Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Introduction - The Book Of James

Introduction - The Book Of James


Did any of you get the chance yet to read the story of the prodigal son from Luke 15:11-32. As you may recall we were going to read it this week in hopes of answering the question I posed Sunday:

* Whose Is The House? Who owns the church?

> Comparing the father’s feelings with those of the elder son;

> Considering who these characters represented in our lives today.

Tonight I want to begin a study of the book of James. This particular book holds valuable keys for the New Testament Christian who is seeking to take the Word of God and make practical application of its truths in everyday situations of life.

One of the many key scriptures we find in James is:

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

The whole book of James gives concrete instructions on how to live the Christian life. This book focuses on the works side of the grace message. Although not formally theological but rather practical in its presentation, James nonetheless quotes from 22 books in the Old Testament and makes 15 allusions to the teachings of Christ.

There is no real doubt as to the authorship of this book. Out of the men called James in the bible, only two are authoritative possibilities. One of those, James the son of Zebedee who was the brother of John, was martyred between AD 41 & AD 44 which date is a bit too early for this writing.

This leaves only James the half brother of Jesus, one of the sons of Mary and Joseph who we know became the Senior or Presiding Pastor of the church in Jerusalem.

The manner and demeanor agrees with our glimpse of James in Acts 15 at the Jerusalem council around AD 49, in which James gave authoritative practical instruction to all those who were being converted to Christianity from around the known world.

Many scholars place the writing of James at between AD 45 & AD 50. It seems reasonable that it would have been written somewhere prior to AD 49 since there is no mention of the Jerusalem Council or it’s conclusions on instructions for living a Christian life.

At one point early on, the New Testament was broken down into three distinguishable categories. The first included the Gospels and Acts. The second contained the writings of Paul and the third was a collection of seven books, letters if you will, which were tagged as universal or general epistles.

These seven general epistles, also called by the name Catholic Epistles, (meaning general or universal), were thus designated due to their appeal to the general population of Christianity and not relegated to one single location or people.

It is in this general or universal sense that we see James begin his writing of the book we embrace as the inspired word of Almighty God.

James 1 (NKJV)

1 ¶ James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.

Note: Recently while in Israel I was afforded the rare opportunity to interact with very distinguished Jewish authors, scholars and learned professors. I spent a few days in close conversation with one such man named Joseph Ginat. Among other noted things associated with his life, the authorship of near 20 books listed online at Borders Books web site, (which I just found out from a web search last night), the fact that he was an advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel on Israeli-Arab affairs, is a decorated war hero and one of the archeologist who is credited with artifact finds in caves surrounding Qumran where the dead sea scrolls were found, … Professor Ginat is a Levite.

In one conversation he told me that the lost 10 tribes of Israel are actually lost. No one knows where or who they are or what actually happened to them. He further informed me that the tribe of Levi, the tribe of Judah and a portion of the tribe of Benjamin are the only ones known to be collectively existent.

Interesting to me, although I do not know the source nor the process, Joseph told me that recently there had been a DNA test completed to establish the identity of the tribe of Levi, separating, as I understand it, the sons of Aaron from the others. He, supposing to be a member of that tribe, participated as did many others.

The results were astounding. He said that not one mistake had been made in the lineage. He reported to me that the line of priesthood had been established and was without contradiction. This coming from a man who is a stickler for detail and proof brought me to a renewed understanding that God is setting up this world for the rebuilding of the temple, the re-establishing of the priesthood, the close of this age and the return of Messiah.

We are living in the book of Revelation as foretold by the prophets.

At any rate:

James begins his epistle addressing these words to the twelve tribes who are scattered abroad … who are still scattered.

What is his message:

Chapter one begins with the general subject of:

I. Temptations and Trials

James 1

2 ¶ My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

A. Count It All Joy? Yes --- because:

1. There is a process, a procedure and a predictable outcome

2. Evidently Patience is a worthy prize to secure even at the expense of trial.

B. Count it all joy When You Fall Into

1. Not fall out of right standing

2. Not enter into

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

C. Count it all joy when you fall into Various Trials

1. Not fall into sin

2. Not fail to follow God

3. Encounter Temptations To Waiver In Faith

II. Knowing

A. The process, the procedure and the predictable outcome

B. We take a test, we pass the test, we get the prize

C. What is the prize? - Patience

D. Who are these enemies of patience? Alternative Outcomes:

1. Cowardice

2. Despondency

3. Anger

4. Revenge

D. What is the prize for passing the test when tempted to quit believing God, His will or ability to perform His promises?

1. Again, the prize is patience

2. We have such need of patience

Hebrews 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

3. Jesus said:

Luke 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls.

E. Evidently patience is a key to faith

Hebrews 6:12 That ye be … followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

F. Patience

This is taken from the Strong’s Concordance

Patience in James 1:3

hupomone hoop-om-on-ay’

AV-patience 29, enduring 1, patient continuance 1, patient waiting 1; 32

1) steadfastness, constancy, endurance

1a) in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

1b) patiently, and steadfastly

2) a patient, steadfast waiting for

3) a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

III. James attempts to get believers to give God time and space to be God.

A. Don’t allow trials move you to:

1. Cowardice

2. Despondency

3. Anger

4. Revenge

B. Don’t Worry

C. Be Patient In Trusting God

D. And

Verse 4 let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

IV. The Apostle Paul Agrees

Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

There is a process, a procedure and a predictable outcome to faith.

V. Next Time: James 1

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

A. Wisdom in how to be joyful and patient in the midst of trials