Summary of James 5:
James addresses the rich saying their misery is coming in the form or rotted wealth and clothes and corroded silver and gold because they have cheated workmen out of wages, lived in luxury and self-indulgence, fattened themselves while others starved, and condemned and murdered innocent men.
Be patient like the farmer is for his crops for the Lord’s coming and stand firm. Don’t grumble against each other or you will be judged. Have patience when suffering like the prophets did and persevere. Wait for what the Lord will bring about. Do not swear oaths. Your word is enough.
Pray when in trouble or happy. Have others pray for you when you are sick. A prayer offered in faith will make you well and you will be forgiven. Confess your sins and pray for each other. Prayer is powerful and effective like Elijah’s prayer. Those who turn sinners who have wandered from the truth back will be blessed.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 5: James 5
12) People cheat others who work for them and pay them sub-par wages for the work they do. People live in luxury and self-indulgence and extravagance. We over-indulge (look at the obesity rates in this country). Christians condemn and murder innocent men (or in some form such as slander that we talked about yesterday–severely hobbling people to the point they cannot support themselves, etc).
13) Be patient like the farmer is for his crops for the Lord’s coming and stand firm. Don’t grumble against each other or you will be judged. Do not swear oaths.
14) Personal question. My answer: You should pray in all circumstances: when you’re in trouble, happy, sick, and for each other. Pray continually.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 5: James 5
Again, the power of prayer should not be underestimated. Ever.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 5: James 5
Often those who are poor and without power in this world have little satisfaction from justice. Yet God hears their cries, and He is the one who guarantees to ultimately right every wrong and answer every injustice.
Christians (especially those enduring hardship) are called to patiently endure until the coming of the Lord.
we are to wait upon God and not lose heart.
The return of Jesus requires that we have established hearts, hearts that are rooted in Jesus and His eternal resolution of all things.
Times of hardship can cause us to be less than loving with our Christian brothers and sisters. James reminds us that we cannot become grumblers and complainers in our hardship – lest we be condemned even in our hardship.
Jesus comes as a Judge, not only to judge the world, but also to assess the faithfulness of Christians (2 Corinthians 5:10). In light of this, we cannot allow hardship to make us unloving towards each other.
The prophets of the Old Testament endured hardship, yet practiced patient endurance. We can take them as examples.
Job shows perseverance, reason for suffering, and we see God’s compassion.
When we understand that God has a good purpose, even painful things are put into different perspective.
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
- A very good reason
- God restricts suffering
- God sustains through suffering
- God uses suffering to make us better people
Many Jewish people in the time James wrote made distinctions between “binding oaths” and “non-binding oaths.” Oaths that did not include the name of God were considered non-binding, and to use such oaths was a way of “crossing your fingers behind your back” when telling a lie. It is these kinds of oaths that James condemned.
The Bible does not forbid the swearing of all oaths, only against the swearing of deceptive, unwise, or flippant oaths. On occasion God Himself swears oaths (such as in Luke 1:73, Hebrews 3:11, and Hebrews 6:13).
All swearing is not forbidden, any more than Matthew 5:34; (for oaths are made use of by holy men in both the Old and New Testament, Genesis 21:23, 24; 24:3; 26:28; 1 Kings 17:1-2; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 1:20; and the use of an oath is permitted and approved of by God himself, Psalm 15:4; Hebrews 6:16)
James again echoed the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:34-37). The need to swear or make oaths, beyond a simple and clear yes or no betrays the weakness of one’s word. It demonstrates that there is not enough weight in one’s own character to confirm their words.
“Oil was and is frequently used in the east as a means of cure in very dangerous diseases; and in Egypt it is often used in the cure of the plague. Even in Europe it has been tried with great success in the cure of dropsy. And pure olive oil is excellent for recent wounds and bruises; and I have seen it tried in this way with the best effects… St. James desires them to use natural means while looking to God for an especial blessing. And no wise man would direct otherwise.” (Clarke)
We should pray for others in faith, expecting that God will heal them, then leave the matter in God’s hands.
