Intro To The Epistle Of James
SERIES: HOW FAITH WORKS – THE EPISTLE OF JAMES
Beginning Wednesday, March 3, Rubel Shelly launches a three-month online study called How Faith Works. The class will be an exegetical study of the Epistle of James.
James highlights the two central themes of Christian faith: holiness and compassion, love for God and love for neighbor. Each class session provides a 30-35 minute video presentation and a short set of questions for reflection and deeper study.
LESSON 1 OF 12: INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE OF JAMES
Text for This Study: James 1:1
1. Spend a few minutes getting acquainted with the James who wrote this epistle by reading the following New Testament texts that refer to him: John 7:3-5; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Acts 15:13ff; 21:18; Galatians 2:9.
2. Rubel called James 2:14-26 the “beating heart” of the Epistle of James. Can you explain why? Do you see how the title for this series (How Faith Works) comes from these verses?
3. Why did Martin Luther take such a negative view of the Epistle of James? Comment on this quote from a Lutheran scholar that was mentioned in the video: “Times have changed. For Luther, it was essential to challenge a religion of works with the voice of the gospel. But now grace is cheap and we need to hear James’ call to be doers of the word.”
4. How does James identify himself in the opening of this letter? Why is this significant?
5. Everyone who studies this letter closely notices its similarity to the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 6:25-33 in view of Question #2 above. Why is this theme so central to the Christian faith? How can discipleship be emphasized appropriately without lapsing into some form of religious legalism?
This video quotes Dallas Willard on the nature of Christian discipleship. Here is another statement from him: “The greatest issue facing the world today is whether those who are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples.” What do you understand Dr. Willard to mean by that statement? Do you agree? Explain your answer.