James, he's talking to us like family. And there have been times when he slapped his knee in frustration and pounded the arm of his chair in righteous indignation. And sometimes he's pointed his finger in our face.
But I want you to understand, and I think I may not have presented it very clearly as we've gone through this, that it's not so much him saying, let me tell you a thing or two. It's more like, listen, brothers and sisters, you got to get this right. We've got to live out our faith. Everybody in the family. We're all in this together.
We need to grow up. In many ways, the epistle of James is family talk. Do you know what I mean by that? Sometimes you say things to your family and very close friends that you don't say to strangers.
James is like that. As you read it, you discover some deeply personal admonitions for the church family. It instructs you on how to live out the faith you claim to have.
This is wisdom for the heart. Stephen spent teaching through a portion of James in this series called endurance. Today he brings this series to a close with a lesson he's calling family talk.
Here's Stephen. Well, today we come to the end of our study through the book of James. For one, I wanted to go back and review some of the high points of this study within the proper context as we kind of do a flyover. Secondly, what I want to do is talk about the death of James. In fact, I'm going to be able to do something today that expositors in the book of James and through it have not been able to talk about until just a few years ago.
We'll get there eventually. Now there's a phrase that appears 15 times in the letter, about 15 times, and it sets our study today as a guideline in this flyover. It's a term of affection and connection. It's the term or word brethren. Now you've read it with me several times as we've studied this letter. This is a word that speaks of his devotion and love for the assembly.
Depending on the context, Adelphoy can be inclusive, and the contexts have allowed that in this letter. So that you could actually translate this for all of the believers in the assembly translated into our modern vocabulary, you could easily render it brothers and sisters. In fact, James will often use the possessive pronoun, my brothers and sisters. Even when James gets onto them and onto us, and he has, hasn't he? We need to understand, though, that he's coming to this discussion as a member of the family, and that really changes everything and gives us a context of his heart, and I want to make sure we point that out.
That's one of the reasons he can shoot so straight. This is family talk. See, James, he's talking to us like family. He has come out on the front porch. In fact, he's walked across our front lawn into our living room and he said, okay, now gather around.
And there have been times when he slapped his knee in frustration and pounded the arm of his chair in righteous indignation, and sometimes he's pointed his finger in our face. I want you to understand, and I think I may not have presented it very clearly as we've gone through this, that it's not so much him saying, let me tell you a thing or two. It's more like, listen, you got to get this right. We've got to live out our faith. Everybody in the family, we're all in this together. We need to grow up, brothers and sisters.
This is the way we've got to live. And what I've done is I've gone back this week and I've just reviewed the 15 times or so that this word brethren appears, and I've summarized them into several different subjects or categories. We don't have time to review all of them at length, but I'll at least give you the categories and make a few comments. We'll take a closer look at some of them to make sure we got the point.
Number one is this. James delivers family talk about trials. You remember as he opened his letter, in fact, he might turn to chapter one again. Once he gets past the fact that he introduces himself as simply the slave of God and Jesus Christ, and I love that description. He's satisfied with that. He says, consider it all joy, my brethren. There it is.
My brothers and sisters. When you encounter various trials, he cuts right to the chase and he tells us the truth about trouble. Trouble in that one freighted phrase, he informs us they're inevitable. You notice it doesn't read if when you encounter, but when. Not if, when. He also says in that phrase that they come in various sizes and shapes. The word various literally means multicolored. Listen, you don't deal with just one problem as a Christian.
You multitask problems as a Christian. They are inevitable. They're unlimited. He also says they're unexpected. The word for encounter has the idea of suddenness. Suddenly, you encounter it.
Added to that idea is the dramatic use of the word for trials, which transliterated gives us the word pirates. The pirates have suddenly showed up. They've swooped down on your vessel. And you were just sailing along.
And here they are, and you're unarmed, and you're unprepared, and you're unsuspecting. James says, consider it all joy that is counted a joyful thing to encounter the pirates of suffering. What does he mean? Well, he doesn't mean that trials are happy things. He doesn't mean to plaster on a cheesy smile and offer the pirates tea and cookies. That's not what he's saying. He's saying to face your tribulations with the perspective that God has allowed them to board your ship in order to shape up your character. So that it is of Christ's to become more like him. And so we talked about the fact that you don't get to pick which trials you deal with, do you? God does that for you.
