James - Walk Wisely with God

(January 3, 2015 version)


James, the brother of our Lord was like many people, a late bloomer. While Jesus walked on this earth, Jesus' brothers apparently doubted that He was really the Messiah. But after Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus saw the need to appear to James (1 Corinthians 15:7). But when James finally blossomed, he became, according to Paul, a pillar of the church (Galatians 2:9), whom Paul saw first after coming to Christ (Galatians 1:19). Apparently James did not get everything right, ministering mainly among the Jews in Jerusalem, he was slow to see the Gentiles did not see the law. But regardless of that James was a leader at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15:13, and God spoke through James with clarity to the church in Acts 15:13-22. One can ponder if this was what naturally felt, or if God was speaking through James directly, despite what James naturally felt.


James is not a book about deep theology, but about practical wisdom for both living as Christians and living together as Christians. The book of James can be considered the Proverbs of the New Testament. James does not write in an "outline" style, point A leading to point B, and then point B1 to logically cover a complex topic. Rather his organization is "associative", which is more suited for many simple bits of wisdom rather than one single central point.


Dating of James: James was killed by the Jews for his faith around 62 A.D. One of the earliest Christian books outside of the Bible, 1 Clement, refers extensively to James, and it was written 96-98 A.D.


Pre-Nicene Writers who quote or allude to James:

Clement of Rome 97/98 A.D.

Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.)

Letter of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.) allusion

Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) allusion

2 Clement (c.150 A.D.) allusion

Origen (225-254 A.D.)

Shepherd of Hermas (c.160 A.D.)

Treatise Against Novatian (254-256 A.D.)

Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.)

Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.)

On the other hand, around Nicea, Eusebius of Caesarea, while mentioning James in the canon, said its inclusion was disputed.


Pre-Nicene manuscripts of James

p23 (= Urbana =papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1220) early 3rd century. James 1:10-12; 1-18

p20 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1171) 3rd century. James 2:19-3:2; (6 out of 96 letters of 3:3); 3:4-9

p100 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4449) James 3:13-4:4; 4:9-5:1 3rd or 4th century

Vaticanus (=B) (325-350 A.D.)

Sinaiticus (Si) 340-350 A.D.)

Alexandrinus (=A) c.450 A.D.)


Similar verses in James and Proverbs

Prov 2:3-6 and James 1:5 (importance of wisdom)

Prov 10:19 and James 3:2 (words are many, sin not absent)

Prov 16:27 and James 3:6 (bad/speech/tongue like fire)

Prov 3:34 and James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 (against the proud, gives grace to the humble)

Prov 27:1 and James 4:13 (don't boast about tomorrow)

James is also similar to 1 John and 1 Peter. It alludes to passages in 21 Old Testament books.




The Greek of James is very good. James may have written down the book himself, or he may have had a scribe write it down.


An Outline of James

1:3-12 Glorious Salvation through Christ

2 Favoritism the Forgotten Sin

No favoritism towards people

No favoritism towards parts of the law


 

James 1:1-18 - Thriving Even in Trial


1. In James 1:1, do you think James addressed this letter to Jewish Christians in the diaspora, or all Christians (the true Israel of God)? Why should we study the book of James?



2. In James 1:2-4, how is it a joy to have trials? Does this relate to life here on earth or later?



3. In James 1:4, what is the difference between a young, obedient Christian on fire for the Lord, and a mature Christian?



4. In James 1:4, what exactly is perseverance, and how are we to cultivate it?



5. In James 1:5-6 why does James say to ask for wisdom? 1 Corinthians 12:8 differentiates between the gifts of wisdom and knowledge. What is the difference?



6. Since James 1:3 says if anyone lacks wisdom he should ask God was it wrong for Joseph Smith, Mormonism's founder, allegedly to go into the woods to pray which religion was correct?



7. In James 1:6-7 what is "double-minded" and why is a this man like a wave tossed by the sea?


8. In James 1:9 how should a poor man take pride in his high position?



9. In James 1:10-11 how should rich Christians take pride in their low position?



10. In James 1:12 how are we blessed under trial? Does this relate to life here on earth or later?


11. In Jms 1:13, can God be tempted, since Ex 17:7; Num 14:22; Dt; 6:16 and Ps 78:18,41,56 95:6, 106:4 say people tempted God?



12. In Jms 1:13 how is no one tempted by God, when many other verses say God tested them?


13. In Jms 1:14-15, what is the process of temptation?



14. In Jms 1:14 are we tempted by our own desire, or by Satan as 1 Cor 7:5 and Acts 5:3 say?



15. In Jms 1:17 how is it that God does not change like shifting shadows?



16. In Jms 1:18, how did God give us birth through the word of truth?



17. In Jms 1:18 and Rev 14:4 how are people firstfruits of God, since Christ is in 1 Cor 15:20?

 

James 1:19-27 - Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak and Get Angry


1. In Jms 1:19 to whom do you think we are to listen?



2. In Jms 1:19 since we are supposed to preach the gospel, why do you think we should be more quick to listen than to speak?



3. In Jms 1:19-20 what reason is given to be quick to listen and slow to become angry?



4. In Jms 1:20 why else should we be slow to anger?



5. In Jms 1:20, since the anger of man does not work for the righteousness of God, is it ever OK to become angry?



6. In Jms 1:21 "therefore" can mean "in order to accomplish the previous", "do the previous to accomplish the following", or "the previous was an example for what to do now". Which sense do you think is intended here?



7. In Jms 1:21, how can the word implanted in us save us? I thought it was Christ's blood or God's grace.



8. In Jms 1:22, what does it mean to deceive yourself?



9. In Jms 1:22, who is listening to the true word and not doing what it says deceiving yourself? After all, the word is true.



10. In Jms 1:23-24, why is hearing but not doing like looking into a mirror, and going away and forgetting what you look like?


11. In Jms 1:25, what is the perfect law that gives freedom?



12. In Jms 1:25 how are we blessed in our doing good?


13. In Jms 1:6 as well as Jms 1:19,21 why does James relate the tongue and moral filth so readily?


14. In Jms 1:27, some Christians say that they don't want to be religious, they just want to love the Lord? From Jms 1:27 what is wrong with this statement?



15. In Jms 1:27 says we are to keep ourselves unstained/unpolluted from the world. But the world and its influences are so polluting! TV, movies, internet, friends, so-called friends, How can we do this?


The ABCs of what we should not share



 

James 2 - Favoritism, the Forgotten Sin


1. In Jms 2:1, why should we show no partiality, since God shows partiality against unbelievers?

 

 

2. In Jms 2:1-3 how does James' description of favoritism fit in many contexts today?



3. In Jms 2:4-9 what are four reasons James gives that we should not show favoritism?



4. In Jms 2:4-9, what are at least five ways we can make sure that we don't show favoritism?



5. In Jms 2:5-7, why does James appear to make such stereotypes of the rich and poor?

 


6. In Jms 2:10, how is breaking one point of the law mean we are guilty of breaking all of it?

 

 

7. In Jms 2:10-11, what natural tendency do we have that James is counteracting?



8. In Jms 2:12, what exactly is the "law of liberty"?

 

 

9. In Jms 2:12, does law bring liberty, or bondage as Gal 4:24 says?


10. In Jms 2:13, what are two ways that our lives should demonstrate that we believe mercy triumphs over judgment?


11. In Jms 2:14-17, what are at least two ways people can have a non-saving faith without deeds?


12. In Jms 2:14-25, how are we justified by works as well as by faith, and not by faith apart from works as Paul said in Eph 2:8-9?

 

13. In Jms 2:19 since demons believe in Jesus, should they be saved, since all one needs to do is believe in Jesus in Acts 16:31 and John 3:16?

