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The book of James

As we read the Bible it’s good to be aware that there are regularly three things it requires of us – something to believe, something to know, and something to do. In Paul’s letters he usually gets to the ‘things to do’ at the end after telling us what to know and believe. James is different. James, the half brother of Jesus (there are four different James’ in the New Testament) writes his letter, telling dispersed Jewish readers what they should be doing because of what they believe already. He writes in about A.D 50 in a unique preaching-type style. As you read it you will notice that it’s very much as if he is talking more than writing. His thoughts wonder and come back as he presses the truth onto the reader more, simply presenting it like a good preacher would.

James’ letter is one of action. From reading the letter it is evident that James knows what the hearers are facing and what problems they have succumbed to. Some of the people are experiencing trials and troubles and they don’t know why or how to cope with them. James tells them that God is maturing them through trouble and then proceeds to tell them in which areas their behaviour is not what it could be. James explains that there is a kind of Christianity that knows an awful lot but fails to live according to what it has heard. The people are evidently in a time free from persecution; relative comfort in life and assimilation with the world is easy for them. One writer calls them ‘respectable backsliders’. James calls on them to hear God afresh if they want to count for God. Change is needed in how they approach trials, the Word of God, the poor and the world.

We too will need to hear James writing to us in our Western, comfortable worldly world. James’ words are as relevant today as ever. May God speak to you as you read.

A more in-depth study of James

Authenticity is a word that is closely associated with the Christian church. Throughout church history there are those who have succeeded and those who have failed to be authentic. What makes someone an authentic Christian? When their salvation shows in how they live.

James is a difficult book to read but, when you study it, is very encouraging. This course is periodically taught at our Equipping Courses (evenings or mornings).

Download the course booklet in your preferred format below:

A Study of the Book of James

Authenticity is a word that is closely associated with the Christian church. Throughout church history there are those who have succeeded and those who have failed to be authentic. What makes someone an authentic Christian? When their salvation shows in how they live.

James is a difficult book to read but, when you study it, is very encouraging. This course is periodically taught at our Equipping Courses (evenings or mornings).

Download the course booklet in your preferred format below:

 

The Twelve: James and John

TITLE: The Twelve: James and John
PREACHER: Marcus Herbert
DATE: 16 FEBRUARY 2014 – Sunday AM at Bedfordview

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Name(s): James and John. Jesus nicknamed them ‘Boanerges’, the sons of thunder.

Marital Status: Unknown

Home town: Zebedee, (the father of James & John), was a fisherman of Lake of Galilee, who probably lived in or near Bethsaida, perhaps in Capernaum

Profession: Fisherman

Age(s): James 30 years old, John 16-18 years old

Relatives: Zebedee was their father, Salome was their mother.

Social status: Uneducated and had a fishing business with their father, and in partnership with Peter and Andrew. The fishing business was considerable as they owned several boats and employed servants (Luke 5:11; Mark 1:20).

Personality: Both brothers were loud, passionate (at times over the top), eager, fervent, forceful, self-centred.

General facts: We know little of James’s interaction with Jesus, except those incidents with his brother. John was intimately associated with Jesus; he was the disciple whom Jesus loves John 13:23-2, John leaning on Jesus John 21:20. When Jesus was on the cross, He committed His mother to the disciple He loved, John (Luke 19:26-27). John is also credited with five books of the bible, the Gospel of John, 1,2 and 3 John and Revelation. These brothers, like with Peter and Andrew, left everything to follow Jesus!

Position amongst the twelve: Along with Peter, the brothers were part of Jesus’ smaller ministry team. He would select this smaller group to accompany Him, exposing them to more than the rest of the disciples, because later they would play leading roles in the church. The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29), at the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37), at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28), with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:37; Mark 14:33). Jesus prepares these three uneducated, but passionate fishermen for three very different leadership roles in the church.

Death: James became the first to be martyred amongst the twelve, and the only one recorded in scripture. Acts 12:1-3 – “1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also.”

Herod wanted to destroy the church, he would not have gone after James if he wasn’t a threat. The influence he had was known by the Jews, so much so that it pleased them when Herod killed him. It seems like James had a prominent leadership role amongst the twelve.

James was the first to die, John the last. John was never martyred, he died as an old man in Ephesus around 98AD, after having being exiled to the island of Patmos, because of his faith.

MEET THE BROTHERS

In this series, we’re learning how to be Christ-followers by looking at the lives of Jesus’ twelve disciples. We integrate into a local church to become Christ-followers. It would be sad if we would become followers of the leaders here and not followers of Christ. You might recall that Paul rebuked the Corinthians for being followers of Apollos and Paul and forgetting about Jesus. Leaders may have a part of your life but we need to be desperately following Jesus.

We’re looking at the disciples and seeing their humanity and watching how Christ dealt with them and transformed them. This then points to what we can expect and how we can develop the right character, and develop the mission, in our lives.

This time we’re looking at James and John, labelled the Sons of Thunder in the Scripture (or the Sons of Zebedee). See their bio posted above. Why were they called Sons of Thunder? Because they seemed to be loud-mouths, always having an opinion. And look at their age – James was probably around 18 years old! In Cornerstone, we’ve ordained an elder of 19 years old and we got a lot of flack for it. But God is bringing us young guys and girls and we want to release them into ministry! Why should we wait? When God gets hold of a life, it doesn’t matter the age.

We will look at John in detail later in this series, but focusing on these two brothers together provides many lessons. They were both good and not so good for each other. Read more

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