Introduction to James
Get to know each other in class / prayer requests / announcements
Outline upcoming schedule for Sunday school!
12 weeks between now and the end of January to go through this book
Class structure will vary each week but we’ll read the text each week and spend some time looking at the discussion questions provided in our book but the majority of our time will be spent looking at what the Bible says and why it is there in the first place.
James is a very hands on book and it stresses the importance of not only believing the right things about God and the Bible but living those things out on a consistent basis. You could say that James spends more time than any other New Testament book on the importance of Orthodoxy (right belief) leading to Orthopraxy (right living).
Which one of those do you think many Christians put more emphasis on today?
There is a temptation to both extremes, isn’t there? On the one side you have people who know so much about the Bible but maybe they struggle to live it out - this is what happened to the Pharisees as they were experts at memorizing the Old Testament law but they failed to actually practice what it said according to Jesus.
There’s also a temptation for us to try to “Preach the Gospel without using words” by living a nice, Christian life but we can equally fail to do both of these things because we don’t place enough importance on right doctrine or belief about God and the Bible. We can’t preach the Gospel through actions, the Gospel is a message that must be shared out loud.
Many Christians land in one camp over another but James shares with us that we need to have both and only whenever we believe rightly about God can we live rightly for Him. Orthodoxy must lead to Orthopraxy. We can’t just a hearer of the Word - James calls us to be a doer of the Word
If you have ever read through this book, what are some themes that stick out to you from James?
James is written to Christians who are spread out - it’s a general letter to Jewish Christians - and desire to be faithful disciples of Christ
Living out the Word of God
God’s love for the hurting
Need for repentance
Why is James so important for us today?
All of Scripture is God-breathed and important, but why is this book in particular one that people talk about as their favorite in all of Scripture? What within this book has helped you before?
God is sovereign over our trials
So many in our world believe the lie that sickness and poverty are from the devil and not from God. If you name it and you claim it, you can avoid difficult parts of life… the book of James shares with us a different, Biblical story that we can rejoice whenever we go through trials because God has a reason for giving them to us! This might not make them any easier, but we can at least rest in understanding that they aren’t purposeless. This is so important to remember whenever we go through hard times today
God wants us to act on His Word
There’s a temptation to compartmentalize our lives and only do "God-stuff” at church - how does James caution against that?
We’re called to be doers of the Word and this book shares that a genuine Christian will live a life of faith by the way they act
James kills our pride
We live in a very individualistic society that prides itself on what we have done and who we are. James shares that we must submit ourselves to God and resist the urge to be prideful. We can’t save ourselves, only Jesus can, and our actions must align with what He wants us to do and be
In what ways does living for Jesus put us at odds with our secular society?
It isn’t easy to live this type of life - but Jesus promised us that it wouldn’t be!
James is one of, if not the, oldest books in the New Testament. Written about 10 years after Jesus’ death. Do you think there’s anything significant about this book being the first one written to Christians in a post-resurrection world?
James tells people how to live out the Christian life and how to depend on the Holy Spirit. This is so crucial in our lives!
James was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ. Do you think it was easy growing up as the half-brother to the Son of God? Let’s look to God’s Word to see how this worked out
20 Jesus entered a house, and the crowd gathered again so that they were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard this, they set out to restrain him, because they said, “He’s out of his mind.”
James always keeps an eye focused on the end goal - there are lots of individual topics and themes in this book but the unifying theme is that of growing to be more like Christ in Word and in deed. The only way to succeed in this is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Let’s think through this backward
What is the eternal hope that every Christian has?
Spending eternity with God and worshipping Him
If you’re in Christ, can anything change your eternal destination?
Romans 8:38-39 says that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus and Romans 8:1 says there’s no condemnation for those in Christ
Does God promise to work all things for your good as a Christian?
Yes! See Romans 8:28 as Paul says “All Things!”
So, how can knowing these truths help us in the midst of the trials we face in this life? James is all about living out our faith - how can we live out saving faith in Christ during difficult times in our life?
How does the way a Christian gets through difficult times look different from a non-Christian?
Christians can rejoice in difficult times because circumstances don’t change God’s character or goodness. God is still good and faithful. Christians can hold onto that goodness and still have joy because Christian joy is not based on favorable circumstances but on God’s unending faithfulness and presence in our lives.
Non-Christians might try to fake it till they make it - but you can only fake it so long
Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith - fantastic movie with some great life principles regarding hard work and persistence.
This is the idea our world has. If you are in a difficult situation, the best you can do is work harder and pursue your happiness and comfort. The Bible isn’t against hard work, but there’s a better option: Trust God and work hard to fulfill His purpose for your life which is to bring Him glory.
James has been called the New Testament version of Proverbs - it might be small but it packs a punch with Godly wisdom and encouragement as James instructs his listeners to obey God’s Word and instruction. This isn’t always easy but it’s always worth it as we follow God’s will and plan for our lives.