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James Lesson 1 - Whose Slave Are You?

James Lesson 1 - Whose Slave Are You?

Series: James
Ref: James 1:1

Freedom means different things to different people, but one thing it can never mean is the absence of authority. We all serve some master, whether we admit it or not. So the question is . . . who are you serving?

Transcript

Whose Slave Are You?

James 1:1

The Bible is made up of 66 God breathed books.  At least 30 of them are short enough to read in 30 minutes or less.

The letter from James is one of them. 

But don’t let that fool you.  This little letter will demand mind and soul altering shifts in nearly every aspect of life. 

And James is unflinching as he races from one topic to the next, covering as many subjects as he possibly can before taking another breath.  

Each topic is addressed in practical terms and down to earth language.  James writes with gut level reality.

And here’s why.

Much of the New Testament Epistles deliver the precepts of our faith; James is passionate about the practice of our faith. / From Thomas Constable’s online commentary on James, 2010 (soniclight.com/James), p. 3

Where the Apostle Paul most often deals with what we believe; James demands how we should behave.

James is determined to miss nothing.  And he certainly doesn’t leave you any room to hide.

His arrival isn’t like some scheduled guest who politely sits in the living room of our lives where we’ve been expecting company; where we’ve dusted, vacuumed and straightened – everywhere but closets and laundry room cupboards, of course. 

That’s exactly where James looks first.  While we stand nearby with our mouths open, James moves to every other closet in our lives and then riffles through every drawer.  He even has the audacity to check our computer sites and bank accounts to examine what we really want to possess . . . what actually possesses us. 

He even sits in on our devotions – no matter how sporadic – listening to our prayer requests so that he can later pinpoint why we wanted to meet with God in the first place.

The Spirit of God through the letter from James will give us something akin to an annual physical examination; which is something we routinely delay. 

My doctor told me a couple of weeks ago I was due for my second colonoscopy.  I am personally convinced those are unbiblical.  They can’t be right.

I’m fine . . . really 

James will take us into the Divine examination room and listen to our hearts; he’ll make us open our mouths and say “ahh” while he examines our tongues.  He’ll go deeper still and untangle our motives and x-ray our thoughts. 

I don’t know about you, but just about every time I go to the doctor, I leave with a little piece of white paper on which the doctor has scribbled something unintelligible.  I hand it over to the pharmacist who evidently has the gift of interpretation.  Eventually I arrive home with a bottle of something to snort, swish or swallow at least once a day. 

James is about to write out 54 different prescriptions. And they’re daily. 

There are 54 imperatives in the Letter – 54 phrases or words that end in an exclamation point – you could call them Divine prescriptions from Dr. James. 

None of them are optional.

One author called James a “Do this!  Do that!” book which dynamically affects our lives on every single level.” / R. Kent Hughes, James (Crossway Books, 1991), p.16

James is interested in nothing less than a personal revolution – turning:

  • precept into practice;
  • awareness into application;
  • belief into behavior;
  • exegesis into ethics.

John Bunyan wrote in his Pilgrim’s Progress, “The soul of religion is the practical part.”  John Wesley, the founder of Methodism wrote in the late 1800’s, “The problem of all problems is getting Christianity put into practice.”  / Frank E. Gaebelein, The Practical Epistle of James (Channel Press, 1955), p. 15

This happens to be the passion of James which is why you have one command after another – one prescription after another from Doctor James.

But here’s a critical difference in this medical metaphor – while most physical examinations are concerned with how well we are growing older, James is concerned with whether or not we are growing up.

So at the outset of our study, we need to say, “Lord, I offer to you the key to every door in my heart and every closet in my life; I will not put up any signs that say, “Do not enter.”  I acknowledge your right to inspect every corner and examine every cupboard.  I don’t want to remain unchanged as a result of this exposition – my goal is not simply gathering divine information, but experiencing divine transformation, by the renewing of my mind, heart and life through Your Spirit.”

Having surrendered to the ultimate objective of biblical study, let’s introduce ourselves to the human instrument of this divine inspiration.

His Signature

Whenever we write a letter or an email, we usually sign it at the end.  Whenever you get a letter, you immediately go to the last page to see who signed it. 

