THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 11-30-03
LESSON TITLE: GOD'S CHOSEN AND INSPIRED WRITERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: "GOD'S WRITER, JAMES"
Greetings to all in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Let me thank each of you for joining us this morning - welcome to the program. Today we have the privilege to once again assemble before the throne of God. In this time of worship we will have the opportunity to sing songs of praise and to study from His Word. May we each do our part in praising God according to His Will, as we make these sacrifices and offering toward His Throne. Now as we begin talking to our God, will you bow with me in prayer!
This morning we want to begin our songs of praise with a hymn that proclaims that our Lord is alive! Won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives!" (BREAK FOR SONG # 1)
Wow, I hope you got enough to eat for the holidays! Thanksgiving is such an enjoyable time of the year. A time when we gather together with family and friends. Oh, what fun and fellowship we have with those in this life and those of like precious faith. Yes, we are truly blessed in this country to have the freedom we have and opportunities like these to remember just how good we've got it.
This all makes me think of another very special day which we need to rejoice in as well. How many of us take for granted the weekly opportunity we have to gather together on the Lord's Day. As we all know, God commands us to gather as His followers to worship and praise His name. In fact, why would we want to be anywhere else on the Lord's day than before the throne of God, in praise to our Creator.
The Bible is full of exhortations about this matter. In fact, in Hebrews 10:23-25, we read, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Here we have a discussion about faith, hope and love, but notice where it all ends up. The writer says one of our good works which demonstrates these things is our faithful attendance.
Brethren and friends, where do I get a better opportunity to worship God than when assembled with my fellow brethren? Or when do I have a greater chance to receive edification or training in the Lord. The reality is we need our time of collective worship more than God does - because it gives us the strength and ability we need to make it through another week. It gives us the skills and knowledge to do even more in the service of our God. And it gives us the desire and zeal to accomplish what we know we must to God's glory.
Are you worshiping God on a weekly basis with His people as He has commanded you to? Are you willing to give this time to Him to prove your true love, reverence and obedience to His Will. How much time are you willing to give to your Creator?
Today we will continue our series on God's Chosen and Inspired Writers Of The New Testament. Our specific lesson of the morning will consider, "God's Writer James," So please stay with us and after our next song together, we will have a guest speaker to bring us this message of the day.
Our speaker today is not a stranger to us, we are excited to have brother Kevin Patterson with us, to lead us in the study of the day. Brother Patterson is the minister for the Bolivar Church of Christ. We look forward to him guiding our thoughts of the morning. Now let's again join together in our second song of the morning, the name of the hymn, "I'll Fly Away!"
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Kevin Patterson
Good morning and thank you for staying with us.
Over the past several weeks, we have been examining a series of lessons on the writers of the New Testament. Thus far in our series, we have examined the authors Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul and Peter. This week, we are going to look at a New Testament author who wrote a book that bears his name and that is the writer, James. James.
James identifies himself in James chapter 1, verse 1 as the author of this book. Whereas, when we write a letter we often sign our names at the close of the document. Many New Testament writers would identify themselves in the first few verses of the book. So James chapter 1 and verse 1 reads, "James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings."
The author James is commonly believed to have been the brother of our savior Jesus Christ. We note in passages such as Matthew chapter 13 and verses 54-57 that Jesus actually had a large family, at least 9 people in His immediate family counting His earthly mother and father, four brothers and some sisters, we come to this conclusion.
In chapter 13 and verse 55, we identify four brothers of Jesus. The first of which that is noted and probably assumed to be the oldest of Jesus' younger brothers, James.
We also see that James, along with his other brothers, did not always believe in Jesus. Certainly not at first. You can read other passages of scripture and see that James grew into a great leader of the church in the New Testament, but in the beginning we can understand that James, perhaps and his brothers as well, were somewhat skeptical of the Messiahship that Jesus held. We read in passages like John chapter 7, verses 1-6 where the brothers of Jesus were trying to give Him certain advice to go off into a direction that Jesus did not exactly want to go into. In verse 5 of that passage, we read where even His brothers did not believe in Him.
I have an older brother, Larry, who is ten years older than I am. Although ten years separates us, Larry and I have a good relationship and we look forward to being with one another on the few occasions that we are able to get together, living in different parts of the United States. I like Larry. Larry likes me, but neither of us believe that the other is perfect. Certainly you can imagine what I might feel if someone came up to me one day and said, "By the way, your brother, Larry, is the chosen one. He's the one you are to follow without question. He is God in the flesh." That would certainly be difficult for me to handle knowing him as I do.
Well, we can imagine that there might have been some resentment, might have been some jealousy on the part of James and his brothers concerning Jesus. But at some point in time, they truly came to believe that He was indeed God in the flesh.
Galatians chapter 2 and verse 9 as a passage of scripture where the apostle Paul describes James in relationship with "Cephas and John as pillars of the church."
It is clear in the book of James that James wrote to a group of Christians probably of a Jewish background because of the language and terminology that's used.
In James chapter 2 and verse 1, James describes or references those who are receiving this letter as "brethren or brothers and sisters." He was showing a relationship and he also instructs them. He says, "Do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality." So he identifies another relationship. That is that Jesus Christ was their Lord. He was their Master and such they had become these bondservants that James identifies himself in chapter 1 and verse 1 as being.
