Summary: A series through the book of James. This is a sermon series about our "walk with God" not the "way to God". Some thoughts are from Chuch Swindol notes that I have on file.
In Jesus Holy Name August 20, 2006
Text: James 1:1 Pentecost XI, Redeemer
“The Case For Practical Christianity”
The Book of James
There are two major themes that weave their way through the scriptures. The first theme “The Way to God” expresses God’s overwhelming love for us. We know that God made each of us. We are His creation. He wants every one of us to have the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life.
The Bible is filled with the promises of God and what He accomplished. The Apostle John writes, “Jesus did many other miracles in the presence of his disciples, which were not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Jesus himself said, “For my Father’s will is that every one who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. “I am the Bread of Life.”
The Apostle, Paul, writes in Romans: “No one will be declared righteous in (God’s) sight by observing the law, rather through law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God …… comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” “All have fallen short … and are justified freely by grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ who God presented as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood” … shed on the cross.
The resurrection of Jesus from death and the grave makes the “way to peace with God” a guarantee free gift of grace.
The second major theme weaving its way thru the pages of scripture deals with our “walk with God”. Our behavior, our obedience to the Word of God enables us to “imitate” Jesus and pursue holiness in our character that is observable. Jesus said, “by their fruit” by your love for one another the world will know you are my disciples.
Over the next few weeks we will be dealing with this second theme, “our walk with God,” as we journey through the Book of James. The Book of James is a case for practical Christianity.
Let’s begin. Read verse 1.
The book of James was not written to clarify the “doctrine of Christ”. It was not written to a missionary church seeking clarification of doctrine. It is a letter written to established churches and Christians who already profess faith in Jesus as the “only way to the Father”. It is a letter written in the early 60’s of the first century to Christians who know the doctrine of the Trinity and Justification by Faith.
Some of these Christians might even be second generation Christians who studied at the feet of Peter and Paul. The doctrines of the Christian faith were not the concerns of James in this letter. Rather, he was concerned about Christian behavior, the visible display and practice of the Christian faith.
Jerry Bridges in his book “The Pursuit of Holiness” shares this example.
A farmer plows his field, sows the seed and fertilizes and cultivates – all the while knowing that in the final analysis he is utterly dependent on forces outside himself. He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, nor can he produce the rain and sunshine for growing and harvesting the crop. For a successful harvest, he is dependent on these things from God.
Yet the farmer knows that unless he diligently pursues his responsibilities to plow, plant, fertilize and cultivate, he can not expect a harvest at the end of the season. In a sense he is in partnership with God, and he will reap its benefits only when he has fulfilled his own responsibilities.
Farming is a joint venture between God and the farmer. The farmer can not do what God must do and God will not do what the farmer should do.
We can say the same about the Christian’s walk. We are to imitate Jesus (Eph. 5:1) and pursue a life of holiness. Read I Peter 2:9-12 and 1:15-16
The pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian. No one can attain any degree of holiness without the Holy Spirit working in his life. “God has justified us. He has made it possible for us to walk in holiness. But he has given us the responsibility of doing the walking”. That’s why James can write: “Do not merely listen to the word … Do what it says.” (James 1:22)
The Book of James is a practical letter written to “the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. James will drive home the importance of living like you know the truth. James has one question: “Prove to me you have spiritual truth by your actions.” Display the truth of Christianity in your life.