The custom of ancient times was to sign letters at the beginning. / Adapted from Spiros Zodhiates, The Work of Faith (AMG Publishers, 1981), p. 13

The problem with this particular letter is that the New Testament mentions five different men named James.  And they all intersected the first century church.  However; if you research each of these men, you end up with only two good prospects. 

One of them was the Apostle James, often mentioned along with his brother, the Apostle John.  They were the sons of Zebedee. 

These two brothers were also given the nickname, ‘sons of thunder’ by Jesus in Mark 3:17

This particular James was the first of the 12 Apostles to be martyred in A.D. 44 by Herod Agrippa’s order, which effectively rules him out as the author.    / William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter (Westminster Press, 1976),  p. 9

Most evangelical scholars believe the evidence is strongly in favor of the authorship of James, the half-brother of Jesus; which means something dramatic had transformed the heart and life of James after the death of Jesus.

Matthew’s gospel informs us that as Jesus began His ministry, none of his siblings believed His claim to be the Messiah.  In fact, it was more than unbelief; they were offended by His claim.

When Jesus visited His hometown of Nazareth, the Jews responded with sarcasm and unbelief at Christ’s claims.  They said, Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Jude?  And His sisters, are they not all with us . . . and they all took offense at Him. (Matthew 13:53-57)

Mark’s gospel adds that when Christ’s kinsman – His own siblings – heard that he had launched a public ministry and was calling disciples to follow Him, “they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, ‘he has lost His senses.’” (Mark 3:21)

You could translate it, “they thought He was out of His mind.”  / Fritz Rienecker/Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Regency, 1976), p. 95

Imagine.  They are interrupting the ministry of Christ with apologies to people, “We’re really sorry about this . . . our brother has obviously lost His mind!”

John’s Gospel adds, “For not even His brothers were believing in Him.” (John 7:5)

Obviously, if you hold to the clear statements in these verses that Jesus had half-brothers and sisters, siblings born to Mary and Joseph, you have another issue that needs clearing up.

The Roman Catholic Church has especially labored to redefine the words of scripture in order to uphold the belief that Mary was a perpetual virgin – that she never had any more children after the virgin birth of Jesus.

Obviously then, James could not be the half-brother of Christ.  Furthermore, he wouldn’t have been the second born son of Mary – the first born son conceived between Mary and Joseph after Jesus had been born.

The Roman church believes that Mary was not an ordinary mother and housewife; that she was unique among every other human being.  In fact, in 1854 the Pope declared in his papal decree that Mary was born without original sin and she never sinned throughout her entire life (Immaculate Conception).   

They claim this as necessary and logical, given the fact that Mary carried within her the Savior.  How, they wonder, could a redeemed sinner carry God around?

But are we not today the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19)?  Are we not the living sanctuary of the Living Lord? 

Does any Christian believe that he is inhabited by God because of sinless perfection, or the gracious forgiveness of Christ?

Little wonder that Mary sang after the angel’s visitation to the Lord her Savior (Luke 1:47).  In other words, Mary needed forgiving and saving too.

All of the beliefs and interpretations surrounding Mary that grew over the centuries were necessary, of course, to allow the Church of Rome to ultimately exalt the Virgin Mary as well as the state of virginity/celibacy over marriage.  Their religion, tradition and priesthood literally depend upon her.

But then along comes James and 4 other brothers  (Matthew 13:55)   

Catholic tradition has offered up a couple of options to clear up this little problem.

One answer they offer is that James and these siblings were not literally brothers and sisters of Jesus, they were cousins.

They explain that the word “brother” or “brethren” is an expression of affection and endearment, used in the early church, just as many today call other believers brother and sister. 

We certainly use the word ‘brother’ broadly and affectionately.

The glaring problem with this convenient loophole is that the Greeks never use the word brother – adelphos (adelfoV) – to describe a cousin. / Barclay, p. 17

Another explanation from Catholic theologians is that Joseph had been married before and had all these kids when he took Mary to be his wife.

There is simply not one verse of scripture – or snippet from historical accounts – telling us that Joseph was a widower with 6 kids when he married his second wife, Mary. 

And keep in mind that the church knew nothing of this theory until the fourth century when a church leader named Jerome produced it.  

Honest scholars are quietly aware – some not so quiet – that Jerome’s writings were produced for the primary reason of promoting this growing exaltation of Mary.

The truth is, the perpetual virginity and perfection of Mary is critical to the foundation and development of Catholic tradition and practice.