We also want to point out that James wrote about a number of things that were helpful to Christians in the first century and as applied to us today can be very meaningful in our lives as well. In chapter 1, James wrote about the testing and perseverance of one's faith. He writes in passages such as chapter 1, verses 2-4, "My brethren, count all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience, but let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing."
In chapter 2, James addresses the sin of playing favorites. When he said earlier, as we read in verse 1, "Do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality," he continues to explain just exactly what type of favoritism they should not be playing. Verse 2 reads, "Where if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings and fine apparel and there should also come in a poor man with filthy clothes and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, 'You sit here in a good place,' and say to the poor man, 'You stand there or sit at my footstool.' Have you not shown partiality among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"
Chapter 3 describes the problem that we all often share concerning the control of our lips or what comes out of our mouths. In chapter 3 and verse 3, he writes, "Indeed, we put bits in horse's mouths that they may obey us and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships. Although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature and it is set on fire by Hell. A scary description of the problems and the hard times that can fall upon us because of the loose lips or are not controlling our tongues.
In chapter 4, James writes about several things that Christians should avoid. Wars and fights, problems, disputes, things that often associate people who just simply cannot or more likely do not try to get along with one another. In chapter 4 and verse 1, he writes, "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?" And also in verse 4, he says concerning these people who would abandon their allegiance to Christ to follow the lust of their flesh. He says, "Adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
And in chapter 5, the last of the chapters in the book of James, James gives some final words of encouragement to his readers. He writes, "Therefore be patient brethren until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand."
Those are all helpful instructions to us as we try to live Christ-like and godly-like. But is that all that James writes about in this book? Is that all that the book of James is known for? I must admit that of all the New Testament books, if I could play favorites, James would be one of my favorite writings because he cuts to the chase in many things. Not that he reveals anything new, but he explains some of the responsibility that we have in living those Christ-like and godly lives unlike many of the other writers.
Let me give you an example of exactly what I am talking about. Back in chapter 1, if we review James' letter we will see what we might have obviously left out before. In James chapter 1, verses 21-25, James writes, "Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls. Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves, for if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of a man he was. But if he looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the Word, this one will be blessed in what he does."
Many people in our religious world today have the idea that the Bible somehow teaches that a person need only believe that God exists and that is all that God asks or requires of them. But James says something quite different. He says, "Don't be a hearer of the Word, but also be a doer."
In chapter 2, he asks the question. "What does it profit, brethren, beginning in verse 14, if someone says he has faith but does not have works, can faith save him?" If a brother or a sister is naked and destitute of daily food and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace. Be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works." Verse 19 reads, "You believe that there is one God, you do well, even the demons believe and tremble. But do you want to know, o foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" He describes here if we want to have the type of faith that is pleasing to God, if we want to have the type of faith that is mandated to God, it must be a living, active, breathing vibrant faith, not a dead faith, and a faith that consists only of a mental belief that God exists is not sufficient to our Lord.
James chapter 2 and verse 24 reads, "You see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith only." James chapter 3 he describes the same thing. He describes some of the problems with the use of our mouth and he says, "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so." In other words, you cannot say that it is good to have a pure mouth and then have vile things come out of it. In verse 13 of the same chapter, he says, "Who is wise in understanding among you, let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom."
In chapter 4 and verse 17, James continues the idea that a mental belief system alone is not enough when he says, "Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." There are many people who know the right answers, but they do not practice those right answers. God wants us to obey His Will and His Word.
James chapter 5, verse 19-20, once again this last chapter in the book of James, we read, "Brethren, if anyone among you," remember he is talking to Christians here, "if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."
I would ask you, "Is James the only writer of the New Testament that brought about such ideas that faith alone was insufficient or a mental belief system without the accompanying works or obedience to the Lord's commands was enough? Is James the only one that wrote that?" I would say very quickly to you, "Absolutely not." In Matthew, he records in chapter 7 and verse 21 the words of Jesus when Jesus said, "Not everyone who says unto me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the Will of my Father who is in heaven."
Mark records in chapter 3 and verses 31-35 an episode in the life of Christ when Jesus was asked, "Who are your brothers and sisters? Who is your family?" Jesus says contrary to his physical family, he says, "Whoever does the Will of God is my brother and my sister and my mother."
In Luke chapter 6 and verses 46-49, Jesus describes also the writing of the inspired author Luke. He makes this comment. "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things that I say?"
In the book of John, John writes in chapter 14 and verse 15, "If you love me, keep my commandments." He writes elsewhere in later writings, in 1 John chapter 2 and 3, the idea that if we love Him we will keep those commandments and we will constantly practice righteousness so that we can be righteous because to practice sin is something of the devil."
1 John chapter 3 and verse 10 reads, "Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God."
Paul made the comment that "Jesus would someday come back again," in 2 Thessalonians chapter 1, verses 6-9, "taking vengeance on those that do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of Christ."
Peter in his writings expresses the idea that we need to be obedient to the commandments of Christ.
James is a short book, only five chapters long, but it teaches us a marvelous lesson and that is that our faith is absolutely essential, but a faith that is accompanied by obedience.
(SONG # 3 - "Home of the Soul!")
Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. What a blessing it has been to share this time together in Christ. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves through this worship to God!
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Again, consider the blessing we have to know God's complete revelation through good men such as James. May we always study these inspired works to better equip ourselves in the service of our God.