Clearly, God does not grant immediate healing for every prayer of faith, and the reasons are hidden in the heart and mind of God. Still, many are not healed simply because there is no prayer of faith offered. The best approach in praying for the sick is to pray with humble confidence that they will be healed, unless God clearly and powerfully makes it clear that this is not His will. Having prayed, we simply leave the matter to God.
James reminds us that mutual confession and prayer brings healing, both physically and spiritually. Confession can free us from the heavy burdens (physically and spiritually) of unresolved sin, and removes hindrances to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Confession is good, but must be made with discretion. An unwise confession of sin can be the cause of more sin. Confession should be discrete, made to the one sinned against, should be public, thorough, made before God, and be honest.
Effective prayer is offered by a righteous man. This is someone who recognizes the grounds of his righteousness reside in Jesus, and whose personal walk is generally consistent with the righteousness that he has in Jesus.
God uses human instruments in turning sinners back from the errors of their ways. One reason God uses human instruments is because it brings Him more glory than if He were to do His work by Himself.
James’ conclusion — he confronts those who have wandered from a living faith, endeavoring to save their souls from death, by demanding that they not only hear the word, but do it, because a living faith will have its proof.
Summary of James 4:11-17:
James says not to slander one another for this is in essence slandering the law and judging it. There is only one Lawgiver (God) and Judge (God and Christ). Who are we to judge?
James blasts those who make plans without God. For our life is a mist that vanishes after a while and we do not know what tomorrow will bring. We must ask first if it is the Lord’s will, then we will do this or that. Otherwise, you are boasting, which is evil. Anyone who knows the good and doesn’t do it sins.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 4: James 4:11-17
9) Part Personal Question. My answer: Boasting, judging others. I struggle with all sin. It truly doesn’t matter which one it is.
10) Part personal question. My answer: God. Pray, and do your best to follow God’s will for your life and for your planning process, but know that He can change plans anytime He wants.
11) Personal Question. My answer: Don’t take anything for granted. Do the good God has placed in your heart to do. Life as He wants me to live.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 4: James 4:11-17
Extremely powerful words in light of the coronavirus: “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
If you don’t do good when you know you should, you sin.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 4: James 4:11-17
Humbling ourselves and getting right with God must result in our getting right with other people. When we are right with other people, it will show in the way we talk about them. So we must not speak evil of one another and not judge our brother.
- Love one another
- Not judge
When we judge our brother, we put ourselves in the same place as the law, in effect judging the law. This is something that we have no authority to do, because there is one Lawgiver.
James rebuked the kind of heart that lives and makes its plans apart from a constant awareness of the hand of God, and with an underestimation of our own limitations
“In ancient times, people traded from city to city, carrying their goods on the backs of camels. The Jews traded thus to Tyre, Sidon, Caesarea, Crete, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Rome, etc. And it is to this kind of itinerant mercantile life that St. James alludes.” (Clarke)
“There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass – one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know.” (Spurgeon)
We Live By God’s Grace Alone
James asked us to consider the fragility of human life, and the fact that we live and move only at the permission of God. James does not discourage us from planning and doing, only from planning and doing apart from reliance on God.
Jesus told a story about the rich man who made his great plans for the future, and foolishly lost it all when his soul was required of him (Luke 12:16-21).
James knows that it is far easier to think about and talk about humility and dependence on God than it is to live it.
The uncertainty of life should make us ready to recognize what is good and then do it.
Jesus told a story with much the same point in Luke 12:41-48. The story was about servants and how they obeyed the master in the master’s absence. Jesus concluded the story with this application: For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more (Luke 12:48). Greater light gives greater responsibility.
Summary of James 4:1-10:
James says fights and quarrels are caused by our desires. You want something but don’t get it. And you do not ask God for it. If you ask with wrong motives, you will not receive.
If you are a friend of the world, then you are an enemy of God. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves to God and resist the devil. Come near to God and purify your hearts. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 3: James 4:1-10
6) Our desires. Asking God with the right heart.
