Saturday, October 9, 2010

Reading James Chapter Two

This chapter can be broken down into two (2) distinct topics or ideas; verses one through thirteen and verses fourteen through twenty six. Believers are to be impartial and judge other Christians based on such things as wealth or prominence. Believers demonstrate their true and living faith by the good works such faith produces.

Verses 1-13: The Command to be Impartial

James has already touched on the “division” of believers as being “rich” or “poor” in chapter one, verses 9-11 and in verse 27. In this section of the chapter, James decides to highlight the problems connected with this realization by exhorting his readers not to discriminate. He mainly exhorts that believers do not discriminate against poorer believers in favor of those who may be wealthier.

Verses 1-7 is used to show us that to love and attend to the more wealthy believers in the congregation is actually incompatible with true Christianity. James makes it clear that there is no place for prejudice or partiality in the bosom of the Christian faith or congregation. James gives an illustration reflective of how churches and believers can be guilty of this sin. James asks a couple of hard hitting and soul searching questions as he drives his point home.

Verses 8-11 is used by James to show his readers how favoritism or partiality as he calls it is really a violation of God’s law to love others as God loves us. James warns his readers that if they break one portion of the law then the whole law is violated and sin is present.

Verses 12-13 is used by James to exhort his readers to speak and act as true believers. He encourages his readers to remember there is coming a time of judgment where they will be examined on how they lived out these commands.

Verses 14-26: The Comment to be Implemented

In this section James continues to hammer at the idea that hearing God’s word and faith must lead to obedience. Christianity is not just something that is “believed,” or stored up in our heads. Even though salvation is by grace alone, faith alone, and Christ alone, true salvation will lead to the production of “good works.” True faith will give evidence of itself by the production of fruit visible in various good works in the body.

Verses 14-17 are used by James to demonstrate that faith unaccompanied by any fruit or good works is really a dead faith. James purpose is to show that a faith that is merely a mental assent or acquiescence to facts is not a living faith and therefore does not save.

Verses 18-20 is used by James to further develop his point by the use of an “imaginary” objector. James responds preemptory to some who might argue that faith and fruit are separate issues. James ensures his readers that faith can only be shown to be living through various acts or works. Again James uses an illustration to show that mere believing is not the issue since the demons believe and as a result tremble.

Verses 21-26 is used by James as a means of further illustrating his point by the use of Abraham and Rahab. It was their faith that was evidenced by their works or fruit. The works did not save them nor produce righteousness, but their righteousness was observed by the actions that it produced.

James is very careful not to contradict the fact that faith in the atoning work of Christ is what saves an individual. He is also very careful to show that a true and living faith will be visible by the fruit it produces. Some fruit will be what faith does not do [discriminate] and some fruit will be evidenced by what fruit does [good works.]


Seams Inspired said...

As I've stated before, James is one of my most favorite books of the Bible. It's my "go-to" book when I'm feeling spiritually malnourished. When things aren't going right in my world, I turn to this book for guidance, as it speaks volumes to my heart and soul. Here's what stands out to me in Chapter 2:

Verse 1 Right from the start, James instructs us to not play favorites. That's much easier said than done, isn't it?

Verse 12 Good words to live by, aren't they? If only everyone would adhere to this verse, what a happier world this would be.

Verse22 and 26 Faith and action working together...Faith without deeds is dead. There was a reason James stated this over and over again. In case we didn't catch it the first time, right? I think this is a good reminder to all Christians. Besides, how can your faith grow if you don't put it into action? How can you say you are doing God's will, if you are not acting upon His word?

Thanks for hosting this study, Gregg! Happy Saturday! :o)

Lloyd said...

Gregg you did really a good job of explaining what James was trying to relate to us about faith and good works. Blessings too you. Lloyd


Great Bible Study Gregg!

No questions today. I agree with Seams Inspired and Lloyd. They pretty well covered it for me. :-)


welcome to my world of poetry said...

An excellent post explaining all there was need to know.

Have a great week-end.


Kansas Bob said...

Good thoughts Gregg. The problem of wealth seems to still plague congregations. Many church boards are comprised of businessmen who are "successful" with regards to wealth. For sure some of these have a heart for the poor but some simply seem to focus on the business of church. Gotta wonder what James' epistle would look like if it was written today.

Toyin O. said...

Great post.

Brian Ray Todd said...

I've found that I perfer a book Bible Study over a Topical Bible Study at church, but at home, I love it all. Thank you for this great study in the book of James!