufficient for a saving relationship with God?
- In vv. 21-23, James uses the example of Abraham to show that good works “justify” (that is vindicate or prove) the reality of one’s saving faith. Read and compare Genesis 15:1-6 (esp. vs. 6) and Genesis 22:1-19 (esp. vs. 12). As we look at this story, what do we learn about the nature of true, saving faith? How does Abraham’s example instruct us and inspire us as believing Christians?
- Compare Romans 3:28 with James 2:24. Paul uses the word “justified” to describe God’s verdict declaring guilty sinners to be righteous at the moment they believe in Christ. James uses “justified” to describe the final verdict of God on the day of judgment when he declares a person righteous before him based on the evidence of their works-filled life that demonstrates their faith in Christ. To put this another way, Paul, says we are declared to be righteous in Christ at the point of conversion. James says we are proved to be righteous in Christ on that day of judgment. Based on these two definitions of the word “justified,” how would you explain the harmony between James and Paul to a skeptical friend?
- Read James 2:25-26. Then, read the story of Rahab the spy in Joshua 2:1-24. In the story, where does Rahab declare her faith in Israel’s God? How does she prove that declaration of faith? In your life, when has it been most difficult to demonstrate your faith in action?
Prayer exercise: Spend time thanking God for the demonstrations of faith represented in the community group. Pray for situations in each other’s lives where your faith is being stretched. Ask God for the grace and strength to live boldly, and actively for him.