They just arrive. You don't get to pick your crosses. You do get to choose your responses. That's family talk about trouble. Secondly, James delivers a little family talk about temptation. In verse 13 of chapter 1, James again writes with the realism of the Christian experience, which we have come to appreciate. Again, it isn't if you experience temptation, but when.
And James pulls the mask off it, and he takes you from the beginning of it to the end of it, and he says, here's what it's like. Here's the downward spiral. Temptation comes. It's a worm on a hook. Nothing sinful about temptation, just resist it.
Don't bite. You begin to lust after it. You begin to desire it. You begin to want it, and that leads it births sin.
And sin's legacy is destruction. And James is writing to the brothers and sisters. So he's saying, effectively, when you get out of bed in the morning, you will face temptation. It will come to you in the form of a test of integrity or honesty or purity or courage or faith or whatever. James effectively warns his brothers and sisters with the truth that temptation will never ever leave you alone.
He wants us to be ready. Then James gives us a family talk about truth in verse 19. Responding to truth, James writes, we should be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, and this is often misinterpreted.
The context is our response to the truth of Scripture, which James will then describe. We should be quick to hear it. We should be slow to talk back to it. We should be slow to become angry with it.
It's just a mirror, and it reflects who we really are. So get over it, submit to it, confess in light of it, respond to it, and live it. James then delivers some family talk about favoritism in chapter 2. Notice verse 1. My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism that is partiality or prejudice.
And he spends quite a bit of time talking about what we whittle down to one little sentence, don't be a snob. Social cliques, favoritism, classism, racism, has absolutely nothing to do with genuine Christianity. There's no such thing in the church as who's in and who's out.
It's not how brothers and sisters are supposed to act. In fact, look at verse 5. Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith? In other words, didn't God choose those that society looks down on?
Don't bring that from the world in here. The church is to be the place where a new culture is created, where the cultural norms out there are toppled in here by the grace of the gospel. See, the truth is, if you know the gospel, then you recognize the truth that we're all just a bunch of nobodies. We've been saved by somebody, and it's our greatest desire to see that he is exalted by everybody.
Every brother and sister has a seat at the table. Then there's family talk on faith. You remember in chapter 2, about verse 14, James shocks us by telling us that demons have faith? James will delineate in that paragraph the differences between dead faith, demonic faith, and dynamic faith. Dead faith is words without works.
I signed a card, I prayed a prayer, but I have nothing to do with Christ. That's dead faith. Demonic faith is acknowledgement of truth without acceptance of truth. I can check all the theological boxes.
And yet he's really not mine. Then dynamic faith, which is belief plus behavior. See, James wants us to demonstrate that we're not just growing old in the faith, we're growing up in the faith. In 6th, James gives us quite a family talk on our tongue. Didn't he?
I don't want to even review that part. But you just know that he talked about speech an awful lot, didn't he? In fact, that's the one subject he talked the most about. He begins at verse 1 of chapter 3, and it actually shows up periodically all the way through chapter 5 and verse 12, where he challenges us to make our yes mean yes and our no mean no. In other words, walk your talk.
Live out what comes out of your lips. 7th, he encouraged his brothers and sisters as he gave a family talk on patience in chapter 5. You remember he took us to the farm in about verse 7. Therefore be patient, brothers and sisters. He showed us the patience of a believer by showing us the perseverance of a farmer who does everything he can do and then trusts God to do what only God can do. Patience then is not apathy. Patience isn't somebody saying, well, I'm just praying and I'm going to let God do everything. Patience is actually doing everything you possibly can. Patience is persevering action. And patience, according to his illustration, requires repetition, remember?
No farmer ever planted one crop and said, that takes care of me for life. No, you do the right things. Again and again, you fertilize your spiritual walk with prayer. You pull the weeds of sin. You plant in your heart the seeds of God's truth. You share and live your gospel faith. You serve the body. And then you resist the temptation to say, okay, Lord, I did that.
