A Week With James at the BI

September 16, 2011

We took this picture this morning before the last session on James.

Word of Life Florida
Hudson, Florida

I’m writing this note hurriedly, with about 30 minutes left before it’s time to leave for the airport. In a few minutes Stu Page will pick me up and I’ll start my journey home.

Earlier today I gave my final two lectures on James to the 170 students at Word of Life Bible Institute, Florida campus. This was my first time to teach through James in a classroom setting and also my first time to be the first speaker of the school year. Those two factors made for a unique experience. 

Scattered on my desk are the five books on James I brought with me. As the week went along, I found myself relying on Faith that Works: Studies in the Epistle of James by Homer Kent.

The Bible Institute starts each year with James because it contains so much practical application. As the week went on, I was struck with the depth of this little book. James (most likely the half-brother of Jesus) doesn’t spend any time on what we might call speculative theory. His concerns are down-to-earth: how to respond to trials, the marks of true religion, taming the tongue that is set of fire by hell, and praying for the sick.

This morning as I taught through James 5, I commented that there are two passages in James that we rarely preach on:

James 2:1-13 The Problem of Partiality
James 5:1-6 The Judgment of the Rich

Both passages involve money and how we use it to help or hurt others. That may be why we don’t talk about those topics very often. But as I reminded the students, none of us are truly poor. By the standards of the rest of the world, we’re all rich. If you go to countries like Haiti or India, you can see what real poverty looks like.

The book ends with a call to reach out to straying saints (5:19-20). We can’t go marching to heaven, not caring what happens to our brothers and sister who have fallen along the way. “No soldier left behind,” I told them.

When we were done, I think we all felt challenged to make our faith real by the way we live. And that’s what James wanted when he wrote this little letter 2000 years ago.  

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