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Sermon #19 — James Series


Title:               Rahab the Harlot


Text:                James 2:24-26

Subject:                     Rahab’s Faith

Date:              Tuesday Evening — July 21, 2015

Readings:     Lindsay Campbell and Cody Henson



How I rejoice to know and to declare to you the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world to save sinners!


Sinners Jesus will receive!

Sound this word of grace to all:

By His blood and by His grace,

Christ saves sinners from the Fall!


Four Women


You need not look beyond the genealogy of our Redeemer to see this. Only four women are mentioned in our Lord’s genealogy. All four of them have a specific taint upon them.

·     Tamar was guilty of incest.

·     Ruth was a cursed, unclean Moabitess.

·     Bathsheba was an adulteress.

·     Then, there was Rahab the harlot!

Thus, even in his genealogy and birth, our Savior associated himself with sinners. The Son of God came to save sinners.


Rahab the Harlot is held before us by God the Holy Ghost in the 2nd chapter of the Book of James, side by side with Abraham, as an example of faith in Christ, faith made evident by works.


(James 2:24-26) “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”


I want to talk to you about this dear saint of God, held before us in the Book of God as a great example of faith for us to follow — Rahab the Harlot.


Rahab means proud. She was a harlot; and she was proud of it! Her pride was in her shame. Rahab was also a Canaanite, a Gentile, an alien, and by nature an enemy to the commonwealth of Israel, “without hope, and without God in the world.” This woman, Rahab, was notoriously known as a woman of ill-repute, living in the cursed City of Jericho, a city marked by Divine justice for destruction.


Proposition: Yet, it is this woman, Rahab, is held before us in our text, side by side with Abraham, as an example of faith for us to follow.


Wondrous Grace


That fact makes Rahab, her faith and her work of faith, peculiarly interesting to me. Rahab was a believer in the Lord God of Israel! Oh, the wonders of distinguishing grace! From the stock of this woman the Lord God chose to send his dear Son, the woman’s Seed, our Redeemer into this world (Matthew 1:1-17). Imagine that!

  • By her marriage to Salmon God brought Boaz into the world.
  • By Boaz’s marriage to Ruth Obed was born.
  • From Obed Jesse was born.
  • From Jesse came David.
  • And from David came Christ our Savior: — David’s son and David’s Lord.

I say again, oh, the wonders of distinguishing grace! Truly, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways!

  • God chose Rahab the Harlot!
  • Christ redeemed Rahab the Harlot!
  • God saved Rahab the Harlot!
  • God the Holy Ghost gave Rahab the Harlot faith in Christ!
  • God used Rahab the Harlot to save his people and destroy his enemies!
  • God holds Rahab the Harlot before us as an example of faith!


(James 2:24-26) “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”


Mixed Multitude


Throughout this Epistle, James draws a clear distinction between those who profess faith in Christ and those who possess faith in Christ. In this world the professed Church of God is a mixed multitude.

  • Wheat and Tares
  • Sheep and Goats
  • Wise Virgins and Foolish Virgins
  • Regenerate and Religious


There are many in the Church by profession who are believers in name only, vain talkers, whose religion consists in nothing but name (Hebrews 4:4-6). Throughout this Epistle, James speaks of these false professors and their lip religion to teach God’s saints ever to cling to Christ.


Law of Liberty


He has twice mentioned “the perfect law of liberty” (1:25; 2:12), which is Christ himself set before us in the Book of God. He is the engrafted Word, the uncreated Word, revealed and made known to us by his Spirit in this Book, his written Word. Looking into this Mirror, we behold our Savior’s perfections of Person and work for his people. Beholding, as Paul puts it, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).


James describes God’s Church, the true children of God, regenerated and made new creatures in Christ Jesus, as looking wholly to Christ. Looking to Christ, every heaven-born soul receives his grace and his graces, is made to imitate his example, and delights in all that belongs to him and his Gospel.




This is the life of God’s children, who are all doers of the Word, not hearers only. The mere professor may know all about all spiritual things, but his knowledge is only letter knowledge. He knows the things of God in name only. He may observe, with the greatest punctuality, church attendance, praying, Bible reading, and religious duty; but when the heart is not regenerated head-knowledge is but vain.


The love of Christ is known, felt, and enjoyed in the renewed soul. Where the new-birth is wanting, all is wanting. Where God the Spirit has wrought the saving change, a gracious life follows; but not such as most imagine and pretend. The gracious life that follows is a life of faith, doing the Word of God and the will of God just as Rahab the Harlot did.


The works by which Rahab was justified in her faith were not works of goodness and morality before men. She was Rahab the Harlot, not Rahab the Nun! In so far as her conduct toward her countrymen, blessed as her faith and works of faith were in the sight of God, in the world’s dictionary she was a treacherous woman. Yet, God the Holy Ghost holds her before us, by James’ pen, as a great example of faith and faithfulness, who proved herself genuine by receiving the spies in peace and sending them out another way!


God’s work is a sure work. And God the Holy Spirit, in the new birth, forms the new creature, after the image of him that created him (Colossians 3:10). Rahab the Harlot was a new creature in Christ. The harlot Rahab believed God!


(Hebrews 11:31) “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.”


What grace is displayed in Rahab the Harlot! What a great, encouraging picture we have before us of…


“The change that’s wrought in a sinner’s heart,

By the touch of the Master’s hand!”


·      The most hideous lusts are conquered by the revelation of Christ!

·      The most bestial debauchery is defeated by the grace of God!

·      The most useless, most worthless dregs of fallen humanity are made the instruments of the greatest possible usefulness by faith in Christ!


Faith in Christ is the greatest gift God almighty can or will ever give to any sinner upon the earth.

