In Psalm 1:3 the person whose delight is the law of the Lord is compared to a tree planted by streams of water. Fresh streams result in fruitful seasons and healthy growth. Being Grounded in Truth & Growing in Grace provides the same spiritual benefits. The constant stream of truth from God’s word, coupled with His grace provides healthy spiritual growth - Christ in us, the result of the cross. Truth and grace are essential ingredients as we seek to make disciples of one another at LJBC and of others within our sphere of influence.
James, one of the pillars of the early church (Galations 2:9), penned the practical epistle that bears his name. He wrote about the good works that a biblical faith produces. James 2:18 says, “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” When comparing James’ faith that works, with Paul’s faith that is not of works (Ephesians 2:9 & 10) a rightly divided balance must be carefully maintained. Throughout church history James’ writing has been confusing to some because of their understanding of good works. Some would say: grace through faith + good works = salvation. This should be rejected according to Ephesians 2:9-10.
A careful biblical understanding shows good works to be the product of biblical faith. Grace through faith + nothing = salvation → good works (James 2:18 & Ephesians 2:10).
A careful consideration of New Testament texts that address good works shows there is no contradiction between faith and the good works that follow. In our verse by verse study of James we will discover the norm for genuine believers is to not only to “talk the talk,” but also “walk the walk” of a salvation that is by grace through faith, which results in the works of faith James writes about. Join us as we become grounded in truth and grow in grace together.
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James uses strong language in chapter 4, verse 4 where he says, 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Several time in James, we find him giving his readers a truth to use as a tool to assess the genuineness of one’s faith. This verse declares those who are friendly with the world make themselves an enemy of God. In chapter 1:27 we find that, 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. To be stained or spotted by the world is different that being a friend of the world.
Here are some questions to help the believer assess if you are a friend of the world or if the world is seeking to woe you into a friendship.
1. Do I cultivate a lifestyle that resembles the world in my interests or pursuits?
2. What REALLY excites me? Or what do I seek first? Does the flash and glamour of the world drown out the spiritual?
3. Do I find myself undoing, or rationalizing Scripture in order to justify social norms of the day? This can easily be seen in the modern versus biblical definitions of sexuality. Or, within the Christian community, justifying not assembling with believers because I can worship God anywhere.
4. Which list characterizes my life? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control or biblically perverted relationships, arguing & bickering, drunkenness, envy
5. Who or what defines my roles in life? As a boy/girl or man/women, as a husband/wife, as a father/mother? Popular opinion? Washington or Hollywood? God’s Word?
6. How do I respond to life’s difficulties and disappointments? This is what James 4:1-6 addresses.
James challenges his readers to consider the genuineness of their faith in chapter 2:14-26. He likens useless faith to that of the demons who believe and tremble in verse 19. We invite you to listen to this 20 minute consideration of James 2:19, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” as you allow God to examine the genuineness of your faith. Click to listen: Is my faith genuine?
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