 

14. In Jms 2:21, was Abraham justified by works, or justified by faith in Rom 4:1-4 and Rom 3:28?


15. In Jms 2:22, which is more important, faith or deeds?



16. In Jms 2:26 someone might compare faith to the spirit, and deeds to the body, but James uses the opposite analogy. Why do you think that is so?

 

James 3 - Taming the Tongue


1. In Jms 3:1, since Christians do not have to worry about the Great White Throne Judgment, why do Christian teachers need to be concerned about being judged more strictly?



2. In Jms 3:1-8, why do you think James sees a natural transition from Jms 3:1-2 and Jms 3:3-6?




3. In Jms 3:3-5 why do you think James compares the tongue to a bit or a ship's rudder?




4. In Jms 3:6 why does James compare the tongue to a fire?




5. In Jms 3:6 how does the tongue set our members on fire?




6. In Jms 3:6, how is the tongue set on fire by Hell?




7. In Jms 3:6, how would you answer the false claim that "course of nature" refers to reincarnation, as some cultists teach?




8. In Jms 3:6-7 how does the metaphor of a poison differ from the metaphor of a fire?




9. In Jms 3:9-12, how do both good and bad come out of our tongue? (See Romans 7:14-25 for a hint.)




10. In Jms 3:13-18 many people are wise but not with heavenly wisdom? Do you think that bitter envy or selfish ambition disqualify a person from being wise with heavenly wisdom?




11. In Jms 3:13,17-18, why does wisdom produce these things?


 

James 4 - Scouting the battle within


1. In Jms 4:1, how do desires "battle" within us?




2. In Jms 4:3, does this go against the promise that God will answer our prayers?

 

 

 

3. Does Jms 4:2-3 indicate that God would give us something that He wants us to have, if we ask with wrong motives? How does this put God "between a rock and a hard place" so to speak?




4. In Jms 4:4, why did James call the Christians he was writing to adulterers and adulteresses?

 

 


5. In Jms 4:5, how does the spirit that lives within Christians make them envious, since Jms 3:16, says there is evil work where there is envying and strife?




6. In Jms 4:5b should it say the spirit he caused to live in us "tends toward envy?" (1978 NIV) or "envies intensely" (1985 NIV)?




7. How does Jms 4:6 relate to Jms 3:6: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."?




8. In Jms 4:7 of course non-Christians are supposed to come to Christ and submit themselves to God. But how are Christians, to whom James is speaking, supposed to submit themselves to God?




9. In Jms 4:9-10 what does James mean?




10. In Jms 4:11, since we are not to speak evil against one another, why did Paul [allegedly] do so in Titus 3:2?

 



11. In Jms 4:11 what are some ways Christians could sin by slandering other Christians and churches?




12. In Jms 4:11 what does "Sitting in judgment" have to do with slandering other Christians and churches?




13. In Jms 4:13-16, what exactly is boasting about tomorrow, and how should we keep from doing it?




14. In Jms 4:13-15 and Prov 27:1, is it OK to say what we plan to do tomorrow?

 



15. In Jms 4:13-16 while God is against boasting about yourself, bragging over others, etc. why do you think God is also against boasting about tomorrow?




16. Jms 4:17 how should we apply "anyone, then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."?


 

James 5 - Warning the Wealthy, Patience, and Prayer


1: In Jms 5:1-3a, for the first three reasons the rich should weep and wail, what is the difference between wealth, clothes, and gold and silver?



2. In Jms 5:1-6, does God hate wealthy people?

 

 

3. In Jms 5:1-6, is wealth a curse, or a blessing as Prov 15:6 and Ps 112:3 imply?

 

 

4: In Jms 5:3, on earth gold does not corrode except in acid, and silver corrodes slowly. Why would their corrosion testify against a person?



5: In Jms 5:3b, what are two ways the rich might have failed to pay the workmen?



6: In Jms 5:5 what exactly is self-indulgence?



7: In Jms 5:7-8, why is it important for Christians to be patient?



8. In Jms 5:10-11, patience and perseverance relate to each other, but what is the difference?



9. In Jms 5:10-11 and Jms 1:3-4 why is perseverance important for a Christian?



10. In Jms 5:12 swearing hear refers to promising by something. Here and in Mt 5:34-37, why doesn't God want us to swear oaths? What do you think God sees when someone swears like this?



11. In Jms 5:12, Hosea 4:2; Mt 5:34-37, are oaths bad, or can they be good as Gen 21:24; Dt 6:13; Rev 10:5-6 show?

 

 

12. In Jms 5:12 and Mt 5:33-37, should we never swear an oath, even in a courtroom?

 

 

13. In Jms 5:13, do you think you are more likely to pray for help when you are having trouble, or more likely to pray a thanksgiving prayer after the trouble is gone? How should we be balanced here? (Where are the other 9)

 

 

14. In Jms 5:14, exactly why were the sick to be anointed with oil? Should we do that today?

 


15. Does Jms 5:14 support the Roman Catholic practice of "unction" or "last rites"?

 

 

16. Does Jms 5:15-16 support "faith-healers" today?

 

 

17. Does Jms 5:16 support the Roman Catholic practice of confession to a priest?

 

 

18. In Jms 5:16 it says, "The effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much," while Romans 3:10 says, "There is none righteous, no, not one." If none are righteous, then why say, "The effectual prayer of a righteous man?"


19. In Jms 5:16, are we to make a detailed public confession of every sin to someone else?

 

 

20. In Jms 5:16, how are we to confess our sins to others today?

 

 

21. In Jms 5:16, if a Christian died and forgot to ask God to forgive her of every single sin, would she still go to Heaven?

 

 

22. In Jms 5:17-18 is Elijah an example of patience or perseverance? Why?



23. In Jms 5:19-20 can a genuine believer ever wander from the truth? In what way is the returning wanderer saved from death?



24. In Jms 5:20, how does us saving a sinner from death cover over a multitude of sins?



 

James 1:1-18 - Thriving Even in Trial - some brief answers


1. In James 1:1, do you think James addressed this letter to Jewish Christians in the diaspora, or all Christians (the true Israel of God)? Why should we study the book of James?

A: The address to "the twelve tribes in the diaspora" directly refers to all Jews, but the references to Christ and the general teaching of the book are not primarily evangelistic, but primary for those who already believe in Christ. However, the teaching in here is good for all who are spiritual descendants of Abraham, in other words, all believers. Perhaps James left this rather general because throughout his life he ministered to Jews and sought to bring Jews into the kingdom.

As Christians we should never lie, but it is OK to not answer some questions, and it is OK to sometimes be vague.


2. In James 1:2-4, how is it a joy to have trials? Does this relate to life here on earth or later?

A: In heaven, we will be rewarded for trials that we bore with perseverance. On earth, we can still have a taste of the joy of knowing we are pleasing God.


3. In James 1:4, what is the difference between a young, obedient Christian on fire for the Lord, and a mature Christian?

A: A young, obedient Christian can be very zealous in a good way, but he or she might still need some wise guidance from an older believer. A mature Christian should have that wisdom both for herself and others, but should take care that her love does not start to grow cold, like Jesus rebuked the church in Ephesus for in Revelation.


4. In James 1:4, what exactly is perseverance, and how are we to cultivate it?

A: My pastor defined perseverance as: To persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking despite influences, setbacks, opposition, or discouragement.

Perseverance is the art of staying firm and constant in your faith and practice, even under persecution and suffering. You can be encouraged by hearing or reading the perseverance of others, but the only way you know you have it is by practice.


5. In James 1:5-6 why does James say to ask for wisdom? 1 Corinthians 12:8 differentiates between the gifts of wisdom and knowledge. What is the difference?

