Summary: James was a pastor/servant whose life portrayed the practical faith which he encouraged his readers to live by.
SERIES - JAMES "A Living Faith for Practical Living"
"James: A Living Example of Practical Faith"
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
Today, being the first Sunday of 1998, my prayer is that not only will each member of our church grow in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also will grow in their practice of the teachings of Christ in their lives. I agree with one great preacher who says the problem today is not our lack of Biblical knowledge, but our practice of what we know. We know much more than what our lives reflect. Therefore, the Lord has led me to teach through the one epistle to the church that deals specifically with the fact that God has given us a "Living Faith for Practical Living."
Observations of James, the man:
James, the brother as Jesus Christ has traditionally been considered as the author of this epistle. The New Testament mentions on two other James’, both apostles but neither likely writers of the letter. One was James, the brother of John and part inner circle of Christ, but he was one of the first Christian martyrs and the book was clearly written after his death. The other was known as James the lesser and little is known of his life or his service. Therefore then evidence seems to clearly give credence to the traditional authorship.
What do we know about this man?
James was a very well-known man
- a brother of Jesus Christ
- the leader/pastor of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:33f)
James was a very secure man
- he did not feel that he needed to refer to himself as Jesus’ brother or the
pastor of the largest church, but simply as "a servant"
James was a very caring man
-although James pastored a very large church, the church in Jerusalem, he continued to be be concerned about the many former church member who had left Jerusalem during the dispersion (a period of persecution that broke our against the early Christians after the stoning of Stephen which caused many Christians from Jerusalem to flee the area for their safety) They may have left in body, but they had never left the heart of James.
James was a very practical man
As we study the book of James we will find it probably the most practical book in the New Testament. Some have called it the Proverbs of the New Testament. There are no great theological teachings, only practical lessons which teach Christians what it means to follow Christ. We learn from James that the Christian faith goes far beyond our salvation. It also affects the way we live our daily lives. James was the type of guy that when he heard a great sermon on Biblical truth he would always ask, "What does it mean to me?" He was the type of guy who would say, "I would rather see a sermon, rather than hear a sermon any day." He was also the type of guy who would never diminish the intellectual understanding of the Christian faith, but he always stressed the importance of the Practical daily living aspects of the Chistian faith. And this was very evident in his own life.
James, himself was a "Living Example of Practical Faith." This is evident in his address to his readers as he refered to himself as "servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ." He would explain that practicing the Christian Faith begins with Servanthood.
SERVANTHOOD IS A FULFILLMENT OF THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST
Jesus taught servanthood by ...
(Matt 20:26-28)"Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave--
(Matt 20:28) "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Not only did Jesus talk the talk, but He also walked the walk and we are called to do the same.
SERVANTHOOD IS A MARK OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY
The word of God describes a new Christian a "babe" in Christ, but we are not to remain a babe in Christ. In the great "love Chapter", I Corinthians we, Paul writes "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
One of the childish things that must be put away in we are to grow in Christ is Selfishness. Selfishness is a characteristic of children. The attitude that I want my way and my way only and that I want my needs met first is a clear and distinct sign of immaturity. When a person grows to a point that they begin to put the needs of others ahead of their own needs, they are laying aside their childish selfishness and picking up the mature attitude of servanthood.