"My Thoughts"

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Views on the Book of James

My Views on the Book of James

First let me start out by stating that although I read the Bible much, listen to varied sermons, etc. I am NOT a biblical expert, so these are simply as the blog title states, “My Thoughts”.

What I do know is that the Book of James is different from the other Epistles and Gospels of the New Testament, and is more akin to Ecclesiastes or Proverbs of the Old Testament.
As well during the Reformation, many such as Marin Luther wanted this book left out of Scripture.
Here are Martin Luther’s thoughts:
”"Lutherans believe that faith, is understood as trust in God's steadfast love, and is the only appropriate way for human beings to respond to God's saving initiative. Thus "salvation by faith alone", the distinctive and controversial slogan of Lutheranism. Opponents claimed that this position failed to do justice to the Christian responsibility to do good works, but Lutherans have replied that faith must be active in love and that good works follow from faith as a good tree produces good fruit."

For more please See:

With all do respect to Martin Luther, I disagree and I am glad other Church fathers thought this Book was best left in the Cannon of Scripture.

My reasons are simple, that is I firmly believe that the works described in the book of James such as Chapter 2, are a way of verifying our faith and walk. Yes we fail (at least I know I do), just as we fail to keep the Ten Commandments. Christ even states in the Parable of the Good Samaritan that the one who helps the injured man is the Christian; is this not a form of works? The answer in my opinion is this is works by faith, as an unbeliever can also perform this work, however a Christian walking in the faith of the Lord should perform this task as well.
See: Standing for the Truth and the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Here is the passage I am referring to (NIV):
1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.
2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.
3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"
4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself,"[a] you are doing right
9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery,"[b] also said, "Do not murder."[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

I know for myself I have many times tried to live verse 1-3, yet have failed, often paying attention to the man who appears “better”.
This does not mean that we not exercise discernment, as this is also where I have failed. I have lept in to help someone without prayer, only after realizing the person was a wolf in sheep’s clothing did I finally pray and realize otherwise.
I know in particular this has happened twice with disastrous results (such as my trust in a couple to run my previous pet store in the Hacienda Heights area of California when they used me with well designed lies).
City Reference: Hacienda Heights; Information

As well even when prayer is part of the decision to help someone, I also know from experience the results may not be what we would like, but this does not mean that God does not have bigger plans.
A case in point where I helped a female co-worker at a Candy Factory I was the Production Manager with a place to live and many other aspects from insurance to loans. The results for me were disastrous (with many evil rumors and worse), but I know this was done in prayer, and another co-worker who also helped her can vouch for this as well.

Finally there are the many times I have helped others with no reward (& often public acknowledgement), since these acts were done discreetly as Christ often says we should. I know as a human it would be nice for some acknowledgment, especially when the person has the ability to stand up and vouch for your integrity during times of trials (as was the case for another co-worker whom I helped get credit to save their family car) , but I know this is not what Christ is asking of us in James or other related passages of the Bible.

In summary, my thoughts on James is that it is not a book on “works” rather a measurement of our faith, as well as a tool to help us live a life closer to Christ and to understand our own failures. This is similar in my view to Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
In fact, my biggest frustration is that many in the Christian Church ignore James and concentrate on Paul’s Books, when I think James gives good balance to the rest of the New Testament and our lives, including mine; we simply need to read this book in context with the rest of the Bible.

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