Welcome everyone, today we begin a new series. The Epistle of James, which I have tagged, The Torah of Freedom. I’ve done this because there is a heavy Jewish overtone in James’ letter, and It is structured in five parts like the Torah. Much like Psalms is structured the same way it is thought of as a Torah of Praise. At this point I would normally give some context here, but today we’re going to mix it up a bit, so let’s see how it goes.
My big idea for today is that we will begin to process James’ expression of biblical leadership and apply it to our lives. My prayer for us today is that be hearing this message we would be encouraged in our own transformation in your image. If you have your Bibles today you can join me in James chapter 1, verse 1.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.James 1:1
This letter was written by James the brother of Jesus. It is thought to be one of the earliest of New Testament books, circa ad 45-48. And it was written to Jewish believers in various places. I mentioned before that there are 5 sections or themes in James that emulate the Torah and they are as follows: Suffering, Sin, Christology, the Righteous Poor, & Wisdom. James’ treatment of these issues is not just practical in helping us navigate life, instructs the individual how to avoid falling into the bondage of self-centeredness, but also instructs the total body of believers toward unity with each other and with Christ. In addition, James’ ideas marry the Jewish concepts of fulfillment of the law and freedom in Jesus Christ. Torah of Freedom.
I said that we were going to mix it up a little, so here it goes. If it’s ok, I’m going to teach a little. We going to do an exegetic exercise. We will do this by breaking down this short verse by using hermeneutical tools. This will give us a better and more clear understanding of how James is starting off his letter. Let’s look at the first section.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ
The question is really, who is James saying he is? We know him as James, a better translation of His name is given Hebrew name is Jacob, But we will continue to call his James. Why is this important? Because we must temper what James says against his Greek influenced Hebrew background. In the Messianic Church in Jerusalem James is a big deal. James and Peter pretty much run the show. Next he indicates that he is a servant/slave of God and of the lord Jesus Christ. Slave to a Roman vs. and American idea of slave. And Hebrew slave counterpart.
For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, Sovereign Lord, brought our ancestors out of Egypt.”1 Kings 8:53
Honor and authority
“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?2 Samuel 7:5
Also Daniel, etc.
Of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Loyalty to Christ does not Jeopardize James monotheistic Jewish roots. Another way to say it is:
Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ who is God.
He’s saying that his loyalty to God the Father and to Jesus Christ do not compromise the Law/Shema but fulfills because James’ loyalty to Christ and the father are one in the same.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Deut. 6:4-6
This is the fulfillment of the Law/Torah in Christ Jesus. Jesus said directly here in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.Matthew 5:17
Historical significance, cultural significance, language nuance, allow scripture to interpret scripture.
I’ll move on to my next section.
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
Who are the 12 tribes among the nations? Physical Israel? National Israel? Israel split -10 tribes lost to Assyria and 2 tribes lost to Babylon. Half-breed Jews in Samaria, Syrian Jews
There were synagogues all around the known world and the message of Jesus the Messiah was spreading first through the synagogues converting the first Jewish messianic Christians.
The 12 tribes scattered among the nations are the multiracial Jews all over the place.
The great thing about scripture is that its relevant and applicable to us event today. As “grafted in” to this new covenant family of God’s chosen people. These messages are for us today as much as they we to the 12 tribes scattered.
You and I have been given a tremendous gift, it’s the ability to chose God, to choose Jesus, each day. Let’s remember that we have not replaced the Jewish People in God’s heart, rather we have been invited to join them, in Christ, adopted sons and Daughters of the living God.
Will you join me as we seek an authentic relationship united in Christ and each other? Rejecting division, embracing God’s reality in Jesus, and encouraging one another. It’s just between you and God. Here’s the thing, If we love God and abide in Christ we will find ourselves more and more loving each other. You will we more and you will love better. We will experience God in spirit and in truth and we will share that amongst each other. Share all the ways God has shown you mercy and grace.
Will you allow the Holy Spirit to stir faith in someone through your testimony? Would you join me as the Holy Spirit moves on us to be unified in the spirit of Christ? These are the kingdom values. This is truly the work of God. The intentional actions of the body of Christ. Remember the devil seeks only to kill steal and destroy. Steal your freedom, kill your joy, and destroy your destiny for hope and love. But God has a plan! He’s stealing from your neighbor, your family, and your loved ones today.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
Jesus, He’s the Son of the living God, and we can receive from Him today His Righteousness, His purpose and His calling. Will you call on him today? Your salvation/forgiveness is just one prayer away. Will you trust in his ability to do what He said He would do? Will you believe today? Many of you need a fresh touch from God today.
Is there some form of unbelief or a fracture of trust as it relates to God in your life today? God wants to redeem and restore those areas of your life? He wants to restore Joy and hope for you today.
You’re hearing this now and the Holy Spirit has brought someone or something to mind. He wants to speak life into this today. He wants to bring healing in this area today. There are areas of deep regret when it comes to your relationship with God and you have rejected Christ as your savior …It’s not too late
It’s not too late to humble yourself before him today, hold out your arms and open your hands to receive from him today. Will you say yes to Jesus, today? Will you bow your heads with me? Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today. If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here.
Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life. If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. Remember, it’s just you and God here. Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me?
Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and on that 3rd day, you rose from the dead. I ask you to come into my heart today. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.
“‘“The Lord bless youNumbers 6:24-26
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’