The Genesis To Revelation Bible Course
By WILLIAM M. GROOM, Th.M., D.D.
Lesson No. 59 – James
Copyright, 1921 BY THE BIBLE STUDY PUBLISHING CO.
* KEY VERSE–Jas 2:20.
* KEY PHRASE–“SHOW YOUR FAITH BY YOUR WORKS.”
The epistle of James is the first of the seven General Epistles, so called because they are not addressed to any particular person or church, but to Christians in general.
For family altar read:–
* Sunday–Faith will be tested by trials,–Jas 1:1-12.
* Monday–God does not tempt men,–Jas 1:13-21.
* Tuesday–Have respect for rich and poor alike,–Jas 2:1-13.
* Wednesday–Faith without works is a dead faith,–Jas 3:1-14.
* Thursday–True faith will control the tongue,–Jas 3:1-14.
* Friday–A rebuke of worldliness,–Jas 4:17.
* Saturday–The prayer of faith shall save the sick,–Jas 5:7-20.
WRITER–James, “the Lord’s brother.” Our Lord’s other half-brothers were Joseph, Simon, and Jude (the latter wrote the epistle bearing his name). They were all unbelievers until after Christ’s resurrection, Joh 7:5. But the fact that they with the other disciples continued steadfastly In prayer. and waited for the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:14, shows that they were ardent believers in the Lord by that time.
James became pastor of the church at Jerusalem, took a leading part in the spreading of the gospel among the Jews and Gentiles, and did much to reconcile the strict Jews who thought that Christianity would tear down Judaism. So much did he love the ways of wisdom and peace that he was called, James “the Just.” He was stoned to death in 62 A. D., on the charge that his doctrines superseded the Jewish law. Scripture references in regard to him will be found in Mt 13:55; Mark 3:21-31; Joh 2:12; 7:2-9; Ac 12:17; 21:18-25; Ga 1:19, 2:9-12.
DATE, PLACE and OCCASION–About 60 A. D., from Jerusalem. The Christians to whom it was written had not ceased to be Jews. Many of them, converted at Pentecost, had carried home only a partial understanding of Christianity. on their enthusiasm at having found the true Messiah, they neglected Christian virtues, grace, and works, and proclaimed everywhere that in order to be saved, all that was necessary was to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah and Saviour.
They also were in danger of sore discouragement because of the persecutions from unbelieving Jews.
PURPOSE–To exhort Christians to show their faith by their works and to be patient under trials.
2. Dead Faith
Great Fact I. Patience in Trials
Rejoice when you are subject to various trials for this testing of your faith develops endurance, and when you can endure anything, you are altogether a mature Christian. When you need wisdom pray with confidence unto God, who never reproaches, but grants unto us freely. Let the brother of humble rank glory in his Christian dignity, and the rich in being poor of spirit. God tempts no man to do wrong, but in every case, a man is tempted by his own passions. Passions give birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully developed produces death. Instead of any wrong thing, it is the good and perfect gifts the come from above, from the Maker of tin lights in the heavens, who Himself is never subject to change or eclipse. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry for the anger of man does not further the righteous purposes of God. Put the gospel into practice, and be not merely listeners, deluding yourselves. If anyone is a hearer and not a practiser, he is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, goes his way, and forgets what he is like. But he who looks carefully into the scriptures and practices them will be blessed in what he does. If anyone imagines himself to be religious, yet does not bridle his own tongue, he imposes upon his own conscience, and his religious observances are valueless. The religion that is pure in the eyes of our Father is this–to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself uninfluenced by the world.
LESSON–The world says. “Run from trials.” Some sects say, “Ignore trials,” but the Bible teaches, “Use your trials!” Many a time the people of God are bound with the cords of unworthy habits, until He throws them into the fiery furnace of affliction, and burns off their bonds. Failure often leads to success by rousing a man to more prayer and energy. Failure in a work for which a man is unfitted often brings him to his true place. Of a truth, there is a paradise within a hedge of trials.
Great Fact II. A Dead Faith Cannot Save
Christians should not try to combine faith in Christ with the worship of rank, showing every consideration to the rich, and showing scant courtesy to the poor. God has chosen those who are poor in worldly goods to be rich in their faith,
therefore, it is a sin to worship rank and insult the poor. By so doing one breaks that law which says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” and he who breaks the Law in one point breaks it in all, and justice will be merciless to him who has not practiced mercy. James 2:1-13.
What is the good of a man saying that he has faith if he does not prove it by his actions? Can such dead faith save him? Suppose a brother is in great distress for the want of food, and you should say, “Oh I am so sorry for you! Go away. I hope you will get warmed and fed elsewhere.” What good would it do him? In the same way, faith that is not followed by actions is a lifeless thing.
