*I had intended to finish blogging through the Bible in 90 days, corresponding with reading through the Bible at the same time, but due to some severe burns on my hand that I received last Sunday, my blogging had to be temporarily paused. I did finish reading, but today, I continue the blogging. I have this blog and 6 more after it that I will write over the course of the next week, completing my blogs through the whole Bible! To those of you who follow these “through the Bible” blogs, thanks, and sorry for the delay.*
Speaking of severe injuries, if you have ever had to be rushed to the emergency room, one of the very first things they did was check your “vital signs” (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, etc.). By looking at your vital signs, the nurse/doctor can get a good feel for your over all well-being and can also see any specific areas that they need to focus in on. Spiritually, the book of James works in a similar way for us.
The book of James is all about assessing our spiritual vital signs to see if our faith is alive or not.
James is a unique book in the New Testament for a few reasons…
– It’s the only book written by Jesus’ half-brother, James. That fact by itself makes it pretty amazing because John 7:5 says that as Jesus grew up and continued in ministry, His brothers didn’t believe He was the Messiah. I think the whole coming-back-from-the-dead thing really got their attention! James eventually became a great man of faith and prayer, setting an example for us!
– The book of James is also commonly referred to as “The Proverbs of the New Testament” because of the variety of topics that it discusses. If you’ve read Proverbs, you know that it talks about a whole range of topics, most of the time, even within the same paragraph. Same with James. Just like your vital signs point to a variety of areas in your physical body, the book of James helps to assess many areas of your spiritual life. James talks about issues like trials and suffering, favoritism, obedience to God’s Word, your tongue (speech), prayer, and more. They’re all vital topics for anyone to assess to see if their faith is alive or not. After all, as the one of the most well-known verses in James says…
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” – James 2:26
Although many have accused the book of James of being in contradiction to Paul’s book of Galatians, I disagree. In Galatians, Paul makes it clear that all they need for salvation is Jesus. The Judaizers had come in and tried to add to that, but Paul wrote Galatians to clarify. James, on the other hand, emphasizes works. However, within the context of Scripture, we know that James isn’t implying works-based salvation, but more importantly, works that spring from true salvation. Think about it – if you’re really come into contact with the living God, your life will be the proof. There will be fruit in your life from that interaction.
Galatians and James actually go hand-in-hand. Jesus is all you need for salvation, and the works that spring from your salvation will be proof of its legitimacy.
I hope you not only enjoyed reading James, but that it also gave you a chance to take your own spiritual vital signs to assess if you’re really alive in Christ. Saying you believe in God is not enough in itself. As James puts it,
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” – James 2:19
The demons take their belief a step further than many humans do – they tremble at the knowledge of God!
Don’t settle for a simple head-knowledge about God. You need heart-knowledge that plays itself out in your daily life!