“Faith Without Works is Dead” Sunday School Lesson Summary and Activities, James 2:14-26

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Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it, one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word.  Here at “Word For Life Says,” I want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons and my personal summary notes that I use when teaching. May God bless you!

“Faith Without Works is Dead”

James 2:14-26

PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy!  Blessings.

Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2014 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. I am glad you like to read my personal summary notes that I use when teaching, but as always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well.  Blessings!)


Remember the days of “Show and Tell” at school?  It was an opportunity for one to not just talk about what they do or have, but to display visible evidence before their classmates of a possession or skill.

Jesus was a “Show and Tell” Savior.  He drew many crowds to Himself through the many miracles that He performed: feeding 5,000, healing the sick, raising the dead and so on.  People often marveled at what He could do.  He did more than just talk the talk or preach and lecture, He demonstrated the power of the Kingdom of God through Himself.

While you and I may not be multiplying a boy’s lunch to feed 5,000, we can through our actions and service toward one another, volunteer to feed some.  We may not be raising the dead or healing the sick (although, miracles really do still happen 🙂 ), we can volunteer to comfort and help those around us in need.  What this does is it shows that we are more than just talk; rather our faith is manifested in what we do.

James knew that people needed to see the church displaying tangible evidence of what they say they believe, especially when it comes down to loving one another.  Jesus, along with many others in the Bible, let their works speak for them.  And, how they worked showed what the real measure of their faith was on the inside of them.

James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

In my personal opinion, right at the beginning, James seems to be questioning the validity of someone’s faith without works; without evidence.  He said, “What doth it profit?”  What does it profit you?  What does it profit for others around you?

For a man or woman to say they have faith or are in the faith without evidence to back it up is like saying one is a doctor without a degree to prove it.  When I go into a doctor’s office I am actually one of those people who will read the accreditations on the wall.  This is the proof that they can take care of me.  What I see before me is speaking up on behalf of the individual to whom I am submitting myself for care.  Those papers hanging on the walls are little, personal testimonies.

Faith that is worked out operates in the same manner.  Faith is not silent.  Faith is full of action.  Faith is alive.  Faith is shared through works to testify of its genuineness and sincerity.  Faith does more than move mountains.  If it is lived out in the lives of the men and women of God, it can move hearts toward salvation!

When one is living a life of faith people should be able to look at their life, their actions, as signs of accreditation that we belong to God.  They should be able to tell by how we operate and carry ourselves through our display of service, that we live what we talk.

Where is the profit if there is no proof?  What can you and I show to a hurting world that we have their best interest in mind; that we genuinely care about them as a person?

James 2:15-16 “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 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?”

Is this one’s faith real or not?  Words without supplying to the physical, emotional or spiritual comfort of another in distress are what these two verses speak of.  But, all too often, how many times have we heard or spoken of what should be done to help others without putting in some work to help society move toward that goal?

It all becomes rhetoric like the broken promises of many political platforms.  Dr. Suess said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.” (Quotegarden.com). Unless someone like you and I care enough to put some backbone and muscle behind our mouths, the world will never see the true love of Jesus Christ in action.

That’s what’s it’s all about, isn’t it?  It’s going beyond pulpits to work to meet the needs of the communities that we are in, to put the love of Christ on display through our actions and not just our talk.

James saw the emptiness in just words alone.  Speaking “peace” without lifting a finger to physically help satisfy the present need, to him it was not true faith.  True faith believes and then allows that belief to be put to work.  True faith has heavenly aspirations that work out to show good on earth.  So, he asked, “What doth it profit” without it?  What is each of us doing now that is benefiting his fellow man and the kingdom of heaven?

James 2:17-18 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  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.”

What you profess and what you do together should match up to display a well-rounded Christian.  People can’t claim they are heaven bound and yet show no heavenly fruit in their lives.  Such claims to faith are “dead,” meaning there is no life in it to prove it’s alive.

Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,” (Quotegarden.com).  What are you waiting for?  Show the world that God is alive in you!  Put some action behind those words you speak!

One 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.”  Our faith, which comes through hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) should compel us to actively participate in the things that are written or spoken through that Word; it should get us involved in the things that God is concerned about.  The faith that shows that the Word is working in us is the faith that can do more.  Therefore, faith and works do not go against each other, rather, they support one another in proving that Christ is alive and active on the inside of the believer.

When that happens, this, in turn, shines a light to the world reflecting Him.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (emphasis mine).  This light shines by what it is doing; by “good works.”  This kind of faith can make a bigger impact in this world and draw more people to God.

James 2:19-20 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

One’s claim to faith goes beyond just believing in the very real fact that there is a one and only true living God.  It’s living out that belief in one’s daily life.  It’s working His works.  James opened up our perspective this way by saying that’s good; that’s a start, that’s right, “thou doest well” to believe.  Everything in our faith walk begins with believing.  But, where does it go from there?    

He goes on to say, “The devils also believe, and tremble,” but they’re still “devils.”  They know there is a God.  They believe He exists, but they are not bowing their selves to working His works.  They are not working His will.  They are not in a relationship with God; rather, they are opposers of God.

