Summary: TESTING YOUR FAITH
THE TEST OF FAITH
JAMES 1:1 18
This morning I want to begin a study in the book of James but I want to do things a little differently than we normally would. In each bulletin should have been an outline of the book of James...one that I will be using as a basic framework for this series.
Normally you all come in here with little idea what I'm going to be preaching about. Even when we're doing a series there's not enough direction as to the exact plan for each weeks message. My hope is that we can really work through this book together.
I'm going to work my way through, keeping close to the outline that I've given you so that you can read along and be prepared for each step as it comes. I'd also like you to share your thoughts and ideas about your personal study with me throughout the week because your insights could be helpful to all of us.
This morning I want to lay a foundation for our study and highlight the importance of the wealth of practical truths we find in the book of James. I also want to show you why I feel the time is right for Goodridge to hear what James has to say.
This letter was something that burned in the heart of this man...placed there by the Holy Spirit not just for believers 2,000 years ago...but for those who claim to follow Christ here in 1996. This is a timely, relevant word for.
James is not a long book only 5 chapters And I'd like for everyone to take one chapter each week and read it through several times. And after reading it...take a few moments to allow God to speak to you about it. What does it say to the church...what does it say to you personally...and how can it be applied to your life to make you stronger in the faith?
I hope that over the next several weeks, as we go through the book of James, that you'll come here having already had the Holy Spirit begin to give insight...and that your heart and mind will be ready to receive and apply the truth we find in these pages.
Let's take a moment to get some background on this book and its author. You'll see from this particular outline that James is a book about faith...practical, everyday faith. It's a letter that was written in a no nonsense...blunt and plain manner that is not clouded by a lot of theological mysteries.
And after reading James you might say to yourself...this guy must be a preacher, because this is just like a series of sermons. Each of the five chapters is packed with pointed illustrations and reminders that are designed to motivate the hearts of believers to grasp the truth once taught by Jesus: "A tree is known by its fruit."
Now, I shouldn't have to tell you that a Christian is literally "born for battle." James reminds us that even though we have been saved, the old nature is still very strong and active within us. Just becoming a Christian doesn't solve the conflict...it doesn't give us automatic victory. And it certainly doesn't put us beyond the reach of temptation, or the possibility of falling from grace.
Becoming a Christian puts us into the arena where the old nature and the new nature battle it out! But that enemy inside us, the sinful nature, is not the only problem. There are also a lot of trials and temptations that come to us just because we're human beings. Christians are a special people...but we're not a protected species.
In fact, in many ways we should expect even more than our share of difficulties in life. And why might that be? I still hear so many Christians saying that if people would just come to Christ...if they'd just get saved, then everything would work out for them. That the heartache and the struggles of life will be over. BALONEY!
We can expect an abundance of difficulties...because patient endurance of all types of trials and tribulations are God's appointed way of bringing us to maturity. James clearly shows us the truth of this. He shows us that life is an uphill climb...all the way!
Yes, it=s a good life...with rewards here and heaven still to come...but it is an uphill climb. It's not an easy road. James will give us very good, practical ways for making that climb not only successful...but exciting as well.
Now...who is this guy named James? James is first mentioned as the oldest of Jesus' four younger brothers. The gospels tell us that Jesus' family adopted a skeptical attitude toward His ministry. James apparently held the same attitude, because his name isn't found in any lists of the apostles. In fact he's not mentioned anywhere else in the gospels.