Turn to James chapter 1. And, we’re beginning a new study now through the Book of James: “Practical Christianity—Religion in Shoe Leather.” And, we’re going to preach right on through the Book of James, God willing, Sunday mornings and Sunday nights. So, if you don’t come Sunday nights, you’re just going to get half of it. How’s that? You say, “Fine.” No, don’t say that. You just come on Sunday nights. And, I know there are some of you who cannot come, but we have the radio program for those of you who cannot come on Sunday nights.
Today we’re talking on this subject: “How To Pass the Tests of Life.” And, I’m reading the first four verses of the Book of James: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;”—now, this word temptations means, “tests,” or “trials”—“knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:1–4). “How to Pass the Tests of Life.”
I heard of a young man who had taken his test at college and he’d made a zero. He went in to see the professor, and he argued with the professor. He said, “Professor, I don’t think I deserved this zero.” And the professor said, “Neither do I, son, but it was the lowest grade I had.”
Now, maybe you are failing just that miserably in the test of life. But, God does have some tests, some examinations, and we’re going to have to learn how to make a passing grade. And, I hope some of us today will learn how to make an A plus plus.
I. The Fact of Temptation
Several things I want you to learn about the tests of life. Now, remember here, when we’re talking about testing, that the word testing and the word temptation are used interchangeably. And, we’ll see that even more, as we go on. But, first of all, I want you to notice the fact of temptation.
Notice in verse 1: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting” (James 1:1). Just note that word scattered. And, here God is talking to people who have endured persecution. They were being hounded and hunted, and they were wandering about as vagabonds on the earth.
Now, when James says, “to the twelve tribes,” he’s not talking literally; he’s talking figuratively. He is comparing the New Testament saints to the Old Testament saints. He is comparing the Church to Israel and Judah. And, just as Israel and Judah had been dispersed, they’d been torn away from their friends and from their country. And, just as Israel and Judah had suffered indignities of a conquered people, starving and friendless under the heel of a cruel oppressor, he is using that as an example and as a figure of speech to describe and delineate the Church.
So, the Book of James is really a book that is written to Christians everywhere. When he says, “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,” he’s just speaking to Christians everywhere. Folks, he’s speaking to you. This is a letter to you. I hope you’ll read your mail today. This is to the Christians wherever they may be who suffered trials and temptations and tribulation. This is God’s Word to you. And, you say, “Well, I’m not scattered abroad.” Well, you ought to be. This world is not our home; we’re just passing through. And, if you’re building a nest, I believe God will probably put a thorn in it. He doesn’t want you to settle down here. All of God’s children are going to feel what some of God’s children feel.
And, then I want you to notice, he says in verse 2: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2). Notice he doesn’t say, “If you fall into divers temptations.” It’s not an if; it’s a when. And, if you’re a Christian, or if you’re not a Christian; If you’re saved, if you’re lost; I can tell you one thing you can expect in life: difficulty. How’d you like that? Just difficulty.
I don’t care who you are, there are going to be trials; there will be oppression. There will be misunderstanding. There will be rejection. And, it makes no difference if you’re a Christian. Christianity will not make you immune. All people fall into diverse trials and temptations, Christians included. And, he does not say if, in verse 2. And, if I were to stand up here and tell you that all of your life when you become a Christian is going to be rose petals and sunlight, and that you’re not going to have any troubles or any difficulties, I would be speaking from a closed Bible, and from an empty head.