But, what of those who claim they are in a relationship with God through faith?  Where is the fruit of their faith?

Faith without fruit is not an operational faith.  It’s stale.  It’s stagnating.  It does no good.  Real faith has to act out what it is experiencing on the inside.  Real, genuine faith will not just be content in a life of mediocrity – never accomplishing or making a difference for His kingdom.  Real faith wants to see better in and for people’s lives.  Real faith shows itself and overflows to those around him or her.

Therefore, if faith is meant to be alive and active and shown to the world throughout works, then “faith without works is dead.”  The one who claims they believe without any evidence to support that proclamation is “vain,” useless, empty, in other words, no good.

Rather, Jesus wants to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” (Mt. 25:23, emphasis mine).  Those who have put their faith into action and “done” something with what He has given them can make a difference.  God can use people like this in the world.  But, He can’t do that unless you work what He has given you.

If it isn’t working – it’s “dead.”  It’s lifeless with no functioning activities.  It’s useless!

James 2:21-24 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

Genesis 15:6 declares, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  This was after God told him to count the stars and see if he could number them.  God then told him, “So shall thy seed be,” (Gen. 15:5).

At another point, Abraham was forced to send Hagar and Ishmael away, but God gave him this promise: “for in Isaac shall thy seed be called,” (Genesis 21:12).

One day Abraham’s faith was tested to see if he still believed in the God of those promises spoken to him; to see if the faith and righteousness that was attributed to him was true on the inside and not just an outward, surface claim to faith.  By taking action to obey God in going forth with the procedure to offer “Isaac his son upon the altar,” he manifested through his works the very realness of his faith.  His faith, in turn, became a testimony before the whole world.  Abraham’s story doesn’t just talk about faith, it shows how his faith was worked out (compare Hebrews 11:17-19).

His actions demonstrated his heart.  “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.”  Pay attention to that word “with,” which speaks to the accompanying factor of each coming alongside one another as agents together to show what he was really made of; to show his true belief in God alone, regardless of the way things outwardly appeared.  Jointly, they showed his true faith nature, and jointly, “by works was faith made perfect,” or complete.

“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.”  Referencing the above verse quote I noted earlier from Genesis 15:6, James saw a fulfilling of that verse through the actions of Abraham, through his obedience.  Abraham’s faith was real, and it was shown by what he did (compare Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6).

“And he was called a friend of God.”  Abraham’s experiences with God drew his heart closer to God in obedience and in turn, he was considered a friend of God (compare 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8), in such a way that God was even able to reveal to Abraham what His plans were for the destruction of Sodom (see Genesis 18:17-18).

Jesus once taught, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” (John 15:14-15).  As His Father revealed to Abraham, His friend, of His plans, so too does Jesus reveal the will of God to those disciples, to those who obey Him, for they are His friends, too.

James put the two together as in a great summation: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”  Check out this great inspirational video I came across showcasing some awesome quotes on faith in action along with some dynamic music.  Very inspiring (Youtube.com).

One of the quotes shown therein is by Pam Farrel which really sums all this up.  In it, she asks, “What good is a faith if you can’t live it out?”  This is exactly what James was calling his readers to do – live out your faith!  Show the world that you are not just all talk, but the love of Christ is in you and manifesting through you to touch a world in need.  Put Him on display before all eyes that see you, that they might see Him.

While works cannot save us they show that we are saved, they are telling proof that we are “justified” and moving in the same direction as our Christ.

James 2:25 “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”

What you do matters!  Rahab could have lost her life if she had been found out helping the enemy of her people.  But she heard about all that God had done in delivering His people against enemies (Joshua 2:10) and it made the people of Jericho’s hearts melt (Joshua 2:11), but Rahab believed for more. She said, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us,” (Jos. 2:9). Not only did she express belief in all that God has done and was still doing, she went as far as to take these men in her home and personally sought their care and safety.  That was a bold step for her.  Her was faith put into action.  To make a long story short, those in her house, their lives were spared in the fall Jericho because of her active, working faith which landed her in the hall of fame of faith (Hebrews 11:31).

James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The body is a physical shell, so to speak, that houses the spirit.  At the time of death, the spirit departs leaving behind the lifeless shell that remains.  When we attend funerals and view our dearly departed all we see is what is left, the outer man; the shell.  “So faith without works is dead also.”  Faith, without the outward workings of tangible evidence, is just as dead as a body without a spirit.  There is no life there.


Our actions testify to the faith that we say we have in us.  What we do or how we live out our faith matters.  Jesus taught, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” (Matthew 25:40; read Matthew 25:31-46 for further explanation).

Standard Print PDF: Faith Without Works is Dead Sunday School Lesson Summary Standard Print

Large Print PDF: Faith Without Works is Dead Sunday School Lesson Summary Large Print

Below are activities to support this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

Word Search: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search Answers

Crossword: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Scramble  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Scramble Answers

Below are Activities/Resources/Links to support this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!

