Summary: James simply states in Chapter 1 what a Christian has: Real Christians have a real faith that can stand under pressure. James could not be considered as a modern television evangelist because his message is too confrontational. His message is that the pow
Subject: What a Christian Has - Faith That Can Stand Under Pressure
Text: James 1:1-12*
Introduction: In this short book of James composed of 108 verses, James the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Pastor of the first church at Jerusalem, addresses the subject of Christianity from a very practical view. He does not try to debate philosophy or teach doctrinal theology. He simply states in Chapter 1 what a Christian has: real Christians have a real faith that can stand under pressure. James could not be considered as a modern television evangelist because his message is too confrontational. His message is that the power of God in the Christian’s life equips him/her to give evidence of their Christianity. For that reason, real Christianity is more than talk, and we all know that talk is cheap. James did not want the Christians to be guilty of making great claims, professing to be people of God while not living up to the standard of Christ. Christianity must not only be believed. It must be lived. The proof that our faith is real is a changed life. Genuine faith will always produce good works. Any faith that does not produce good works is dead. There is no salvation in a dead faith.
James is writing to people on the run - people who had been scattered by severe persecution. I am sure they would love to have heard Pastor James preach that these present trials would all be over soon, so do not worry, be happy. Nevertheless, instead, he writes, “in times like these, my brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. Allow your faith in God to the source of your joy.” In other words, learn to be happy in the midst of pressure and persecution. Notice that James uses the “divers” which means manifold or many. Somehow, the apostle is convinced that real faith can stand under pressure. This really does not sound so good to the ears, that is, “be happy when you go through a lot of problems and/or a lot of pressures.” He suggests that we develop an attitude of joy in the midst of suffering. Real faith can rejoice in the face of difficulty. Now I do not know about you, but I like the “rejoice on the top of the mountain sermon,” but James says to rejoice in the midst of the valley. A Christian must stand under pressure because temptations and trials cannot be avoided.
Temptations and Trials Cannot Be Avoided.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:2)
James does not say if you go through trials, but when you are going through trials and difficulties, your faith is being tried. Since we all must go through, it is good to hear a strong word on endurance, staying the course and keeping the faith. James gives us some instructions on how to endure trials, that is, how to go through hard situations. If we are going to find joy in the difficult times, we need to know what is to be accomplished through the trial. James’ message is not that it is all going to get better, not that everything is going to go as you had planned, but he does say to let joy be developed in your life through difficult times.
Remember that James was the pastor of the Jerusalem church and his members were Jewish Christians. These Christians were hated by the Gentiles for being Jews and were hated by the Jews for being Christians. Nobody liked any of them. However, in all this, James stressed to his members to keep their attitudes right, do not give up, and let the joy of the Lord be their strength. Christians of today can stand under pressure if they keep the right attitude and do not give up. Temptations and trials cannot be avoided. They are used by Satan to stop us and make us give up. On the other hand, these very temptations and trials are used by God to make us strong Christians. This trying of your faith tests its quality. For these reasons, tests and trials are the proving ground for religion. The man who stands in such trials gives proof that his religion is sound, and the evidence afforded to his own mind induces him to take courage, bear patiently, and persevere. Christians must endure temptations and trials. They are God’s school for spiritual development.
Temptations and Trials Are God’s Tools for Spiritual Development.
“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4)
Affliction is the instrument God uses to polish and refine us. Therefore, it is through the work and effect of afflictions that we are perfected in Christ. Christians can endure temptation when there is found within us an entire trust and dependency upon God’s power and promise. Furthermore, we can endure when there is a cheerful submission and quiet resignation of our wills to His most holy, wise, and righteous will. When we surrender to His will under the sharpest trials and heaviest afflictions that can befall us, at last, has patience had its perfect work, and the suffering Christian, in a gospel-qualified sense, may be said to be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.