Getting Ready to Teach James

post date: September 8, 2011


For the last several weeks I’ve been immersed in the little book of James in preparation for teaching it next week at Word of Life Bible Institute in Hudson, Florida. 

I last taught the book fifteen years ago on Wednesday nights in the Pastor’s Class in Oak Park, IL. Those were fun times. I discovered (not to any great surprise) that I hardly kept any notes from those classes. Back then I would start with a provocative question to stir up the crowd, and then I would wander around the room (everyone was seated at round tables), teaching and chatting with the people.

Next week I’ll be giving 10 lectures on James along with two quizzes and a final exam. I’ll still do my fair share of wandering around the George Theis Activities Center, but this is a more academic setting.

My chief thought after after studying James for a while is that reading this little epistle (only five short chapters) feels like jumping into a cold lake on a hot summer afternoon. If you’re sort of sleepy, James will wake you up. 

Not a lot of heavy theology.
This is Christianity in overalls.

Since it’s probably the earliest book written in the New Testament, we have a glimpse back to the very beginning. This is what our faith looked like as it came from the womb of Judaism and began to spread outward from Jerusalem across the Roman Empire.

James wrestles with very modern question.
What works?
His answers are very practical: 

Be a doer, not just a hearer.
No partiality.
Don’t blame God for your problems.
Persevere. 
Remember the poor.
Seek God’s wisdom.
Don’t trust in money.
Don’t boast.
Watch your tongue.
Stop your quarreling.
Be patient until the Lord’s return.
Pray for the sick.
Restore fallen saints.

Here are the books I’ve been using in my study:

Be Mature by Warren Wiersbe
Solid Stepping Stones by Robert Lightner
James Your Brother by Lehman Strauss
Exploring the Epistle of James by John Phlllips
Faith That Works by Homer Kent
James by D. Edmond Hiebert
James by Douglas Moo

The first four are more devotional in nature; the last three offer more detailed commentary on the text. 

I’m excited to start teaching next week. James is a great way to start off the school year because there’s no theory at all with him. It’s about real-life issues and having an authentic faith.

As usual, you learn the most when you prepare to teach so I’m pumped up because I’ve been learning so much as I’ve studied James on my own.  

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