·      Seek it for yourself.

·      Seek it for others.

·      Thank God if you have it.


Divisions: Let me show you six things plainly revealed about Rahab’s faith. My points will be very simple and plain. I don’t want you to miss anything because I did not state it plainly enough and simply enough.

1.    Saving Faith

2.    Singular Faith

3.    Steadfast Faith

4.    Self-denying Faith

5.    Sympathizing Faith

6.    Sanctifying Faith


Saving Faith


In the first place, this woman’s faith was saving faith. — “Rahab the Harlot was justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way.” — “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not!” She was delivered amid the general destruction of Jericho purely and only through her faith. Her salvation, however, was not merely of a temporal nature, not merely the deliverance of her body from the sword, but the deliverance of her soul from hell. Oh, what a great gift faith is. It is that which saves the soul from hell!


“So mighty is the ever-rushing torrent of sin, that no arm but that which is as strong as Deity can ever stop the sinner from being hurried down to the gulf of black despair, and, when nearing that gulf, so impetuous is the torrent of Divine wrath, that nothing can snatch the soul from perdition but an atonement which is as Divine as God himself. Yet faith is the instrument of accomplishing the whole work.”                                                                                         (C. H. Spurgeon)


What a great thing the salvation of a soul is! You can never know how great it is until you experience it. There only two people who know what salvation is: — The Saved and The Savior!

·      No one knows what liberty is except a freed captive and the Deliverer.

·      No one knows what redemption is but a ransomed soul and the Redeemer.

·      No one knows what forgiveness is but a forgiven sinner and the Forgiver.

·      No one knows what salvation is but a saved soul and the Savior.


By faith, the harlot Rahab perished not!

·      God sent his Word, and she believed it.

·      God showed her the blood, and she hung everything on it.


Now, hear me, my friend. — The same faith that saved Rahab saves us. — Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall perish not, even if your name is Rahab the Harlot! — Christ’s Gospel is a declaration of free salvation for sinners. Thieves, murderers and harlots find in his blood full absolution from all sin!


(Romans 8:1-4) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”


(Romans 8:33-34) “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”


The fountain filled with Immanuel’s blood was opened for the cleansing of souls as black as hell. The robe of Christ was woven for buck naked sinners, guilty before God! The balm of Calvary is for sin-sick souls! He who is Life came into the world to raise the dead. Oh, perishing and guilty soul, may God give you Rahab’s faith! If he does, you shall have Rahab’s salvation; and you shall with her stand yonder, where the white-robed spotless hosts sing unending hallelujah to God and the Lamb.


Singular Faith


2nd — Here is something else. Rahab’s faith was a singular faith. — The city of Jericho was about to be attacked. Within its walls there were hosts of people of all classes and characters. They all knew that if their city was stormed by Jehovah’s Israel they would all be put to death. They had heard clearly what God had done to others and would do to them.


Yet, strange as it may seem, there was not another person in the entire city, young or old, male or female, who believed God and sought his mercy, except this woman, Rahab, who was a harlot. Rahab and Rahab alone believed God! — If we would believe God, there is a sense in which we, too, must be singular in believing him!

·      Faith is always an individual matter.

·      Faith always stands alone.

·      Faith always swims upstream, against the tide.

·      Faith always stands by itself before God. — Barefoot Before God!

·      Faith is never the result of group therapy!


Illustration: The Deception of Mass Evangelism


Steadfast Faith


Third, Rahab’s faith was a steadfast faith.

·      Her faith stood firm in the midst of trouble.

·      She believed God when everything she hoped for seemed most unlikely. — “Why didn’t anybody bring an umbrella?”

·      She believed God to the end. — When Jericho was gone, when the storm was over, she was right where she was when the walls began to fall. — She was in the house marked by blood, kept by a covenant, and secured by the very Word of God!


Self-denying Faith


4th — This woman’s faith was a self-denying faith. — She dared to risk her life for the sake of the spies. She knew that if they were found in her house she would be put to death. Yet she ran the risk of being put to death to save those two men. True faith is always self-denying faith.


Someone once actually made this statement. I do not know who he was and do not care. I have seen his face many times. He said, —— “I have got a good religion; it’s the right sort of religion; I do not know that it costs me a cent a year; and yet I believe I am as truly a religious man as anybody.” –— That’s the kind of religion you get from Babylon, not from heaven.

·      The Rich Young Ruler

·      Paul and Barnabas


(Luke 14:25-33) “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”


Illustration: The Pearl


If I might make some reserve,

And duty did not call,

The love of Christ (O sweet constraint!),

Demands I give Him all!



“Love so amazing, so divine

Demands my soul, my life, my all.”


Sympathizing Faith


Fifth, Rahab’s faith was a sympathizing faith. — She was not content to go to heaven alone. She desired the mercy and grace of God for her family, and got it for them!


(Acts 16:31-34) “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”


(Romans 9:1-3) “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”


(Romans 10:1) “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”


George Whitefield once said, “As soon as I was converted, I wanted to be the means of the conversion of all that I had ever known.” — I wouldn’t give two cents for religion that does not spread itself!


Illustration: “This oak stands as witness.”


Sanctifying Faith


6th — Now, let me show you one more thing, and I will send you home. Rahab’s faith was a sanctifying faith. — Rahab the Harlot was Rahab the Sanctified. She was justified in her faith by her works. She believed God and believing God, she was obedient to him.


(James 2:24-26) “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”


The grace of God that brings salvation teaches all who experience it to live graciously, to live as unto the Lord, to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).


(Titus 2:1-14) “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”


Illustration: “Welcome home, Sister.





Don Fortner








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