James: Where Belief Meets Behavior
May 24, 2009
INTRODUCTION: Faith that is real works practically in one's life. James is the epistle (letter) in our Bibles that Martin Luther termed, "a veritable epistle of straw, and destitute of evangelic character." Lehman Strauss said, "It is not an epistle of straw; rather, it is an epistle of strength. It is not destitute of evangelic character but rather characteristic of the evangel."
Luther saw Paul and James as contradictory on the matter of justification. Paul wrote in Romans 3:28 that "a man is justified by faith," and James wrote, in James 2:24, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only."
This is not contradictory, but each is complimentary to the other. Paul deals with the inner faith of man's heart as God sees it, while James concerns his discourse with the outward fruits of faith as man sees them. God knows whether or not I am a true believer on the basis of my faith apart from any works, but men can only know whether or not I am a true believer as they observe my life outwardly. Jesus said that we can distinguish between the true and the false only by a man's fruits.
Matthew 7:15-16, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?"
Matthew 7:21-22, "Not everyone who says to Me,'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'"
These type truths give us the setting for the theme of James. In all 5 chapters it is an extremely practical book, dealing with truth and heavenly wisdom resulting in a holy walk.
James approaches faith subjectively, in the sense of trust or confidence in the ...
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