James

James 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 of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
-James 4:4-10

It is believed by many modern day evangelical scholars that the letter of James was written by James the Just, the half-brother of Jesus, sometime between 45-48 A.D. James was one of if not the chief elder of the Church in Jerusalem (see his influence in Acts 15:13-21 and 21:17-26) until his martyrdom in 62 A.D. He likely did not believe in Christ as Savior and Lord during Jesus’ earthly ministry (see Mark 3:20-22; John 7:3-5) but rather came to faith after the resurrection, perhaps when Christ appeared to him (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

James’ letter is written to the “twelve tribes in the Dispersion.” This reference is likely to the Jewish Christians of the early Church who were living away from Jerusalem, some having scattered because of persecution at the hands of Paul and others (Acts 8:1). The scattered Christians of the early Church were vulnerable and weak exiles both spiritually and materially. They struggled with all manner of things. James wrote to encourage them to live humbly and faithfully, like a wife to her husband, in the midst of trials and sufferings, depending upon the enabling grace of Christ to do so in the here and now, knowing that the “coming of the Lord is at hand,” (James 5:8). He called them to be doers of the implanted word (1:19-25: 2:14-26) by living wisely (1:5; 3:13-18), by guarding their tongues (1:26; 3:1-12), by showing no partiality but caring for those in need (2:1-13; 5:1-6), by being patient in suffering (1:2-4; 5:7-11), and by praying with faith to the Lord (1:6-8; 5:13-18).

The teaching that he gives is Proverbs-like in its practicality, its concise nature, and its use of metaphors and illustrations. For these reasons, in particular, it is a favorite for many Christians in their devotional lives. As we study it together in the days ahead, may the Lord “give more grace” to grow us in faith by applying His Word through James to our lives today.


The Sermons

  • The Praying Community – James 5:13-20 August 15, 2016 This is the concluding passage of James’ letter/sermon. He closes it out by focusing on right Christian fellowship. True believers will walk in humble, Gospel-oriented fellowship with God and one another. One of the chief characteristics of such fellowship is prayer. James asks rhetorically, “Is anyone among you suffering?” He answers, “Let him pray.” It seems ...
  • Self-Indulgence in Contrast with Steadfastness – James 5:1-11 August 6, 2016 As we look at James 5:1-11, we need to be aware that James is still expounding upon his teaching from 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.” In 4:11-17, he pointed out the arrogances of speaking evil against another (vv. 11-12) and of presuming to make plans apart from the Lord’s ...
  • Boast No More – James 4:11-17 August 1, 2016 “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.” So says James in 4:10. It is a teaching that is counterintuitive to our sinful nature, not only as individuals but culturally as well. We do not necessarily like bravado in others but neither do we actively believe that it is the meek who inherit ...
  • Humility and Exaltation – James 4:1-12 July 25, 2016      In last week’s passage we looked at the natures of false wisdom and true wisdom. James pointed out the bitter jealousy and selfish ambition that is characteristic of those who practice false wisdom. In contrast, he pointed to the beautiful lifestyle of those who live a truly wise existence that is “pure…peaceable, gentle, ...
  • The Nature of Wisdom – James 3:13-18 July 18, 2016      Proverbs 16:25 reads, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is death.” Jesus illustrated the same principle with His story of the wise man who built his house upon the rock, contrasted with the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When the rains came ...
  • The Power of Words – James 3:1-2 July 10, 2016        Words have real power. The tongue may be relatively small compared to the rest of the body but it is mighty and can do great things. James gives some examples of similarly small but mighty members. He mentions a bit placed in a horse’s mouth. With that small tool a rider is ...
  • Faith, Active and Completed – James 2:14-26 July 4, 2016 This sermon is based on James 2:14-16. Click here to read the text. In the first half of James 2, James focuses on the sin of partiality, warning his readers that their human-based judgments of one another would put them in danger of being judged guilty according to the law of liberty. Thanks be to God, ...
  • The Impartial Gospel – James 2:1-13 June 19, 2016 This sermon is based on James 2:1-13. Click here to read the text. Previously, James called his readers to actively live out a religion that is “pure and undefiled” by (1) controlling their tongues, (2) caring for the vulnerable and weak, and (3) practicing personal holiness (1:26-27). In James 2, he focuses in on the command ...
  • The Implanted Word – James 1:19-27 June 12, 2016 This sermon is based on James 1:19-27. Click here to read the text. The Scripture teaches that all who are in Christ are born again. We are new creations in Him. James says as much in v. 18 when he writes, “Of His own will He brought us forth by ...
  • Counting It All Joy – James 1:1-18 June 5, 2016 This sermon is based on James 1:1-18. Click here to read the text. James says we should count, or consider, it all joy when we meet trials of various sorts. He says that such trials are a testing of our faith that produces endurance for us. This spiritual endurance, built up no doubt over the course ...