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I rebelled from the religion that contained all the smallness of my childhood. I cursed my Baptist teacher, God and the novel, and fled to Russia for a study-abroad semester sponsored by a coalition of Christian colleges. Turns out, Dan was in the same place I was. Together we raved and doubted and yelled and trembled all semester long. We felt the black blood of Dostoevsky and descended the dark stairs of Derrida and Sartre. Some nights, we would just sit across from each other and stare, estranged by the cold of a new, uncertain world. Then, on a snow-gray Russian day, riding a packed bus, a song came on my iPod that froze me in time.

With the terrifying pull of rubber bands, I expanded beyond the length of the bus, grew from the street to the sky. Then I snapped and everything came undone.

Saddleback Church: What Real Faith Looks Like: What Real Faith Looks Like

I resigned entirely. A few simple lines of an Indie rock song pushed me to see hope amid uncertainty. It snowed continually my last two weeks in Russia. I met Dan one morning at a small cafe, Biblioteca, where we drank bottomless black tea and watched the snow pile up on the street. He said he had prayed the night before. I said I was ready to step back into a church.

Our last Sunday in Moscow, we attended Mass, an Orthodox church, then a mosque. Dan said we were a Protestant service away from a monotheistic grand slam. Which Scripture quotation is shown true by that moment according to verse 23?

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What final illustration is given in verse 26 to demonstrate that faith without works is dead? This study is a kind of part two to the study of the previous verses, James "Is Your Faith Alive? In today's passage, we are given two examples of living faith. Specific moments of their lives that best exemplify this faith are highlighted. By reading their fascinating stories and God's perfect commentary on them you'll be able to discover what makes these examples of faith so significant.

Abraham's story begins in Genesis when his name was still Abram. What do these verses tell us about Sarah still named Sarai at the time that doesn't seem to fit with Abraham having a son when we get to the story in today's passage?

What is Saving Faith?

The end of Genesis 11 through the beginning of Genesis 25 tell Abraham's story. Reading or listening to the whole passage helps put the story about Isaac into perspective. In this study though, we'll just focus on the verses that help us understand the moment highlighted in today's passage. Genesis is next. What would have to happen for God to fulfill His promise to make a great nation of Abraham?

During the time between those promises and Genesis , Abraham and Sarah haven't gotten any younger. In Genesis we see God making a covenant with Abraham which includes children. In Genesis God clarifies that this son, Isaac, is the one to whom He will establish His covenant. Now the story takes a strange twist and we come to the moment referred to in James 2. As you read Genesis , keep in mind everything you've read so far about God's promises to Abraham.

Now that you've read it for yourself, firsthand, summarize in your own words the story of Abraham and Isaac like you might tell it to someone who had never heard it before.

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You'll look at what it means in a minute, just focus on what happened for now. Several times in the New Testament God calls our attention to Abraham's example of faith. One of these passages is Romans 4. Read what Romans says about Abraham's faith in the first part of the story you just read. What are some of the phrases used in Romans that tell us about Abraham's active faith? Examples of these phrases are "believed in hope" and "staggered not Romans tell us why God recorded the story of Abraham's faith.

What Real Faith Looks Like

What is the purpose in remembering the narrative of his life? Now we come to the record about Abraham in Hebrews 11 which is often called the "Hall of Faith" because it tells us of the faith of many of God's people in the Bible. Hebrews sheds new light on Abraham's story. Which three events in Abraham's life particularly display the reality of his faith?

According to Hebrews , what made obeying God especially hard for Abraham in the part of the story we're focused on today? As Abraham was contemplating how God's command could fit with His promises, what did he conclude God might do? Hebrews and James focus on the same four days in Abraham's life but cover it from different angles. How would you describe in one word the focus of each passage and why the different focus in each if you don't know the answer to the second part of this question, that's fine? Romans ties together the two passages and their emphases on faith and works.

Based on what you learned in the previous study plan James about the relationship of faith and works, how do Romans and James fit together? Read Galatians and consider what it says about Abraham's faith. If these other passages and James are so clear that Abraham was saved by faith, why does James say someone can't be justified by faith only? What is the role of works in a believer's life?

Based on these passages, you know there is nothing a person can do that will earn them salvation, but if a person claims to be saved and have faith, what can you expect to see in their life to demonstrate that? God refers to Abraham as His friend two other times in Scripture.

The first is 2 Chronicles Since obedience is both the mark of true faith and of true friendship with God, how can you explain why God might have mentioned that Abraham was His friend in James ? Now let's turn our attention to the second example given in today's passage. Read the first part of Rahab's amazing story in Joshua This means that no matter how I feel or what I experience, I can choose to depend on the Word of God as the unchanging reality of my life. I look back on that summer evening and that homework assignment as a turning point in my life.

That is the truth. That is where I am right now. But, Lord, Your Word says that You love me.

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Your love for me is one thing that stands when all else has fallen. At other times I have felt afraid or lonely or depressed. But instead I chose with my will to believe His Word. Even Christ had feelings. He was honest, real, authentic. We, too, have immeasurable freedom to be candid with the Lord about our feelings, to tell Him honestly where we are and what is going on in our lives. I pray that You would conform me to the image of Christ.

We want the result but not the painful process. The Lord is concerned about what we go through, but I believe He is more concerned about how we respond to what we go through. That response is a matter of our wills.