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James - Week 2

The Book of Jameswas written to a church under pressure. Christians were not being martyred, but they were suffering economic persecution and oppression and the church was breaking under the pressure. There are two ways in which church members may respond to extreme pressure. They can either pull together and help each other or they can compromise with the world and split apart into bickering factions. James wanted his readers to do the former but it was the latter that was actually happening as people struggled to ‘get ahead’ in the world. These problems make the letter very relevant for the church today.

The letter is filled with the teaching of Jesus. No other letter of the NT has as many references to the teaching of Jesus per page as this one does. It is not that James quotes Jesus directly, although he sometimes does (see in 5:12), but he normally simply uses phrases and ideas which come from Jesus. His readers would have memorized much of the Lord’s teaching, so they would recognize the source.

Big Idea: Is your faith enough?

Text: James 2:14-26

14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him?

15If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17In the same way faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself.

18But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. 19You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe — and they shudder.

20Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?  21Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works in offering Isaac his son on the altar?  22You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete,  23and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.  24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  25In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route?  26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

©2017 Holman Bible Publishers

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The Take-Away:  Work from God’s acceptance, not for it.