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September 21, 2021 7:00 am
I want us to look at the book of James that we have four questions for basic facts about this man that we want to answer quickly number one wrote it well. It was written by James the payoff brother of the Lord Jesus, and we say half-brother because Mary was his mother and Joseph was his father. But remember, for the Lord Jesus. Joseph was not his father. The Holy Spirit was so that's why we say half-brother and Galatians chapter 2 verse nine Paul writes and calls this man James a pillar of the church in Jerusalem.
Peter left Jerusalem and the leader of the Jerusalem church became this man James Eusebius, the church historian tells us that he was martyred in 61 or 62 A.D. in Jerusalem, so that the road when did James write it well. James makes no mention in his book of the Jerusalem Council, which was held. Acts chapter 15 and 47 A.D. in which he played a major role, nor does he mention the enormous theological issue of that counsel, namely the admission of Gentiles into the church so most scholars believe that this letter was written before that counsel took place, and therefore in around 45 to 46, A.D., making it the earliest of all the New Testament letters number three, to whom did James write it well.
He says in verse one, I'm writing to the 12 tribes meeting Jewish people who are dispersed abroad throughout the Roman Empire, but not to all Jewish people. It's clear from the contents of this letter that James was writing to Jewish believers throughout the Roman empire, and finally why did James write this letter well. James addresses a variety of topics. In his letter, but all of them deal with the issue of authenticity in how we are living out our Christian faith and of the very famous verse. Of course from James chapter 1 deals with this topic. James one verse 22, which says the doers of the words not hearers only. Be authentic in how we live out our Christian life. That's the theme of his book now in the early 1500s. The book of James became the centerpiece of a huge theological controversy between Martin Luther and the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. I want to tell you about in 1520 A.D. Martin Luther was serving as a Roman Catholic monk and theologian, and as he studied the Bible, particularly as he studied the writings of the apostle Paul. He became convinced Luther did that salvation is a free gift from God. Romans 515 that God gives to people and that the way people qualify for this free gift is by placing their total reliance for their salvation in Jesus's work on the cross. Plus no human works of any kind, not even any religious human works not want to repeat that because this is the whole foundation of what we think of today as as Protestantism and the Reformation and evangelical Christianity. So this is really important when we repeated Luther came to the position based on studying the Bible that salvation is a free gift that God gives to people and the way a person qualifies for this free gift is by placing their total reliance for their salvation in Jesus's work on the cross. Plus no human works of any kind, not even any religious human works.
Some of the verses that convinced him.
Romans 320 therefore Paul says no one will be declared righteous in God's side. By observing the law by human works. Ephesians chapter 2 verse eight Paul says, for it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Watch not by works, so that no one can boast. And Titus chapter 3 verse five Paul said not by works of righteousness that we have done but by his mercy, God saved us. Now, Luther began writing about this position that he had come to understand from the Bible and before long, his writings began to spread throughout Europe like wildfire. Luther said in one of his writings and I quote it is clear that salvation cannot be acquired or grasped by any work law or merits, and we cannot yield on this point. Even though heaven and earth and everything else falls."
Well, all this put Luther in direct conflict with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. They taught that salvation comes through faith in Jesus plus the works that the church offered people. For example confession. For example, indulgences. For example tenants.
For example, communion, etc. and in 1521. The pope excommunicated Martin Luther and he convened the Council of Trent where he pope specifically appealed to James Trapp or to member. I told to James the book of James is right in the middle of this controversy right. The Pope appealed to James chapter 2 to refute Luther's possession.
Here are the verses that he used James chapter 2 verse 14. What good is it, James says if a person claims to have faith but has no works. Can such faith save him.
James 224 so you see, James says that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone and finally James 226 for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead. Is it while on looks to me like the Bible has a huge contradiction in it. Well, actually it doesn't print the truth is that James is right and the Paul is right you say see you on the been living in Washington too long. No no no no no no, they are both right and let me tell you how that works. I'm quoting from RC Sproul, who explains it about as well. Is anybody I've ever read. Here's what he said he said and I quote James is saying that if a person says he has faith but his faith shows no outward fruits of obedience or works of righteousness.