7) Personal Question. My answer: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves to God and resist the devil. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
8 ) Personal Question. My answer: He always manages to knock me down when I get full of myself and show me the right way.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 3: James 4:1-10
Pray to align your will with God’s, especially as we battle the coronavirus. God has got this. Trust Him that He knows what He is doing.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 3: James 4:1-10
Covetousness leads to conflict (you lust and do not have). Anger and animosity lead to hatred and conflict (murder).
James looked back to the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus also used murder to express more than actual killing, but also as an inward condition of heart, shown outwardly by anger (Matthew 5:21-22).
“The word kill [murder] is startling and meant to startle; James sought to force his readers to realize the depth of the evil in their bitter hatred toward others.” (Hiebert)
This points to the futility of this life lived for the desires for pleasure. Not only is it a life of conflict, but it is also a fundamentally unsatisfied life.
Power of Prayer
The reason these destructive desires exist among Christians is because they do not seek God for their needs (you do not ask). James reminds us here of the great power of prayer, and why one may live unnecessarily as a spiritual pauper, simply because they do not pray, or do not ask when they pray.
God does not give unless we ask. If we possess little of God and His Kingdom, almost certainly we have asked little.
The purpose of prayer is not to persuade a reluctant God to do our bidding. The purpose of prayer is to align our will with His, and in partnership with Him, to ask Him to accomplish His will on this earth (Matthew 6:10).
Spend is the same verb used to describe the wasteful spending of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:14. Destructive desires persist, even if we pray, because our prayers may be self-centered and self-indulgent.
This is a rebuke presented in Old Testament vocabulary. God spoke this way in the Old Testament when His people were attracted to some form of idolatry (Jeremiah 3:8-9, Ezekiel 6:9, Ezekiel 16:32, Ezekiel 23:37, and Hosea 3:1). As James saw it here, their covetousness was idolatry (Colossians 3:5) and friendship with the world.
Better ancient Greek manuscripts only say you adulteresses. “He uses the feminine form deliberately, for one turn of special contempt and scorn in the ancient world was to call a community or group by some feminine equivalent.” (Moffatt)
“The Jews, because of their covenant with God, are represented as being espoused to him; and hence, their idolatry, and their iniquity in general, are represented under the notion of adultery.” (Clarke)
James recognizes that we cannot both be friends of this world system in rebellion against God, and friends of God at the same time (Matthew 6:24).
The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit has a jealous yearning for our friendship with God. The Spirit will convict the Christian who lives in compromise.
Verse 5 is difficult to translate. Is it God jealously yearning for the devotion of our spirit which He put within us, or is it the Spirit within us jealously yearning for the full devotion of our heart? Either way, the sense is much the same.
James agrees with the many passages in the Old Testament that tell us God is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 32:16 and 32:21; Exodus 20:5 and 34:14; Zechariah 8:2). “The idea is that God loves men with such a passion that he cannot bear any other love within the hearts of men.” (Barclay)
One cannot find this exact quote (“The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”) in any specific Old Testament verse. James seemed to present an idea that is alluded to in several passages without quoting any specific passage.
The same Holy Spirit convicting us of our compromise will also grant us the grace to serve God as we should.
James reminds us that this grace only comes to the humble. Grace and pride are eternal enemies. Pride demands that God bless me in light of my merits, whether real or imagined. But grace will not deal with me on the basis of anything in me – good or bad – but only on the basis of who God is.
In light of the grace offered to the humble, there is only one thing to do: submit to God. This means to order yourself under God, to surrender to Him as a conquering King, and start receiving the benefits of His reign.
Spurgeon offers reasons why we should submit to God:
- Because God created us.
- Because God’s rule is good for us.
- Because resisting God is futile.
- Because submission to God is absolutely necessary to salvation.
- Because submitting to God is the only way to have peace with God.
We must stand against devil’s deceptions and his efforts to intimidate. As we resist the devil, we are promised that he will flee from you.