A: All Christians are to have some wisdom, and all Christians should get all the wisdom they need. Some of it they might have through their own walk with God and other times it might come through the wise counsel of others. Beyond this, some Christians have a special spiritual gift of wisdom, sometimes they learn things even as they are coming out of their mouth. Of course spiritual gifts are not for hoarding, but for sharing with others. The spiritual gift of knowledge is knowing what the Bible teaches, and God's will in general. The spiritual gift of wisdom is applying knowledge of God to the specific situation. Knowledge and wisdom often go hand-in-hand, but not always.


6. Since James 1:3 says if anyone lacks wisdom he should ask God was it wrong for Joseph Smith, Mormonism's founder, allegedly to go into the woods to pray which religion was correct?

First you have to ask the right god. Joseph Smith prior to starting Mormonism was an occultist, involved in glass-looking. This is documented in a court record where he was convicted of this and fined. You have to be asking the true God.

Second, you have to compare what you think you heard with the Bible. Since Joseph Smith claimed that men can be just as God is now, he should have read Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29 to see that what he was told was not from the same source as the Bible. The popular Mormon account of the first vision was made up in part after Joseph Smith's death. There are at least three conflicting first visions.

Third, It is fine to pray to the true God about things such as which church to attend. However, we do not pray about things we know are unbiblical and wrong.

Fourth, following what God is saying is not "underhanded". Joseph Smith claimed he received a command to be polygamous, so he married a second wife. However, he did not tell his first wife for over a year.


7. In James 1:6-7 what is "double-minded" and why is a this man like a wave tossed by the sea?

A: This refers to wanting to contradictory things. A person might have an alcohol or some other addiction, but want to follow God also. The person might not be reliable in following God. They might decide to follow God one day, but when an opportunity arises for their other desire, that takes over. God wants us to love Him with our whole heart, not just part of it.

Someone might desire illicit profit, yet still want to be considered an upright person. As one person put it, if you dance with the sinners on Saturday night, it's hard to get up and sing with the saints on Sunday morning.

Ultimately, most sin is double-mindedness, because people desire the sin but not the earthly and eternal consequences.


8. In James 1:9 how should a poor man take pride in his high position?

A: he can know that the money or wealth he does no have does not matter one bit eternally. Actually he has nothing to be jealous of with respect to rich people, because having a heart of faith, and little finances, is better than having a lot of wealth, but no faith.


9. In James 1:10-11 how should rich Christians take pride in their low position?

A: They too can realize that the wealth they have saved up for themselves does them no good when they are in heaven. But their riches can be of use on earth, as they give them away. They can feel good about lowering their position, in the world's eyes, as they give away their wealth.


10. In James 1:12 how are we blessed under trial? Does this relate to life here on earth or later?

A: In heaven we are promised rewards in 1 Corinthians 3:10-14. On earth we are blessed in at least three ways. Persevering under trial builds our character, and we can know that we please God by bearing up under trial. Also, the witness we give to others can help draw them to the Lord to save them.


11. In Jms 1:13, can God be tempted, since Ex 17:7; Num 14:22; Dt; 6:16 and Ps 78:18,41,56 95:6, 106:4 say people tempted God?

A: People in the Exodus and today can try to tempt God, if they wish, but God cannot be tempted. In the Old Testament passages, the Israelites tempting God means they sinned so much that they provoked God to anger. It would look like they were tempting God to destroy them. What are you going to give Him to tempt the Almighty? How are you going to fool the All-Knowing?


12. In Jms 1:13 how is no one tempted by God, when many other verses say God tested them?

A: There is a difference between tempting and testing, and between allowing a trial verses causing it.

No one is tempted by God: God will never lead or communicate to someone to do evil, or something that displeases Him.

God tests: God allows us to be in situations where we will be tempted, though He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. God allows Satan, demons, and others to tempt us, and put us through trials. Even though God Almighty could keep all of those things from happening, if He wanted to, God in His sovereign wisdom sees it as best that we go through those, in developing our Christian character and receiving rewards in heaven.


13. In Jms 1:14-15, what is the process of temptation?

A: Temptation starts when a person has a desire for something. Either the thing is a bad thing, or they do not believe God will give it to them, or they want to get it in a bad way. then they start acting on that desire, to get what they want. After that, Satan wants them to suffer the consequence of their sin. Many times a sin does not have just one cause. As a fire can have three causes: air, fuel, and a spark, sin can have an atmosphere, a desire, and an opportunity. See the article on Overcoming Temptation at https://www.biblequery.org/Experience/Temptation/OvercomingTemptation.html. for more info.


14. In Jms 1:14 are we tempted by our own desire, or by Satan as 1 Cor 7:5 and Acts 5:3 say?

A: Both are true. Just as a fire is caused both by a spark and by wood, Satan tries to light our desires, pride, greed, and fears to commit specific sins. Satan can entice us with "bait" to sin, but it is our responsibility to not take the bait but flee temptation. James 4:7 and 1 Peter 5:8-9 emphasize that we are to resist the devil. If we are walking close to God, our wood is being transformed to gold, and the remaining wood is wet with the water of the Spirit.


15. In Jms 1:17 how is it that God does not change like shifting shadows?

A: God's character or attributes do not change. Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29 say that God does not change his mind, unlike people. However, God's revealed will for us can change when we change our mind on something. For example, when God told Pharaoh in Abraham's time, Abimelech, and later the Ninevites that they were going to be punished in various ways for their sin, and they repented, then the punishment was no longer going to come upon them.


16. In Jms 1:18, how did God give us birth through the word of truth?

A: In one way, God gave us new birth through the word of truth of the gospel. But more fundamentally, Jesus is the Word, and the Truth, and we have new birth because of Jesus coming and dying on the cross for our sins.


17. In Jms 1:18 and Rev 14:4 how are people firstfruits of God, since Christ is in 1 Cor 15:20?

A: Christ is the firstfruits of all humans who believe, since Jesus "opened the curtain" leading to our salvation. James 1:18 says we are a kind of firstfruits of all of God's creatures. The 144,000 in Revelation 14:4 are a firstfruits of those saved during the tribulation after the rapture.


 

James 1:19-27 - Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak and Get Angry - some brief answers


1. In Jms 1:19 to whom do you think we are to listen?

A: James 1:9 is speaking of listening in general and does not answer the question. But we are to listen to God first, and so our church leaders after that. We are to obey government leaders tool. However, 2 Timothy 3:5 specifically says we are to have nothing to do with people who turn away as lovers of pleasure instead of lovers of God. If someone is clearly not following God, then you have no business following them as a church leader.


2. In Jms 1:19 since we are supposed to preach the gospel, why do you think we should be more quick to listen than to speak?

A: Even in preaching to others, it is good first to listen to where they are coming from. In your one-on-one conversations, it is fine if you listen more than you speak.


3. In Jms 1:19-20 what reason is given to be quick to listen and slow to become angry?

A: It specifically says that people's anger does not bring about the righteousness of God. It does not say not to speak at all, but if we delay speaking, by listening first, we are less likely to say angry things that are not helpful and we will regret (or at least should regret) later.


4. In Jms 1:20 why else should we be slow to anger?

A: When you speak, ask yourself why you feel the need to speak right now. Are we primarily speaking to make ourselves feel better, look better, or speak what God wants us to speak to best help others? James tells us that our anger specifically does not work towards the last choice. Try to make every word that comes out of your mouth what God would want you to say, and as for all the other words, just don't say them at all. It is far better to keep silent, than to say things you should not say.