But if you take a closer look at the texts of scripture, you’ll find hints that Mary was actually promised more children!

In Matthew chapter 1:20 the angel Gabriel came to Joseph to tell him that Mary has not been unfaithful during their betrothal period and that she’s pregnant by the power of the Spirit of God. 

In other words, Mary was pregnant, but still a virgin.  She had conceived by the miraculous work of God the Spirit which means Jesus will not have an earthly, biological father. 

By the way – and this is no throw-away side comment – this was critical because a fallen sin nature is passed down by the father from generation to generation – dating all the way back to Adam (Romans 5).  But Christ cannot have a sinful nature.  If He did, he would have sinned at the age of 2 or 3, the first time He threw a temper tantrum or refused to share His toy. 

Jesus Christ will be fully human (thanks to Mary’s flesh and blood), yet without the corruption of a fallen nature (thanks to his conception by means of God’s spirit).

In the next few verses, Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son . . .”

Don’t miss that clue.

Joseph kept her a virgin until she gave birth – Matthew is clearly stating that Mary remained a virgin until she had given birth to the Son of God. / John Phillips, Exploring the Epistle of James (Kregel, 2004), p. 22

If you want to claim that James is merely the cousin of Jesus, you’ve still got a greater problem with Mary’s perpetual virginity.  

In Luke’s Gospel you have another word that clearly indicates there is a growing nursery in Joseph and Mary’s future.

Luke reveals that Mary and Joseph have finally arrived at that Bethlehem cave/cattle stall where she is going to deliver Jesus.   Luke writes that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son (Luke 2:6)

Notice – she gave birth to her first-born (prwtotokoV) son.  The Greek word used is never used of a woman who delivers only one child.  It literally meant, the ‘first among others’.

My wife can tell you when she delivered our twin sons that Benjamin was her prototokos – her first born son.  Why?  Because there was another son on the way!  And 2 ½ minutes later – much to his lifelong chagrin – our second born son was delivered. 

Firstborn simply means Jesus Christ wasn’t the second born or the third born, which would destroy the doctrine of the virgin birth of our Lord, prophesied by Moses and Isaiah and even the angel Gabriel.  He was the first son to be delivered by Mary.

Now – back to the point of determining who James was in this lineup of siblings – in Matthew 13:55 we’re given the names of Jesus Christ’s half-brothers.  In other words, they had the same mother but not the same father!

According to ancient customs of the day, children were introduced by order of age; James was first in the list, indicating he was Mary’s second born son, followed by Joseph and Simon and Judas – or Jude.  Matthew’s gospel mentions His sisters without naming them. 

So we’re given the facts that Jesus had four half-brothers and at least 2 half-sisters.  Given the common belief that Joseph died sometime before Christ’s ministry, you can only appreciate Mary all the more when you realize that she was a single mother raising, for at least several years, 7 children. 

In fact, if she and Joseph added a child to the family every two years, by the time Jesus Christ died in his early 30’s, the youngest child would have still been a teenager.

My admiration for Mary isn’t lessened by the facts of scripture, it is increased. Without falling into idolatry and false doctrine, we have every reason to appreciate Mary for her obedience and commitment to her Lord and Savior.

Add to that the heartbreaking reality that while she believed the claims of her firstborn Son, without fully understanding them, none of the other children believed.

In John’s Gospel account, these half-brothers even accused Christ of trying to make a name for Himself and gather a following (John 7:1-5).

Properly understood, the home of Mary and Joseph was eventually filled with turmoil over the claims of Christ. There wasn’t a moment’s peace.  Jesus knew nothing of his closest family members understanding Him and believing in Him.  He would later be ostracized from his own brothers and sisters who believed their brother had lost His grip on reality.

Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief long before He hung on a cross.

The reason we’re spilling so much ink on this issue is not to reveal the corruption of Catholic tradition, but to prepare our hearts for the conversion of James and the amazing, dramatic opening lines of his first recorded words in scripture.

Before we read them, let’s have another look at his family.  What we can clearly piece together reveals a family – and a mother – with whom you can more easily identify and appreciate. 

A single mom with little money.  Married to a migrant construction worker who died early, leaving her to raise a family splintered over the actions of the oldest child. 

At His death, Jesus kindly handed the care of Mary over to the Apostle John (John 19:27).

