Summary: James is a no nonsense leader in the early church. His letter speaks to specific issues in the church, those issues still exist.
Study of James: Wisdom and Practical Christian Living
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
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
James 2: 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Faith and action unite to make authentic Christianity.
The two are not separate but connected… action without faith becomes works to earn something. Faith without action becomes belief not values… they are coupled together…
So much of faith is perspective… how we choose to see things.
And far too often we see with temporal eyes… that’s how everyone see’s without God.
If we have God, we should see with eternal eyes… eternity in mind… for this life is but a shadow of what is to come… and the eons which will follow.
But too often we weigh and measure life, generosity, and choices based on what we see in our temporary eyes.
Faith and Action…faith to see what others can’t… courage to take action and do something about it.
God tells you to give… give.
God tells you to be generous with time… be generous.
Guidepost story – 1965
Faith embraces the need of man all around us… it does not shun it away.
Mother Teresea: “We have drugs for people with diseases like leprosy. But these drugs do not treat the main problem, the disease of being unwanted. That’s what my sisters hope to provide. The sick and poor suffer even more from rejection than material want. Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
Faith – and Action – the life of a believer. James goes on to explain…
18 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. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.
Belief is not enough… and we live in a world that puts stock in beliefism…
We live in a world that loves to philosophize and believe… but do nothing with it.
Faith goes beyond belief… to trust no matter your circumstances…
You cannot have belief without obeying…
Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace. ~ Oswald Chambers in Run Today’s Race.
Holding on to God regardless of your circumstances… trusting God regardless… and learning how to not be crushed by life itself…
Faith and Action…
Former Senator Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called “House of Dying,” where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers face daily. “How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?” he asked. Mother Teresa replied, “My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful.” (Beals, Beyond Hunger.)