FaithWorks: Book of James Bible Study

Welcome to FaithWorks: The Book of James Bible Study

I want to begin our study with two simple questions:

1). If you never told a single person that you were a follower of Christ, would they know you were anyway?

2). Would the people who know what God is like, based on they way you talk and the way you live your life?

If you want to know if your faith is really working, reflect on your behaviour during times of trials. This is the insight that James gives us. Do you embrace a trial excited for what God is going to produce in you? Or do you resent the testing and complain bitterly?

FaithWorks, Intro to the Book of James Bible study from DonnaLowe on Vimeo.

FaithWorks Video Transcript

Why did James write?

What Jame’s epistle is NOT:

It’s not an opportunity for self-condemnation. Listen, James wrote this chapter out of a pure, undefiled love for the LORD and for the LORD’s children. He wrote it because the believers needed this strong admonishment, not because he liked to beat them up.

Therefore, if James meant it in love, then that is exactly how we should process and apply Jame’s words. It’s not for self-condemnation, rather, for honest self-reflection and evaluation. You see, I just believe that if we are to take these words to heart, and ask the Spirit within us to strengthen us, this book will result in tremendous changes for the LORD’s kingdom.

There are over 50 imperatives in the book of James. He doesn’t suggest, he commands. He commands believers to grow up in the faith they’ve been given. To act like adults rather than little children – even in times of trials.

How does James define Faith?

The Greek word pistis is a confident trust that’s expressed by loyalty, allegiance, obedience to God. Faith is a gift from God (it’s the fruit of the Spirit, and cannot be self-produced.

In short, 4102/pistis (“faith”) for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will (1 Jn 5:4)

Faith is not the power of positive thinking. It’s not a means to a desired success. Faith is active in word and deeds, regardless of our circumstances. Faith is what we employ in order to follow Jesus in obedience through any trial, temptation, or whether a specific life-situation is welcomed or unwelcome.

Martin Luther knew and taught exactly what the book of James teaches. The following is from his preface to Romans regarding saving faith: “O it is a living, busy active mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good things incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done this, and is constantly doing them. Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever. He gropes and looks around for faith and good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Yet he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.”

Faith results IN a changed person!

There’s a million advertisements competing for your loyalty and mine. All promise complete transformation. If you buy a certain toothpaste, your teeth will almost glow in the dark because they’re so white. If you drive a certain automobile, your life will be filled with excitement and adventure. You’ll be the envy of many and have the affections of those you want to impress. If you drink a certain drink, you’ll have energy, stamina, and good health. For only a few dollars, these products will change your life. We know – mostly because we’ve tried them – none of these promote lasting change.

Gimmicks. That’s what they are. For James, the unthinkable Gimmick is this…

Christians who claim that Jesus is the only answer, but live a life of complete contradiction.

Christians who boast in the cross, carry and even read the bible, pray and attend church frequently, as though they’ve found “The Way” but live as though they are completely unaffected by the very faith they claim they have. The use Jesus as a means to look the part, and to get more of what they want.

They drink too much, they post pictures of themselves at drinking parties, drinks in hand, bragging about the over-consumption of alcohol. As if that’s what Jesus would be doing? REALLY? They swear, they cheat, they gossip. Unashamedly, they are divisive. They are greedy with their time and money. There’s no mercy or grace, no forgiveness towards others, no compassion, no dying to self. No living out selflessness.

These are all outward behaviours manifested by an inward heart-condition. Listen: These actions mock the cross of Christ. They make God out to be spineless, weak, indecisive and ineffectual. This is NOT okay! God is Holy. He expects us – His children – to be holy too.

You see, we are all, at any given moment, making far greater compromises and concessions to the faith we say we have than what we realize.

It breaks my heart to think that these people are either grossly deceived, or intentional. The third option is that they have simply NOT been taught the truth. The third option has an easy solution. Let’s you and I humble ourselves before the LORD and let the Holy Spirit be our teacher.

I want to begin our study with two simple questions:

1). If you never told a single person that you were a follower of Christ, would they know you were anyway?

2). Would the people who know what God is like, based on they way you talk and the way you live your life?

Doing a self-assessment is the only way to know where you are at – as well, it helps you to measure progress, so let’s be brutally honest with ourselves.

Is there a stark difference, is anything different about you and I, or do we simply blend in with the rest of the world? FaithWorks from the inside out, my friend.

Faith affects our understanding of God’s will for us. Faith welcomes the truth about our inner condition. Faith impacts our character. Faith helps us to love God more, to love others more and to ourselves less. Faith gives us godly desires and the strength and courage to live them out.

James is unapologetic in his boldness. He doesn’t make empty promises. There’s no codling or sugarcoated false encouragement. In fact, sometimes James seems abrupt way that goes against our “keep-me-safe-from-harsh-words, politically-correct-culture.

Shortly after publication, a group of women decided to study Radical Love and Examine Your Heart, the book and bible study my friend and I co-authored. After they were done, they asked if they could meet with us for a Q&A. We showed up to a local restaurant, where the group had already gathered for our meeting. When we arrived, the first words out of their mouth were: we don’t know whether to hug you or punch you. They were half kidding, of course. But the truth is, much of the word of God is hard. It packs a punch. The book of James, especially.

FaithWorks through us:

And then through us to impact those around us. Others should see your faith at work and praise your God, because REAL FAITH is a testimony that God IS!

He had an urgent and passionate desire to see

1). That the world would know what God is like in and through His people.

2). That there would be peace within the church, regardless of the multiplying outside pressures of life and the oppression of the enemy.

