Faithlife Sermons

Sermon Tone Analysis

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"Don’t give up.
Persevere.”
INTRO TO JAMES
Who wrote the book?
While James didn’t say which “James” he was, in (James 1:1), the author is thought to be James the half-brother of Jesus by most scholars.
James wasn’t a follower of Jesus during Jesus’ time on earth (Mark 3:21–35; John 7:5) but eventually James became an apostle, like Paul, as one who saw and believed Jesus after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19).
After witnessing the Lord’s resurrected body, James became one of the leaders of the church at Jerusalem.
Peter singled him out among the other Christians there following Peter’s miraculous release from prison (Acts 12:17).
James made the final speech at the Jerusalem Council (15:13–22), and Paul called James one of the pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9).
Where are we?
As one of the chief leaders in the church at Jerusalem, James wrote from that city prior to the meeting of the Jerusalem Council, which Luke recorded in Acts 15.
At that council meeting, James, along with Peter and Paul, decided to take the gospel message to the Gentiles.
That’s good news fo us, because Gentiles are non-Jewish people.
This council met in AD 49, meaning James likely wrote his letter in AD 45–48.
The Jerusalem Council was such a huge event in the life of Christianity that it gave James a platform to speak with authority, as he was writing to a Jewish Christian audience.
But James made no mention of Gentile Christians at all, making an early date for the letter most likely.
Most scholars believe it was most likely the first New Testament book ever written!
Why is James so important?
The book of James has a consistent focus on practical action in the life of faith is reminiscent of the Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament, like Proverbs, encouraging God’s people to act like God’s people.
The pages of James are filled with direct commands to pursue a life of holiness- similar to the sermon on the mount!
He makes no excuses for those who do not measure up, which you will begin to hear throughout this summer as we go through it.
In the mind of this early church leader, Christians show their faith by walking in certain ways, and not others.
For James, a faith that does not produce real life change is a faith that is worthless (James 2:17).
What's the big idea?
Throughout this book, James contends that faith produces authentic deeds.
In other words, if those who call themselves God’s people truly belong to Him, their lives will produce deeds or fruit.
Remember Jesus’ teaching on false prophets?
Matthew 7:20 says that you will recognize a true follower of Jesus by their fruit.
(The way the live their life.)
One of the reasons I felt James would be a good followup to the sermon on the mount is because of the similarities, as well as it expounds on the practical side of living out the Christian faith.
For James, His faith in Christ was not just a crutch to lean on, but had living and breathing effects in the real world.
James offered numerous practical examples to illustrate his point: faith endures in the midst of trials, calls on God for wisdom, bridles the tongue, sets aside wickedness, visits orphans and widows, and does not play favorites.
He stressed that the life of faith is involved, impacting every area of our lives and driving us to truly engage in the lives of other people in the world- not becoming hermits.
While James recognized that even believers stumble (James 3:2), he also knew that faith should not coexist with people who roll their eyes at the less fortunate, ignore the unfortunate situation of others, or curse those in their paths.
How do I apply this?
So how do we apply all of James?
More than any other book in the New Testament, James places highlights for believers to act in accordance with our faith.
How well do your actions show the faith that you say you have?
We all struggle to answer that question well.
As we journey through the book of James over the next several weeks we will explore topics like: your actions during trials, your treatment of those less fortunate, the way you speak and relate to others, and the role that money plays in how you live your life and so much more.
Where the Sermon on the mount focused on our Christian character, conduct and culture- the book of James focuses on Conversion, service and fellowship.
My prayer is that you will allow James to encourage you to do good, according to the faith that you proclaim
Are you ready to get started?
James 1:1-4, 12
James was once a skeptic and didn’t believe Jesus was who He said he was.
Even though he was Jesus’ own brother!
James wasn’t the only one though, his other siblings shared the same belief.
It wasn’t until Jesus’ resurrection happened that James’ faith was solidified.
When we read an opening statement like “James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” we figure this guy is probably a follower of Jesus!
This statement was important for three reasons as William Barclay lays out in his commentary on James:
“Bond-servant” refers to a greek term known as Doulos which means “Absolute Obedience.”
This was a term most Jewish people would link with people like Moses, Joshua and Caleb, Abraham, Isaac, Job, Isaiah and Jacob.
who devoted their whole lives and all they had to serve the Lord.
James is expressing that same commitment of surrender to the Lord.
James is saying he knows no other law but his Master’s word, he’s saying that he has no rights of his own but all is the Lord’s.
“Bond-servant” implies absolute humility.
James is saying that he has lost himself in the service of Jesus Christ.
Let that thought sink in for a minute.
“Bond-servant” means absolute loyalty.
The things and words that James does and speaks are held captive to the fact that they are not his to give but the Lord’s.
Again, if there is absolute surrender there is also absolute loyalty to God.
It was known to most early Christians that to be a bond-servant or a slave to God was the highest commitment to pursuing the will of God in your life.
It was a bold statement to make as you would be held accountable to it by the rest of the disciples and apostles.
Think of it this way:
Most people today say they either believe in God, go to church or are a Christian.
Those things are not bad in themselves but they are so vague.
A lot of people believe in God, a lot of people go to some sort of church and many people say they are a Christian but few will admit to being a follower of Jesus Christ.
It’s easy to say you believe in God in the workplace, it’s another thing to say you have a personal relationship with Him through His son Jesus Christ.
We’re still in verse one!
Then James goes on to say:
“To the 12 tribes scattered among the nations”
You can read about Stephen, who was one of the first disciples martyred for their faith in Jesus at the end of Acts 7.
Because of this horrific event the church scattered outside of Jerusalem, but the apostles stayed and preached the gospel of Jesus.
You would think, great Christianity was practically dissolving at that point, wrong.
The people that scattered went and told everyone about Jesus, about one of the disciples dying for the cause of Christ and that apostles stayed their strong in their faith to preach the good news of the gospel.
Christianity spread rapidly.
So James is writing to the 12 tribes which generally speaking are those Jewish Christians who have scattered everywhere.
We are also the audience that James is writing to!
Never once in his letter does James admit the Christian life is easy.
In fact he begins his letter saying that you will face trials, many kinds!
But we should consider them pure joy.
I’m sorry but in first reading that early on in my faith I was like… yeah right.
I’m not going to consider trials pure joy.
That’s impossible!
The word trials that James uses here is the greek word Peir-az-mos, which means “a trial or testing directed towards an end.”
It’s not the type of trial that we think of meaning to be lured into sin it’s actually referring to an event that will strengthen and purify you.
Simply put you can read the story of Abraham and Isaac and how God called Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac at the altar but the Lord stopped him just before in order to test him of his faith in God.
(Genesis 22:1)
Because of Abraham’s faith he was considered righteous and blessed.
In Judges 2:22 and 3:1 it says that as the Israelites entered the Promised Land there were inhabitants.
God left those inhabitants in their for the testing and strengthening of His people.
So what is this like for all of us?
The sorrows and disappointments we have seek to take away our faith, tests of seduction to lure us from the right way, dangers, sacrifices, unpopularity they are all meant to make is soar, not fall.
These tests are meant to make us stronger, not defeat us.
So because of the strengthening they produce in us, James says we should rejoice.
Who is an athlete in here?
Who enjoys running marathons or compete in sports?
(INTERVIEW THEM TO SEE WHAT THEY DO TO PREPARE)
The heavier the training, the better equipped you will be to compete in the race or event.
God ensures us, as we grow in Him and live our life that we WILL be refined and strengthened through trials of many kinds.
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