II JAMES 1
INTRODUCTION TO A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JAMES
As has been our custom, because we did a prior study of this book in 2006, to differentiate between those essays and the ones in the present study, we will designate this series II James. This does not mean there are two books of James. It simply means this is the second series of essays I have done on James.
Let me remind you that these essays are not intended to be a commentary on the book. The technical factors I will leave to others. My purpose is to examine in depth certain important concepts which we find in the text. Despite the fact that James addresses his letter to “the twelve tribes scattered throughout the world”, the content is so intensely directed at the individual actions of each person that we will find his concepts applicable to all of us in our daily lives.
Though it is not stated clearly, I think it is pretty certain that the author was the brother of the Lord and was a very influential leader in the early stages of the Christian movement. Because of the high regard in which he was obviously held by Paul and the other leaders, his words carry not only the weight of important men, but the imprint of inspiration and personal relationship with Jesus Christ as He lived on earth. This should demand our attention to and close study of the concepts found in this excellent book.
The overall theme of James could be called “temptation”. He examines it not only as a power that causes us to do wrong things, but as a power that keeps us from doing the right things we should be responsible for doing. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prayed, “Lead us not into temptation”. James makes it clear that God does not tempt anyone and cannot Himself be tempted. Therefore, we are made to realize that temptations are all around us, and our human frailty causes us to be drawn into them all the time. Therefore, Jesus was saying, “Lord, lead us away from the path which is so easy for us to follow, and help us to defeat our human urges”. This means that we should always be aware of God’s presence in our lives through His indwelling Holy Spirit. This awareness should cause us to listen to Him when decisions must be made, and follow the course He would have us take. The greatest problem for most men is that they shut God out when situations arise that call for strength of character and critical decisions between right and wrong.
This is the problem which is central to the wise counsel of James in this important book. There is much here that we need to learn to successfully walk in a personal relationship with Our Lord.