Resist comes from two Greek words: stand and against. James tells us to stand against the devil. Satan can be set running by the resistance of the lowliest believer who comes in the authority of what Jesus did on the cross.
A famous ancient Christian writer named Hermas wrote, “The devil can wrestle against the Christian, but he cannot pin him.” (Cited in Barclay)
“When a soul sets out to seek God, God sets out to meet that soul; so that while we are drawing near to him, he is drawing near to us.” (Clarke)
Spurgeon explains what it means to draw near to God:
- In worship, praise, and in prayer.
- By asking counsel of God.
- In enjoying communion with God.
- Throughout your life
Results of Drawing Near to God:
- Helps you resist the devil.
- Helps you to become pure.
- Helps you to be sorry for sin.
- Helps you speak well of other people.
- Helps you think of eternal things.
- Helps you to be convicted of our sin.
The unmerited favor of God always lifts us up.
In this passage James has powerfully described both the duty and the blessing of repentance.
Summary of James 3:
James begins by stating that teachers are judged more strictly. We all stumble in our walk with God. Small things can control big objects: a bit controls a horse, a rudder controls the ship. The tongue can as well. A tiny spark can burn and destroy the whole forest. So can the tongue: it can corrupt the whole person. No man can tame it (implying only God can). It is evil.
For out of the same mouth come praises to God and curses to men. This should not be.
The wise are shown by a good life and deeds done in humility. Earthly wisdom harbors bitter envy, selfish ambitions, boasting, denying the truth, disorder, and evil. Heavenly wisdom is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial, and sincere, leading to righteousness.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 2: James 3
3a) Our evil selves.
b) James says we cannot praise God one moment and then curse our brothers the next with the same tongue. Speech can corrupt the whole person and set the whole course of his life on fire.
4) Personal Question. My answer: To clean up my speech and to speak encouraging words.
5a) Personal Question. My answer: There are two kinds of wisdom: 1) heavenly wisdom that is shown in good deeds and humility is from God 2) earthly wisdom that harbors bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, which is from the devil.
b) Personal Question. My answer: I really don’t consider myself wise at all. There are many more much wiser than me. I can practice heavenly wisdom with everyone.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 2: James 3
I have no erudite words today. I’m honestly tired from the coronavirus stuff to think much.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 2: James 3
It is easy to take the position of teacher lightly in the church, without considering its cost in terms of accountability. Jesus warned to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much have been committed, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)
The words of Jesus and James remind us that being among the teachers in God’s church is more than a matter of having natural or even spiritual gifts; there is an additional dimension of appropriate character and right living.
Therefore, teachers were both tested more and would be judged more strictly.
The ancient Greek word translated stumble does not imply a fatal fall, but something that trips us up and hinders our spiritual progress. We all stumble; we should still press on.
This is another of the several statements in the Bible which tell us that all men sin (also including 1 Kings 8:46; Job 14:4; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20; and 1 John 1:8, 10).
The Power of Words
Jesus demonstrated in Matthew 12:34-37 that words are the revelation of the inner character.
Even so, if we have control over our tongue it is an indication that we have control over our self. Whoever can control the tongue can bridle the whole body (James 3:2).
What others say to us and what we say to others can last a long time, for good or for evil.
James isn’t telling us to never speak or to take a vow of silence;
James tells us that no man can tame the tongue. Nevertheless the tongue can be brought under the power and the control of the Holy Spirit.
The tongue can be used for the highest calling (to bless our God), and it can be used for the lowest evil (to curse men).
Our speech should be consistently glorifying to God.
Jesus taught in Matthew 12:34-37 that a man’s words are a reliable revelation of his inner character. What we say can indicate what we are.
Real wisdom and understanding will show in our lives, by our good conduct. It is full of love and a giving heart, consistent with the holiness of God.
Earthly wisdom is bitter and self-seeking, characteristic of the devil.
“There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass – one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know.” (Spurgeon)
“You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” James 4:14
“If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:15
We live by God’s grace alone.
The uncertainty in life should make you do good, not just speak good.