Grace and James (#1026)
Good morning. We’re going to continue our series on the grace of God today. And we’re going to cover a topic that I never covered, at least not this way. I’ve alluded to it and made comments. And I’ve never heard anyone else teach it in quite the arrangement we’re doing. And that is we are going to look at James the brother of the Lord and how grace did or did not show up in his ministry. Remember James grew up in the Roman province of Judea, what we now call Israel. And you you’ll see this in organizations and companies and politics, where it is very common for you to develop sort of a dynasty where one person in the family does well and people follow on. We know that Jesus Christ chose Paul to be the apostle to the Gentiles and Peter to be the apostle to the Circumcism, or the Israelites. Yet James, being the blood brother, at least half-brother of Jesus Christ, because Mary was hist mother and Joseph was his father, he rose to prominence, to the point that he had more clout and notoriety as the head of the Church in Jerusalem then even Peter. Which again, is not what was the will of the Lord according to what we see in other parts of the scripture, but it just worked out, it is hard to beat that situation.
I even had a high school friend, the guy that was the head of our student counsel, very good fellow, he got into politics in Massachusetts, and was a Senator, in the state senate in Massachusetts and decided to the run for US Congressman. There was an open seat and he ran for it and he was a considered a shoe-in, there was just almost no competition until one of the Kennedy sons decided he wanted to run. And that was it, because this guy who had very little experience from the Kennedy clan, the Kennedy’s were so recognized in Massachusetts, that the minute he ran, my old friend from High School has no chance. And that Kennedy, I think it is Joe Kennedy, I think is still a member of Congress from Massachusetts to this day, as he has been for about 20 years.
So, that name recognition we’ve seen it like I say in business, in politics, in sports, in just about anything you can imagine. And in religious groups you see this. You see it all over the place. And I know that happened with me and my brothers, we sort of ran the Boy Scout troupe in town. My oldest brother started out running it, then my middle brother, than I took it over. Church youth group, it was just assumed that if there was another Mahone to come along and run it, they would just let us do it. It wasn’t like we had to campaign and fight for it, people were just glad to have somebody do it, do they didn’t have to. And that is the way it worked out. At any rate, I digress a little bit, but the point is, James ended up being the head of the Church in Jerusalem.
And the other thing is since those in Jerusalem were so into the Law, having grown up in it, they tended to go back to it. So that is another thing we see through Christianity, when the pagans, those from a pagan background, if you were studying the Roman religion, or Greek religion, the Persian religions, when they became Christians, they tended to bring a lot of the ceremony and rituals and holidays and worship habits into Christianity. And there are whole books about this, some of which go a little overboard, but there are books like “Babylon Mystery Religion” and other things like that where you can trace the history of where they came from. Like the idea of worshiping the saints, you had a saint you worship when you lost your car keys, and another saint you pray to when somebody wants to get pregnant, and another saint you pray to when you want to have a good crop. This is nothing more than taking the pagan practice for having a god for everything under the heaven and praying to that god. They just wanted to keep that, instead of having one god to pray to they wanted to have a lot of them, but since you only had one, or maybe three gods in Christianity, they went to worshiping the saints.
So you see, so much of this. And the same thing happened in the churches in Jerusalem, these people had grown up there with the old testament Law. They liked it, they were used to it, they judged each other by it, it gave them sort of a measuring stick to measure how righteous they felt they were by how much of the law they did. And they were comfortable with it. I’ve know people today that grow up in Christian denominations that go to confession every week or every so often, and I have chatted with them and mentioned that there is nothing in the Bible about having to confess to a priest, and I’ve had be say yeah but I like it, I’m used to it. Because they grew up with it. And I’ve seem this happen so many times, and we all have. I’ve had people come to our Bible fellowship and get all excited about God’s Word and then all it does is excite them to go back to the church they grew up in. Because that is where they really feel comfortable. And I understand all of these things.
And James was not an evil guy, he didn’t do I don’t think really nasty things, or maybe one or two that we’ll read about. But, he did either bring the church back into the old testament Law or when people around him wanted to, he didn’t fight them. Sort of like, when Moses went up on the mount to get the ten commandments, Aaron allowed the people to make a golden calf, and it’s a little unclear, but it sounds like he even cooperated in it — he didn’t fight them off. Although it might not have been his idea, he saw which way the wind was blowing as far as popularity, and he just decided to go along with the golden calf. Of course Moses, the minute he saw it, he broke the calf up in pieces and got really mad. Because he didn’t care what the people thought. And we’ll see the same thing with Paul and James. James wants to put them back under the Law, Paul was resisting and trying to keep people in the grace of God. Of course, he gets sucked in too in Acts 21 and ends up in jail for several years as a result.
So, with that introduction, let’s go back to Ephesians two…
As taught by Bruce Mahone, 20210815. All rights reserved.
Verse Listing and Notes
Ephesians 2:4-10 Saved by grace – a gift from God
I John 3:22-23 This is the commandment: believe on JC and love one another
Acts 15:1-29 First Jerusalem Council
Acts 21:15-26 Second Jerusalem Council
James 1 Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only (vs. 22)
James 2 A man is justified by works, and not by faith only (vs. 24)
James 3 The tongue is an unruly evil (vs. 8)
James 4 Humble yourselves in the sight of God (vs. 10)
James 5 Confess your faults (vs. 16)