The first sermon in this series is intended to provide a framework, a foundation that will allow us to read the book of James properly. If you missed the sermon this past Sunday, please listen to it HERE
The verse that must be our starting point is James 1:18. It is a one sentence synopsis of the book and it grounds all that James says throughout. It says, “Of his own will, God brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” The imperative (that we should be a kind of first fruits) is grounded first in the indicative of what God has already done for us in Christ Jesus (brought us forth by the word of truth). Like I said on Sunday, “Imperatives minus an Indicative leads to IMPOSSIBILITIES!” What I meant by this is that if we try to “do” any of the 59 things that James tells us to do throughout his letter in our own power or strength we will struggle and fail.
Authentic Christians throughout history have always cared deeply about pursuing holiness and keeping God’s commands and so should we, but is crucial to always realizing that good works are NOT the ROOT of God’s favor (for he accepts us on the merits of Christ alone) but rather the FRUIT of God’s favor. When this is properly understood we will begin to understand the book of James as both a picture and promise, not just a “TO DO” list.
The ethic of James is a picture of our perfect Savior who kept the whole law perfectly; and a promise to those of us who are united to Christ of what God is remaking us to be. We then are showcases of what it is for God to make all things new by the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16) in the finished work of Jesus. These observations, if kept together, prevent us from reading James like a legalist Pharisee and instead cause us to fall more deeply in love with Jesus who kept the law’s demands and broke the law’s curse – all on our behalf.
We must view James words to us through the lens of the gospel of God's Grace and see it as a beautiful PICTURE of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ & an amazing PROMISE of what we are becoming!!