James: The Man and the Book
God is with us on this journey. We believe, for such a time as this, He has called us.
Today we start something that’s unprecedented for us. Today we begin a study in the book of James that will carry us through the end of 2021 and beyond.
Relationship – James was Jesus’ half-brother. He was a literal witness, not just of Jesus’ public ministry, but of his life. Influence – After Jesus’ death and resurrection, James’ life was transformed. He became the leader of the church is Jerusalem, the first Christian community ever.
Timing – The book of James is believed to be the first written book of the New Testament canon. It is the first existing Christian writing of any kind that we know about.
Purpose – The book is practical, not especially focused on the theological roots of why we believe, but rather an emphasis on action and obedience in response to what we believe.
There is a clear connection between the book of James and the words of Jesus. Consider just a few examples from James and the Sermon on the Mount:-“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2) & “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)-“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4) & “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)- “…you have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2) & “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
Why this approach?
It will challenge us. It will force us to slow down. It will cause us to dig deeper.
What is essential for each one of us as we prepare for this journey? Faith that is willing to persevere.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Throughout this journey, we are going to come face to face with God’s truth. And each and every time, we will be faced with an important decision: Am I going to do what it says? If, according to James, we should be “doers of the word” rather than just hearers, what does my doing look like? Am I even doing anything?
Other resources for further study:
James in 8 Minutes
This overview video on the book of James breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought. In this book, James combines the wisdom of his brother Jesus with the book of Proverbs in his own challenging call to live a life wholly devoted to God.
Echoes of the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of James https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/echoes-of-the-sermon-on-the-mount-in-the-book-of-james/