"The Six Tests of Faith"
based on an outline by D. Edmond Hiebert, found in "The Unifying Theme of the Epistle of James," Bibliotheca Sacra Vol 135, #539

J. Deering,

TEST NUMBER TWO: James 2:1-13

2:1-13 The second test of a living faith is that of Partiality It must be stopped as it is inconsistent with Christian Faith.
2:1  My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2  For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3  and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here
(Imperative: You, sit here) in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there (Imperative: You, Stand over there), or sit down by my footstool," 4  have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 

Job Position
Possessions (house, pool, wide screen TV, computers, boat)
Talent, Ability, Gifts, etc.

5  Listen (Imperative: You, Hear!), my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6  But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7  Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? 

The Fair Name By Which You Have Been Called CHRISTIAN Members of JESUS CHRIST

8  If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law (Imperative: You, do right!), according to the Scripture, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF," you are doing well. 9  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin (Imperative: You, work sin) and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 

It is good if you love your neighbor BUT It is still sin, and you are still a TRANSGRESSOR if you show partiality. 

10  For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11  For He who said, "DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY," also said, "DO NOT COMMIT MURDER." Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 

Romans 3:23  "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" 

The Results of This Test:
12  So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

The Law of Liberty Living according to the Character of God (as revealed in the Mosaic law) because you want to please God, not because it is the law. Only when you are obedient, because you want to be obedient, does it mean anything to God Then, and Then only does it bring true LIBERTY. 

"The practice of mercy, giving a man what he needs and not what he deserves, will reveal that God's grace has produced a transformation in their own lives." (Hiebert) 

13      For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. 

The one who has not shown mercy has not known Christ personally. Without knowing Christ personally in a personal faith relationship with Him, there will be no mercy. But, the one In-Christ will be shown mercy even where there is no obedience (all the more to those who are obedient to Him).

The Three Categories of Man
Knows Christ Personally
Is Obedient to the Law of Freedom
Knows Christ Personally
Is Disobedient to the Law of Freedom
Does NOT know Christ Personally


TEST NUMBER THREE: James 2:14-26

14  What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? (Can a faith like that save him?) 

This Rhetorical Question is the theme of this test. A saving faith is a working faith that proves its vitality through its production of works. 

15  If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16  and one of you says to them, "Go in peace (Imperative: You, go in peace), be warmed (Imperative: You, be warmed) and be filled (Imperative: You, be filled)," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17  Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 

A "faith" that does not show forth the works associated with the Character of God is a "faith" that cannot be from Him. That kind of "faith" is an inoperative kind of faith. God does good works because it is His nature to do so, any person filled with the Holy Spirit of this God will duplicate the good works of God through his own life it may take time to produce such works as it takes time to mature into a true man or woman of God. A person who does not change from a non-"God good works" person to a "Godly good works" person is not of God. 

18  But someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works; show me (Imperative: You, show me) your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." 19  You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 

Faith in God (i.e., belief in God) is no sign of being a true member of His personal family, but those who continually demonstrate Godly good works and proclaim themselves to be His through belief and faith, will be seen as true believers. 

20  But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 

The message here is to those who stand among the faithful but are without a believing Faith. They are FOOLS acting like a believer, but deceiving themselves. The true believer can not help but produce good works that reflect the good nature of their Heavenly Father. 

There is also a message here for those who are true believers who do not manifest godly good works They will be seen by the rest of the body as if they were unsaved and loose the body's fellowship and support. They will also come into judgment for their unwillingness to act according to the nature and characteristics of their Heavenly Father. 

21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22  You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23  and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God. 24  You see (Imperative: You, see) that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. 

When considering your faith, you must consider the faith of Abraham. God called him "My friend." Abraham's relationship to God the Father was one that produced a willingness to absolutely trust God in any circumstance. Where do you stand in your relationship to God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit?

The Results of This Test
      And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26  For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. 

James asks us to consider Rahab as well. With all her sin and faults, she found herself in the position of being JUSTIFIED before Almighty God, based upon her act of GODLY SACRIFICE. Like Abraham it was accounted unto them as RIGHTEOUSNESS and they were JUSTIFIED, because of their Godly Working Faith.