It is not saving faith and Martin Luther would absolutely agree with James on this end of quote folk so does the rest of the Bible agree with James on this.
Matthew chapter 7 Jesus said, every good tree bears good fruit in every bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit in a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Therefore by their fruits you will know them in first John chapter 2. John says if you say you've come to know Christ and yet you do not keep this commandment. You are a liar and the truth is not in you and in Matthew chapter 3 John the Baptist was baptizing at the Jordan River and a bunch of the self-righteous rabbis showed up from Jerusalem to be baptized, and John said to them, Matthew chapter 3 verse seven he said you brood of vipers. What a great way to greet people you brood of vipers produce. Look what he says fruit in keeping with the new King James says produce fruit that fits with your repentance. In other words, John says hey you say you've repented before God, fellas will I want to see it in your actions before I am willing to baptize you because if you really repented. It will show in your actions. There will be fruit that comes from your repentance back to RC Sproul and I quote he says James is saying. Not that a person is justified before God by his works, but that his claim to have saving faith is proven to be genuine by the outward evidence of his works" so that summarized here's the point. The point is that Paul and Martin Luther were looking at the roots of a person, salvation, namely that we are made righteous in God's side by trusting what Jesus did for us on the cross by putting our faith in his finished work on the cross.
That's the roots of our salvation got it. James is saying.
Meanwhile he was looking at the fruit of a person salvation and was saying that faith if it's genuine, will always result in change behavior changed actions changed attitudes that reflect obedience to God and his word and in chapter 2. All James is saying is that if there is no fruit.
Then there is no root of salvation everybody together on how the Bible is not contradicting itself. Yes, all right, now let me just say that there's a verse in the Bible that is always been very concerning to me it says. Second Corinthians 13 five examine yourself. Make sure you're in the faith test yourselves. And I suppose all of us. We want to make sure that what we have is saving faith. I remember when I was a very young believer. The guy led me to Christ salon you you need to challenge your faith and make sure it's real faith to make sure it's saving faith and I was like wow how do you do that well let me tell you how we do that, folks a few years ago Bill Gaither wrote a wonderful song about a friend of his who used to have an enormous alcohol problem within the bars all the time.
But then he came to Christ and his whole life changed that he wrote a song about it, entitled thanks to Calvary and I remember hearing that song when I was a very young believer and being so able to identify with that song because all my fraternity brothers were asking me a what happened to you and you know I've stopped drinking. I had stopped open. I stopped party and I'd stop cursing and they were like men. What happened to you, and I felt like this song. It was exactly the answer of what happened to me and it proven that the faith that I had shown in Christ was real faith it was saving faith hears the song goes. Today I went back to the place where I used to go today I saw that same old crowd. I knew before and when they asked me what it happened or tried to tell them that thanks to Calvary, the idle, he ran a mold or thanks to Calvary, not a man used to be. Thanks to Calvary, things are different and then be fold or while the tears ran down my face.
I tried to tell them that thanks to Calvary, I don't come he is ready mold or a man yeah now listen, my question to you is this, my friend. Thanks to Calvary. Are there places that you don't go anymore thanks to Calvary. Are there things you don't do anymore thanks to Calvary. Are there words you don't say anymore, thanks to Calvary, has your life been changed into something that you maybe even hardly even recognize yourself anymore based on what used to be folks that changed saving faith. There's fruit. That's what James is saying there's throat and if there's no fruit, then there's no root, it's just that simple. Now you're here and you can't sing that song. Thanks to Calvary.