Perhaps you are discovering today that the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings comes from your own family members. They don’t believe the gospel and they certainly don’t appreciate your faith.  You’ve never heard a word of encouragement . . . you’ve never received a moment of understanding. 

Perhaps you’re surrounded by brothers and sisters and extended family members and yet never the joy of genuine fellowship with any of them.  The only thing you can talk about is the weather or football.  As soon as you turn the conversation toward spiritual matters, the conversation is turned off. 

Maybe you’ve have never heard the encouragement of a mother or father or a sibling for your walk with God – your love for the Word of God – you’re desire to please Christ.  Truth be told, they think you’ve lost your mental balance.

Take heart from an inside view of this particular home.

So, what happened to change the family of Jesus?  And what happened to James?

How do you end up with James, the author . . . James the first pastor/teacher of the church in Jerusalem . . . James the martyr for his faith in Christ?

James wasn’t even at the scene of Christ’s crucifixion – none of the brothers or sisters are there either; only Mary and a handful of others were on that windswept hillside.

The family was all back at the house saying, “We wish Mom would wake up to the truth.  This is ridiculous; she’s up there on that horrible hill and we’ve got a storm coming; can’t she see the truth, Jesus was not the Messiah.  That cross up there proves it forever.”

So . . . what happened to James?

One verse sums it all up for us.  Paul is reviewing for the Corinthian believers the basis for our faith and he writes, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.  And that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.  And that He appeared to Cephas – that is Peter – then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now (alive), but some have [died]; then He appeared to James.  (1 Corinthians 15:3-7)

Then He appeared to James . . . to James.

Can you imagine that meeting?  “Hello James . . . my dear brother.  It’s all true, James.  Everything. All that I told you I was, I AM.”

Evidently, from what we know of James the believer, he responded like Thomas who declared in the presence of the resurrected Christ, “My Lord and my God.”

As far back as you can go in church history, the predominant belief was that the resurrected Lord commissioned his own half-brother into the ministry.  James would become the leader in the church at Jerusalem.

This is the same James who would go on to become a martyr for his commitment to the truth that Jesus Christ was more than a carpenter’s son – He was God the Son.

And James would also become the author of this little letter we’re still studying 2,000 years later; a letter encouraging us to get real with our faith in Christ. 

By the way, if you’ve ever wished you’d become a Christian earlier in life – you’ve been troubled by what you wasted or time you lost – can you imagine what James would have remembered – what James could have regretted? 

For years he had eaten at the same table, shared the same house, played in the same backyard, slept in the same room, attended the same synagogue school and wrote out the same Hebrew homework as Jesus.  He had watched the development of his amazing older brother who never seemed to do anything wrong.  He’d heard his brother grow into manhood and claim audacious, ludicrous, even heretical things.    

And it was all true. 

James could have lived the rest of his life in bitter regret over what he had said to Jesus in those earlier years of denial and disbelief.

But the truth of Christ’s resurrection changed everything – just as it has for you.

In fact, after James came to know Christ as Sovereign Lord, he would become known as a man who closely communed with Christ in prayer.  Eusebius, the first church historian who lived in the 3rd century in Caesarea, talked about the leathery knees that James developed from spending so much time on them. He was even nicknamed, Camel Knees.    / Hughes, p. 16

But don’t miss the fact that James is praying to his half-brother he now knows is God incarnate, the Messiah, the Lord of all that is and is to come.

With that in mind, the significance of James signature at the beginning of his letter becomes all the more amazing.  It symbolizes the radical transformation of a man that had once laughed at Christ but now lived for Christ.

Whenever people read your signature, may they also think of someone who loves and lives for Jesus Christ, the resurrected Son of God.

His Status

His signature reveals to us the identity of the author.  His status reveals to us his attitude and priority in life.

Notice how he introduces himself in verse 1.  James, the Lord’s half-brother.

Let me try again; “James, the chairman of the Jerusalem Council who directed the development of church to welcome Gentiles from every nation!”

How about this introduction: “James, the man who grew up in the same house with Jesus, the Messiah!”

Or, “James, one of the few who received a personal visit from the resurrected Lord!”

“James, an apostle, personally commissioned by Jesus Christ.”

Or this one; “James, the pastor of the largest church in the world!”