5. In Jms 1:20, since the anger of man does not work for the righteousness of God, is it ever OK to become angry?

A: The Bible does not command us never to be angry; in fact some times we will feel angry when we share God's feelings about a situation. But Ephesians 4:26 says we should not let the sun go down on our anger. In other words, do not hold on to your anger by the time you go to bed. Ephesians 4:27 says not to give the devil a foothold. Because in truth, when you think you are holding on to your anger, actually your anger is holding on to you.


6. In Jms 1:21 "therefore" can mean "in order to accomplish the previous", "do the previous to accomplish the following", or "the previous was an example for what to do now". Which sense do you think is intended here?

A: Looking at the question logically, if we call James 1:19 as "A", and James 1:21 as "B", is this telling us do "A" in order to accomplish "B", or do "B" in order to accomplish "A", or "A" was an example of doing "B"?

It is the second. Being saved is not talked about until James 1:21, and it is by the implanted Word (Jesus). James 1:19 is a command we are told to do, and 1:21 is necessary so that we can accomplish the previous in James 1:19.


7. In Jms 1:21, is it the implanted word that saves our souls, or is it Christ, or is it Christ's blood or God's grace?

A: All of the above; these are different ways of looking at the same thing. God's loving grace is the ultimate reason we are saved, not our own merit. The "event" that was the cause of our salvation was Jesus' death and resurrection. Our life is sustained by the word implanted in us, which is Jesus, the Truth and the Word, living in our heart. This means by which this grace was poured out to us was through Jesus, according to Titus 2:6-7 and Hebrews 1:9. God's Spirit must dwell inside us, for us to belong to Christ, as Romans 8:9-11 says. Finally, we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:28), and the gospel message is of no value to us if we do not combine it with faith, as Hebrews 4:2 teaches.


8. In Jms 1:22, what does it mean to deceive yourself?

A: People deceive themselves all the time. I once showed a Muslim college student proof that the Qur'an has been changed, and her response was "I know by faith that those things are not true." That was the end of the discussion; she did not want to consider the evidence.

Explicitly people can choose to believe things that are not true. They might do so, not because they are convinced in their mind, but they fear the consequences if they believe the other way. Similarly, they would see they would have to make changes if they believe the other way, and they are unwilling to make those changes. Sometimes a person sees a number of what they think are facts that support them believing one way, and they see other facts that contradict their belief. Rather than examining both sets of facts, or thinking that it is OK to alter their view, they just ignore facts that are inconvenient.

Implicitly people can see things that are fairly obviously true, and yet still claim it is unclear or doubtful. They are not dishonest enough to believe the other way, but they are not honest enough with themselves to affirm what they should.

If a person believes one way, and for whatever reason they see what appear to be true facts that contradict it, the first step towards truth but be simply to acknowledge that those other facts lend support to another view. When you read the Bible, and see things that are different from what you believe, instead of being unhappy about it; you can rejoice. You now have an opportunity before you to change, become wiser, and close in tune with God. As one person said, "I reserve the right to become smarter."


9. In Jms 1:22, who is listening to the true word and not doing what it says deceiving yourself? After all, the word is true.

A: When a building is burning down, telling a person they need to leave the building does no good if the person does not leave. Likewise hearing the true word does not good if the person does not want to believe and act upon it. James is speaking about people who do not have a good relationship with God. This can be both unbelievers who have no relationship with God, and hypocritical believers who need to go back to their first love and continue in their walk.


10. In Jms 1:23-25, why is hearing but not doing like looking into a mirror, and going away and forgetting what you look like?

A: Before answering this question, let's talk about the concept of a mirror. While they did not have glass mirrors back then, they had shiny brass mirrors that could show the outlines, though the colors might not be the same. A mirror gives you an accurate impression of what you look like. It does not flatter, and it does not insult; it simply shows you what you are. As soon as you go away fro the mirror, all you have is a memory; you don't see yourself anymore.

God's word is great for giving us new information and truth, but it always serves a second purpose (if we let it). It is a mirror for our character. We can look into God's Word, and it shows us where we fail by falling short, and where we can grow by changing. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul commands believers to examine themselves. The way we do that is not by any arbitrary, made-up standard of our own fancy, but rather by God's truth in His Word. But if you look into God's mirror, and don't want to do what it says, when you go away, you have only a memory, and no change was made.


11. In Jms 1:25, what is the perfect law that gives freedom?

A: Obedience to God gives freedom, and this is what we are supposed to follow today. It is freedom from addictions, obsessions, and fear. This is not the Old Testament Mosaic Law, for the Old Covenant is obsolete according to Hebrews 8:13. But this law is to do what is pleasing to God. It can be summed up as "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself."


12. In Jms 1:25 how are we blessed in our doing good?

A: We are not only blessed with reward in Heaven, but we are blessed now with a joy as we please God. This does not refer to material blessing, which we might or might not receive.

It is true that sometimes we get good emotional feelings, financial rewards, and greater opportunities in this life when we help others. People want to work with and associate with those that care about them and will help them.

However, sometimes when we help others and bless others we get none of the above, or we might even get the opposite. But regardless, God rewards us in heaven for the good works we do, from the right motives, on earth, according to 1 Corinthians 3:14.


13. In Jms 1:6 as well as Jms 1:19,21 why does James relate the tongue and moral filth so readily?

A: While the tongue not only can speak moral filth, it is effective at spreading moral filth. It can be a gateway to communicating places to do all kinds of evil.


14. In Jms 1:27, some Christians say that they don't want to be religious, they just want to love the Lord. From Jms 1:27 what is wrong with this statement?

A: Perhaps they had a bad experience with what might have been called Christianity, and so they think that religion and organized Christianity are to be avoided. Religion can be band and some religion is to be avoided. But James said that some is good. Also, if you are down on Christians in general, you are putting down Christ's bride.


15. In Jms 1:27 says we are to keep ourselves unstained/unpolluted from the world. But the world and its influences are so polluting! TV, movies, internet, friends, so-called friends, How can we do this?

A: As one TV evangelist said, Step 1 to serving God is raising your finger. Step 2 is rotating it to turn off the V. As we voluntarily give up watching so much TV, movies, and internet, it will seem amazing how much free time we have not. It is not that TV, movies, and internet are wrong of themselves, but they can be wrong for you if you spend excessive amounts of time on them.

But some shows on TV and movies and internet are wrong, not just a waste of time. You can be intentional about what you choose not to see and hear. You can also be intentional about filthy things you did hear, that you will never repeat.



The ABC's of what we should not speak.


We should not share anything that God does not want use to share, so pray to God to show your heart when you should keep quiet. Here are the ABC's of a few things we should not speak.

Angering others, unless they should be angry about something.

Boasting or bragging

Confidential information that others told you, regardless of whether they should have or not

Disheartening or discouraging another person from righteousness, such as Job's wife did. (Discouraging them from sin is OK though.)

Exalting sin. (That time I got drunk at the bar, it was so great...)

False things or lies, including flattery

Glorifying others, putting them on a pedestal. (Honoring them is good though.)

Harmful or hurtful things to the other person or to others

Insulting things to put down the other person or others

Judging others, though it OK to say sinful actions are sinful

Knowingly speaking that others lose trust in your words

Long-winded, wordy, and verbose, giving more information than the person wants to here

Malicious misinformation to harm others or have fun at their expense

Non-public information about another person they do not want shared. (Regardless of whether you think that are right in not sharing it.)

Plagiarizing what another said, without giving credit. Don't steal others' words as your own.

Questionable accuracy (you are not really sure if it true or not)

Rehashing bad things the other person did, after you have already discussed it and forgiven them. Those things should be forgotten.

Secrets that could get an innocent person killed, harmed, or wrongfully jailed

Tempting to others. (That time I got drunk in this specific bar, where the drinks are half-off...)

Undisclosed information that you promised your employer, former employer, or customer you would not share.

