Summary: Introduction to sermon series on James.
A. Perhaps with the exception of Proverbs, there is no more practical book in all the Bible than the letter of James.
1. As a tribute to the inspiration of God, it remains as practical for the 21st century as it was for the first century when it was written.
2. Do people still have trials and temptations to deal with?
3. Are the obstacles of prejudice and discrimination still present and active in our society and even in our fellowship?
4. Do some people want only to profess faith without actually living it?
5. Is worldliness ever found among the people of God?
6. So long as there are human beings living on this planet, problems such as these will exist.
7. And for that reason the book of James will always be necessary because it addresses all of these hindrances to spiritual maturity and completeness.
B. One of the key statements in the book was one that I had read for us today from chapter one.
1. As I tried to decide what verses to use for our Scripture reading today, I wanted to have us read the entire book, but I knew that would take too long.
2. So, I decided to have us read a key verse or two from each chapter. Kind of as a sampling of what we can look forward to in this new series on the book of James that I am calling “A Faith That Works.”
3. Back to the verse in chapter one: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (1:27)
4. By that statement, James let’s us know that the Christian religion is characterized by compassion (looking after widows and orphans) and purity (avoiding the world’s moral pollution).
5. In other words, Christianity must really make a difference in the way we live.
6. It must be a “Faith That Works.”
7. As we begin this study of James, let’s ask a few basic, yet important questions.
I. Question #1: Who Is the Author of this Letter?
A. The final author of every word in the Bible is the Holy Spirit. Right?
1. The setting forth of the will of God in both the Old and New Testaments was accomplished as “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet.1:21).
2. Therefore, it is our responsibility to receive the Bible “not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).
B. Nevertheless, the fact remains that this inspired, complete, an authoritative revelation of truth was delivered to us through men.
1. These men were somehow supervised and enabled by the Spirit of God so that they could not destroy or spoil the message being given through them.
2. The fact that the Spirit is the ultimate author of Scripture does not mean that the men used for the task of communicating truth were incidental or unimportant.
3. On the contrary, God chose certain individuals and employed them in the writing of Scripture because of their background, disposition and training.
4. And he allowed their own individuality and personality to come through their writings.
5. Paul wrote as Paul, using his unique vocabulary and style, and Peter wrote as Peter in the same way.
6. This makes the process of inspiration all the more amazing.
7. God respected and used the individuality of each man and yet so controlled them that the result of their work would be God’s own production.
C. With all that in mind, we come to the question of who wrote the letter of James.
1. Because the background and personality of the author are a part of the letter that the Holy Spirit produced through him, it is important that we try to identify who authored the book.
2. The author identifies himself in James 1:1 as, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
3. We assume that the original recipients of this letter found this brief introduction as sufficient to recognize the identity of the author.
4. That means he must have been a familiar figure in the early church.
D. Several men with the name James are found in the New Testament.
1. There is James the son of Zebedee (Mk. 1:19), James the son of Alphaeus (Mk. 3:18), James the brother of Jesus (Mk. 6:3), James the younger (Mk. 15:40) and James the father of Jude (Lk 6:16).
2. Of that group, only James, the son of Zebedee, and James, the brother of Jesus, could be described as well-known figures.
3. Our first vote might be for James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John.