May 7, 2016
“The Book Of James”
Verse 1- 16 (Authentic Faith Will Be Tested)
Greetings and welcome to our 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series season and the MRO Chapel Services this year. At the end of last season I ask if anyone had a subject or Bible Study that they would like to do in 2016. The requests I got back in two cases ask for the Book of James in the Bible. Soooooooo… since that is a very appropriate book as we look at our prevalent world views and American culture today; it is a perfect request.
I also find it quite unique that our home church here in Salem, Oregon also picked this Bible book of James to be the next topic. That will play totally into our hands because our two Pastors and close friends Bruce and Jason also will video this live and have it on our church website and YouTube. It means that each of you can get the exceptional teaching offered there that allows you to go far beyond the brief time we have at the track due to our racing schedule. I have told you about Bruce & Jason before and all the Sunday services are on our website for anyone with 30 to 40 minutes to see, or even a bit at a time if you need to. Interestingly, churches all over America are asking them how to do teaching the way they do as a duel team at the same time and live. In truth I believe along with all of us that know them so well; it is God’s gift to Salem and the Church of Jesus today. So take time to check them out but also get the “real meat” from the Book of James.
Here are the addresses to the websites to do this:
So let’s get into it for today. James is a book of ethics. That in itself rocks people today and sets their teeth on edge. Our society and culture has basically turned to: “How dare you tell me how to live or the way to think on any subject. This is America and I can decide what’s right or wrong myself.” The book of James is asking the age old question of “How then shall we live?” He was not trying to make the case that we are saved by works but he was making the point that, in a world full of words, it is our actions that mark us. It is our lives that speak the loudest. Our daily walk through life as a Christian should reflect what we believe and behave according to what God says despite anything else that is thrown at us.
The words out of our mouths follow suit.
We get “word fatigue” today, especially in an election year. I know I am long past sick of the rhetoric and baloney. Politians pay huge dollars to writers to help them say what people want to hear and they speak it out. Unfortunately, whether true or not.
So James wants to address this because its the actions beyond the words is what is important. James is also taking place under severe persecution both under the Jewish religious priesthood system of and the Roman government suppressing them as conquered captives. (Refer to James 1:1) He is writing to a Hebrew audience forced out of their homeland and lifestyle they had known. The times were bad and brutal at best and Christians were on the run and even in hiding for their very lives.
First here is a bit of background on James. There are actually four possibilities of who the person of James was, but only two of them are actually of valid choice. He was either the brother of the disciple John and known as the “sons of thunder” or he was Jesus half brother. And believe me when I say that being related to Jesus certainly made no apparent advantage any one of the family or James. Scripture clearly shows they usually had no spiritual discernment when it came to Jesus person or mission.
But that’s all for another message sometime. In all reality everyone missed the boat when it came to Jesus until the resurrection. I would like to say here that it is most likely to be the brother of Jesus because the others had died before this was written in about 45 to 50 AD. In reality it doesn’t matter because scripture is inspired by God Himself through the tongues of His servants both then and now today.
James had some authority to speak because he was pastoring a church that lived under great persecution. Their faith cost them something and it was being tried by fire. He himself would pay the ultimate price for his faith. He died by martyrdom. In our series we will see a common thread of exhortation woven through the book. It calls us to become mature in our faith and to guard our lives from the contamination of sin in the present world in which we live.
James is a power packed book containing over 40 different commands on how to do the Christian faith. And, …when I say that; I am referring to back in James day, today, and the future of all mankind. It is rock solid, period!
If you have gone online to the live video I am sure that you have already noted the series is called “Pure Religion.” Yes, that is a loaded word and invokes all kinds of thoughts and responses. I know it makes me cringe because of most people’s misunderstanding of the reality of its truthful meaning. You hear people say things like: “Hockey is his religion” in Canada or baseball & football here in America. Or, maybe “he works so religiously on his job.” Then you see the bumper stickers that say “I’m not religious, I just love the Lord.” Plus, on the norm today you hear “religion is the root of all evil and cause all the hate in the world today.” However, the word “religion” actually comes out of the Book of James, so I guess we have to argue with him or God.
Here are the significant definitions of the word religion:
- A personal set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that provide an “order of our existence”; an explanation of our world; something people turn to for comfort in a time of crisis.
- Now you can place any faith system like Hindu, Muslim, Buddism and yes, even Atheism fits that category.
The Book of James is a book of wisdom. In the Old Testament you look at the Book of Proverbs. Here in the New Testament you head for the Book of James. Interestingly, the Book of James contains more things that Jesus actually said then any other book of the Bible. In it you can find 13 passages that directly match Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount.
Many Pastors today don’t like to use James because it seems to overemphasize works as opposed to grace. But in reality it simply restates clearly how to apply the faith we claim to have as a Christian as we walk in this twisted world today.
James was NOT trying to make the case that we are saved by works. But he was making this point…In a world full of words, it is our actions that mark us. Our lives speak the loudest.
In that battle between the sides of whether you are saved by works or grace, hopefully you are fully understanding that according to God’s Word it is clear we are only saved by grace and mercy of God because of the sacrifice of Jesus at the Cross. If you doubt consider these:
Ephesians 2:8-9: 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Titus 3:5: 5 He saved us, not because of any righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy alone. He washed away our sins by the Cross, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
You see faith is the root of salvation. The Apostle Paul emphasizes that. Works are the fruit of salvation. Lets say it this way: Faith is the cause of salvation, and works are the result of salvation.
The gist of this first part of James is that AUTHENTIC FAITH IS TESTED!
Simply read what James says in the first 16 verses of the book:
I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings!
2 Dear brothers and sisters when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not lacking in any way.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and their loyalty is divided between God and the world and therefore unstable in all they do.
9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those arrogant rich should boast that God has humbled them. Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. Riches will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God cannot be tempted by evil to do wrong, and He Himself never tempts anyone else.
14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desires. 15 Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
Try on these questions today:
HOW DO YOU TEND TO REACT WHEN TRIALS COME YOUR WAY?
- Are you tempted to run or hide from community?
- Or do you find yourself digging deeper into God?
HOW MIGHT TRIALS HAVE A POSITIVE & PURIFYING EFFECT ON YOUR LIFE?
- What could they reveal about the foundations of your life?
In John 10:27-29, Jesus says,
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give
them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them
out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than
all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
WHAT DOES THAT SAY TO YOU ABOUT THE SECURITY OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS?
Pastors Bruce Stefanik & Jason Treadwell
Church on the Hill: North Campus & South Campus
Salem & Keizer, Oregon