Vilifying or slandering another person

Wicked people might use to their advantage

X-rated, erotic, indecent, or crude humor or information

You are not honoring God or fellow Christians

People should see your life in action, but you should not feel pressure to always have to say something.


 

James 2 - Favoritism, the Forgotten Sin - some brief answers


1. In Jms 2:1, why should we show no partiality, since God shows partiality against unbelievers?

A: The context of James is for believers, that we should not favor anyone because they are rich or poor. One totally adequate reason not to show favoritism is simply because God commands it. But beyond that truth, all of us are made in the image of God, and God shows no partiality to our material wealth, ethnic background, gender, or intelligence.

Impartiality towards wealth is not the same a blindness toward everything. James 2:1 is using the example of wealth, and Galatians 3:28 shows we are not to show partiality based on race or gender. However, we are to expel individuals from the church for unrepentant sins such as incest (1 Corinthians 5:2).

 

2. In Jms 2:1-3 how does James' description of favoritism fit in many contexts today?

A: Favoritism can be overt if it involves a public position. It can also be more subtle if selection is based on favoritism. Do people get anything in a church if they donate large amounts of money? Do people cater to those who can give more? In a good church these do not happen.


3. In Jms 2:4-9 what are four reasons James gives that we should not show favoritism?

A: Here are four reasons given.

1) Showing partiality makes you a judge with evil thoughts.

2) The poor can be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom.

3) It dishonors the poor man.

4) The rich oppress the poor, dragging them into court, and blaspheme God.


4. In Jms 2:4-9, what are at least six ways we can make sure that we don't show favoritism?

A: Here are four things; there are probably others too.

1) Honor all as more important as yourselves, as Philippians 2:3 says.

2) Treat the poor the same as your treat rich, and the rich the same as you treat the poor.

3) We should desire to not take advantage of others, even when it might be easy or culturally accepted to do so.

4) Don't treat something different because they are of a different ethnic background, culture, male or female, or superficial things.

5) Realize that you cannot know anything about a person's heart by their outwards looks.

6) We are to respect elders, but don't look down on anyone because of their age (old or young).


5. In Jms 2:5-7, why does James appear to make such stereotypes of the rich and poor?

A: Some rich people can be very generous and warm-hearted. Some poor people can be very money-hungry and stingy. But on the whole, there are more opportunities and thus more temptations for the rich to take advantage of their situation. Likewise on the whole the poor have fewer financial resources to defend themselves in court.


6. In Jms 2:10, how is breaking one point of the law mean we are guilty of breaking all of it?

A: The law was not given selectively, and today we are supposed to have complete obedience, not just partial obedience, to obey all that God wants us to do, or refrain from doing.

 

7. In Jms 2:10-11, what natural tendency do we have that James is counteracting?

A: We tend to want to emphasize as important for what we do well, and to de-emphasize as unimportant what we do not do well. Fallen man is all too good at rationalizing, or creatively coming up with logical-sounding reasons to excuse our sin. It is easy to see that in others, but it is easy to overlook it in yourself.


8. In Jms 2:12, what exactly is the "law of liberty"?

A: This is not a specific law, but rather "liberty" is a description of what obedience to God today does for us. Jesus superseded the Old Testament Law, but that does not mean we now live any way we want. God put His law on our hearts, and we now follow what Jesus and the New Testament command.

 

9. In Jms 2:12, does law bring liberty, or bondage as Gal 4:24 says?

A: The Mosaic law, which they could not fully keep, served to illustrate their need for God's forgiveness. Following it fully would be freedom from sin, but knowing of it and failing to follow it, only brought bondage and knowledge that you are falling short. If you know what is right, and fail to do it, then for you it is sin, as James 4:17 says. Today we follow the law of obeying Christ, which gives us liberty from the bondage to sin.


10. In Jms 2:13, what are two ways that our lives should demonstrate that we believe mercy triumphs over judgment?

A: To us we believe that God's grace and mercy is greater than all of our sins. We have committed to others that we extend forgiveness and mercy as God has given it to us.


11. In Jms 2:14-17, what are at least two ways people can have a non-saving faith without deeds?

A: One way is to believe in the truth of God and believe the right things, but men trust over your life to Him. Someone has called this "practical atheism." While it really believes in God, practically speaking, in their conduct a person acts as though they were an atheist.

A second way is to have trust in a fake god, and reject the God of the Bible.


12. In Jms 2:14-25, how are we justified by works as well as by faith, and not by faith apart from works as Paul said in Eph 2:8-9?

A: Works are a by-product, an output of genuine faith. Some people could be life the thief on the cross, and accept Christ right before they die. However, others will show good works if they are genuinely saved in the first place.

Salvation by works is the error that you have to do good works to get saved in the first place. Easy-believism is the opposite error, that works have nothing to do with salvation and works and the lordship of Christ are optional. The truth is that works merit nothing towards salvation, but they are a normal part of salvation as an output. Just as a beating heart is assign that the person is alive, works are a sign that we are saved ad spiritually alive.

 

13. In Jms 2:19 since demons believe in Jesus, should they be saved, since all one needs to do is believe in Jesus in Acts 16:31 and John 3:16?

A: Definitely not. James' point is that intellectually believing the correct things, is of itself, insufficient to be saved. We also have to place our trust in God.

 

14. In Jms 2:21, was Abraham justified by works, or justified by faith in Rom 4:1-4 and Rom 3:28?

A: As Romans 4:1-4 shows, God pronounced Abraham justified by faith prior to his willing to sacrifice Isaac. But Abraham's willingness showed that God had worked in his heart.


15. In Jms 2:22, which is more important, faith or deeds?

A: Is being alive more important or having a heartbeat? A person can be alive for a while on a heart and lung machine. But normally a heartbeat is proof that a person is alive.


16. In Jms 2:26 someone might compare faith to the spirit, and deeds to the body, but James uses the opposite analogy. Why do you think that is so?

A: You have to have a body to be on this planet, and you have to believe (or have faith) to be God's child. But if you are down on this earth your Spirit is present in your body. If your faith is alive spiritually, you have works.


 

James 3 - Taming the Tongue - some brief answers


1. In Jms 3:1, since Christians do not have to worry about the Great White Throne Judgment, why do Christian teachers need to be concerned about being judged more strictly?

A: Believers are judged by Christ at the bema-seat judgment. Teachers can be judged for teaching others wrong things. They are also judged for leading people astray, or careless shepherding.

Matthew 12:36-37 says that we will be judged for every idle word we speak. Proverbs 10:19 says that when words are many sin is not absent. Proverbs 30:5-6 stresses how important it is not to add to God's words.


2. In Jms 3:1-8, why do you think James sees a natural transition from Jms 3:1-2 and Jms 3:3-6?

A: It is on James' mind hat we all stumble. Even small problems with our tongue can cause a major blaze of sin in others.


3. In Jms 3:3-5 why do you think James compares the tongue to a bit or a ship's rudder?

A: A bit is less than one percent of a horse's weight, but it strategic use can force the horse to go a specific direction. Likewise a rudder is rather small and insignificant-looking, and you need time and patience to use it, but you cannot steer a ship without it.


4. In Jms 3:6 why does James compare the tongue to a fire?

A: A malicious tongue can be like a spark in two ways:

Growth: it only takes a small spark can start a large forest fire. Likewise it only takes a few words to set off a chain reaction.

Irreversibility: Once a blaze occurs, everything that is burned cannot be "unburnt".


5. In Jms 3:6 how does the tongue set our members on fire?

A: By words people can plot evil, tempt, seduce, malign others, gossip, insult, tell dirty jokes, lie, dishearten people from good, and encourage people to do evil. People can mutually encourage each other to sin, when someone might originally be ashamed to do, they then think it is OK because others agree.


