James:  A Manual for Maturity

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James and Wisdom Literature. Wisdom Literature in Israel

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James: A Manual for Maturity

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1. James: A Manual for Maturity Presented by Reed Lessing, S.T.M., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Exegetical Theology Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO [email protected]

2. James and Wisdom Literature Wisdom Literature in Israel – Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes These texts assume the Pentateuchal themes of Exodus and Levitical Worship This literature asks the question of 2 Peter 3:11, “How shall we then live?”

3. James and Proverbs James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:26 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” James 3:1-12 ON THE TONGUE … James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

4. James and Ecclesiastes James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

5. James and Job James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 5:11 “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

6. The New Testament and Wisdom The most helpful NT passage that informs wisdom exegesis is 1 Cor 1:18–25. Paul writes to a congregation that was enamored of pagan Greek philosophical wisdom. From a Christian perspective, such philosophers are morons. It is the foolishness of Christ crucified that is God’s wisdom—the wisdom that alone has the power to save. Here we encounter incarnational theology: Christ does not just impart wisdom; he is wisdom. In him is embodied the fullness of divine knowledge. To know him is to know the Father. Only those in Christ perceive the true meaning of life; the divine order of the world; the folly of worldly living; and the ultimate, eternal benefit of being truly wise.

7. Lutherans and Wisdom Historically, Lutheran exegetes have excelled at the interpretation of the more overtly doctrinal biblical books, particularly the Pauline epistles. Lutherans have been criticized as neglecting sanctification because of their preoccupation with justification. The reformed tradition has given greater attention to the wisdom literature because of its concern with behavior, though in reformed commentaries there often is an excessive emphasis on obedience to the Law and man’s decision-making and will, and a relative neglect of the Gospel.

8. Lutherans and Wisdom Yet a Lutheran who rightly understands Christ as wisdom incarnate is perfectly positioned to understand wisdom literature. The third use of the Law—as a rule and instructive guide for the Christian life—is prominent in the wisdom literature. But the heart of biblical wisdom is not Law, but a balance of Law and Gospel, centering in Jesus Christ—the living and active Word made flesh, the Word who still today speaks to and is reflected in the lives of his saints. The pattern of conduct described, mandated, modeled, and indeed bestowed through the wisdom books is none other than Christ’s own life, imparted to those baptized in his name.

9. The First Part in the Series “James: A Manual for Maturity” Profiting From Your Problems (James 1:1-12)

10. Profiting From Your Problems THE STAGES OF CHRISTIAN GROWTH Stages Statements Focus Birth and Infancy “Help me!” Survival Childhood and Discovery “Tell me!” Learning Adolescence and Irresponsibility “Show me!” Challenging Adulthood and Maturity “Follow me!” Serving

11. Profiting From Your Problems What maturity is not – Age Appearance Achievements Academics

12. Profiting From Your Problems My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy. James 1:2 PROBLEMS ARE INEVITABLE PROBLEMS ARE UNPREDICTABLE PROBLEMS ARE VARIABLE PROBLEMS ARE PURPOSEFUL

13. Profiting From Your Problems Because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:3-4 Problems fortify my faith Problems purify my patience Problems maximize my maturity

14. Profiting From Your Problems TRUTH OF THE DAY – I CAN BE BITTER OR BETTER If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. James 1:5 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

15. The Second Part in the Series “James: A Manual for Maturity” Feeding Your Faith (James 1:19-25)

16. Feeding Your Faith But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4 Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart. Jeremiah 15:16a How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

17. Feeding Your Faith EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT – I WILL RECEIVE GOD’S WORD And welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. James 1:21b

18. Feeding Your Faith James teaches us to be – CAREFUL You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19 CALM For your anger does not produce God's righteousness. James 1:20

19. Feeding Your Faith CLEAN Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness. James 1:21a COMPLIANT And welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. James 1:21b

20. Feeding Your Faith I WILL REFLECT ON GOD’S WORD For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror. James 1:23

21. Feeding Your Faith James teaches us to – RESEARCH IT But those who look into the perfect law … James 1:25a REVIEW IT … and continues to do this … James 1:25b REMEMBER IT … not forgetting what he has heard. James 1:25c

