Dear Church Family,
The book of James is a fascinating letter in the New Testament. Although Martin Luther called it ‘an epistle of straw’ it is a stirring letter designed to exhort and encourage, to challenge and convict, to rebuke and revive Christian believers in every era.
This epistle is both ethical and practical, describing practical holiness in a way that shows how Christians should live out their Christianity in difficult and trying circumstances within an alien culture.
The overriding purpose of this letter is to exhort the early believers (and later readers) towards Christian maturity and so it deals more with the practice of the Christian faith than with its precepts.
As one commentator has said James told his readers how to achieve spiritual maturity through a confident stand, compassionate service, careful speech, contrite submission, and concerned sharing.
James deals with every area of a Christian’s life: what he is, what he does, what he says, what he feels, and what he has.
In this short and punchy letter James makes numerous indirect references to the Sermon on the Mount and other teaching of Jesus. He also makes frequent reference to the Old Testament and his writing is comparable to the wisdom literature found there.
Underpinning James’ purpose in writing this letter is his concern that Christians have a ‘faith that works’ and as he outlines what our faith should look like in practical terms we, the reader, are forced to evaluate the reality and depth of our relationship to Christ.
We are graphically made aware of the results of a dead, inactive faith and we are being stirred towards growth and true spiritual maturity, both as individual Christians and collectively as local assemblies of faith.
There is so much here for us to apply in our lives but thankfully
“God gives grace to the willing humble.” (James 4:6 MSG). So as we approach this sermon series on the book of James, entitled ‘Faith that Works’, let’s come to God’s Word willingly and in all humility to receive wisdom from our God, who is a God
‘who gives generously to all’. (James 1:5 NIV)
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