Friday, February 1, 2013

Topics for Living Working Faith

James 2:26 "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."

Who was James?
James was the first book written in the New Testament, predating the first Gospel of Matthew by 5-10 years.  Other scriptures reveal to us that James was the half brother of Jesus according to the flesh (Matthew 13:55), did not believe Jesus to be who He said he was during His earthly ministry (John 7:4-5) but did believe after Christ's resurrection from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:6)  Further scriptures also tell us that James was present with 119 other Christians in the upper room before Pentecost (Acts 1:14) and eventually became one of the main leaders, if not the main leader at the church of Jerusalem as demonstrated in Acts 15.  With that resume, James was duly qualified by the standards of men to write what he wrote, however we know that He wrote by the divine inspiration of the Holy Ghost. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Topics for Christian living from James 1-2
With that brief introduction to James, we now can note the incredible value of his letter.  The theme that we could assign to the book of James is that of "Living working Faith".  In the head verse listed in today's blog (James 2:26) we find the key verse to the whole book.  All in all, James is concerned with the practical demonstration of true saving faith.  In just the first two chapters alone we find several key topics that trace out the implications of this overall theme of living working faith.  As you look over the outline of the first two chapters of James, I'm sure there will be at least one topic that the Lord will bring to your attention that you will find applicable to your life today.  When you note that topic, I would encourage you to read the reference in James that is situated beside that topic's name.

James 1-2 "Living Working Faith"
Topics for Daily Christian Living                       Reference in James
Pursuing Spiritual Maturity                               1:1
                                                                                  I would encourage the
                                                                         reader to look at the
                                                                         above introduction that
                                                                         gives a thumbnail
                                                                         sketch of James' life.
                                                                         The verses therein will
                                                                         will show how James
                                                                         went from unbelief to
                                                                         faith and grew in
                                                                         spiritual maturity
Place of Trials                                                  1:2-12
Understanding & Defeating Temptation           1:13-17
The New Birth                                                  1:17-21
Scripture, the Christian's Strength                   1:21-25
Taking your Spiritual Temperature                   1:26-27
Favoritism not Allowed                                     2:1-13 & 1 John 4:7-21
                                                                         The reader is 
                                                                         encouraged to read
                                                                         James 2:1-13 &
                                                                         1 John 4:7-21 side
                                                                         by side for comparison
Living Faith Works                                            2:14-21
James is designed to be a letter that looks and reads like the Christian life
It has often been said that James is the Proverbs of the New Testament, insofar as James delivers many general and wise prescriptions for what ails the Christian's faith-life.  As you read through James, you will discover that James will cover an idea, leave it, then pick up that idea in fuller detail.   I find that to be how the Lord works in the Christian life.  We will encounter a truth or situation for a period of time, only to move onto another truth or situation.  Like a winding staircase, the Lord will have us revisit the truth.  From our lower story perspective (a phrase borrowed from Randy Frazee's study "The Story"), we appear to be moving in circles, however from God's upper story perspective, we are winding our way, onward and upward. 
As we close today, I would encourage you to study James.  It is a powerful little book full of wisdom and power for practical, daily Christian living.  It gives you the tools you'll need for Living working Faith.