Faith Testing James 1:1-18
James was elected the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. Paul called him "a pillar," in Galatians 2:9. James moderated the church conference in Acts 15. When Peter was delivered from prison, he sent a special message to James (Acts 12:17); and when Paul visited Jerusalem, it was to James that he brought greetings and the special "love offering" from the Gentiles (Acts 21:18-19).
Tradition tells us that James was martyred in A.D. 62. The Pharisees in Jerusalem hated James and had him cast down from the temple and then beaten to death with clubs. The story also relates that James died, as did his Saviour, praying for his murderers, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." - Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Mature (James).
What can we learn about James from the words he uses to greet the brethren?
He uses the word servant (bond-slave) showing his humility and gratitude to God for salvation. He names Jesus as Lord showing adoration. He writes to the twelve tribes showing his identification with them ethnically.
He uses the same phrase that was used in the letter to the churches in Acts 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
Trial of Your Faith
What does James mean by temptation? Is this limited to temptation to sin or does it have a broader meaning?
The word for temptation comes for the Greek word πειρασμός peirasmos
Translated in the AV-temptation 19, temptations 1, try 1; 21x. It means an experiment, attempt, trial, proving, or an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances
When you look at the context of the entire first chapter, it is plain, that James is talking about the trials which are a temptation to quit or to blame God.
According to James what knowledge will help us to be joyful even in the midst of trials?
Trials bring us to patience. We grow through the trials if we allow God to use them to mature us. We are to have joy in the trail not necessarily because of the trail but because of the maturity and growth that trails through patience can bring in us.
What kind of patience is James saying will bring us to completeness and maturity?
He is speaking of endurance. This is the ability to hold on and trust God in the midst of the worst difficulties.
What is the perfect work of patience working us?
Bringing God’s children to perfection, entirety and wanting nothing. Christian maturity is gained primarily through trials in this life.
Just as the temptation James speaks of is dealing with trails, so also the word wisdom is understood through the context of this passage. What specific kind of wisdom is James saying they should ask God for?
The wisdom to understand how trails can bring patience, and patience will have its perfecting work. This wisdom will bring them to be able to count it all joy.
1:6-8 In telling us to ask for wisdom James also teaches about faith in our prayers. What does James teach us about faith in our petitions before God?
That we must be single-minded, not wavering between doubt and fear. If God has promised it, then believe it and you shall receive it.
Why does the metaphor of the wind tossed wave fit so well in the admonition about trials and faith?
It gives us a picture of the trials which toss us up and down like the wind driven waves, while our faith acts as the anchor that turns us toward God, believing that He hears and answers our prayers.
1:9-11 How are trials the great equalizer between the rich and poor?
The poor or lowly man rejoices, exalts because he has been counted worthy to suffer for Christ. The rich because he has been humbled and learned to trust in God rather than have faith in his wealth.
1:12 James closes this section with a beatitude, (blessing), again echoing his big brother Jesus. Why is the man who has endured trials blessed?
He shall receive a crown of life, promised to him by the Lord.
What is the ultimate reason James gives for being able to withstand trials?
We will endure because of our love for Him. Our love for Jesus will give us the strength needed to endure unto maturity.
Vs. 1:13 Now James moves from the outward trials the Hebrew Christians were dealing with to the inner trials and temptations.
What is James warning those who are going through trails to be careful of?
He is telling them not to blame God in these areas of trial and temptations.
What are his proofs that God is not the one behind their trials or that God is the creator of evil since He created all things, including Satan?
Vs. 13 - First, He cites God’s holiness. God cannot be tempted, nor does He tempt us.
Vs 14 -15 Second, He cites our sinful nature. Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed.
Who then is to blame when our trials or temptations bring us to sin?
We are. The lust within us and our own choices are responsible for causing us to sin, never God.
Finally, James cites God’s love. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Vs. 16 James points to the nature of God using two distinct words for gifts, good and perfect. One looks at the giver the other at the gift. How does this help us to understand God’s role in trials?
It shows God as the one who constantly gives (present participle) us blessings. He keeps on giving and by his constant gifts He enables us to make it through the trials and temptations.
Vs. 17 reinforces James proof of God’s nature by the title and description of God as the giver not the tempter. What is the title and description?
God is the Father of lights, (looks to God as creator of all lights in creation) with whom there is neither variableness (the possibility to change) nor shadow of turning.
“Shadows from the sun shift, but not the One who made the sun!” - An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.
Vs. 18 What is the greatest example of God’s gifts and proof that He does not tempt us?
By His own will He chose to save us, begat us by truth. He gave us the gift of eternal salvation.
What did James mean by calling them first fruits?
The Jews who were first saved during the earthly ministry of Jesus were the first fruits of God’s coming salvation to all others. They themselves were proof of God’s love.
James, in this opening section of his epistle, deals with a timeless and universal problem that we all face. How do I reconcile the sin and trials of life with a loving and holy God? His answer is direct, even blunt, but it is still elegant in its logic and proofs.
Trials are a tool that God uses to bring us to maturity. If we allow them to work we will gain the strength of endurance. If we don’t understand this then pray in faith and God will give us the wisdom needed to see how He is working.
In the midst of these trials be careful not to fall into error by blaming God for sin, sorrow and temptation. God is the giver of all good and all perfect gifts. He is the Father of lights, not of darkness, there is not even the hint of Him being able to change from goodness to evil. The gift of our salvation should be all we need to understand He loves us and is helping us though the trials we face