Summary: An expository series of the book of James - The Purpose of Trials
November 12, 2006
Testing Faith 1 – James 1:1-4
Intro: Has anyone here perfected the Christian life? Is anyone perfect? I didn’t think so. So let me encourage you to take notes b/c the book of James was written to help us live a genuine Christian life – to have a faith that works.
Insert: The issue of counterfeiting is a tremendous problem in our world. Forged money, credit cards, jewelry, works of art and anything else w/ intrinsic value gets passed off as genuine to deceive the unwary. Our government spends over $100 million a year to protect our currency from counterfeiters while untold billions are spent in the private sector. Counterfeiting is one of the oldest crimes in history? When banks issued their own currency in the 19th century, it was a serious problem. During the Civil War, it was estimated that 1/3 of all currency in circulation was counterfeit.
Note: Yet despite the frustration of the counterfeiting of earthly treasures, James wants us to understand that there is a much more serious problem – counterfeit faith. James writes his epistle to confirm that we have a foolproof faith; that is, that we’re not being fooled into thinking our faith is genuine when it isn’t or that someone else’s can lead us astray through false teaching. He writes that we will not be fooled by others and have our faith sabotaged. To be deceived by counterfeit money will only result in temporary earthly loss, but to be deceived by a counterfeit faith will result in eternal damnation.
Insert: As we start, let’s set the record straight – Satan is the master counterfeiter. 2 Cor. 11:14-15 says that he presents himself as an angel of light – getting as close to the truth and God as he can w/out being the truth, so that he can misrepresent God and deceive people to believe anything but the truth. 1 John 4 says everything false is birth in Hell and is anti-Christ.
Trans: James writes to identify authentic faith. Throughout his letter he offers many keys to define such faith. In verse 2, he gets right to the point, he asks – How do you respond to challenges in your life? This is an important question b/c how you respond to trials testifies to the authenticity of your faith. Read TEXT.
Note: As we begin our study of James let’s clarify the difference b/w a trial and a temptation. They are not the same – that is, two different sides to the same coin? God gives trials to strengthen and mature His people. Satan authors temptation to defeat and destroy all people.
Insert: Consider Adam and Eve. God tested them by commanding they not eat of the tree of knowledge to see if they’d trust and obey Him. They understood the command, but then Satan tempted them and they ate and sinned.
Point: My point is simple – God gives us trials to strengthen us to prepare us for Satan’s temptation. If we don’t learn through the trial and grow, then Satan will use our weakness to cause us to stumble.
Note: A trial is any difficulty given to us by God to mature us in our relationship w/ Him. Its purpose is to approve the genuineness of our faith and to reveal to us any weaknesses in our lives and character.
1. To test our faith. God uses trials as a means of taking a spiritual inventory revealing to us our strengths and weaknesses.
Note: I have found that one of God’s favorite tools to try my faith is my children. It hit me how God has used my children to approve my faith this weekend.
2. To humble us and remind us that we need Him alone. God gives trials for the same reason He gives dogs fleas – to remind them they are dogs. He is only reminding us that we are the created, not the Creator.
3. To wean us from the things of this world. The more we accumulate in this world, the more tempted we are to rely on them than on God.
4. To turn our eyes to Jesus’ return. The more difficult the trial and the longer they last, the more we long to be w/ Jesus. No one wants to get caught living in sin at Christ’s return.
5. To reveal what we truly love. The classic example is Abraham. God wanted to make sure Abe loved God more than Isaac, so He told Abe to sacrifice him. It was a test of first love. Personally, I don’t think God was going to allow Abe to do it, but that’s a whole other sermon.
6. To teach us to value God’s blessings. Our reason and senses tell us to value to the things of this world, but God’s Spirit through trials tells us to value the things of faith and eternity.