Friday, May 15, 2009

New Testament survey (20): James

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith withoutd thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18)

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:13-15)


[1] James, from Thru The Bible Radio with Dr. J. Vernon McGee ©, with free downloads Notes & Outlines (PDF), Complete 5-Year Study (MP3), Tongues On Fire (PDF)

It is clear that James’ theme is not works, but faith—the same as Paul’s theme, but James emphasizes what faith produces. Both James and Paul speak a great deal of faith and works. They give us the two aspects of justification by faith, both of which are clear in the writings of Paul:

1. Faith—we are not justified by works. Paul wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). And he also wrote, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us …” (Titus 3:5).

2. Works—we are justified for works. In Titus 3:8 Paul says, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works….” In Ephesians 2:10 he tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Faith is the root of salvation—Paul emphasizes that; works are the fruit of salvation—that is the thing James emphasizes. Or, we can express it this way: Faith is the cause of salvation, and works are the result of salvation. (Read the complete article)
[2] Book of James, from (this website is also available in Afrikaans, Arabic, Bengali, Burmese-Myanmar, Cebuano, Chinese - Simplified, Chinese – Traditional, Hausa, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Malaysian, Persian-Farsi, Portuguese, Quechua, Sesotho, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Urdu, Vietnamese, Zulu, and 70 other languages)
The book of James outlines the faith walk through genuine religion (James1:1-27), genuine faith (James 2:1-3:12) and genuine wisdom (James 3:13-5:20). This book contains a remarkable parallel to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. James begins in the first chapter by describing the overall traits of the faith walk. In chapter two and the beginning of chapter three he discusses social justice and a discourse on faith in action. He then compares and contrasts the difference between worldly and godly wisdom and asks us to turn away from evil and draw close to God. James gives a particularly severe rebuke to the rich who hoard and those who are self-reliant. Finally he ends with encouragement to believers to be patient in suffering, praying and caring for one another and bolstering our faith through fellowship. (Read the complete article)
[3] James, from Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)
WRITER: James (See Scofield “Matthew 4:21”) , called “the Just” mentioned by Paul with Cephas and John as “pillars” in the church at Jerusalem Galatians 2:9. He seems to have been, as a religious man, austere, legal, ceremonial Acts 21:18-24.

DATE: Tradition fixes the martyrdom of James in the year 62, but his Epistle shows no trace of the larger revelations concerning the church and the distinctive doctrines of grace made through the Apostle Paul, nor even of the discussion concerning the relation of Gentile converts to the law of Moses, which culminated in the first council (Acts 15.), over which James presided. This presumes the very early date of James, which may confidently be set down as “the first Epistle to Christians.”--Weston.

THEME: By “the twelve tribes scattered abroad” we are to understand, not Jews, but Christian Jews of the Dispersion. The church began with such Acts 2:5-11 and James, who seems not to have left Jerusalem, would feel a particular pastoral responsibility for these scattered sheep. They still resorted to the synagogues, or called their own assemblies by that name James 2:2, where “assembly” is “synagogue” in the Gr.). It appears from James 2:1-8 that they still held the synagogue courts for the trial of causes arising amongst themselves. The Epistle, then, is elementary in the extreme. To suppose that James 2:14-26 is a polemic against Paul’s doctrine of justification is absurd. Neither Galatians nor Romans was yet written.

James’ theme, then, is “religion” (Gr., threskeia, “outward religious service”) as the expression and proof of faith. He does not exalt works as against faith, but faith as producing works. His style is that of the Wisdom-books of the O.T.

The divisions are five:

1. The testing of faith, James 1:1-2:26
2. The reality of faith tested by the tongue, James 3:1-18
3. The rebuke of worldliness, James 4:1-17
4. The rich warned
5. Hortatory

[1] Key verses: James 1:2-3, 19, 22; 2:17-18, 20; 3:5; 5:16b

[2] James and Paul (from J. Vernon McGee)
The seeming contradiction between James and Paul can be easily explained when the message of James is considered. James takes the position, as does Paul, that we are justified by faith but that the faith which justifies produces good works. Calvin said, “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.” Justification is shown by works — not justified by, but for, good works. James and Paul present the two aspects of justification by faith.

Paul emphasized both phases:

Faith — not justified by works:

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…. (Titus 3:5)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God — not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

Works — justified for works:

…these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they who have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.… (Titus 3:8)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
[3] Articles of Faith: Of Justification
We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in Him is Justification; that Justification includes the pardon of sin, and the gift of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer's blood, His righteousness is imputed unto us.

Isaiah 53:11; Habakkuk 2:4; Zechariah 13:1; Acts 13:39; Romans 1:17; 4:1; 5:1-9; 8:1; Galatians 3:11; Titus 3:5-7; Hebrews 10:38
[4] Please review our lesson on justification by grace through faith.