6. In Jms 3:6, how is the tongue set on fire by Hell?

A: As the previous shows, that is a lot that can be done with one small organ. Ounce for ounce, the tongue can be one of the most effective organs in Satan's hands.


7. In Jms 3:6, how would you answer the false claim that "course of nature" refers to reincarnation, as some cultists teach?

A: Nothing in James mentions reincarnation, so this is a clear case of redefining terms to mean what they want them to mean. James is simply referring to what naturally occurs. Isogesis is reading into scripture what you want it to say. We should not do isogesis, but exegesis, which means taking from scripture what it wanted to say. Nothing in the Bible teaches reincarnation and the early Christians were universally against it. A cultist cannot honestly prove a doctrine solely by redefining a term that no early Christian understood that way.


8. In Jms 3:6-7 how does the metaphor of a poison differ from the metaphor of a fire?

A: While fire drastically changes the outward appearance, poison works within more slowly. Both can kill just as well. Both only take a little bit to accomplish their purpose. Sometimes evil words can be said specifically just to poison the thinking or heart of a person.


9. In Jms 3:9-12, how does both good and bad come out of our tongue? (See Romans 7:14-25 for a hint.)

A: Praising God and words to help others should come out of our mouths. So much good can come out: encouragement, correction, teaching, rebuke (yes that is good too). But words against God and hurting people can come out too, if we are not careful. They can come out due to anger, carelessness, or even worse, apathy.


10. In Jms 3:13-18 many people are wise but not with heavenly wisdom? Do you think that bitter envy or selfish ambition disqualify a person from being wise with heavenly wisdom?

A: They can still have pieces of heavenly wisdom, but if it is poisoned by envy or selfish ambition it is not good. Envy and selfish ambition can blind people to what is true and using worldly wisdom can appear better for accomplishing short-term goals. Heavenly wisdom does not ignore short-term goals, but looks forward to the judgment of the bema-seat too.

However, in Philippians 1:15-18 Paul still praises God for people who preach the true gospel, even though some preach Christ out of envy and selfish ambition, because at least they are preaching the gospel.


11. In Jms 3:13,17-18, why does wisdom produce these things?

A: Proverbs 23:7 says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." The Spirit uses wisdom to transform us and produce fruit of the Spirit. True wisdom is Peace, peaceable, willing to yield, full of mercy and good deeds, without partiality, without hypocrisy. In other words, what you see is what you get.


 

James 4 - Scouting the battle within - some brief answers


1. In Jms 4:1, how do desires "battle" within us?

A: People can be "conflicted" with contradictory desires. Even non-believers who want to do some evil often don't because they have a stronger desire not to suffer the consequences.


2. In Jms 4:3, does this go against the promise that God will answer our prayers?

A: No, it does not negate it, but it puts a qualification on it. Sometimes God answers our prayers are "no". And sometimes He answers them as "wait".

 

3. Does Jms 4:2-3 indicate that God would give us something that He wants us to have, if we ask with wrong motives? How does this put God "between a rock and a hard place" so to speak?

A: If we request something that we legitimately need, but we will use it for evil purposes, God might not give it to us, - even though we really need it.


4. In Jms 4:4, why did James call the Christians he was writing to adulterers and adulteresses?

A: An adultery or adulteress usually does not want a divorce. While someone might want a divorce to separate from one person and marry another, an adulterer or adulteress often wants both. They want to stay with their spouse and also have someone else on the side. James is not saying these people no longer want to follow God. Rather, they want to still follow God and also do worldly things too. Following Christ means choosing to eliminate options to disobey God.


5. In Jms 4:5, how does the spirit that lives within Christians make them envious, since Jms 3:16, says there is evil work where there is envying and strife?

A: This is not only worldly pride, but there can also be a spiritual pride. Spiritual pride is thinking you are better or more significant because of your spirituality or gifts. All of us have nothing good except what God has given us. So we really don't have anything to take pride in.

It is always bad for people to have envy regardless of other things. Even believer can sin by having envy towards other believers or the circumstances of non-believers. In Psalm 73 Asaph candidly discusses when "hit foot almost slipped" when he envied the boastful.


6. In Jms 4:5b should it say the spirit he caused to live in us "tends toward envy?" (1978 NIV) or "envies intensely" (1985 NIV)?

A: The NKJV says, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously" This is similar to the 198 NIV version. &&&


7. How does Jms 4:6 relate to Jms 3:6: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."?

A: Pride often transmits its ugly fruit through the tongue. When you have pride, envy, resentment, or other evil things in your heart, the quickest way to mitigate the damage is not say anything, until your heart is right. It is hard to keep bad words from having their bad effect, after they are spoken.


8. In Jms 4:7 of course non-Christians are supposed to come to Christ and submit themselves to God. But how are Christians, to whom James is speaking, supposed to submit themselves to God?

A: Even though we have submitted our lives to God when we got saved, we are to resubmit to God every day. We have to choose daily and moment by moment whether to abide in Christ and obey or not. We are to draw near to God and keep our heart pure.


9. In Jms 4:9-10 what does James mean?

A: When we are not right with God, or have sin in our hearts, we should not go about acting like everything is OK. Our hearts should mourn and weep when we are out of fellowship with God.


10. In Jms 4:11 and Tt 3:2, since we are not to speak evil against one another, why did Paul [allegedly] do so in Titus 3:2?

A: We are to say helpful things, and truthful things. Paul had to speak evil against no one in Titus 3:2. But Paul himself needed to help the church by warning it against Hymenaeus and Philetus in 2 Timothy 2:17-18, and unspecified false teachers in 1 Timothy 1:3-7.


11. In Jms 4:11 what are some ways Christians could sin by slandering other Christians and churches?

A: When people make a false claim about a teacher, or state negative facts, when they need to be kind, it is slander. Slander is saying bad things that are not true, or putting down other Christians and church when you should not.

If you say anything negative, make sure it is both truthful, and helpful. But it being truthful alone does not necessarily mean you need to say it, if it is not helpful. Also, we should speak the truth in love in Ephesians 4:15.


12. In Jms 4:11 what does "Sitting in judgment" have to do with slandering other Christians and churches?

A: Slandering other often goes hand in hand with the sin of speaking or acting like their judge.


13. In Jms 4:13-16, what exactly is boasting about tomorrow, and how should be keep from doing it?

A: When we speak or assert that you can know for certain about the future, we are boasting about tomorrow.

The simplest way to not do that is to remind yourself of reality; you really do not know for certain what will happen tomorrow. That is why it is better to say "if the Lord wills", than to be boastful against God, saying "I know for certain". But that does not mean we should not plan for the future. It is good to plan, and as circumstances change alter our plan. Just remember that plans change. As General Dwight D. Eisenhower said about battles: "plans are useless; planning is essential."


15. In Jms 4:13-15 and Prov 27:1, is it OK to say what we plan to do tomorrow?

A: Yes, it is fine to "humbly" plan, knowing that God can change tem and our plans can be for naught. But it is not OK to say we definitely will do such-and-such tomorrow, because we don't know for certain what we will be doing on earth tomorrow, or even if we will still be on earth. Rather, say "if it is the Lord's will" we will do such-and-such tomorrow.


16. In Jms 4:13-16 while God is against boasting about yourself, bragging over others, etc. why do you think God is also against boasting about tomorrow?

A: Boasting that you know for certain about what will happen tomorrow, when you do not have that ability, is pride against God. Bragging that you are better than someone else, is pride against the other person. Someone once said that the middle letter in both sin and pride is "I".