I'm not the man of the woman I used to be because there's been no kind of change in your life. I want to challenge you that the faith that you may think you have in the Lord Jesus might not be saving faith and friends. You need to make sure that you come on up front. Here you see are down front people after the service. If you have doubt or if you're out aloud you go up front and see Pastor Jim or the others that are out there or you email my assistant Megan and will make sure that we have somebody near someone else meet with you and talk to you, but folks no fruit, no root, that's what James Sagan got it and you ought to be able to sing that song if you have real saving faith.
Thanks to Calvary, I am not the man or the woman that I used to be.
I hope you can sing that a man, I hope you can sing that a man all right good if you could say amen. Come, let us help you with that. Now that the stars were going to go in the letter to James wrote, but we're going to stop now were going to ask our most important question of the evening. You know what it is.
Sure you do we know sure you do, of course you do.
I got okay all you guys out aloud and are you ready, here we go nice and loud want to say no, you know, in the book of James, and it is a wonderful book there. Like so many of these other letters. There's just so much that we could talk about literally for weeks. So what I had to do is just take one thing what I've been trying to do is pick the things that the Holy Spirit really speaks to me in my heart about and that's what I've done this week so let me read it to you. James chapter 3 verse six the Tonga is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of our body, all kinds of animals have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue.
It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison with it we bless our Lord and father, and with it we curse men, who been made in his image out of the same mouth come, blessing and cursing. My brothers these things ought not to be as at the gym the other day and I was thinking about these verses and about how easy it is for us to all justify speaking negatively about other people and gossiping about other people and I was riding the elliptical and there were two ladies behind me and everyone turned around and looked out, and only know they were, but I heard them talking and is one lady was saying the nastiest, meanest, most critical stop you ever heard in your life about somebody I don't know. And there and I couldn't believe that I heard her say she said and I want you to know. She said the only reason I'm saying this is because I love her and I thought I was going to puke.
I really did. I thought that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life that Jesus sliced her delightful little pieces and said it's because I love her year. All right you know what folks have met Christians who are so excited that they don't go around cussing and saying nasty words and yet those same people slaughter others with their words and I will say to you, my brothers and sisters.
These things ought not to be and why is why is talking negatively about people and slander and backbiting and and gossip so bad. Three quick reasons I want to share with you from the Bible. Number one because it causes strife between people.
Proverbs 26 verse 20 without award. A fire goes out. The Bible says and without gossip, strife quiets down. Hey you market down at work at church in your family on care where it is where there is conflict where there is strife where there is friction where there is disharmony there was always somebody at the bottom of it with a big all and kinda slanderous mouth right yeah true number two. The reason that it's bad this kind of talk is because it poisons people's hearts towards other people. Proverbs 18, eight says the words of a slanderer are like morsels that go down into the innermost parts of the body.
Listen, we may slanderer person and never think about it again, but the person who hears that slander will never forget about it again. And slander always has two victims. The victim that we are slandering and the person whose mind were poisoning about that person and I know there are still negative things I remember about people that were said to me 30 years ago. 40 years ago that I still remember the person who said it, I'm sure is fun.net decades ago, but it still lives inside immediate poisoned part of me about the person they were talking about folks this is evil. To do this and finally number three.
Why is this kind of talk and badness, slanderous talk, because number three.
It has eternal consequences. Jesus said, every careless word that a person speaks they will have to give an account for it on the day of judgment you say. Even Christians yeah even Christians exhibit logbook, sometimes you're forced to have to say something negative about somebody like if you're sitting in a performance review of this person pay that is not what James is talking about, you know that.
And even when those times do happen.
We still need to be very careful circumspect about what we say about people. It's not just open season to slander them because were in a performance review situation so I long agree with you. All right, I hear what you say will have a problem with this. So how can we do better. Well I have three suggestions from the Bible and then were done. My first suggestion is to ask the Holy Spirit to purify and change our hearts to see Jesus said in Matthew 12 verse 34 out of the abundance of the what saith the heart the mouth speaketh. In other words, the reason that you and I slander people with our mouth is because were already slandering them first in our hearts. That's what Jesus is saying and what comes out of our mouth is just a symptom. The real disease is what's in our hearts about people and so my first suggestion is that we ask God to purify how were thinking about certain people and how were feeling about certain people in our hearts. Believe me, friends. If our hearts get purer, our malls will follow. Yeah, number two. My second suggestion is simply talk less. James said it.
