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James: Count It All Joy (Part 2)

March 7, 2021 Speaker: Damian Mericka Series: Kingdom Vision 2020

Topic: James: Count It All Joy (Part 2)

Sermon Title: “James: Count It All Joy (Part 2)”

Sermon Series: Acts: Kingdom Vision (Phase 2)

Text: The Letter of James   

Speaker: Pastor Damian Mericka

  1. Getting to know the Author.

Last week we began looking at one of the earliest letters written in our New Testament.  Briefly noting that the author was a man named James we hinted a bit at his background.  This letter has been challenging for many people throughout Church history with its tone on the role of works.  Can there be a balance between faith and works? Is it important that we live out our faith?

Answering such questions as well as navigating the faith & works challenge begins with understanding who the author of this letter is and why the Holy Spirit moved on him to write.

Jesus had half brothers and sisters through their shared mother, Mary.  Jesus was virgin birthed from Mary, not fathered by Joseph.  His half brothers and sisters would have been fathered by Joseph.

See -> Matthew 13:53-58

Even though they were related to Jesus through Mary, faith was not hereditary for they (half siblings) did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

See -> John 7:1-7

This message from Jesus to them, which would have included James, had a lasting impact (v.7). We see this carry into James as he later, a believer living out his faith in Jesus, shepherds the flock through the present times of great trial.

Going Deeper: 1) Who was James, the author of the letter bearing his name? How was he related to Jesus? Did he believe Jesus was the Messiah at first? What did Jesus mean in John 7:7?

 

  1. A Very Real Struggle (James 1:19-27)

James began his letter with the invitation to count the trials in our lives as opportunities to know the Joy of the Lord.  He can encourage this because of the commitment God has placed upon us through His Son, Jesus.  God is working through trials to bring forth the fruit within us by the indwelling Spirit through His Son.

These early believers (those even healed by Jesus in His earthly ministry) were suffering persecution because of their faith in Jesus.  They were scattered. Jesus defined love toward Him as faith which both trusts (hand in His) and obeys (giving Him our Yes!).  His mission is central- and needs to be central in our day-to-day alignment.

But this orientation will not come naturally.  In fact, the natural reaction of the flesh is self-preservation.  Just like James who missed the reality of Jesus for a season, simply being filled with knowledge does not mean we are in relationship with Him.  So, how can we counter our flesh and pursue continually Jesus in faith?

  • 19-20 Do not be reactionary. Process what is going on; but do not react in the passion of the moment.  Regroup and process in light of God’s Word. 
  • 21 Implanted Word
    • See -> Matthew 13:23
  • 22-25 The Difference between hearing and doing. (Lead by example)
    • Hearing (Vv. 22-24)
    • Doing (v. 25)
  • 26-27 The Mission is not conditioned by the circumstances; it is faithful because of who we are in Christ! If Christ is seeded in us through saving faith, fruit (works) is inevitable!

Going Deeper: 2) Why were believers suffering? What does it mean to not be “reactionary”? Do you struggle with this? Why or why not? What does it mean to have God’s Word implanted in us? Hint: See Matthew 13:23. What is the difference between hearing and doing God’s Word?

III. Dead Faith versus Living Faith (James 2:14-26)

James continues to intensify the contrast between faith and works by showing how empty faith is without works.  Having such a pastoral heart, James see’s the danger of a dead faith being invitational amidst a world offering suffering for living faith.

James is not saying we lose our salvation.  However, how we live can cause us to not have the sense of the assurance of our Salvation, even though we may be eternally secure through Faith in Jesus for our Salvation.  Assurance is the product of the fruit we experience in our Yes! to Him.

3 Signs of a dead or dying faith:

  • Empty Confession (v.14) A declaration of faith in Jesus is ours in the infancy of our faith. Demonstration of such faith is to be ours as we grow and mature in Him!
    • See -> Matthew 7:16-18
    • See -> Luke 19:8
  • False Compassion (Vv. 15-17) To look upon someone’s daily hardship (v.15) and giving a word of blessing without assisting does not bring benefit to the person suffering, does it? In like fashion, such is our faith without the fruit of works. This is not something James is making up, but is rooted firmly in Jesus’ own witness:
    • See -> Matthew 25:31-46
    • See -> Acts 4:32-35
  • Shallow Conviction (Vv. 18-20) Many grow up in Christian churches, homes, schools, etc- but without God’s Word taking root into one’s soul the lack of conviction can lead one’s faith to be very shallow and dangerous. (Committed process of shaping into)
    • See -> Deuteronomy 6:4-5
    • See -> Luke 6:46-49

2 Examples of living and maturing faith:

  • Abraham (Vv. 21-24) Like each of us, Abraham had his moments of incredible faith and dramatic unbelief. Each trial that came his way was meant to cultivate the fruit (works) of righteousness from the source- faith relationship with God.  The test of Isaac was a breakthrough between Abraham and God.  Abraham was maturing through the trials in faith!
    • (Note: Justification has a two-fold meaning in the Greek verb dikaioo: 1) Acquittal; declaring Righteous. 2) Vindication; proof of Righteousness)
      • Genesis 15:6. Abraham’s dikaioo (Justification / Saving Faith)
      • James 2:21. Abraham’s dikaioo (Justification / Demonstrated Faith / Works)
    • Friend of God See -> John 15:14
  • Rahab (V.25) In contrast to Abraham comes a Gentile woman whose profession was both a prostitute and most likely a brothel owner / operator through her Inn. Rahab, like Abraham stood in a world with their own hopes, dreams, ambitions, and goals. But all of that was interrupted by God and His Mission!
    • See -> Joshua 9:9-12
    • See -> Mark 8:34 / John 12:25

We can count it all Joy when we experience trials, for they are the opportunities for our faith to be tested in order to produce the fruit of our faith in Jesus!  This brings us both the demonstrative witness of the Gospel for others, and the assurance of salvation for ourselves.

“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”

-James 2:26 ESV

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

-2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

Going Deeper: 3) What is the difference between the assurance of our salvation and the eternal security of our salvation? What are the three sings of a dead or dying faith? Which one do you struggle with from time to time and how did you get through it? What were the two examples of living faith James provided? Which do you relate to? What are the two meanings of the Greek word for justification (dikaioo)? Which is James talking about? Does your life bear out the fruit of your faith? Why or why not? How can you continue to cultivate fruit bearing in your own life? How can you be a part of that for others?

More in Kingdom Vision 2020

March 14, 2021

James: Invitation, Healing, and Prayer (Part 1)

December 13, 2020

Closing the Space Between Us (Part 3)

December 6, 2020

Closing the Space Between Us (Part 2)