17. Jms 4:17 how should we apply "anyone, then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."?

A: These are called sins of omission. If you are not doing anything wrong, but are not doing the good that God wants you to do, you are sinning. Sometimes opportunities to do good arise that were not a part of your plan, like what happened to the good Samaritan. Will you change your plans, to do the good God wants you to do?

The church body should do all the good God wants done. That includes both official or organized groups accomplishing things, lone individuals taking the initiative and doing things on their own, and everything in between. The important thing is not whether or not you do it, but whether or not it gets done by the body of Christ. For example a skillful Christian surgeon in America was going to give up her practice and go to an undeveloped country and be a surgeon there. But when she did the math, she figured out that with her salary in America, she could support two or three surgeons in that country, doing what she did. So she kept her career and supported those surgeons.

On the other hand, if there is a need that is not being filled by anyone, and you have the resources, time, money, and gifts needed to fill the need, that pray about it, and if God leads, then get busy.


James 5 - Warning the Wealthy, Patience, and Prayer - some brief answers


1: In Jms 5:1-3a, for the first three reasons the rich should weep and wail, what is the difference between wealth, clothes, and gold and silver?

A: Wealth can be enjoyed or saved, short-term or permanent, visible or not. The number of formerly rich families is large, so perhaps your wealth should only be thought of as something you have temporarily, for a period of time. But during that time make the most of it.

Some things are like rust, eating away at the value of long-term wealth. Moths don't make clothes disintegrate; rather they leave holes that make them useless. Like moths, some things, can quickly degrade the value of visible wealth. Think of an accident, or something that scratches or dents your new car that you just purchased.

The only treasure that can really last is treasure in heaven, from pleasing God and doing His will.


2. In Jms 5:1-6, does God hate wealthy people?

A: Not at all. Abraham was very rich, even by modern standards. Job was also very wealthy at the end. Solomon did not ask for wealth, but God have him wealth.


3. In Jms 5:1-6, is wealth a curse, or a blessing as Prov 15:6 and Ps 112:3 imply?

A: It can be both, depending on how it is used. Wealth is an enabler. It can enable people who would not otherwise have to opportunity to get drunk, stoned, or do other evil things. It can tempt people to do idolatrous things to get more money, as with Gideon in Judges 8:27. Wealth can be a blessing to enable people to help others.

Having wealth can be tricky though. Many times people collect wealth for what they think is a good cause, but it ends up being uses selfishly. The other way around, collecting money selfishly, and then changing and using it for good, does not happen much.


4: In Jms 5:3, on earth gold does not corrode except in acid, and silver corrodes slowly. Why would their corrosion testify against a person?

A: Pure gold will not corrode at all with air or water. But something made of gold mixed with silver or another metal will corrode, over time. It will be a testimony that the gold was not what it was represented to be. Likewise oppressing the poor is a testimony against the genuineness of someone's faith. But just as aqua regia dissolves pure gold, on earth even the most seeming corrosion-proof metal can still be judged and taken away by God.


5: In Jms 5:3b, what are two ways the rich might have failed to pay the workmen?

A: Explicitly they might have just failed to pay the wages they were legally obligated to pay, or come up with rationalizations to pay less. Or they might have found legal loopholes to get out of paying. Implicitly they might use hardball tactics to negotiate the very lowest wage or payment possible.

One example I have heard of is one software game company that paid low but promised a big bonus to all of the programmers once the game was released. Then, right before it was released, they laid off the people. A second example is having hefty finance charges for late payments, and then not making it clear when the payments need to be paid.

A second example is a large NYSE listed company that cut the salaries of their employees, paying the difference in bonuses based on the company performance. The next year the company had stellar profits, but the executives said it still did not meat their performance goals, so few bonuses were paid.

A third example of company fraud is if the amount paid is even a penny less than the full amount, the firm might charge a late fee on the entire amount. If multiple bills are owed, and the customer pays part of the total bill, which bill should the payment be applied to (earliest or latest)? Some firms will put it on the payment that is most to their advantage.

A fourth example is if a company with recurring charges, such as a phone company, adds services (and charges) to customers' bills without their approval or knowledge. When customers fine out and complain, they take off the charges. But the customers who do not notice are still charged the extra amount.


6: In Jms 5:5 what exactly is self-indulgence?

A: This is just living for yourself, or hoarding money only for yourself and your family. If you give nothing to God or others, beware that wealth does not become your idol. Self-indulgence can be expending money or pleasure on yourself when you should not. For example, these can be buying designer items, eating expensive foods, expensive wines, etc.


7: In Jms 5:7-8, why is it important for Christians to be patient?

A: First, God simply commands us to be patient. Sometimes we miss out on opportunities and blessings when we are not. Being patient on even small, insignificant things, develops our ability to be patient for bigger things. Our patience under trials might lead to a greater blessing or opportunity for us; but sometimes it does not. Sometimes, like Job, our patience and perseverance solely serve to glorify God. We can have patience when we remember how patient God was (and still is) towards us.


8. In Jms 5:10-11, patience and perseverance relate to each other, but what is the difference?

A: Patience is being able to calmly wait for something, someone, or for God. Perseverance is "toughing it out" and enduring the struggle. You need patience to persevere for a length of time.

Perseverance is not passively sitting back, but continuing to struggle to do what you know God wants you to do, despite the obstacles. Perseverance is enduring in a contest, be it an athletic, military, or spiritual war. We need to persevere in short, intense affliction, but also in chronic, lengthy trials, without losing our joy or hope.


9. In Jms 5:10-11 and Jms 1:3-4 why is perseverance important for a Christian?

A: We are called to endure persecutions and hardship. We are not supposed to be worried about the future, for which we have no guarantees. In the parable of the sower in Luke 8:5-18. The seed sowed on the rock sprang up with joy, but did not persevere. The seed sowed among the thorns grew too, but it was choked out and produced no fruit.


10. In Jms 5:12 swearing hear refers to promising by something. Here and in Mt 5:34-37, why doesn't God want us to swear oaths? What do you think God sees when someone swears like this?

A: Some of God's commands have changed with the New Covenant. Under the Mosaic Law people had to keep their oaths, but under the new and different "law of liberty" in the New Covenant, we are not to make oaths at all. We can commit to what we plan to do. However, if something changes, or we have new information, we want to avoid being locked it.


11. In Jms 5:12, Hosea 4:2; Mt 5:34-37, are oaths bad, or can they be good as Gen 21:24; Dt 6:13; Rev 10:5-6 show?

A: People made oaths under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 19:12), but now under Christ, "the law of liberty" we should just let our yes be yes and our no be no.

Swearing can have three bad aspects. First, it can lead to pride, if you are swearing that something will for sure happen, when you cannot control that. Second, it can bind us to commitments we should not have made. Third, it can tend to make people think that the importance of their answer being truthful should not change because of swearing by one thing versus another, as Jesus showed in Matthew 5:33-37.


12. In Jms 5:12 and Mt 5:33-37, should we never swear an oath, even in a courtroom?

A: &&&


13. In Jms 5:13, do you think you are more likely to pray for help when you are having trouble, or more likely to pray a thanksgiving prayer after the trouble is gone? How should we be balanced here? (Where are the other 9)

A: Many pray more often when they are having trouble instead of when things are going well. It is like their desire for help is greater than their desire to be thankful to God. Don't decrease your prayers when you are in trouble, but try to make your prayers just as frequent and fervent when things are going.

When Jesus healed ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19, and told them to go to the priest, only one came back to thank Him. Are you like that leper, or are you like the other nine?


14. In Jms 5:14, exactly why were the sick to be anointed with oil and should we do that today?

A: While oil in a dry desert environment can have a beneficial medical effect for some skin diseases, it does not good for other diseases, such as cholera, malaria, cancer, or other things. So the medical effect of oil is not the primary point. They were anointing with oil to ask God to heal the person.