You do right to believe that there is one God, but demons have that much faith and tremble at the thought. Remember how, in the case of Abraham, faith, and actions went together. Rahab, in like manner, showed her faith by righteous actions. Exactly as a body is dead without a spirit, so faith is dead without actions.
1. James Russel Lowell said, “We have gone on far too long on the principle, I am as good as you,’ this is a principle of selfishness that has made the world sick almost unto death. We should act rather on the other principle, You are as good as I,’ for this is the note of brotherhood and of humility, which the Lord and his apostles first declared unto men.”
2. James dwells much on works, Paul on faith, Peter on hope, and John on love, but it takes a combination of all these graces to make up a true Christian life. Before men we are first recognized as Christians by our works; before God, we are first recognized as Christians by our faith. Faith and works, like two oars in a rowboat, are both necessary if progress is to be made. Either one by itself would merely turn the boat around and around, and never get it to the shore, when we have both we are sure to get to the Haven of Rest. Faith should show itself in the works of
1. 1. Confession, Ro 10:10;
2. Baptism, Mr 16:16.
3. Obedience, Joh 15:14.
Great Fact III. True Faith Will Control the Tongue
Anyone who does not err when speaking is indeed a perfect man, able to restrain his whole body. When we put bits into the mouth of horses we control their whole bodies and even large ships are controlled by a very small rudder and steered In any direction the steersman may decide, so the tongue, small though it is, is a great boaster. As a tiny spark may set the largest forest ablaze, so the tongue proves itself a very world of mischief; it infects the whole body, it sets all the affairs of life on fire and is itself set on fire by the flames of the Pit. While all sorts of beasts have been tamed by man, no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless plague. It is charged with deadly poison! With it we praise God the Father, and with it we curse men who were made in His likeness! But this should not be so, for the wisdom from above is, before everything else, pure; then peace-loving, gentle, open to conviction, rich in compassion and good deeds, and free from partiality and insincerity. Indeed, righteousness shall abound in the lives of those who work for peace.
LESSON–We should be constantly prayerful and careful to avoid those sins of the tongue, into which we are most in danger of falling, such as swearing. lying, tale-bearing and slander. On the other hand, it is impossible to over-estimate the blessedness of that tongue that is ever ready to testify fog Christ, and to praise Him who is greatly to be praised!
Great Facts IV. Worldliness Rebuked
Jas 4; 5.
The cause of quarrelling is found in the unholy desires within. Men fall to pray, or when they pray receive not because they ask with a wrong purpose, to spend what they get upon their pleasures. However, to be friends with the world means to be at enmity with God. Subject yourself therefore to God, and repel the Devil and he will flee from you. Brethren should not speak against one another, for he who disparages his brother defames the Law. It is wicked to boast Of what you will do tomorrow, for your life may disappear like a vapor Rather say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that!” The rich should not oppress the poor or calamities will come upon them. If anyone is in trouble, let him pray; if anyone is happy, let him sing hymns; if anyone is sick, let him send for the officers of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name Of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord will liaise him from his bed, and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
1. Satan has organized the world of unbelieving mankind upon principles of force, greed, selfishness, ambition, and pleasure. The believer, however, should be crucified to the world and the world to him, Ga 6:14. We should despise its pleasures, honors and treasures, and be unmoved by its threatenings or attractions.
2. The officers of the church are to anoint the sick with oil, for oil is a symbol of the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, the divine healer, Ex 30:31; Ac 1:8; Mr 6:13. If the prayer of faith is offered in the spirit of Mt 26:42, then God has promised to heal and forgive. The prayer of faith includes, however, confession of sin, humility, a surrendered will, and an earnest intention of consecrating to God’s service the restored life. Nowhere in the Bible is the use of medicine forbidden, but the prayer of faith is enjoined.
Questions on the Lesson
1. Give keyword and key verse.
2. Why are the general epistles so called?
3. Tell what you know about the writer.
4. Give date, place, and occasion.
5. Name the great facts.
6. Who is a mature Christian?
7. How is man tempted?
8. What is a man to do with his trials?
9. What should be our attitude toward the poor?
10. Tell what Lowell said.
11. What graces go to make up a true Christian life?
12. Show that faith and works should go together.
13. In what works should faith show itself?
14. To what is the tongue likened?
15. What sins of the tongue should we avoid?
16. Show that we should recognize God in making our plans.
17. On what principles is the world organized?
18. What should be the believer’s attitude toward the world?
19. Why are the sick to be anointed with oil?
20. What is included in the prayer of faith?
21. How much of the book have read?
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. — Proverbs 28:13 KJV