All of the above statements would be true! 

But none of them were mentioned.  Only this – James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

James says, “Let me introduce myself to you . . . I am a bondservant of God the Father and my Lord Jesus Christ.”

While the Apostle Paul referred to James as the Lord’s brother in Galatians 1:19, James preferred to speak of Himself as a servant.   / D. Edmond Hiebert, James (BMH Books, 1992), p. 52

The word for bond-servant in this text is the word, doulos (douloV), which literally means, slave.  The verb form of doulos means “to bind”.  James then is bound to Christ as a slave is bound to his master. / Zodhiates, p. 15

To the Greek world, this was a term of degradation; but not to the believer.  To the Greeks, as to any culture, freedom and autonomy – being your own boss – were the highest virtues and status in life.

Success was not serving but in having servants.

Paul would refer to both he and Timothy as slaves (Philippians 1).  Peter referred to himself the same way in 2 Peter 1 as did Jude in the first verse of his letter. 

For the genuine believer, the word says it all.  Doulos communicates ownership, possession, allegiance, dependence, subjection and loyalty. / www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-355_A-Life-Without-Loose-Ends?Q=slave

The reason the average Christian is growing older while at the same time not growing up is because he has lost the idea of ownership.  He has replaced the concept of the Christian surrendering to Jesus Christ as Lord and Master with the idea that if you come to Jesus you’re gonna have your best life ever . . . it’s gonna be a wonderful life with very few problems and multiplied successes.

Instead of your master, Jesus Christ becomes a coach with the best game plan.  He is a source of empowerment; a helper for the morally sensitive to become better.  Jesus simply came to improve your existence and He is really nothing more than a divine resource for whatever you have already decided you want. / Michael Horton, Christless Christianity (Baker Books, 2008), p. 19, 24

And so we sell Christianity with the message that people really ought to try out Jesus because with Jesus life is great!

No wonder people “try out” Jesus out until they hit a bump in the road – or a major road block – and then come to the conclusion that following Jesus really didn’t pay off. 

I thought you said He had a wonderful plan for my life?”

  • A miscarriage isn’t wonderful! 
  • Bankruptcy isn’t wonderful! 
  • Sickness isn’t wonderful!
  • A cheating spouse isn’t wonderful!
  • The death of a child isn’t wonderful!
  • Suffering persecution isn’t wonderful!

I guess Jesus isn’t working out.

The reason the average Christian doesn’t study the Book of James is because they can’t get past verse 2 which talks about joy in the midst of trials.  What kind of wonderful life is that?

And the reason they can’t get past verse 2 is because they have no conception of verse 1.

In fact, what you will discover in just the first few words of James is the key to putting into practice the entire Book of James.

Applying to our lives what he says in verse one allows us to say what he dares to say in verse 2.  In fact, you really can’t have the satisfaction of verse 2 unless you have the submission of verse 1.  You can’t begin to accept and obey the divine prescriptions found in chapters 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 unless you’ve nailed down the divine perspective in chapter 1 and verse 1.

Christianity is an invitation to become a slave to God.  Are you willing to be owned by God? 

The core values of Christianity emerged from the first century slave culture:

  • You have been chosen (Ephesians 1);
  • you have been bought out of the slave market and you no longer belong to yourself (I Corinthians 6);
  • you are subject to His will and control (Philippians 2);
  • you are called to give an account (2 Corinthians 5);
  • you are chastened and/or rewarded by Him (Hebrews 12). 
  • you will one day hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful doulos – Well done, good and faithful slave.” (Matthew 25:21) / www.gty.org/resources/sermons/slave

The gospel has become twisted today to conform to the rebellious independence of the human heart; which is why the predominant “gospel” today is that Christianity should be accepted because it’s better than any other thrill ride on the planet. 

We need to proclaim the true gospel – freedom from sin for those enslaved to sin and enslavement to Jesus Christ.  Salvation is an exchange of one kind of slavery for another.

This is the balance of Paul’s gospel message when he wrote, Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin . . . or of obedience.  But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed . . . But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in . . . eternal life. (Romans 3:16-22)

Here’s the truth – everyone is a slave to something.  Everyone serves some master.  The question is, Whose slave are you?

As you move through verse 2 and throughout this Book, the only thing that would ever challenge us to apply any of it is that we are categorically reminded in the very first verse that we are not the master of our lives, we are the slaves of God.

