The letter to James could be called a guide to spiritual recovery. It was written to Jewish Christians scattered in different parts of the world.
James' readers were in bad spiritual trouble. It is obvious when we read his letter that they had become proud and critical people. They discriminated against the poor. They did not control their tongues. They were arrogant towards their employees. They were also facing many trials and troubles. God was not answering their prayers. Success was not coming their way. They were upright people but their attitudes were altogether bad. They were inconspicuous backsliders, respectable backsliders. They practised discrimination. When you practise discrimination you lose the people against whom you discriminate. You also lose the people in whose favour you discriminate.
So James addresses both attitudes and actions. He gives us an explanation of the place of good works in the Christian life. He begins, perhaps surprisingly, by teaching them how to face trials with patient endurance. This will produce maturity. Rejoicing not in the trials themselves, but rather in the knowledge of what God is doing, is the way to spiritual recovery.
So this letter is about the practical outworking of our salvation in everyday life. James is not looking back to our salvation as a past event when we trusted Jesus. Nor is he looking forward to our final salvation in the future when we stand before God. Rather, his focus here is the time between and the way we live now. One particular aspect that concerns him is show we treat the poor. This is the 'good work' that is uppermost in his mind.
Forwards to Parts 29-34
|2||Praying for Wisdom||1:5-8|
|3||Poverty and Wealth||1:9-12|
|5||The New Birth||1:17-18|
|6||Reponding to the Word||1:19-25|
|9||James the Pastor||2:6-7|
|10||The Royal Law||2:8-9|
|11||"Fulfilling" the Whole Law||2:10-13|
|12||Interpreting Faith and Works||2:14|
|13||Can Faith Save Anyone?||2:14-16|
|15||The Case of Abraham||2:20-21|
|16||Justification by Works||2:21-24|
|17||Getting Involved with the Needy||2:25-26|
|20||Taming the Tongue||3:6-8|
|24||Where do Wars Come From?||4:1-3|
|25||Adulterers and Adulteresses||4:4-7|
|26||Returning to God||4:7-10|
|28||Who are You? What Are You?||4:11-17|
Forwards to Parts 29-34
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