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JAMES 1:1-4:

I.                    Introduction to James

a.       Author and Date: 

                                                               i.      James the younger half brother of Jesus

1.      James was a prominent leader in the early church

2.      Initially did not believe the claims of Jesus until after the resurrection of Jesus

3.      Was martyred in AD 62 according to the Jewish historian Josephus.

                                                             ii.      James is possibly the earliest book of the New Testament penned sometime in the mid-40’s (44-46 AD). 

b.      Recipients

                                                               i.      Jewish believers who had been scattered or dispersed probably due to the persecution of Herod Agrippa I around AD 44 (Acts 12).

                                                             ii.      Because of their relocation and the many references in the letter to the poor it is quite likely that these believers were impoverished. 

c.       Major Themes

                                                               i.      Eschatology:  Teachings about the last things (i.e. return of Jesus, end of life, God’s future judgment etc)

                                                             ii.      Faith and Deeds: That good works demonstrate faith

                                                            iii.      Ethical teachings:  Speech, Trials, Wealth, Mercy

                                                           iv.      Wisdom

                                                             v.      Human Nature: Created in the image of God yet can be a source of evil.

                                                           vi.      God: Creator of all things, generous, etc

                                                          vii.      Jesus: Shares the glory of God

d.      Slave: James identifies himself (v. 1) not as the brother of Christ but as a slave. 

                                                               i.      Jesus is not his older brother but his master. He went from believing Jesus was the son of Joseph to knowing that He was Jesus the Son of God.

                                                             ii.      Theology has shifted to God being our servant, available when we call. 

II.                 Consider it all joy.

a.       A command to act in a way contrary to human nature

b.      The most important word

c.       Types of trials

                                                               i.      Various:  multi-colored, varied

1.      Not so much “many” troubles, but a wide range of challenging circumstances.  Diversity (family, relatives, disappointment).

                                                             ii.      Trials are not temptations.  These are not a solicitation to evil

1.      Testing=an examination.  To learn the nature of something

a.       To put to the test (John 6:4-6).

b.      To discover the genuineness of your faith.

2.      Not identified.  Could be persecution and poverty

a.       External situations may introduce the trial but it is when it becomes internal that the testing begins.

                                                                                                                                       i.      Disappointment, unfulfilled dreams, unmet expectations, loneliness, fear.

b.      It is in this situation James gives this command.

                                                            iii.      Consider it all joy

1.      What it is not   

a.       A superficial sentimentality that merely covers up pain

b.      Lemonade from lemons, “don’t worry be happy.”

2.      What it is

a.       A command given based upon something much deeper

                                                                                                                                       i.      That in the hands of Almighty God, trials become an instrument that will reveal characteristics that you were unaware of and that God takes pleasure in.

b.      Notice the theological basis

III.               Trial’s Product.

a.       Trials are not haphazard accidents of fate, nor the cruel dealings of a capricious God.

b.      Trials produce endurance.  Lit: “remaining under”

                                                               i.      It is not passive

1.      Not so much that quality that allows you to sit quietly in traffic as it is the quality that helps you finish a marathon.

                                                             ii.      Endurance is a necessary quality if one is to successfully complete a lengthy and difficult task.  (Like life).

1.      ILL> 17 mile climb

c.       Testings do not produce faith, they reveal it.

                                                               i.      That climb did not produce anything it merely revealed what was already present.

1.      James teaches that trials show where there is but an empty profession, a dreamy sentiment not based upon firm intelligent convictions of truth. 

a.       Where there is affliction it should lead to deep wrestling’s w/ God in such a weak state.

2.      (Macarthur) Put a false believer through a test and it will blow him away, burn him up.  Put a true believer to a test and it will drive him to despair his own weakness, driving him to prayer to lean upon Almighty God.

IV.              The Goal

a.       Trials produce endurance, but endurance is not the goal. 

                                                               i.      The goal (v. 4) to be made perfect (mature): fully developed and complete (developed in every area of our lives).  You will resemble Jesus.

b.      ILL> race

                                                               i.      Goal was not endurance, the goal was victory.  But to have victory endurance was necessary.  To obtain endurance some means was needed to produce it

1.      God’s plan for you is victory (complete the work He began).  A nec component is endurance and trial is the means

c.       V. 12

                                                               i.      A Beatitude: 

                                                             ii.      Blessed = happy or even better, satisfied.

1.      Not the empty happiness or satisfaction of one who has never participated but the fulfilled satisfaction of the one who fought and won.

a.       Not just “sucking it up” or “gritting my teeth” it is about winning

b.      Go through trial, never giving up, leaning upon the Everlasting arms of God and coming out the winner and receiving the crown of life.

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