I mean, why would you ever allow God to change the way you talk, or plan, or spend your money, or dream your dreams or relate to someone else, or accept tribulation – why would you ever do any of that for God? 

You won’t . . . unless He owns you.

That just doesn’t fit the status symbol of our generation. 

Christians are slaves to God!  That isn’t going to sell very well.

This past week I went into the Verizon Cell phone store – right up here next to Bob Evans.  I know where places are by restaurants that serve biscuits and gravy.

I was trying to get my daughter’s cell phone to work.  Now this is our family plan – which basically covers my three girls – my wife and my daughters.  I have an IPhone for the sake of my calendar and as you know, Verizon services Blackberry’s, not IPhones.  It’s very competitive – there’s not a lot of love in this fight.

So I usually don’t pull out my Iphone while I’m in there. 

Well, I stood there waiting in line, watching the screens as they flashed all the advertisements for why you needed to buy a Blackberry and why anybody with an IPhone is an idiot. 

And up on the screen came the words – I think, “I am free” and then a little later the words flashed up there for just a second or two, something like, “Never ignored.”

By the way, I went back later in the day because I thought that would make a good illustration and I would take some pictures and then put them up on the screens in here so you could see them.  What a great illustration of the spirit of our age which is all about image and status.

So I drove back and went in.  The sales lady said, “What brings you to Verizon today?”  I said, “Well, um, I saw some advertisements on your screens earlier today . . . do you think it would be okay if I took some pictures of them with my, um, IPhone? 

She said, “I don’t think so!”  Then she went over to the manager and started pointing back over at me. 

So I walked toward her and whispered, “That’s okay . . . that’s okay” and I left.

But I got the commercial.  And this is not some kind of slam on you people who have Blackberry’s . . . that’s your problem. 

Frankly, it’s all the same advertising for the IPhone and the Blackberry and the Droid X. “If you buy this – you’ve got instant status.  You’re gonna be free and you will never be ignored.” 

We want that!  That’s good advertising . . . that’ll sell.

You’ll never be ignored and you’ll be free!

James says, “Here is my status – I am not a free man!  I’m the slave of God . . . and I might go through life being ignored.”

Now, who exactly was it that James belonged to?

We’ve noted his signature and his status, now look at his Savior.

His Savior

This little book begins, James, the slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Greek New Testament James does not include definite or indefinite articles with these words – he simply strings together titles.  You can more literally translate it, “James, the slave of Jesus Christ, God and Lord.” / Dan G. McCartney, Baker Exegetical Commentary: James (Baker Academic, 2009), p. 78

This verse became one of the strongest texts describing the unity of the Godhead and the deity of Jesus Christ.  He is called by James, both God and Lord.

In fact, in the 4th century when Athanasius was defending the deity of Jesus Christ against the heresy of Arius who was teaching, among other heresy’s, that Christ was a god – a teaching that has been repackaged in the Jehovah’s Witness and Mormon teaching.

It was James chapter 1 and verse 1 that Athanasius used to topple the arguments of Arius and deliver a blow to his false teaching!

James writes, as perhaps only the half-brother of Christ could write with such authority – “I grew up in the house with Jesus and watched him mature into manhood, but I’m here to tell you that He is no mere mortal; in fact, “I am a slave of Jesus Christ, who is God and Lord.”

Wow. 

With verse 1 in mind, we’re ready to surrender to the mastery of Our Lord’s plan that will invariably take us into verse 2.

Hudson Taylor was used uniquely and mightily by our Lord in taking the gospel into the interior of China in the 1800’s.  He was a quiet, unassuming man who had walked with God and served God for 50 years in China.  When he was in Australia, he was invited to speak at a large church and when he arrived, it was packed and with standing room only.  The moderator introduced Hudson Taylor, now an old man, with eloquent, well chosen phrases as he referred to the mighty work and accomplishments of this missionary.  He ended his introduction by referring to Taylor as “our illustrious guest.”  Quietly Mr. Taylor stood there for a moment and then he said, “Dear friends, I am the servant of an illustrious Master.” / Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: Volume 2 (OMF International, 1996), p. 493

Sounds a lot like James . . . I hope it will sound a little more like us, as we go through this divine prescription by Dr. James on how to translate faith into life.

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