He said let everyone of you be quick to hear, slow to what to speak. Proverbs 1019, where there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Hey, I gotta tell you something folks I have never regretted something I didn't say but I sure have regretted a bunch of stuff I did say you know what just talk less because have you been in these conversations were the more people talk.
It starts out okay. The conversation starts out fine but about. He's talking and talking and talking and talking and talking to somebody says something and everybody goes well. They had a void that to shut up sooner. She has a sensible keep going like that. Talk less and listen more. Finally my third suggestion is decide that with God's help. When we do speak were going to say only those things that honor God and build people up to be delivered about this. Ephesians 429 says let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth. So while costs because I would just talk about just on the next I'm good.
I'm happy you should but look what he goes on to say, but only that which is good for building others up the on wholesomeness of what Paul is talking about here is not cursing.
It's about ripping people down with our words, we should make it our deliberate goal that every conversation you and I walk away from. We leave behind us. The sweet aroma of harmony and peace and unity with the people that we walk away from.
But we gotta be deliberate about that before Woodrow Wilson became president of the United States and by the way he was a wonderful Christian. He was the president of Princeton University and he tells a story one day how he was sitting in a barbershop there in Princeton and the usual loud talk and profanity was going on in the barbershop, when suddenly another customer walked in, and here's what Pres. Wilson said and I quote. He said he sat in the chair next to me and every word he ordered showed a personal and vital interest in the man who was serving after the man left. Wilson says I lingered in the barbershop in the room and observed the effect that his words had made upon the barbers.
Wilson says they talk quietly in undertones. They did not know the man's name but they knew his words had elevated their thoughts and as I left that barbershop. I felt as though I was leaving a place of worship." That man walked in the barbershop and sat down next to Wilson was named Dwight L. Moody, the famous evangelist and what you need to know is that Moody is a young man when he first came to Christ, had made a commitment to God that from that point on in his life. Every conversation he ever got in he was going to use his mouth. He was going to use his tongue and his words to seek to glorify God. Now I gotta tell you, God really convicted me on this. This week, maybe I'm preaching to myself and you don't need this, but he really laid it on me this week that had way too often way too often I allow my mouth to say things that dishonor God and that tear down people and that this is just evil and it's just sin and it's just wrong, and so this week I committed myself going forward.
A new to changing this to trying to only say those things that build people up and that promote harmony among people and unity among people and to try to say those things that bring hope to people and encouragement to people and strength to people and point them to God and to his love for them to not allow my mouth to say things that do the opposite of this, and in light of what God is said to us from his word.
I want to invite you to join me in making this kind of commitment I want to invite you to say Lord my mouth is my worst enemy.
And by the grace of God. I'm going to do. Would Moody do I make a commitment with your help from this day forward. I'm going to use my mouth to glorify God, to the best my ability. Let's pray together. I hope that you can do that.
Lord Jesus, what a privilege it is that you give us the ability to speak, the more we know that you gave us that ability that we might use it for the glory of God.
And so, Lord I pray that you would forgive me for the many times I use my mouse differently that you would forgive all of us here for that.
I pray that you would grip our hearts today with the need to use our tongs in a way that honors you in a way that blesses other people and that every conversation we get into this week that we would be thinking about this deliberately. Father, I also pray you work in our hearts and clean them up from the sinful ways we think and feel about other people. Lord we need a great work of your spirit on our hearts and on our malls and I'm so grateful that you're bigger than our hearts and your bigger than our malls and that you can change them both so father please begin that work in me deep and that change in me and do the same for all of us here. I pray who know you and love you starting today and we ask these things in Jesus name God's people said Amen