If Hebrews is about the formation of church doctrine, then the book of James is about applying this doctrine. James is often called the Proverbs of the New Testament. This Sunday, we will dive into the book and discuss how our faith should produce actions that point to Christ. A living faith proves to others you believe what you say about Jesus. Our faith really works!
Use the following guide to prepare for Sunday. Onward!
Monday’s Passage to Read: Read James 2:14-26. This text is complex, partly because of the Greek language, which does not have punctuation. Where do the quotations begin and end? How do we structure these sentences that seem to run on? I believe the translators have done an excellent job of capturing the meaning of this text. The key issue involves a simple question. How are we justified before God and before others? Read this passage slowly and praise God for giving us the opportunity to be saved through Christ and to show the world we believe in Jesus.
Tuesday’s Devotional Thought: I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase “Do as I say, not as I do.” People started using the saying in the 1600s. It’s stuck around for 400 years because people keep having children. The phrase is memorable because of its blatant hypocrisy. To some degree, we are all hypocrites. There are hypocrites in every religion and every church. We all fall short of God’s standards and our own standards.
Imagine if God recorded every time you told someone, “You ought to do this….” What if there was a “you ought” standard given by God? The principle is simple. One judgment day, God’s only standard for you was what you told everyone else to do. Would you pass? I wouldn’t. I believe we would all fail. Here is the problem. You can’t live up to your own standards, much less God’s standards. The remedy is the righteousness of Christ. For those who place their faith in Christ, we are viewed by God through Jesus’ righteousness.
James writes to remind the church that those who claim their faith should back it up with a lifestyle exemplifying Christ. How we live proves who we are. We can all make invalid faith claims. For example, I can say, “I have faith the Rays are going to win the World Series.” But my claim of faith does not mean it will automatically happen. James warns how you can have faith in the facts about Jesus but not be committed to Him.
Even the demons believe, James reminds us. There is no such thing as a heretical demon. Demons could sign our statement of faith. They know the truth; they are just not saved by it. Demons get the facts right; they just aren’t committed to them. You can believe the facts in the Bible and then do nothing. That’s not saving faith. There are three ways to discern a dead faith.
- A dead faith is revealed by an empty confession.
- A dead faith is revealed by false compassion.
- A dead faith is revealed by no action.
We will cover these ideas more in depth on Sunday. A living faith proves to others you believe what you say about Jesus.Anyone can become a friend of God. But a friend of God will act like a friend of God. How we live proves who we are.
A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him,
but the words of the wise keep them safe.
Wisdom provides safety. The talk of fools is painful. Focus today on words of wisdom and avoid the foolish chatter that can lead to unnecessary pain.
Thursday’s Prayer through Scripture: Read James 2:26. The actions of your faith breathe life into your walk with Christ. What good deeds can you do today? Be a breath of fresh air to someone. Pray today for opportunities to live out your faith.
Friday’s Bible Project Video: Watch this video on James. Who was James, and what did he do? What did the early church think about him? What did the video say was another way to pronounce his name?