“Faith Without Works is Dead Activities and Coloring”

“James 2:14-25 Matching Game”

“Display Your Faith”

“Strong and Active Faith”

“Faith Without Works is Dead”

“Faith Heroes (Hebrews 11)”

“Faith Means Action: Abraham Offering Isaac with Today’s Verse Coloring Sheet”

“Even a Child is Known by his Doing” Coloring Page (Does not the title of this coloring sheet really hit home with today’s lesson. Such a great idea. Enjoy!)

“Games About Helping Others” (Oh, boy, if I ever saw games that really emphasize helping others, along with showing your faith through works, this page has great ones to choose from!  My favorites are Collection Box and Kindness Cookoff.  A must view!  If you can implement any of these into your lesson you will be sharing more than a lesson game, but a real example of how to put one’s faith into action. Enjoy!)

“Sharing/Helping Others Booklet” (Students can make a hand-shaped booklet.  On the inside pages they can write, draw or cut out pictures from old magazines to show different ways they can share or help others. Enjoy!)

“Helping Hands Wreath”

“Feed the Children Coloring and Activities”

“Children’s Books for Teaching About Helping Others” (Here you will find such inspirational stories to supplement this week’s lesson.  Check some of these out at your local library to read to your students. Enjoy!)

“Helping Others Printable” (This activity sheet is so on point. Find the different people that need help. What better way to show children that there are things that even they can do to reach out, help others and show that God’s faith is alive and working in them. Enjoy!)

“I Can Follow Jesus by Helping Others Coloring Sheet”

Below are previous lesson ideas and links for “Serving One Another” and “The Privilege of Serving” all which can be adapted nicely for this week’s lesson. Enjoy!


In getting across the idea of “Serving,” I used crafts incorporating the hands since that’s what we use the most to serve and help others. Enjoy!

Here’s a craft I came up with called “The Hand Clapper”(below). It’s just like the hand clapper/noise makers you can buy, but this one can be made by you and your students.  They will get a kick out of this!



card stock, hot glue, big craft sticks, buttons, crayons/markers for decorating, scripture cutout (below)

  1. Click here to:Print handprint (I used the 5×7 setting to get two to a page).
  2. Have students decorate/color as they like (it’s easier to do it before cutting it out). Mine is roughly done just for demonstrative purposes.
  3. Cut out handprints and lay them on top of each other.
  4. Using hot glue, glue buttons on the inside of the fingers (I found that 3 buttons for each hand was enough).  Exercise caution when using hot glue or when letting students use it.  You can use regular glue but I think hot glue works best and is faster at drying and letting the children play with their new toy immediately.
  5. Put a large craft stick in the middle of the two hands and hot glue.
  6. Cut out and attach the verse reference to your project: Show Your Faith By Your Works Verse Cutout (The picture above shows the verse cutout for The Privilege of Serving.  If you are doing this project substitute it with the Show Your Faith By Your Works cutout instead).
  7. Shake and make some noise! Enjoy and have fun.

(This project can be done effectively with 2 or 3 handprints.  The picture above is done with 3.  It’s easier with two and uses less buttons and supplies and still gets a nice clicking sound.  If you choose to use three handprints, you’ll need to use two crafts sticks for stability.  You’ll also have to attach buttons on both sides of the middle handprint to get your clicking sound.)


Another craft idea, is to simply print out this Lace It Up Handprint (below) (on cardstock) that the students can decorate and lace with ribbon or yarn.  Attach the verse reference  to the finished product:  Show Your Faith By Your Works Verse Cutout – PDF OF LACE IT UP HANDPRINT


Continuing with our hand theme, print out a handprint (on cardstock)  to make a Hanprint Necklace (below); or let the child trace their hand print onto construction paper and cut out.  Punch one hole in the top.  Using ribbon or yarn and cut up straws, make this necklace for kids to wear and display “Show Your Faith by Your Works.” (Guess what?  I had some leftover beads from a previous project and added them.  But this is not necessary.  It works just fine with straws since beads can get pricey). Let them decorate it as they see fit. Enjoy! (Don’t forget to attach the verse to it to reinforce the lesson: Show Your Faith By Your Works Verse Cutout).


Other “Serving” Lesson Helps and Activities:

“Serving Others”

“Crafts for Kids to Serve Others”

“Serving God”

“Serving God Everyday”

“Teaching Children to Serve (30 Project Ideas)”

“Empty Chair and Prayer Wall” 

“Marshmallow Sheep Memory Verse” from Mssscrafts 

“I Can Be a Service Star” (Sugardoodle.net)

“Love and Service Go Hand and Hand” (Sugardoodle.net/Alana’s File)

Coloring Page “Helping Out At Home” (edupics.com)


2 thoughts on ““Faith Without Works is Dead” Sunday School Lesson Summary and Activities, James 2:14-26

  1. Pingback: “Show Your Faith by Your Works” Sunday School Lesson, James 2:14-26, February 16, 2014 | Word For Life Says . . .

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