THE EPISTLE OF JAMES: FAITH THAT WORKS
James was first mentioned in Mark 6:3 as the brother of Jesus. During the lifetime of Jesus, neither he nor his three other brothers were disciples or apostles. James emerged as a leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; 1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 2:9), a position he held for nearly 30 years, until his martyrdom.
He developed the theme of faith with its characteristics of true faith with a series of tests to help the readers evaluate their relationship to Jesus Christ. At first, James' emphasis may appear to be at odds with Paul's emphasis. On closer look, both Paul and James differed more in their definition of faith rather than in essence. James addressed readers who were inclined to interpret faith as just intellectual acknowledgment (2:19). From this, he differed from Paul, whose understanding was the entrusting of one's whole life to God through Jesus Christ.
James addressed his epistle to the twelve tribes of Israel which were scattered abroad after the death of Jesus Christ (James 1:1). "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting." The implication is that the Jewish Christians were living outside Israel. However, in James 5:4, James addressed those who were living in Israel because only farmers there employed hired help.
About 70 years after the death of Jesus, Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans and not a stone was left unturned and Israel disappeared from the map of the world.
EXHORTATION TO PATIENCE IN AFFLICTION
THE TEST OF FAITH (1:1-18)
The test of faith are two-fold, namely, the purpose of the tests and secondly, the source of temptations
1. The Purpose of the Tests
- James introduced his outward tests of faith in Chapter 1:2-12. These trials are to produce endurance and dependence upon God.
2. The Source of Temptations
- From Chapter 1:13-16, we know that temptation comes not from God, but from our own lust or weakness. Every good or perfect gift is from above (1:17).
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF FAITH
Faith may be divided into seven different characteristics, obedience, discrimination, works, control of the tongue, wisdom, humility and dependence on God. When you believe Jesus Christ, you must obey the commandments of Christ . Your actions must support your actions.
After obedience, you must know that a Christian does not discriminate between how a person looks, or whether he is rich or poor. Christians should treat every one equally regardless of status.
A Christian should have good works and not be inactive. When you see the poor and hungry, you should try and help to alleviate the suffering.by giving of alms, praying or offering of help physically like mowing the lawn, charity, visiting the needy, baby sitting, or running errands.
Christians should learn to have self control with regard to the tongue. A soft answer turns away wrath. Do not be quick to pass judgment. Listen carefully before giving advice. Be compassionate in your speech.
Wisdom is from the Lord God. Cultivate wisdom to deal in all matters of life. Get wisdom and understanding of human nature so as to be able to advise wisely.
Be humble, and not judge harshly. Temper your tongue with humility and give thanks to the Lord God who provides us with everything we need to survive.
And last of all, we should rely completely on the Lord God in faith. Our health, wealth, or promotion in life depend on God who created us. We should fear no evil for He cares for our souls and He is completely reliable day and night, and on call should we need His help.
BIBLE VERSES ON FAITH
1. Faith Obeys the Word (1:19-27)
- But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (1:19).
2. Faith Removes Discrimination (2:1-13)
- My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons (2:1).
- But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. (2:9).
3. Faith Proves Itself by works (2:14-26)
- What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (2:14).
4. Faith Controls The Tongue (3:1-12)
- If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (3:2).
5. Faith Produces Wisdom (3:13-18)
- Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom (3:13).
6. Faith Produces Humility (4:1-12)
- But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (4:6).
7. Faith Produces Dependence on God (4:13-5:6)
- Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain (5:7).
THE TRIUMPH OF FAITH
Eventually we triumph through faith in Jesus Christ who is our hope of salvation in time to come. When we have faith, we are willing to endure all trials and temptations that beset us. We also have faith enough to pray for those who are afflicted with sickness, poverty, and other mishaps.of disasters. Last of all, with faith, we can confront and convert the erring to return to the Lord God, thus helping save souls.
1. Faith Endures
- Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh (5:8).
2. Faith prays for those Afflicted
- Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
- Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church. and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (5:13-14).
3. Faith Confronts and Converts the Erring
- Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
- Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (5: 19-20)..
James is a practical man for his epistle confirms this. He takes his readers step by step, one step at a time to reach the climax. The foundation is built from the root up and slowly, but surely wends it way up the ladder to reach the climax.
The purpose of the tests and the source of temptations are all laid out plainly for the readers to comprehend. When they understand the reasons for them, the readers are more likely to comprehend and follow instructions. Doubts will evaporate making progress easier to attain.
TOPICS ON FAITH
FOR WE WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT http://hubpages.com/hub/forwewalkbyfaithnotbysight
FOR WE WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT (2) http://hubpages.com/hub/forwewalkbyfaithnotbysight-2
A Test of FAITH: 4 Members of Family with 4 types of Cancer http://hubpages.com/hub/testoffaith4memberswith4cancers
The Epistle of James: Faith that Works
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