Tuesday, March 6, 2012

James 1

     The style of James' letter is a preaching style called "stringing pearls". This missive (letter) is a series of comments, advice, correction, encouragement and teaching from one of the earliest Christian leaders:
     Verse 13 -- we are never tempted by God. The line "lead us not into temptation" from the Lord's prayer is a long standing poor translation. Many modern translators render it "save us in the time of trial" which makes more sense in the context of the rest of the prayer. God does not tempt me, I am perfectly capable in my normal broken self to be drawn away by various and divers temptations. How I handle those temptations is another story. Hebrews reminds us that Jesus was "tempted" in all ways just as we are yet without sin. The temptation is not the problem . . . how we respond can be the problem.
   Verse 19 and following shows that the Wesleyan understanding of the Christian Faith (that personal holiness must be lived out as social holiness) is rooted and grounded not only in the Old Testament prophetic tradition but is the main stream of the New Testament as well. It is not enough to hear the word of God and it is not enough to say we believe the word of God. It is only when we apply the word of God to our lives and take action on it that we are living as Christ called us to live.
    Verse 26/27 -- religion (faith) the life to which we are called is: care for the orphans (powerless) and the widows (powerless) in their distress.
     Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, did not like the book of James. He called it an "Epistle of Straw". The reason for this is that Martin Luther saw in James a "works righteousness" assuming that the focus on deeds was replacing the New Testament principle of Salvation by Faith (Grace) alone. The misunderstanding has to do with James and Paul using the word "Faith" differently. Paul uses the word faith to mean trust and rely on. James appears to be using the word "faith" to mean a belief in a set of principles. Paul does encourage believers to be passive in their lives: he speaks of "faith working through love" and other expressions that show that once we get the language use on the same page they are very much in agreement, indeed.

1 comment:

Alicia said...

I really enjoyed the Bible reading today. It was exactly what I needed to hear, because I am really struggling. My favorite part of the scripture this evening, was James 1:12
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those that Love him.

I Love The Lord, but sometimes more often than not lately, I want to give up, because I feel I can not do it anymore, but I must be strong.

Thank You Lord For Allowing me to read that wonderful Scripture.

God Spoke To Me This Evening