22. Feeding Your Faith I WILL RESPOND TO GOD’S WORD But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. James 1:22

23. The Third Part in the Series “James: A Manual for Maturity” Liberty and Justice for All (James 2:1-13)

24. Liberty and Justice for All My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? James 2:1 WE SHOW FAVORITISM BECAUSE OF PEOPLE’S APPEARANCE ANCESTORY AGE ACHIEVEMENT AFFLUENCE

25. Liberty and Justice for All For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:2-4

26. Liberty and Justice for All FAVORITISM IS UNCHRISTIAN For God shows no partiality. Romans 2:11 UNREASONABLE Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? James 2:5-7

27. Liberty and Justice for All UNLOVING You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, "You shall not commit adultery," also said, "You shall not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. James 2:8-11 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13

28. The Fourth Part in the Series “James: A Manual for Maturity” Believing Better (James 2:14-26)

29. Believing Better FOR PAUL FOR JAMES THE PROBLEM Legalism Laxity THE FOCUS Root of Salvation Fruit of Salvation THE ISSUE How to know you How to show you are a Christian are a Christian THE CENTER How to become How to behave like a believer a believer

30. Believing Better For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:8-10

31. Believing Better REAL FAITH – IS NOT SOMETHING YOU SAY What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? James 2:14 IS NOT SOMETHING YOU FEEL If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? James 2:15-16

32. Believing Better IS NOT SOMETHING YOU THINK But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-- and shudder. James 2:18-19

33. Believing Better IS SOMETHING YOU DO Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. James 2:20-26

34. The Fifth Part in the Series “James: A Manual for Maturity” Taming the Tongue (James 3:1-12)

35. Taming the Tongue For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. James 3:2 MY TONGUE DIRECTS WHERE I GO If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. James 3:3-4

36. Taming the Tongue MY TONGUE CAN DESTROY WHAT I HAVE So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6

37. Taming the Tongue MY TONGUE DISPLAYS WHO I AM With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. James 3:9-12

38. Taming the Tongue I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26b

39. The Sixth Part in the Series “James: A Manual for Maturity” Addressing Anger (James 4:12)

40. Addressing Anger Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? James 4:1a THE CAUSE OF ANGER Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? James 4:1b MY DESIRE TO HAVE You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. James 4:2

41. Addressing Anger MY DESIRE TO FEEL You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3 MY DESIRE TO BE Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, "God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:4-6

42. Addressing Anger THE CURE TO ANGER Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor? \ James 4:7-12 GIVE IN TO JESUS – GET WISE TO SATAN

43. The Seventh Part in the Series “James: A Manual for Maturity” Facing Your Future (James 4:13-17)

44. Ways to Face Our Future 1) PLAN WITHOUT GOD Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.“ James 4:13 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that." James 4:15

45. Ways to Face Our Future PRESUME ABOUT THE FUTURE Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. James 4:14, 16 "Come," they say, "let us get wine; let us fill ourselves with strong drink. And tomorrow will be like today, great beyond measure." Isaiah 56:12 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverbs 27:1

46. Ways to Face Our Future 3) PUT OFF DOING GOOD Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin. James 4:17 Pro = Forward Cras = Tomorrow Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it"-- when you have it with you. Proverbs 3:27-28

47. Ways to Face Our Future PLACE IT ALL IN HIS HANDS My times are in your hands. Psalm 31:15a “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”

48. The Eighth Part in the Series “James: A Manual for Maturity” Practicing Patience (James 5:7-11)

49. Practicing Patience I want it now! I said, “Do it now!” Not next week, not next month, but now! This is the now generation!

50. Practicing Patience The definition of patience – MACRO = LONG THUMOS = HEAT

51. Practicing Patience WHEN TO BE PATIENT WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES ARE UNCONTROLABLE The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. James 5:7

52. Practicing Patience WHEN PEOPLE ARE UNCHANGABLE As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. James 5:10 WHEN PROBLEMS ARE UNEXPLAINABLE You have heard of the endurance of Job ... James 5:11

53. Practicing Patience 2) TO PRACTICE PATIENCE I NEED TO REALIZE THAT … GOD IS IN CONTROL Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. James 5:7a You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. James 5:8 See, the Judge is standing at the doors! James 5:9b

54. Practicing Patience GOD BLESSES PATIENCE Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. James 5:11a The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. Job 42:12a GOD IS WORKING EVERYTHING OUT You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11b We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28


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