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Faith That Works



"James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have our brothers and sisters from around the world here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers. We would  ask that you would do the same for us. We praise God that He continues to grow our ministry, allowing us to reach even more people! We invite you to share it with all of your family and friends.
We have been conditioned by our culture to believe it is unforgivable to speak positively of suffering.
Even the slightest mention is often viewed as uncaring and insensitive. I believe that this distorted perception, is why we rarely pause to search for the hand of God in the midst of our trouble, seeking to understand God’s purposes in our pain.
Many Christians today, only count it all joy when they escape trials. However, James tells us to count it all joy in the midst of trials. I believe that we desperately need to come to terms with a significant truth, God’s will is not our comfort and happiness, but His Glory!
Let us pray.

Heavenly Father,

Father, we thank You for Your Word for us today, may we hear with hearing ears, we see with seeing, eyes  and open hearts that respond. Lord, in spite of all the attacks and all the whirlwind of things trying to distract us, help each of us here today, that we might possess true living faith. Lord, help us not to retreat, but that we would embrace one another with a new found strength in unity. Help us to be people who persevere in trials, who recognize and understand their own sinfulness, whose tongues are under control, whose speech is honest and truthful, whose wisdom is heavenly, and whose lives are marked by prayer. Grant us greater courage, to boldly proclaim the truth in this fallen world, in spite of adversity that we may face, and remind us to always attempt to convert them to the truth by Your great grace, forgiveness of sin. Ingrain these truths into our hearts through Your Spirit. May we offer You the best of everything that we have to give.
In Jesus' name we pray
Today's Message: Faith That Works
The book of James is the most intensely practical book in the New Testament, it has so much practical, life-changing truth in it. It rebukes hypocrisy, insisting that conduct must conform to creed, that profession must be matched by performance. After all, what good is truth if we don’t live it. What good is intention, if we do not carry it out. True salvation needs to be subject to examination, subject to testing. In spite of what many are being taught today, this is a biblical concept. James leaves us in no doubt as to the kind of obedience that is expected from his readers, and I believe that there are few who could read the book without heartfelt conviction. Perhaps one reason that many seem to keep their distance for this book, is it causes us to deal with our own personal shortcomings, errors and sins!
None of the Bible is written to us, but all of the Bible is written for us. This principle is of paramount importance as we approach the book of James. His genius lies in his profound moral earnestness; in his powerfully simple call for repentance, for action, for a consistent Christian lifestyle, I believe that this message is one that we all need to hear and obey. Like no other that I can think of, the book of James impresses upon us the practicality of our faith. From the onset of his letter, James teaches us not to waste one moment of our suffering. James’ exhortation include a number of characteristics that are true of all trials. I believe that it will be helpful for us to keep these in mind as we begin our study of the book of James.
Many contemporary commentators seem to easily dismiss the possibility that the apostle was the author of this book, noting that there are as many as five men named James identified in the New Testament. However, I believe that the evidence is quite convincing upon closer inspection.
Open with me your Bibles to the book of James. As we begin our study these five wonderful chapters, we will quickly discover that this epistle belongs to the wisdom literature of the Bible.Wisdom literature is characterized by general instructions for skillful, successful living. James vivid style is distinctly direct and is driven home by a beautiful craftsmanship of language and metaphors.
I invite you to follow along with me as I read, to set the text in our minds, as we prepare our hearts for what the Spirit is saying to us. James 1:1-4

"James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." 

Before we begin our study of the book of James today, I ask that you would turn in your Bible with me to Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7. The Sermon on the Mount could be defined as a test of salvation. Jesus proposes a series of tests to those in Israel who believed that they were right with God, which by the way, proved that they, in spite of what they thought, they were not right with God. Jesus unmasks their false religion, their hypocritical righteousness, their counterfeit salvation by showing them the truth. The Beatitudes have to do with attitude, these are the tests.

In chapter 5, verses 3 and following, Jesus says "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." This is the attitude that accompanies true salvation. 

The Pharisees, were persecutors, they were proud, boastful, self-sufficient, self-centered, seeking nothing, making trouble and causing strife. In fact, their attitudes were the antithesis of true salvation. Then, in verses 13 through 16 Jesus demonstrates how true salvation will have a testimony consistent with beatitude virtue. In verses 17 through 20, He talks about how true salvation is marked by a commitment to the Word of God, and can be tested by a matter of obedience to the law of God.In verses 21 and following through the end of the chapter, Jesus says, "True salvation is manifest by the keeping of righteousness in the heart." And so, the first test of salvation is attitude.

