Historically, we know many nice tidbits about the Book of James and the man responsible for writing it. First of all, historians and Bible scholars are in agreement that this James was the half-brother of our Lord, placing him in the same house growing up with Jesus. With even a cursory thought about this, we find many interesting points of view that James had which maybe no other writer of the New Testament had firsthand. We also have heard it said that James was not the man of brazen words in person as he was in his letter. On the contrary, he was said to come to believers and gatherings, on a stretcher no doubt, and he would encourage the Followers of the Way to love one another and pray–simply. He was carried into these meanings on a stretcher because his knees were deformed. His knees were deformed because of an avid prayer life spent on his knees. This devout and humble position and ensuing physical malformity landed him the nickname Ole CamelKnees. And there is one account that says that he may have had long feathered and locked hair, down to his ankles–no joke.
For those Christians who have read James through a few times, they know, when taken literally and at face value, this little book packs a punch. James may just be the number one reason for believers throwing or closing their Bible violently and wrestling with the straight up truth it portrays. This book tells us as Christians that we have got to live out what we say we believe…plainly. At our church, Calvary Chapel of Iron River, we have been cruising through the Book of James in the last few weeks. Here are some of my sermon notes from chapter two:
Hebrews 11:1–Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.
Faith is holy boldness, a daring to take our God at everything He said in His Word and let it work out through our members and our daily lives. Faith takes risks on the supernatural promises of God. Faith won’t quit when things look dark and bleak. True faith trusts in what God has said to ridiculous ends. A life of faith is a life of reckless abandon…unto God. This is why we do not draw back, but come boldly before the throne. Faith causes us to enter in.
Matthew 17:17-20–faith as a mustard seed. With faith in the Lord and in His promises, we can truly do extraordinary things for the Kingdom.
And faith without works is dead…James says it over and over.
Works let us know that our faith is genuine. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Put your money where your mouth is. We have got to back up what we say we believe with real-life action or else we resemble the stage actor or hypocrite who merely speaks of lofty things and has no life commitment to back it up. Having no true dedication to what we say we believe has caused the church to be a total mockery these days in our country, with people not taking God seriously because they look at Christians not taking God seriously.
This whole idea of faith plus works is in continuation of the idea of being doers of the Word and not just hearers only…deceiving ourselves (James 1:22). We must DO faith and act it out in sincerity. “Believers” who do not exhibit this, are not much of believers at all. Remember, to believe in something means that you TRUST IN, RELY UPON, and ADHERE TO IT.
V.19–the demons also believe…and they shudder.
We need to believe with our lives, with sweat and devotion. A torch and a spade, a sword in one hand and a shovel in the other. So faith PLUS works is alive.
Let’s get to it!