Ezekiel 35:1-36:.38, James 1:1-18, Psalms 116:1-19, Proverbs 27:23-27
Today is the 17th day of November. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It is awesome to be here with you as we, well, as we prepare to close the books on another one of our weeks together. And even as we’re closing a week today we’ll be entering into some new territory when we get to the New Testament, and that will be the book of James. And we’ll talk about that when we get there. But first we’ve been reading from the Voice Translation all of this week and we’ll continue to do that today. Ezekiel chapter 35 verse 1 through 36 verse 38 today.
Introduction to the Book of James:
Okay. So, I like I mentioned at the beginning, we are entering into some new territory. We concluded the book of Hebrews yesterday and that is always quite an adventure and just a beautiful portrayal and image of our faith. And now we’re at the epistle of James and this is a new voice that we’ve not heard from in the Bible before. We’ve heard of James but now we’re hearing James writing. And there are plenty of things that are really interesting about the letter of James. It’s been scrutinized a number of ways throughout church history including exactly which James are we talking about that wrote this letter. And, so, because of that, dating James has been difficult, but there is a solid solidly supported scenario. The letter was probably written by James, the half-brother of Jesus, who didn’t believe in Jesus during his earthly ministry. But after the resurrection, James became a pillar of the early church and was instrumental in some of the major decisions that needed to be made in the early church, like the one held at the Jerusalem Council that opened the way for Gentiles to be accepted into the faith. So, the reason that many biblical scholars find this to be the most compelling scenario is because, like the book of Hebrews or the letter to the Hebrews, whoever wrote this letter that we know as James, this person had influence and authority among the early believers, obviously enough for the letter to be recognized and preserved and that we now find it as part of the New Testament. James, the half-brother of Jesus, certainly fits this criteria in a much more significant way than any other candidate, any other James would. And like the book of Hebrews this letter, the letter of James is clearly written from a Hebrew perspective. I mean, it was addressed to the 12 tribes, Jewish believers who were scattered abroad. So, this at least gives us clues to identifying the original intended recipients of the letter. And it might’ve been addressed like this because the gospel continued to spread and everywhere the gospel continued to spread the reaction seemed to be persecution in some way. And, so, people were definitely spreading out among the Roman Empire. And the stoning of Stephen that we read about in the book of acts, as kind of the first actual killing of someone for believing in Jesus, this could have caused people to flee the persecution and been a catalyst for this. So, if that’s the case then James was probably writing to early believers who had once been in his pastoral care in Jerusalem. And these would’ve been brothers and sisters who had fled in all directions to find some sort of place where they could live a peace, but they still felt connected to the Jerusalem church. And, of course they would, I mean, it’s like the mother church. So, hearing from Jerusalem would’ve been something that was treasured, especially if James, the half-brother of Jesus, was the leader of this church as church tradition tells us. But this theory would make James one of the earliest of Christian writings. And if that’s true, as many biblical scholars believe then it preserves inside of it some of the earliest postures of the Christian faith, some of the first postures ever written down. So, as we get into this letter, and it’s not a super long letter, more clearly than anywhere else in the New Testament we’re gonna see in the book of James that the choices that we make, that those matter. The core message here is gonna be that we can say whatever we want to say about what we believe, but in the end how we actually live is making the most declarative statement about our faith. In fact, as we learned about faith in Hebrews, this will go a step further in James and we’ll be told that faith without works is dead. And that hasn’t always been a popular position. James even got the ire of the reformer Martin Luther over it. James’s response to somebody like Martin Luther, though, would probably be indifference because this letter encapsulates some of the boldest and most direct and confrontational truths that we’ll find in the New Testament. So, like if there’s a butt kicker book in the New Testament it’s going to be James, but underneath it all, James is trying to make a plea. It’s a message that needs to be heard, ‘live your life by faith and live your faith by what you do”, which is poignant message for today, I mean, immediate enough that this, in some ways, could’ve been written last week. So, a new voice, some new territory for us as we move forward. And I let’s begin James chapter 1 verse 1 through 18.
Father, we thank You for another week, another week in Your word, another week in the story of our lives, another week to share in community as we continue this journey forward. And Father, we’re about to enter into a busy week coming up and that will give way to the busy season that is the holiday season. So, it is upon us. And we thank You father for sustaining us. We thank You Father for giving us the right posture of heart as we move to and through this season. We ask father that guide you our steps, our choices, our decisions for they indeed do matter, as the letter of James will certainly tell us in the coming days. Come Holy Spirit we pray. In Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.