I'm good. No, the Lord will say, do it again. That's the development of biblical patience. Lastly, James gives us a family talk on the pursuit of prodigals in verse 19 of chapter 5, the last time brethren appears, my brothers and sisters. He delivers the hard-hitting truth of turning a sinner from his ways, delivering the truth of sin and repentance in love to the wayward, reminding them of the danger of their error that James says could lead to an early death, or at least a death-like existence. Not the loss of salvation, but the loss of a full reward that John the Apostle elaborates on in his letters. So you warn them, and when they repent, you forgive them. And with that, almost as quickly as James started without any introduction, without any conclusion, he finishes.
And that's the end of the letter. Every once in a while, the archaeologist's spade will unearth something particularly meaningful to biblical text or character. One of the most remarkable discoveries in modern history, discovered in our lifetime, still basically obscured by a culture that doesn't want to take note of the implications, was discovered just a few years ago. It was the discovery of an ossuary. The word ossuary simply means, in easier terms, a bone box. Once a deceased Jewish person's body had returned to dust, after really about a year or no more than two, the family would take the skeleton, polish the bones, and place them in their ossuary. In fact, had our Lord not risen from the dead, after a year or so, he would have been taken off that ledge where they placed him in that cave, and they would have cleaned his bones and put him in an ossuary.
Regardless of Israel's attempt to sell the story that the disciples had stolen the body, the body was never found and neither were his bones. And there was and is no ossuary of Jesus Christ. Now what's even more interesting about the discovery of ossuaries, including the one you see here on the screen that was brought into the public eye in the year 2002, is the fact that archaeologists and historians have revealed to us that the use of an ossuary only lasted for a few years. The practice only lasted for about 90 years. It began about 25 years before the birth of Christ, and it ended abruptly at the destruction of the temple in AD 70.
So this was kind of a passing fad. And by the way, hundreds of ossuaries have been discovered and identified as they have been unearthed. But then this one particular ossuary was discovered having been relatively ignored. In fact, it spent centuries in a cave and then still ignored by antiquities dealers until 2002 when a private dealer showed it to a guy named Andre Lemaire, who was a leading paleographer from the University of Paris. And he immediately noted the inscription on the ossuary. It was marked unusually with several names, which was out of the ordinary. He immediately sensed the potential genuineness of the inscription. And he personally studied hundreds of ossuaries. This inscription in Aramaic was so faint that it would take a binocular microscope and then later a scanning electron microscope to confirm the genuineness of this stunning engraving brought to light just a few years ago.
On the side of this ossuary were carved these words translated to mean or to say, James, the son of Joseph, the brother of Jesus. Isn't that great? I mean, I waited a year before I could tell you that.
I wanted to get here a lot quicker, but I wouldn't let me. And by the way, this discovery sparked a firestorm, you can only imagine. If this is genuine, the world will have historical evidence outside of Scripture of James, the son of Joseph, and the brother, by the way, not cousin, but the brother of Jesus, the adopted brother, half-brother, of course. We know from Scripture that Jesus would have been legally adopted by Joseph, bringing him into the line legally of his forefather, David, giving him the right to the throne, which he'll one day sit upon, making James and Jude and a couple other brothers and at least two sisters his siblings. And what's even more stunning is that no ossuary, no ossuary from the first century discovered included the name of anyone other than the deceased and sometimes the name of the father, except this one, James, the son of Joseph, and oh, by the way, the brother of Jesus.
Oh, that is just so fantastic. Now, I'm fairly convinced that James would not have wanted it to say that. I think he was satisfied to be known in the way he opened his letter, James, a slave of God and of Jesus Christ. That was enough for him, but not for the family, evidently, and probably not for the assembly as they sat around and figured out, okay, now what do we want to put on it? What do we want to carve into it before they place his bones in the box?
He wasn't just any James. They wanted to identify him. You see, this discovery creates then an explosion, and if you think that, you'd be correct. It immediately launched what scholars call the forgery trial of the century.
They know what's implied. So the Israeli Antiquities Authority denied immediately its validity and went on record as claiming it to be a forgery and that the name of Jesus must have been added later, centuries later, so that the church could be given what they called something, quote, too perfect, end quote. The government began legal proceedings against the owner of the ossuary, poor guy for letting it out in the open.
