Sermon – February 16, 2020
James, the Lord’s half brother, is known as a pillar of the early church who wanted to be known as a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. James’ epistle gives a number of insights into the attributes of God: faithfulness, generosity and truth as seen in chapter one.
The Introduction of the Letter (v. 1)
James was the brother of the Lord, a pillar in the church. Yet, at the same time, James was not always a believer. While known in his life as a devout and devoted follower, James himself needed to be converted. The Lord himself appeared to his brother, and made him an apostle. His conversion is no different than ours! God reveals himself to us, changes our hearts, and draws out our faith. Not only is James humbled by his own conversion, but by simply calling himself a servant, especially when he had every human reason to boast, calls for our humility as well.
Trials and Testing of Faith (vv. 2-18)
Christian, you will face trials and tribulations. Such trials will seek to draw you away from your faith, and into sin. Yet, God allows such things for our good, so that we ought to endure them with joy, seeking wisdom from God. Both the poor can be exulted to seek out the great God, and the rich are brought low in asking for help. None of these things are meant to be seen as temptations from God, but all temptation comes from ourselves. Sin always looks pleasurable to the person acting in it. But those things that are good always come from God. So, see the good in your trials, and rejoice!
Obey the Word of God (vv. 19-27)
The gospel draws us to Christ and redeems us, giving us eternal salvation, quite outside of anything that we do. It is pure gift. Yet, we are at the same time instructed as to how we are to live by God’s word. Hearing is not enough, but we must act! God’s law is perfect, and it is filled with liberty. It is a reflection of the very character of God. Let us not be a fool, looking into a mirror and leaving without changing ourselves. Right action comes from right religion.
James opens his epistle with a statement in chapter 1 where he says, James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, indicating that they both share the same authority, they are one.
He then reminds his readers to persevere through trials and be rewarded with the crown of life, because perseverance is the fruit of saving faith.
Practical Christianity mandated by the Word of Truth, the gospel, is made evident by true hearing and the action of doing that truth. Obedience is the fruit of the Child of God.