Last night, we kicked off our Fall 2017 semester of Grace Students! As with everything our student ministry seeks to do, it was Gospel-Centered, Relational, and Fun! We started off with some wild games of PKR (Princess Knight Rider).
|Z and Mack winning the PKR Championship Belt!|
|Zoe and Mack leading us in songs of worship|
James 1:1 says, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.”
Who is the author? Who is the audience? Why is he writing this?
This book was written by a man named James. James is the half-brother of Jesus. What’s interesting is that during the life of Jesus, during his 3 years of intense ministry, James did not believe that Jesus was who he said he was. He did not believe that Jesus was God because that’s typically someone’s reaction when their half-brother claims that they are deity. You don’t believe them. There’s one account in Mark 3 where he and the rest of his family try to seize Jesus because that’s what you do when your half-brother claims that he is the Son of God.
Then about the time where Jesus is crucified, James finally goes all in. He finally believes that Jesus is who he says he is. So what card did Jesus play that made James change his mind? Like what card gets your half-brother to finally believe that you are the Son of God? The Resurrection from the dead card. What finally convinced James is that Jesus died, stayed that way for three days, rose from the dead, shows back up, and eats some fish with them. Then all of a sudden you get James saying things like we get in James 1:1 where he calls Jesus Lord!
He believes in Jesus and preaches the gospel so boldly that shortly after he penned this letter, he is murdered. A mob storms him in Jerusalem, forces him to the top of the temple, and makes him jump. But when he lands he doesn't die. So, tradition tells us a man came down, grabbed a stick, and smashed in his skull. Church tradition also has it recorded that in the midst of all this, he was heard praying out loud for the very mob that was seeking to take his life. What bold faith. This is the man who wrote this book.
This book is the earliest New Testament book that we have. It was written in the 40’s. As in like maybe 10 years after Jesus died and resurrected. It was written not long after Acts 7 where the martyr Stephen was stoned. And it was written to the Dispersion.
So early on in Acts, you have thousands and thousands of men, woman, and children coming to faith in Christ.The Christian church in Jerusalem had something like 20,000 people and was thriving. Then Stephen is martyred in Acts 7 and a great persecution begins on the Christian church. Then the Christians scatter all over the Roman Empire planting churches wherever they went. So, James is writing to all the dispersed Christians. All of those who have placed their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He wrote this book to Christians in an increasingly hostile world instructing them on how to live Christ-like and not like everyone else.
So why are we studying this book? Because people are desperate for something more. Have y'all looked at social media lately and seen just the overwhelming heartache that’s everywhere? We like to think that we’re immune to it, but we’re not. I believe more than ever people here really are hurting and are looking for a source of true hope. They are looking for more than just the power of positive thinking. They are looking for more than just a random hotline. They are looking for something that can truly help them in their pain. They’re looking for a Savior. They don’t know it, but they’re looking for Jesus. In this study of James, we’re going to see what authentic faith looks like when it’s practically lived out. We’re going to see a picture of a life transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
|Our large group time introducing the book of James|