The trial would last three years. It would involve more than 75 scholars and witnesses, generate over 9,000 pages of documentation, and at the end of legal proceedings, after more than three years in court, the Israeli judge, and you can imagine the pressure, the Israeli judge ordered the case dismissed, lest there be, quote, further embarrassment to Israeli authorities because it was so obvious in its authenticity. One newspaper carrying the story reported that the government's case finally collapsed when the government's star witness, the former chairman of Tel Aviv University's Institute of Archaeology, finally admitted upon cross-examination in court that the name Jesus had been carved at the same time as the names Joseph and James. And they date the ossuary to AD 63, which is really interesting as well, because Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, said that James was killed in AD 62. After lying in state for at least a year, they polished his bones and put them in a box. And then they sat around and said, now what shall we put on it?
What shall we carve into it? And they did what is now for us the only historical engraved object with the name Jesus, tying it to James and Joseph, the only one, the only one. It was confirmed as authentic.
In fact, in the last few years, the ossuary has been displayed in different museums. And it brings a couple of thoughts to my mind. Number one, the testimony of James to the world did not end with the ending of his letter. Even his bone box testifies to his Lord. Archaeological evidence doesn't create faith.
It encourages ours. Jesus Christ has chosen to carve his name into your heart and into your transformed life. But every so often, I just love it, every so often, God allows something to surface, some writing from some ancient historian, some scroll bound in a clay pot, some shepherd boy throws a stone in a cave above the Dead Sea and they find the Dead Sea scroll. And just a few years ago, the ossuary of James, the son of Joseph, the brother of Jesus.
Let me make one more point. The testimony of God's servants ultimately influenced far more than the testimony of the world's elite. I found it interesting they did discover another ossuary of significance. This is the bone box, the ossuary of none other than Caiaphas. Caiaphas, if you remember your gospel accounts, was the high priest that condemned Christ.
It was in the courtyard of this man's private home where Peter denied the Lord. It was Caiaphas who, when the church was created upon Pentecost, called Peter and James and John and the others and said, You men be quiet! Don't speak of Jesus again! By the way, the son-in-law of Caiaphas, a man by the name of Anninus, who became high priest after Caiaphas.
Basically, Caiaphas and his family owned it. But Anninus took advantage of a political vacancy when the governor of Palestine died and the other one had not yet arrived. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, informs us that during that political interview, Anninus moved quickly, brought James to trial to recant his belief in his half-brother being the Messiah.
James refused. He was found guilty of blasphemy and stoned to death. Before anyone was barely aware of what was going on, James was dead. The Jewish population was so incensed by his actions that King Agrippa removed Anninus from his role as high priest and, for the most part, the reign of Caiaphas and his family was over.
And all that was left was an ornate box. But think of it. James is influencing millions of people to this day through his life and letter and legacy and the name and family of Caiaphas and Anninus, if it were not for Scripture, would have long been forgotten. Listen, your influence, brothers and sisters, your influence in this life is not finished when you die and it is not determined by how long the funeral procession is when you do. Your legacy is not the expense of a funeral, whether it's mahogany or pine.
In ways we have no idea, and James would have never ever dreamed this one. But it is the quiet influence of a slave of Jesus Christ, a praying mother, a faithful father, a diligent Sunday school teacher, a children's worker, a deacon, a volunteer, a secretary. It's the legacy of an honest mechanic.
Do you know any of those? I do. One goes to this assembly. The legacy of honesty impacts me. It's a caring doctor who prays with his patients. It's a diligent student on the campus that lives a pure life who leaves a legacy for the glory of Christ. And so we say farewell to James, whose testimony is still not silent. It isn't yet finished, and neither is yours or mine as we grow up and live out our faith as brothers and sisters in Christ. With that, we bring this series from the book of James to a close.
This series is called Endurance, and today's message is called Family Talk. Stephen's written a book that explores all of James. It's a practical and pastoral look at what James wanted the church to know and understand.
Stephen's book is deeply discounted today. You'll find information on our website, so visit wisdomonline.org forward slash James. Once again, that's wisdomonline.org forward slash James. It's a great resource for personal or group study. Join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-21 00:14:45 / 2023-11-21 00:24:27 / 10