A Review of the Book of James
By Adam Mumpower
Dear Church Family,
I certainly have enjoyed preaching and teaching out of the book of James since October 2014. James has so much to say about living the Christian life, and I know the Lord has certainly used this book to challenge me and grow me in grace…I pray the Lord has used it in your life as well.
This month, let’s just take a step back and review some of the main things that we have learned from James. I also will list challenge you with a Scripture verse from each chapter to memorize and “hide your heart” (Ps 119:11).
James 1 – Though James is Jesus’ half brother, his attitude is that of humility as he describes himself a servant of Jesus. He teaches us that trials are part of the Christian life, and that we can face trials with joy because God is using them to grow us in our faith. However, as we face our trials, there are certain necessities that we need: Wisdom, a proper perspective, and steadfastness. Yet while God bring trials into our lives, God will never tempt us. Temptation is the work of Satan, but the responsibility falls on man and his own desires. God is the giver of all good things, and He will never change. As Christians, we should be quick to listen and slow to speak and become angry, for our anger does not reflect God’s righteousness. However, listening is not enough…we must do what God commands lest we deceive ourselves. God’s law does not bind a believer; rather, it frees him from the entanglements of sin. Two excellent ways of being doers of the word are ministering to orphans and widows.
Memory Verse: James 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
James 2 – Because Jesus is Lord, we are to live obediently under his Lordship. And the Lord Jesus taught us that partiality (or favoritism) is a sin and should not be part of our lives. We should not judge by the outward appearance that a person has. To do so is to judge with evil thoughts and to make distinctions among ourselves. For James says that favoritism is incompatible with God, unloving towards others, makes us law breakers, and is unmerciful towards others. For we must remember, faith without works is of no value at all. Remember, even the demons believe there is a God! Abraham demonstrated his faith by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Rahab demonstrated her faith by receiving the messengers and sending them out another way. So what is the conclusion of the matter? We are saved by faith alone, but that faith is never alone. It is always accompanied by works. Faith apart from works is dead.
Memory Verse: James 2:6 “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
James 3 – Teachers will be judged more strictly because of the great influence they hold over the minds of their listeners. The tongue, though very small, is extremely powerful. It’s like the bit in the mouth of a horse, a rudder on a ship, and a spark that starts a blazing fire. No man can tame the tongue – it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. Man can tame wild beasts, but he can’t tame the tongue. That’s why man needs God in his life – he must bring his tongue under the submission of the Holy Spirit. For there are two kinds of wisdom: Earthly Wisdom and Heavenly Wisdom. Earthly wisdom is jealous and selfish, but heavenly wisdom is pure and peaceable, gentle, open to reason, and is full or mercy and good fruits.
Memory Verse: “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
James 4 – James says it’s our passions that cause quarrels and fights among us! These passions can be seen in our lusts – the lust of the flesh (I must have that!), the lust of the eyes (I must see that!), and the pride in possessions (I must possess that!). These passions encourage us to avoid prayer and invite us to be friends with the world. But Christians should realize that friendship with the world is enmity with God. In fact, there are certain qualities that every Christian should have that should make them distinct from the world. These qualities are 1) Humility, which is the opposite of pride. Pride led Kings Uzziah, Nebuchadezzar, and Belshazzar to destruction. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to he humble; 2) Being Submissive, which is the opposite of having a hard heart and stubbornness. Unlike Pharaoh and Jonah, the Lord Jesus taught us how to be submissive to His Father; 3) Nearness, for every relationship needs to be cultivated, especially man’s relationship to God; and 4) Repentance, a brokenness for our own sin. Believers should not speak evil against each other. In fact, evil speech causes the following domino effect: Evil Speech à Setting aside God’s law to love your neighbor as yourself à Putting yourself on the same level as the Law Giver à Putting yourself on the same level as God à Trying to dethrone God. And while making plans is not a sin, if we avoid submitting those plans to a Sovereign God and asking his will to be done, that is a sin. Because we do not know what tomorrow will bring, and because of the brevity of life, we should bring all our planning under the will of God. For if we don’t do what we know is right, that is sin in the sight of God.
Memory Verse: James 4:4 “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy with God.”
James 5 – James gives a warning to the rich, for their love of money has led them to all sorts of evil. The dominoes just keep falling. Their greed leads to theft which leads to selfish indulgences which leads to murder. The rich should then weep and howl, for their destruction is drawing near. But indeed, they won’t…they will only continue to eat and indulge, like a farm animal. The only problem is they are indulging only to be slaughtered. God’s people are to be patient and they await His vindication, but at the same time, His people should not grumble but remain steadfast. Christians should never forget to pray, whether they are suffering, cheerful, or sick, for the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Memory Verse: James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”