Summary: James is a no nonsense leader in the early church. In the letter written by James he speaks to specific issues in the church. Those issues are timeless for this books still speaks to us today.
Tonight we begin a journey in the book of James…
The Book of James is probably the oldest book of the New Testament, written perhaps as early as A.D. 45, before the first council of Jerusalem in A.D. 50. James was martyred in approximately A.D. 62, according to the historian Josephus.
James is a great complement to Paul’s teaching on faith…
• By grace alone (solo grati)
• By Faith alone (solo fidei)
Although James does not teach us how to come nearer the lord through salvation, he does tell us how a just man orders his daily existence. James, throughout his life, was known as James the Just, because of the correctness of his actions, the uprightness of his demeanor and the strength of his character.
By following his words, we can live the same way.
MAJOR THEME: THE BALANCE BETWEEN FAITH AND WORKS
James declares it is by faith… but you can’t take that to extreme’s…
Some think that this epistle was written in response to an overzealous interpretation of Paul’s teaching regarding faith. This extreme view, called antinomianism, held that through faith in Christ one is completely free from all Old Testament law, all legalism, all secular law, and all the morality of a society. The Book of James is directed to Jewish Christians scattered among all the nations (James 1:1).
In the book of James we see the reality of the Christian walk and how to walk it…
• The adages…
o Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk
The Book of James is the ultimate description of the relationship between faith and works. So ingrained in the Mosaic Law and its system of works were the Jewish Christians to whom James wrote that he spent considerable time explaining the difficult truth that no one is justified by the works of the law (Galatians 2:16). He declares to them that even if they try their very best to keep all the various laws and rituals, doing so is impossible, and transgressing the tiniest part of the law made them guilty of all of it
As Martin Luther himself said, "You are saved by faith alone, but if faith is alone, it is not faith."
Some of the more famous passages:
(James 2:10) because the law is one entity and breaking one part of it is breaking all of it.
James 1:19: "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
James 2:17-18: "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
James 3:5: "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."
James 5:16b: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
THEME: LIFE BEGETS ACTION:
When a person becomes a Christian, new life begins, and inevitably that life must express itself through “spiritual motion,” or good deeds. In James’ words, “What good is it ... if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (2:14)
Movement does not cause life, but it does inevitably follow life. It is a sure sign that life is present. Similarly, genuine faith in Christ should always result in actions that demonstrate faith.
THEME – REAL CHRISTIANTY:
The epistle also puts to rest the idea that one can become a Christian and yet continue living in sin, exhibiting no fruit of righteousness. Such a “faith,” James declares, is shared by the demons who “believe and tremble” (James 2:19). Yet such a “faith” cannot save because it is not verified by the works that always accompany true saving faith (Ephesians 2:10). Good works are not the cause of salvation, but they are the result of it.
James 1: 1-8
1 James, a servant of God and of the LORD Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the LORD; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.