Am I a Slave?
Am I a slave ?
To which the passage speaks – How many people have said “I have to find myself, I don’t know who I am”. This is the reason many young people goon very long trips to find the answer to this question. James, the writer of the book we are beginning our trek through never had to go on such a mission to find out who he was. He knew without a doubt who he was. Who he was, was in relationship to his Savior. We as believers never have to second guess who we are. We can know right away, we are slaves to our Savior Jesus Christ the LORD.
1. Who was this letter written to –
Ex. The twelve tribes (show overhead transparency of the patriarchs).
Of the diaspora (first show map of the split of the nation of Israel then show overhead of map showing the diaspora)
Even though this letter was written to the 12 tribes dispersed, it was written for every believer (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Ill. 1 Peter 1:10-12 , the prophets who spoke and wrote their prophecies were not only directing them to their immediate audiences but also to the people to whom Peter was writing and also to every believer (see 1 Peter 1:1-2)
Appl. This letter that we are going to study together, known as the Book of James, is written for you and for me also. So let us pay close attention to what the LORD has to say to us through it.
2. Who wrote this letter ?
Ex. A. Who was James – James the half brother of Jesus – James, the son of Zebedee, could not be the author since he suffered martyrdom under Herod Agrippa I before this epistle was written (Acts 12:2).
It is unlikely that the little-known son of Alphaeus was the author , because little was known about him and little was heard of him.
James, the father of Judas (not Iscariot) did not figure as an important person in the early church.
It seems clear therefore that the author is James, the half brother of the Lord, who became the recognized leader in the Jerusalem church. This conclusion is supported by the authoritative tone of the letter and by the marked similarities in Greek between this epistle and the speech by James recorded in Acts 15.
Though James was reared in the same home with the Lord Jesus, he apparently did not become a believer until after Christ’s resurrection. John wrote, “For even His own brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5).
James’ encounter with the risen Lord may have brought him to saving faith. Christ “appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:7). Paul later listed James, Peter, and John as “those reputed to be pillars” of the church (Gal. 2:9).
The strongest evidence for the authorship of the Epistle of James clearly favors the half brother of Christ. Furthermore, Origen, Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Augustine, and many other early writers support this view.
B. James the slave of the LORD Jesus – doulas
Ex. (Show picture of African American slaves) say this is the picture most people have of slaves. Those who were chained and mistreated by their masters.
Slaves in every era were not only subordinate to their masters but often mistreated and considered worse than second class citizens, often not citizens at all. They were considered inferior to their masters and not much more than any other possession.
1 Peter 2:18 describes the position of the slave in Peter’s time and Col. 4:1 describes the position of the master in this same era.
Here James calls himself a slave of the LORD Jesus. Paul says in
1 Cor. 7:21-23 and in 1 Cor. 6:19-20 that we are bought with a price so that we belong not to ourselves or anyone else but to Jesus. But the relationship is not quite the same as the human master and slave. We are Christ’s servants and that eternally, but we have a righteous master who treats us not like slaves but like sons and daughters. He does not promise us a beating and a hanging for our disobedience, but forgiveness and life, and that eternal. Our attitude of our service to our master should always be one of consistent faithfulness, reverence and love as He is due.
Ill. Many of you have read or seen movies that depict slavery in the Southern United States. It’s like a southern plantation owner paying a price for a slave who belonged to a ruthless master, then taking him home and bringing him into his house and calling him son. This however does not mean that the slave no longer serves or respects his master. It is not only a position of service but of joy and gratitude for the Master has purchased the slave from a life of hardship and misery from his former master who would have mistreated him and his only future was pain and death.
Appl. So this is who we are, slaves of Jesus and joyfully so. For our Master does not promise us a life of being mistreatment and hardship and pain, but to heal our wounds, mend our broken hearts, and give us life not death.
There is a reason for trials
Bitter OR Better
To which the passage speaks – When something goes wrong in our life the first thing we say is “why me”. Why did this have to happen to me ? I didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this. Why ? That is a good question !!! Especially for Christians.
Today we are going to see the reason why. (Bitter OR Better)
1. We suffer various trials – James 1:2
Ex. Both physical and spiritual. We will suffer them in this lifetime; that is a guarantee. We will fall into them and most of the time it is not our fault, it happens. To be expected living in this world.
Ill.- trials like : sickness, financial, work, children in trouble, death of loved ones, temptation in various forms like : being persecuted for our faith (Acts 4,5)
to do something outside of God’s will for us(sin), etc.
Appl. We will all suffer trials of all kinds all throughout our lives, so don’t be surprised. Our attitude should not be why me but......
2. What should our attitude be about trials – James 1:2
Ex. It should be one of joy. But most often it is one of discontent. Paul says in Romans 5:3 that we should glory in our tribulations. Peter says in 1 Peter 3:13-14 that we are blessed when we suffer for righteousness sake (that is not suffering for doing something wrong).
Ill. Acts 5:16-42
Appl. It doesn’t mean we find it pleasurable to suffer. It doesn’t mean pain should feel good.
The joy is not in suffering in the trial but in what the trial produces.
3. We learn endurance through trials – James 1:3
Ex. It means to make it through standing firm. “Not giving up” because the trial seems unbearable. Seeing it through. Though not of one’s own abilities but in Christ. So trials and tribulations have a purpose and we need to let them work.
Ill. Paul uses the metaphor of comparing one’s life serving Jesus to running a race. It’s like running the 5k and not collapsing. Natalie and I are starting to run together for exercise and we started this Saturday. We endured until the end of the run and made it home. If we would have collapsed that would have meant that we would not have endured. Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.
Appl. Those trials build us up and help us to endure by the power of God. they help us to be built up spiritually so we will stand firm and not be shaken. So we will make it through and not collapse. So trials then are welcome and have a purpose.
But what about endurance, it too has a purpose as we will see it point 4.
4. Endurance will result in maturity and completeness – James 1:4
Ex. Endurance needs to finish it’s work. That means as trials need to work in our lives to produce endurance so endurance needs to work in our lives to produce maturity and completeness. That is what the words teleios and όlokleros means to be mature and complete. The word teleios is often translated “perfect” but does not mean sinless but mature and blameless.
As we suffer trials our only way to endure is to trust the LORD. What does it mean to trust the LORD ? It means to count on him to get us through, it means to trust what His Word says and obey. As we continue to learn to trust the LORD in all things we begin to learn to make it through and we begin to mature. And with this maturity comes wholeness or completeness. Lacking in nothing, because we learn that God is all we need.
Paul says in Romans 5:3-5 that this process of maturing and wholeness comes when endurance produces a proven character and character produces hope. It’s like Job who suffered many trials and his character was proven godly and solid as a rock. And it proved that his hope was in God and in no other. And he looked forward to the resurrection. (Job 19:26)
Ill. One of the things that cause a young person to grow to maturity and be complete is to suffer through trials and tribulations. It is a way for us to experience and learn first hand the knowledge which the Bible supplies. The Bible says trust the LORD and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge God and He will guide your way. How can we learn this unless we experience it and the best way to experience this is to go through a trial to put the knowledge to work.
Appl. As we go through trials we learn to stand firm by trusting the LORD. It is not accomplished after the first, even the second and maybe not even the third trial, but after many even throughout our entire lives it may take us to learn to stand firm until the end as Paul did. And as we stand firm and not give up this helps us to become mature in our faith and makes us complete and whole people of the LORD Jesus Christ. So let us change our outlook on trials and tribulations, knowing that they have a purpose to make us mature and whole in the LORD. So we can say with Paul I fought the good fight and kept the faith and finished what God had called me to do.