The second test of salvation is your influence. Your influence. The third test is your obedience. And the fourth test is the righteousness in the heart. Jesus goes through the whole section saying "On the outside you do this. But, on the inside you don’t." In other words, they had the right words, they had the right deeds, but inside, their hearts were not changed. That is the point.

Then in the first eighteen verses of chapter 6, Jesus demonstrates how true salvation can be seen in right worship. In other words, how you pray, how you give, and how you fast. So He proceeds to shows them that their giving, their praying and their fasting was all filled with hypocrisy and had not the mark of genuine salvation. In verse 19 through the end of chapter 6, Jesus shows that true salvation is marked by a right relationship to money and material possessions. In other words, you can test your salvation in lining your life up in regard to your attitude toward money and material things. Is your treasure in heaven or is it all being accumulated on earth? 

In the first twelve verses of chapter 7, He says that right relationships to mark a true believer. In verses 13 and 14, He talks about the narrow road. In other words, check your salvation, make sure that you're on the right road! In verses fifteen through twenty, He warns about false prophets who will keep you on the wrong road, and the possibility of going all the way in the wrong direction! Then, in verses 21 through 23, He talks about in the end, being face to face with Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ, being kept out of heaven in spite of your profession. He then closes with an illustration of the judgment of God that comes in the end and those who will survive and those who will not.

And so, we see that the Sermon on the Mount is really a test of the genuineness of salvation.A right response would have been, "Oh Lord, help us. We are sinful. We have missed the mark! We are lost, help us O' Lord." The Jewish religious establishment failed the test of genuine salvation. 

So, now turn to the book of James. I would like to point out that the parallels between The Sermon on the Mount and the book of James are very significant. In fact, James is almost a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. James' goal by the way, is basically the same as Jesus', in that unless you manifest true godliness from the heart, all of your religious profession and religious activities will not benefit you. Like Jesus, James wants to show us the character of real living faith.

In I John 1:6-10, it says it this way, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

The point of all of this is, it doesn’t matter what you say, true salvation has to be tested in the way you live, and the things you do. Examine yourself to see if you are genuinely saved. James give us a series of tests as to the validity of salvation from chapter 1 to chapter 5. It doesn’t matter what you claim. It doesn’t matter what you outwardly do. It is the condition of your heart that matters. The unredeemed heart betrays true righteousness. A heart that is far from God cannot really please Him. Therefore, a heart that is far from God cannot obey God.

So, with that in mind, let's look at verse 1. "James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings." In the Greek James is the same as Jacob, its the Greek word Iakōbō. As a footnote, Iakōbō became Iakōbos and Iakōbos became Iacomus, and Iacomus became James in the English transliteration. It kind of lost its original identity in the translation of Latin.

As I stated earlier, that are a number of people who question the authorship of the book of James, and again, I believe that the authors is James, the brother of our Lord. The Apostle Paul mentions James, in Galatians 1:19, "But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother."

And in Galatians chapter 2, he says "But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.

Mark chapter 6 verses 2-3 says  "Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him." In other words, "Who does He think He is? The Messiah? Everyone knows He is the carpenter! The son of Mary, brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon. His sisters are live here." Notice that James comes first in the list, which usually indicates someone being older of the others, and that’s why I believe, that next to the Lord, James would be the oldest son.

Keep in mind, these were half-brothers and half-sisters in the sense that Jesus was the child of Mary, but virgin born, not the child of Joseph. But nonetheless, they were considered to be brothers and sister to Him. Now, if you will remember, in Mark chapter 3, Jesus was teaching some people in a house and there came His brother and His mother standing outside. 

Allow me to read that to you, "Then His mother and His brothers *arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they *said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.” Answering them, He *said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He *said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother." Jesus took that opportunity to teach about relationships to Him, which are on the spiritual level. 

I'm sure you remember, they thought Jesus was acting in a way that would bring dishonor on the family and they went to get Him back to try to control Him. John chapter 7 tells us "Therefore His brothers said to Him, "Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." For not even His brothers were believing in Him."

Paul says in I Corinthians 5:3-7, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;"

I find it quite interesting, that Jesus revealed Himself to James in a personal post-resurrection revelation. And that is why James and the other brothers appear in the Upper Room in Acts chapter 1 because they have seen the resurrected Christ, at least James has, and they now believe! James then finds himself with the apostles and the women in the Upper Room, waiting for the anointing of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Right in the mainstream of the founding of the church, it isn't long after that James becomes a very important part of the church.

Then, you will remember in Acts chapter 12, Peter was in prison and they were having a prayer meeting about his release. When he was released and banging on the door. Peter continued knocking while the people inside said it must be an angel. Obviously, they weren’t exercising great faith in the process of their prayer. Verses 16-17, "But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had led him out of the prison. And he said, “Report these things to James and the brethren.” Then he left and went to another place." One minute James was just meeting in the Upper Room, then all of the sudden, he’s the focal point of the church at Jerusalem, the one that the report goes to. He is the one leading the council in Jerusalem.