[5] Believers and good works (deeds)
  • Should avoid ostentation in good works, Matthew 6:1-18
  • Bring to the light their good works, John 3:21
  • Are full of good works, Acts 9:36
  • Should abound to all good work, 2 Corinthians 9:8
  • Created in Christ to good works, Ephesians 2:10
  • Should be fruitful in good work, Colossians 1:10
  • Exhorted to put on good works, Colossians 3:12-14
  • Should be established in good work, 2 Thessalonians 2:17
  • Should be rich in good works, 1 Timothy 6:18
  • Should be prepared to all good work, 2 Timothy 2:21
  • Should be furnished to all good works, 2 Timothy 3:17
  • Are zealous of good works, Titus 2:14
  • Should be ready to all good work, Titus 3:1
  • Should be careful to maintain good works, Titus 3:8, 14
  • Should provoke each other good works, Hebrews 10:24
  • Should be perfect in good work, Hebrews 13:21
  • Should manifest works with meekness of wisdom, James 3:13
  • Followed into rest by their works, Revelation 14:13
[6] Fruits of righteousness:
Deuteronomy 6:25; Joshua 22:31; Psalm 1:3; 15:1-5; 24:3-5; 101:3-4; 106:3; 112:4-8; Proverbs 2:5-20; 10:2,16; 11:5-6, 18-19, 30; 12:28; 13:6; 14:34; 21:3; 29:7; Isaiah 28:17; 32:16-18; 33:15-17; 55:12-13; 58:6-14; 62:1; Ezekiel 18:5-9; 33:15; Daniel 12:3; Hosea 10:12; Malachi 3:3; 4:2; Matthew 5:20; 12:35, 50; Mark 3:33-35; Luke 3:10-14; 8:15; John 3:21, 33; 8:47, 49; 13:35; 14:21-24; 15:4-5, 8, 12; Acts 9:36; 11:29-30; 19:19; Romans 5:1-5; 6:19-22; 7:4-6; 8:4-6; 14:17-19; 15:1-7; 1 Corinthians 4:19-20; 12:3; 13:1-13; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 7:10-11; 9:10; 10:5; 13:5; Galatians 4:6; 5:22-23; 6:7,8; Ephesians 1:13-14; 5:9; Philippians 1:11, 27-29; 2:13; 3:12-14; 4:11-13; Colossians 1:12-13; 3:3, 5, 9-17; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 9-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; 5:9-10; 2 Timothy 2:22; 4:6-8; Titus 2:2, 11-12; 3:14; Philemon 1:5-6; James 1:27; 2:14-26; 3:11-18; 1 Peter 3:1-11, 14; 4:2; 2 Peter 1:5-9; 1 John 2:3-6, 10-11, 24, 29; 3:3, 6-7, 9-11, 14, 17-24; 4:4-21; 5:1-5, 10, 13, 18; 2 John 1:9; 3 John 1:11; Revelation 2:2-3, 19
Further study (Be like the Bereans! Acts 17:11)

[1] Studies in James, various authors, from

[2] James: Introduction, Outline, and Argument, by Daniel B. Wallace, Th.M., Ph.D.

[3] Nine Tests of Genuine Faith, A Devotional Commentary on the Book of James, by Paul G. Apple

[4] Series Title: Blue Jean Faith: A Study of James for Wise Women, by Kay Daigle M.A., D.Min

Sermons on James 2:14-18 (Be like the Bereans! Acts 17:11)

[1] Real Faith is Never Passive, by Michael Stark, New Beginnings Baptist Church

[2] Faith Is Never Lonely, by Randy D. Starkey, East Bend Baptist Church

[3] Key Points Lessons and Teachings from James, by R. Miche Lankford

[4] James Series 05 - Live Your Faith, by Richard DeRuiter

[5] Three Questions About Faith, by Leslie A. Wright

[6] Non-Saving Faith, by Toby L. Soechting

[7] James 2:14-26, Faith with Works, by Michael Urciuoli

[8] James 2:14-26 - Professing Faith Without Works, by Ronnie Mitchell

[9] Lesson Six: Justified by Works, by Greg Stuckey

[10] Dead Faith James 2 14-26, by Daniel Crosby

[11] Autopsy of a Dead Faith, by Kevin Grant

[12] Is Your Faith Real, by Anthony Jones

[13] Authentic Faith Produces Works, by Daniel Crosby

[14] Faith Without Works, by Agustin Hernandez

[15] Demons Also Believe 2, by Dr. F. Bobby Atkins

[16] What You Really Believe, by Mike Crews

[17] Stop Pretending, Start Living, by Chad Vandervalk

[18] Faith and Works, by George Toews

[19] Sermons by David Harp
[20] Can faith save? By Mark Barnes

For other available sermons, please surf to Sermon / Preaching resources. Sermons are also available from South McGehee Baptist Church, McGehee, Arizona; Central Baptist Church, Lowesville; First Baptist Church, Mountain View, Missouri; Swift Creek Baptist Church; Word of Life Baptist Church, Pottsville, Philadelphia; Palm Springs Baptist Church, California; South Woods Baptist Church; Grove Baptist Church, Ulster; Dudley Baptist Church, United Kingdom; Independent Fundamental Baptist Sermons, Fundamental Christian Radio Broadcasts, Off-Site Audio Page and The Christian Radio Tuner

Notes: (1) This ministry does not necessarily endorse or share all the views and opinions expressed in the materials, resources or links mentioned in these posts. Please always refer to the Articles of Faith and Biblical distinctives of Baptists when you study these materials. (2) This lesson is part of the projected 300 plus lessons. From time to time, the lessons will be updated, revised, combined, formatted, and edited to comply with the VOA Simplified English word list. Later on, these lessons will be categorized, numbered sequentially, and made available as PDF downloads.

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