3). and to see the church fulfill it’s God-given role, regardless of those pressures.

Through out the book of James, we will see the character of God and be challenged to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. Because God is holy, we are called to be like Him. I don’t want you to miss this following characteristics of God.

God IS:

    A gracious giver
    Unchanging Creator
    Merciful and Compassionate
    He is the JUDGE of the world, and everyone, yes, you and I included will be judged by the one and only righteous one
    God is the ONE and ONLY GOD. Therefore He is the only one who can judge
    He’s a jealous God and He will not share you with the world.
    HE calls us to be unstained by the world
    He is our healer, both spiritually and physically.

Real faith results in Coram Deo

This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

The idea is that whatever we are doing, wherever we are doing it, we acting right in front of God. He’s omnipresent, and therefore, there is no place we can go where God is not. There’s nothing we can do that is hidden from God. He’s watching. ALWAYS.

So to be aware of God’s presence we must also be aware of His divine sovereignty. Living aware of God’s sovereignty is not some grim duty to which we stoically resign ourselves. It’s not reluctant submission in fear of punishment by God. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.

Coram Deo involves passion and the belief that there is no higher honour calling, no greater privilege than to Glorify God through our living sacrifice, in a spirit of loyal adoration and gratitude.

Was James a trustworthy source?

For James, faith was not some abstract idea. When he did follow Jesus, he followed with great devotion. An early history of the church says that James was such a man of prayer that his knees had large and thick calluses, making them look like the knees of a camel.

It also says that James was martyred in Jerusalem by being pushed from a high point of the temple. Yet the fall did not kill him, and on the ground he was beaten to death, even as he prayed for his attackers. Faith for James meant living a life of integrity. It was practical and had a profound impact in the world. Authentic deeds, from a motive of selflessness.

In fact, James opens his epistle with a greeting from a “bond-servant”. Coram Deo meant living a life of wholeness, not compartmentalizing your faith into sections. Undivided. Undistracted. Uncompromised.

You might wonder, does it even really matter? I mean, isn’t everyone in the church living in such a way that whatever is right in their own eyes is what’s important? The answer to that is Yes. Yes it matters. James calls us to give the world tangible evidence that God exists and that the Characteristics we see in God are visible to the world.

If you have true, genuine faith, then you will not just talk about it. Your words, your actions, everything about you will prove your faith. FaithWorks, it doesn’t just sit idly by. This means that if a person fulfills his or her vocation as a steelmaker, attorney, or homemaker coram Deo, then that person is acting every bit as religiously as a soul-winning evangelist who fulfills his vocation.

It means that David was as religious when he obeyed God’s call to be a shepherd as he was when he was anointed with the special grace of kingship. It means that Jesus was every bit as religious when He worked in His father’s carpenter shop as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

It means that in trouble and out, in times of trials and temptations, there is no good excuse for acting in any other way than in holiness before your God because He is holy. There’s no excuses necessary when disaster hits, because you act with integrity, regardless.

Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in a pattern of consistency. It is a pattern that functions the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.

If you are going to endeavour to do this study, I urge you, count it all joy when you face both. It means that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Faith Works for, in, and through us

Hudson Taylor, a man well acquainted with persecution, said: “All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of His grace, power and love.” Faith is always in a person not a result. Real faith gives you the will and the power to act according to all that pleases God, regardless of the outcome of any circumstance. Faith is knowing God is and that He is good and worth trusting, no matter what!

How do we know when our faith is real? When difficulties come along, we don’t retreat, we don’t surrender, we dig in and continue on in obedience, knowing that the testing of our faith is to prove who we are and is an opportunity to improve, becoming all that God has intended for us to become.

Charles Spurgeon said, ”You may readily judge whether you are a child of God or a hypocrite by seeing in what direction your soul turns in seasons of severe trial. The hypocrite flies to the world and finds a sort of comfort there. But the child of God runs to his Father and expects consolation only from the Lord’s hand.”

James calls us all to account. Mirror-like, James words help us to recognize, acknowledge, and change the way we live out our faith or shut up about it. Don’t tell me you have faith unless you’re willing to prove it. In ANY and every circumstance.

Honestly, I find it absolutely refreshing. I’m tired of the watered down garbage we’re being asked to swallow whole. I just want to hear the truth. Please! I’m excited to dive into James and know that’s exactly what I’m going to get. My heart craves it, my soul thirsts for it. I hope you’re excited to.

4 Comments

  1. Wendy Gardner on April 27, 2018 at 9:56 am

    THANK YOU FOR this article, I can tell that it’s sincere and from the heart. I HAVE BEEN THOROUGHLY convicted,in my soul. I FEEL ashamed that I have stumbled. CONVICTION hurts and really gets to the point. .I welcome it,and I recognize it as a stern message from Father God to obey his word. Love of God is giving all of yourself ,not HALF your attention, but all. I WILL GET BACK ON TRACK..

    • Donna on April 27, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      Wendy,

      I so appreciate your honesty.

      I know exactly what you mean. I believe that it’s the godly sorrow which Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 7. As uncommon as it is in our day, that conviction, coupled by shame and guilt, is a good thing. It leads us to repentance. God loves a humble and contrite heart, Wendy. Rest assured, you are in the Father’s will. I pray for your continued growth, by the Spirit of The LORD and the word of God, for His glory, sister! Amen

  2. Wendy Gardner on April 27, 2018 at 9:59 am

    GODS blessing to you always

    • Donna on April 27, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      Thank you, Wendy.

      I am truly blessed.

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