OK, so back to James verse 2, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials," The word "consider" is an aorist; it means to suppose, to consider it or evaluate it as joy. 

How do we get the most out of trials, first we begin with a joyous attitude. A joyous attitude. Now, that is something you must discipline yourself to do. He's not saying consider some of it joy, but all joy. It's not indicative to our nature, we would rather grumble and complain. So, you really have to cultivate a joyous attitude in the midst of trials. Its not something that happens by accident. "My brethren," here he is referring to the Jewish Christians, the believers.

Now allow me to direct your attention to the word "when," notice that its not the "if," but "when you encounter various trials."  Its the word "hotan," it means "whenever." In a sense, he saying "whenever, it’s inevitable." So, we could say whenever "you encounter." You encounter is the word "peripesēte," meaning "to fall around," or "stumble into." Its the same word used in Luke 10:30, where the good Samaritan story is told, when he was going down the road fell among thieves. It coveys the idea that there's really no what out, your troubles surround you.

Jesus used the same word in Luke 22:28, when He said "You are those who have stood by Me in My trials."

Verse 3, "knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." Notice the first word, "knowing," that speaks of the mind. In other words, not only are you to have a joyous attitude but an understanding mind. It is the word "ginōskontes," is the idea that knowledge comes from personal experience. In other words, if you’re going to go through a trial and be victorious, you need to know a few things. Jesus had joy in enduring the cross, because He knew the outcome, He knew what was going to happen. So, you need to know that testing of your faith works endurance. Your faith is being tested. Therefore, we had ought to consider the verification of true faith to be a wonderful thing. What a glorious thing to be able to say, "I went through the trial and I passed the test."  

The word "testing," is the word dokimion, it means proof. Know this, all trials that come into our life are designed to accomplish something. All of them, you need to understand that, I believe that its important. The word "endurance," is the word hupomon, meaning staying power. It's the tenacity the spirit holds on to under pressure while awaiting God’s time to remove, to dismiss, to reward when the trial is done. Every time you go through a trial, it strengthens you.

I want to elaborate on this a bit, I Corinthians 10:12-13, Paul says "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." In other words, you’re not going to have a trial, that is going to be so overpowering that there’s nothing within the human realm that can withstand it. Now, allow to make something clear, "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able."  

Someone who is new to the faith, someone who has limited experience, is not going to be to endure trials at a level that you or I would are they? So, God is not going to put you through trials that you can’t handle until He has put you through some preliminary ones to strengthen you, preparing you for that level of trial. I can tell you from my own experience, the more difficult the trial, the sweet the victory! When you come through a difficult trial, you can rejoice at the increased strength and the deliverance of God, proving Him trustworthy, which serves to strengthen your faith. 

If you will remember, the first is a joyous attitude. Second is an understanding mind. Third is a submissive will. Now we come to verse 4, "And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." "And let," is present active imperative, meaning this is a command, "And let endurance have its perfect result." In other words, "Let God do His perfect work." Let endurance do what God wants it to do. This is a command of submission. Don't try to fight it! Be submissive in the trial and let God do what He needs to do. God is dealing with you as a son. He is shaping, perfecting you. If you resist it, it will become more difficult. I can tell you this, the only way out of a trial, is right through the middle of it. The way of escape is always through. We can be joyous in the trials, because we can see the wondrous future, we are enriched in the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. The goal is not endurance, it's perfection. Perfection is the goal! Until Christ is fully formed in us.

As Paul says in Galatians 4:18-19, "But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you." Until Christ is formed in us, that is the ultimate spiritual goal.

In Closing..

In order for the believer to reach spiritual maturity and holy conduct it is essential to have a firm foundation. He must be able to stand with confidence, he must not be beaten down by trials nor fall by temptation.  I believe that this study of James will prepare you to withstand trials from without and temptations from within and become a Christian who can stand firm in truth. 

 For centuries, God scattered His people and His message throughout that He might reach the lost of this fallen world. It is His desire today, to reach this world, perhaps, even through you. As Christians, we must risk contact with a spiritually sick world in order to reach the lost. We need to break out of our isolation, our "holy huddles," and share the gospel message with the world around us. 

 As our faith is tested, it grows in endurance to full maturity under the pressure of trials, it will develop all the necessary features to become complete, lacking in nothing. Rather than to despair, we need to view them with joy, bearing in mind that God uses trials to strengthen our faith. Believing and trusting that God knows what He is doing and that He will see us through to the other side. 

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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