It is good to do that today too. It is not "magic" but rather prayer. It is an expression of our petition to God for that person.


15. Does Jms 5:14 support the Roman Catholic practice of "unction" or "last rites"?

A: No, it says to anoint the sick, not just those who are about to die. It is good to do for those about to die, but there is no support for any sacrament, that is different for those about to die than those who are sick.


16. Does Jms 5:15-16 support "faith-healers" today?

A: No. all of us are supposed to pray. This does not say we cannot use medical help also.


17. Does Jms 5:16 support the Roman Catholic practice of confession to a priest?

A: No, it says to confess to each other. Do priests generally confess their sins to non-priests?


18. In Jms 5:16 it says, "The effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much," while Romans 3:10 says, "There is none righteous, no, not one." If none are righteous, then why say, "The effectual prayer of a righteous man?"

A: There are three aspects to understanding this.

Without Christ, Romans 3:10 tells of the human condition of every single person apart from God. No one is righteous on their own.

Positionally with Christ: because of Christ's work we are positionally 100% righteous in God's sight. However, that is not what this verse is talking about.

Experientially with Christ we are supposed to live righteous lives now in our walk with God and our struggle to be more Christ-like now.


19. In Jms 5:16, are we to make a detailed public confession of every sin to someone else?

A: Don't confess to someone who will gossip, or someone who might be stumbled because of what you share. You do not need to confess every sordid detail, but confess what you did, why, and how you feel about it now.


20. In Jms 5:16, how are we to confess our sins to others today?

A: A Christian might have one (or more) "accountability partners" to confess their sins to, and who are expected to ask them questions about their walk with Christ. The Christian knows he or she will be asked. Choose someone who is a mature believer, and will not be tempted by hearing about your sin, or gossip to others about your sin.


21. In Jms 5:16, if a Christian died and forgot to ask God for forgiveness for every single sin, would she still go to Heaven?

A: Yes. We were forgiven at the cross. It is Jesus who provides the means of our forgiveness, not our words of confession. However, we are still to confess our sins, and bring up before God all we can remember.


22. In Jms 5:17-18 is Elijah an example of patience or perseverance? Why?

A: Yes, Elijah was a good example. Elijah prayed for no rain and he was patient, even though the queen wanted to hunt him down. Elijah was not perfect in all things though. He was depressed and fearful after the showdown with the prophets of Ball and the queen wanted to kill him.


23. In Jms 5:19-20 can a genuine believer ever wander from the truth? In what way is the returning wanderer saved from death?

A: Yes. Even the elect can be deceived according to Matthew 24:12,24. Even godly believers can fall seriously, like David did, and wander from the truth; but if they are genuine believers they will come back.


24. In Jms 5:20, how does us saving a sinner from death cover over a multitude of sins?

A: It is a means which God used to bring Christ's forgiveness to the other person. But it also can have a good effect on the person sharing. They can see more clearly the darkness of sin and the light of the love of God.



Q: In Jms 3:1, how are teachers judged with greater strictness?

A: -In at least four ways:

Speech: Proverbs 10:19 says that when words are many, sin is not absent. Matthew 12:36-37 says that we are judged for every idle word we speak. You can sin less by not talking so much; but teachers need to talk. If you are teaching wrong things, or even if you are teaching your own opinions as the Word of God, then you sin when you teach.

Others: All Christians are to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:14-15) and leaders are to be examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). Elders who sin are to be rebuked publicly (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

God: Most important, God judges people based on what they know. Christians do not have anything to be anxious about at the Great White Throne judgment, because the blood of Jesus paid the price for their sins. However, Christians have a second judgment, often called the Bema-seat judgment, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, where God will judge each Christian's works and reward him or her appropriately.

Self: Teachers can have a temptation to think, "because I have learned so much, it is OK for me to slack off on other things, such as prayer, holiness, or love for others. However, knowing a great number of facts does not necessarily mean a great love for God, and obedience to Him.

1 Corinthians 8:1 warns us that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.


Q: In Jms 3:6, does the "course of nature" refer to reincarnation, as some in false religions teach?

A: This verse talks of the persuasive power of human language. Nothing in this verse has suggested this novel interpretation of reincarnation to anyone in history until modern times. While resurrection was known in the Old Testament, there was no concept of reincarnation among the Old Testament Jews or early Christians, with the exception that they wrote that some false religions believed in reincarnation. Hippolytus 222-235/6 A.D., in particular mentions reincarnation as a belief, not of Christians, but of the "Brachmans" of India. See When Critics Ask p.528 and When Cultists Ask p.290 for more info.

Other Pre-Nicene Christians who knew of Brahmins/Brachmans as a false religion were Theophilus of Antioch (161-181/188 A.D.), Tertullian (198-220 A.D.), and Origen (225-254 A.D.).


Q: In Jms 3:6, how does the tongue set our members on fire?

A: Scripture does not explicitly say how, but we can see a couple of ways.

1. Many of the temptations we have come to us by means of what others say.

2. People often communicate and commit the intentions to sin through words. People can hurt others' feeling and slander others with their tongue.


Q: In Jms 3:6, how is the tongue set on fire by Hell?

A: Scripture does not say. However, we can see that the tongue is one of the most effective tools Satan can use for deceiving and tempting people.



Q: In Jms 4:3, does this go against the promise that God will answer our prayers?

A: No, but it qualifies it. See the discussion on Matthew 7:7-11 for the answer.


Q: In Jms 4:4, why did James call the Christians he was writing to adulterers and adulteresses?

A: Unfortunately, even Christians sometimes try to serve two masters, such as God and the world. Jesus said you cannot serve both God and money in Matthew 6:24.

Generalizing on this, sometimes Christians need strong rebuke. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.699-701 for more info.


Q: In Jms 4:5, how does the spirit that lives within Christians make them envious, since Jms 3:16, says there is evil work where there is envying and strife?

A: James 4:5 does not says that the Spirit is evil or envious, but knowledge of the fact that the Holy Spirit lives inside Christians can lead to pride and feelings of self-righteousness, which are evil.


Q: In Jms 4:11, since we are not to speak evil against one another, why did Paul [allegedly] do so in Titus 3:2?

A: He didn't; Paul was not speaking morally evil things. Rebuking others and warning the church is different from maliciously and falsely speaking evil of others. See the discussion on Titus 3:2 for more info.


Q: In Jms 4:13-15, is it OK to plan for the future?

A: Yes, as long as you realize that all plans are contingent on God's will.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was involved in planning the largest invasion of all time: D-Day in Europe. He said, "plans are useless, but planning is essential." Our plans are always changing, but we accomplish more when we have a plan then when we have nothing.

Proverbs 14:22 says that those who plan good find love and faithfulness. Proverbs 16:3 says to commit to the Lord whatever we do, and our plans will succeed. Yet we should realize as Proverbs 21:30 says, that no plan can succeed against the Lord.


Q: In Jms 4:13-15 and Prov 27:1, is it OK to say what we plan to do tomorrow?

A: Yes, as long as we realize that all we do is subject to God's will. Both James and Jesus in Luke 12:16-21 (the rich man with barns) object to people pridefully stating what will happen in the future without acknowledging God's sovereignty. Proverbs 29:23 and Proverbs 25:14,27 also speak of boasting.


Q: Why is Jms 4:17 important not to ignore?

A: It is obvious to Christians that we are not to do things that displease God. However, when there is a good thing that needs doing, and there is nobody else to do it, we can rationalize not doing it by saying it is not our calling, or similar. Think of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Thinking "I need more time to think about what God wants me to do" is valid if you genuinely do not know about strategic directions for your life, but not for meeting immediate needs.


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