Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Nov 21, Jas 1-5

Today's readings are Jas 1-5. Tomorrow's are Acts 15-16. 

James is, quite possibly, the earliest of the new testament letters. It was written between 40 and 50 AD, by Jesus's brother. Notice the timing of James and how it fits in with the narrative of Acts. Even as Acts portrays an infant church struggling to define itself while suffering severe persecution, James appears with a message that starts out with "Count it all joy, brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds..." (1:2).

James immediately goes on to encourage believers to be doers of the word and not merely hearers of it (1:22-23). This is an encouragement to actively apply the word in our daily lives. It would have been a guideline for the early church to make their faith more than an esoteric exercise. Instead, the new believers are admonished to live changed lives governed by their new hearts and a new passion for godliness. James's message is as timely today as it was then. 

Amid a number of encouragements to lead holy lives, as a testimony for the gospel, James brings one of his strongest lessons. Faith will be demonstrated by the works we do. This is a perfect compliment to Paul's writing which tells us works without faith are dead. Paul and James work hand-in-hand to show us that faith and works are inextricably entwined. James makes it clear that works are the evidence of our faith, not the cause of it.

James's message comes at exactly the time the fledgling church needs encouragement and direction. It is the first of the "Epistles", a series of letters, written by the Apostles, giving detailed instructions on how the church is to be established, structured and function in a hostile environment while focusing on the gospel.

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