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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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Pastor's Pen - December 21, 2007
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December 21, 2007

James 1-5
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Chapter 1
  1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
  2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
  3. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
  4. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
  5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
  6. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
  7. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
  8. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
  9. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:
  10. But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
  11. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
  12. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
  13. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
  14. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
  15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
  16. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
  17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
  18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
  19. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
  20. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
  21. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
  22. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
  23. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
  24. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
  25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
  26. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
  27. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

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Chapter 2
  1. My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
  2. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
  3. And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
  4. Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
  5. Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
  6. But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
  7. Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
  8. If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
  9. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
  10. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
  11. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
  12. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
  13. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
  14. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
  15. If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
  16. And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
  17. Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
  18. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
  19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
  20. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
  21. Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
  22. Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
  23. And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
  24. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
  25. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
  26. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

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Chapter 3
  1. My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
  2. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
  3. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
  4. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
  5. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
  6. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
  7. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
  8. But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
  9. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
  10. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
  11. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
  12. Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
  13. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
  14. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
  15. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
  16. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
  17. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
  18. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

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Chapter 4
  1. From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
  2. Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
  3. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
  4. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
  5. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
  6. But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
  7. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  8. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
  9. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
  10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
  11. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
  12. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
  13. Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
  14. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
  15. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
  16. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
  17. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

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Chapter 5
  1. Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
  2. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
  3. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
  4. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
  5. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
  6. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
  7. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
  8. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
  9. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
  10. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
  11. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
  12. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
  13. Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
  14. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
  15. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
  16. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
  17. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
  18. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
  19. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
  20. Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

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Thought for the day:
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 James 2 has been a controversial passage. It has been used by those who believe in a works-based salvation to prove that faith alone is insufficient to save a man's soul. Those who reject the authenticity of the Word of God compare these verses to Paul's teaching in Romans of justification by faith alone and declare that the Bible is filled with errors. Martin Luther, the famous leader of the Reformation, was so perplexed by it that he decided that the entire book of James should not be included in the canon of Scripture. Because of the various opinions that have been offered concerning it, and because it is part of the Bible, we need to examine the contents of this passage.

 The Bible does teach that salvation is by grace through faith and that good works do not play a part in it. That being the case, what does James mean when he makes the statement, "faith without works is dead" (20)? Let's start with a look at the context. According to 1:2 and 2:2 James is writing to believers. In 2:1 he specifically mentions "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ", and indicates that his readers have that. He tells them that it is improper to claim Christianity and to show partiality based upon one's social status. In verse 4 he calls those that do this "judges of evil thoughts". He rebukes them for this behavior, and reminds them that they are to love their neighbors, regardless of their economic condition, as themselves (8). However, when they show partiality they become transgressors. As a side note, James points out in verse 10 that it only takes one transgression to make someone a law breaker. This is important when dealing with the unsaved. Many people will admit to being a sinner, but they do not see their sin as being that big a deal. Violating the law in one point makes you guilty of violating the entire law, which certainly puts an end to any thoughts that the unbeliever's sinfulness in inconsequential. In verse 13 he informs these Jewish Christians that they are going to be judged by the law of liberty, so they had better show mercy to others so that God will show mercy to them.

 James then asks these questions:

"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?"
He illustrates this by asking whether there is any profit in telling a man that you hope he gets fed, but not feeding him. The man may be sincere in his hope for his hungry friend (although I would guess that the starving man would question that), but he isn't doing him any good. In the same way, faith that doesn't produce works doesn't do any good either. James clearly believes in justification by faith, for he says in verse 23,
"Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness".
However, in verses 21-22 he shows that Abraham lived out his faith and proved his faith by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Had Abraham refused to do what God commanded, I believe the sincerity of his faith could be called into question.

 Verse 19 is very important, for it reveals the real crux of the problem. Apparently there were Jews who claimed to be Christians because they believed in God. This is heard today as well. Often if you ask someone if they are saved, or if they are going to Heaven, their response will be "I believe in God". However, a belief in God does not guarantee salvation. James points out that the devils believe in God, but they certainly aren't going to Heaven. In fact, they tremble because of the judgment that they know that they will ultimately face. These supposed "Christians" claimed to have faith, but they did not have works to back up their statement. James calls them "vain" (20), and tells them again that faith without works is dead.

 Here is the principle: a faith that doesn't change the life doesn't save the soul. A man who claims salvation yet never brings forth fruit meet for repentance probably has never been saved in the first place. He may believe in God, but he isn't born again. A faith that doesn't impact a person's life is no faith at all. If you have the faith of Jesus Christ, then act like it. If you aren't acting like it, then quit telling people that you have it, and start examining why it isn't evident to all around you.

Pastor Mark J Montgomery

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