Summary: James identifies himself, his Lord and his audience in the introduction to his epistle. What is your identification?
1. Identity in the world (James)
2. Identity in the Lord (a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ)
3. Identity in the church (to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting)
This morning we’re going to be starting a new series in the book of James. Before we read our text this morning, I want to spend just a few minutes telling you about the book itself. James is a very unique book. It is one of the few books in the New Testament that wasn’t written by an apostle. Even though there were two apostles named James, neither one of them wrote it. Instead, it was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus. By nearly all accounts, this was the first book written in the New Testament. It was probably written between 44 and 49 AD, just a handful of years after the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. Another way to put it is that James wrote this letter sometime before the time of the events in Acts 15. The book of James is unique in the way it’s written. It’s unique because James was a pastor. And it’s written the way a pastor would write. After his opening salutation, James starts by giving us an introduction. His introduction gives an overview of what the book is about. He tells us that his entire letter is going to be about testing our faith. And then he moves into a discussion of at least nine different specific tests of our faith. And finally, he concludes like a pastor would. He concludes with a way for those in the church to restore those who’ve failed the tests. When you really study the book, you begin to see that each one of those discussions is really an exposition of something James has heard before. Each test that he discusses is like a sermon on words he had heard so many times before—the words of his half-brother, Jesus. And then as you look closer, you realize that not only is this an exposition on the words of Jesus… it is an exposition on some very specific words of Jesus—the Sermon on the Mount. We’ve just finished a study on the Sermon on the Mount, haven’t we? So I can think of no better way to follow that study, than by looking at James’ exposition of it. Think of it this way—over the next several weeks, you’re going to hear my sermons on James’ sermons on the greatest sermon ever preached. But before we get to any of James’ sermons, we’re going to look at who he was.
Our passage this morning is a short one. It’s a short one, but it’s a very important one. There might not be a lot of deep theological content in it, but it does something very important. It identifies the author to his readers. James doesn’t hide who he is. He wants everyone to know. What about you here this morning? Do you let people know who you really are? Maybe you don’t really know who you really are. That’s what this morning is about. Who are you? What is your identity? When you walk out of this place this morning, I want you to be able to identify yourself the right way. In order to do that, we’re going to look at three aspects of your identity. The first aspect of your identity is your identity in the world.