James 1:1, Why Brag About Being a Brother, When You Are A Slave?
July 2, 2015, 5:48 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

faith in the sand

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, ‘Greeting’.”

Who is this man named James? First of all, let’s look at a couple of things that are important in understanding this book. The epistle, or letter, of James was one of the earliest New Testament books written. Sometimes, 10 to 15 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a man named James was hand-picked by the Holy Spirit to write to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad”. The early church began on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, according to Acts 2. Peter, a disciple of Jesus Christ and a Jewish convert to Him, was controlled by the Holy Spirit preached the first sermon sharing the Gospel and 3000 souls were saved. The church’s growth is detailed in Acts and when we get to Acts 9, we read that a man named “Saul, made havoc of the church . . . they were scattered abroad.” Evidently, James writes this book after that scattering. James writes to remind us that God had a purpose in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that purpose is basic to a life live to the fullest. The purpose of God was to fulfill the most basic of man’s needs, a need of a personal relationship with God. He did this through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as He graciously gave all men the opportunity to have the abundant life He had planned for them. This life was freely given, but took the early church on a journey that included different trials and difficulties. This discouraged the true church and God used James to encourage them but to also let them know some truth that would help them experience this abundant life. First, abundant life comes from a realization of who God truly is. We will never be satisfied by any other thing. The world, used by Satan, will offer counterfeits that are lesser but can be obtained immediately and in the physical realm.
God the Holy Spirit opens our awareness of our need of this relationship that can only be obtained through Jesus Christ.
We can have this relationship which brings fulfillment and joy. God also shows that this relationship can be affected through our choices. The commands of the Bible establish what will alter or damage the relationship that God intends for us to have with God. Every “thou shalt” is a path to the fulfilled life and every “thou shalt not” is a roadblock that damages the abundant life God gives. God’s intention is to have those who are saved and in a relationship with Him to be hopelessly in love with Him. Because I love Him, I really want to please Him. I please Him because it shows how much I love Him. In I John 5:3, we read that the love of God is seen in “that we keep his commandments”. God wants willing submission because we are so in love with Him. If we follow Christ because we fear that He will zap us if we don’t, God isn’t glorified.
So back to the question, “who is this man named James?” He is most likely the half-brother of Jesus. Prior to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, James was an unbeliever, according to John 7:5. So what did Jesus do to convince James that He was in fact God? He resurrected and then appeared to James (I Corinthians 15:7). James was face to face with the fact that Jesus was God and he believed. James was transformed into a follower of Jesus Christ. He was so committed to Jesus Christ being his Lord or Master, that he emphasized that he was a slave (the true meaning of servant) over the fact that he was a half-brother of Jesus. James evidently becomes the head pastor of the church at Jerusalem and loved the Lord Jesus Christ so much that he willingly was murdered for following Him. James, according to church tradition, was taken to the top of the Temple, the same place that Satan had taken Jesus to tempt Him, and given the choice of denying Jesus or being killed, James was cast down from the pinnacle of the Temple. Amazing he survived and struggled to his feet and was murdered by being stoned to death.
This book was written to the church, scattered. The use of “twelve tribes” is used for two reasons. First, the early church was made up of primarily Jewish converts to Christianity at first. The teaching of Paul also used “true Israel” to speak of those who had “true faith”, or Christians who were followers of Jesus Christ.
To understand the books of James, we need to see that trials never catch God by surprise and He will always get something good for us out of sufferings. Second, God knows we aren’t perfect, so He expects progress toward maturity, not perfect Christians. The third message that weaves its way throughout the epistle of James is the message of worldliness that riches, stuff, and success here in the now and immediate will bring happiness and contentment. This message is a lie, but attractive enough that our old nature will buy into it. How we are to handle this constant luring of worldliness is a part of James teaching.


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