James the Just – James 5:10-20 – Week 13 – Rob Covell

James the Just

James 5:10-20

Week 13

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will complete our 13-week verse by verse study in the Epistle of James. This has been such a rich season of growth for us and this great letter from James has released great grace into lives.

We will explore James 5:10-20 in this session, and we will conclude our study by seeing the following movements in the text.

1 – Perseverance of faith in the face of suffering brings an eternal reward.

2 – God is full of compassion and mercy.

3 – Integrity should guide our words and will.

4 – The power of turning to the Lord in all things.

5 – The power of the prayer of faith and righteousness in the life of the believer.

6 – Those who restore others release life and forgiveness.

James 5:10

a) James continues the perseverance theme in verses 10-11. He points his readers to the example of the Old Testament prophets who endured persecutions, hardships and trials, but overcame because they did not depart from the faith. Our daily circumstances and seasons in our lives should not be the plumb-line by which we grade God’s goodness towards us. James is writing to the regional Judean Church who had endured persecutions from unbelievers, and who would endure continued hardship until the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70.

b) Jeremiah is a great example of perseverance of faith. Jeremiah was flogged and put in sticks (Jer. 20:2), Jeremiah was put in prison for speaking God’s heart to His people (Jer. 32:2) and Jeremiah was sunk in mud (Jer. 28:6). Jeremiah trusted the Lord in all these trials and was delivered from death and vindicated by God in the end.

c) Jesus in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13), teaches us that perseverance of faith is an evidence that we have truly become His disciples. See Hebrews 11:32-38 for a list of those who suffered, but by faith overcame and won their eternal reward.

James 5:11

a) James mentions Job as an example of one who never lost faith in the Lord. Job is a truly an amazing example in Scripture. He lived during the time of the patriarchs and had very little knowledge of God regarding Scripture; Job related to God through the Noahaic Covenant, and yet trusted God in his suffering.

b) NKJV – James 5:11 – Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

c) Job was completely vindicated before his friends and the Lord blessed Job with
immense wealth, more family and a long and prosperous life. See Job 42:12-17.

d) Notice that James encourages his readers to trust in God’s compassion and mercy during difficult seasons and trials in our lives. Compassion and mercy are highlighted again and again in Scripture and are powerful expressions of His nature and character. The Greek word for compassion in James 5:11 means extremely compassionate, very kind, or compassion and kindness emanating from the inward parts of the heart. The Greek word for mercy literally means “tender mercy”.

James 5:12

a) James paraphrases Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:37. A person who knows their identity in Christ, who walks in integrity does not need to qualify their words to others. Their self-control, faithfulness and submission to the Lord give weight and authority to their words because the issue has been decided in the heart.

b) We fall into condemnation/judgment when our character does not align with our words, that is the sin of hypocrisy. Many scholars hold that the condemnation or judgment that James is referencing can be understood in two ways. 1 – Eternal condemnation for not ever having received salvation with habitual hypocrisy as the evidence. 2 – That as each believer stands before the judgment seat of Christ, we give an account for our discipleship and therefore are judged by Christ regarding our eternal reward. See 2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

James 5:13-15 a) James teaches that in all things we should appeal to the Lord. In trouble/hardships we pray; in joy we worship (Greek -sing on an instrument/play an instrument/accompany an instrument/to sing a spiritual song); in sickness we pray.

b) Is anyone among you sick? – Greek – sick – astheneō – weak, feeble, diseased, or sick.

c) Pray – Greek – proseuchomai – to pray supplicatory prayers to God in a posture of worship.

d) Notice that the prayer is rooted in the authority of the Name of the Lord (Jesus), and is activated by the humble faith of those praying for the sick person. Also notice that James includes forgiveness of our sins. The reference for anointing the sick with aromatic oil (Greek) is the symbolism of the anointing of the Holy Spirit coming on the person being prayed for. There is no power in the oil. The oil helps build faith. In reference to the context of times and culture James is speaking to, oils were used as topical medicines. However, the subject in the text is the prayer of faith and divine healing, not natural medicine.

e) James places the emphasis that it is the Lord Jesus who raises us up and is the One who works on our behalf to heal and forgive us. It is important to point out that one who needs healing in their body or the one who needs reconciliation with God is charged with stepping out in faith and asking for prayer. Then the elders/leaders pray in worshipful humility in the authority and power of Jesus, and the Lord responds and raises up the one who needs help.

f) Faith attracts the resources of heaven and empowers God to work on our behalf. Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance (that which has actual existence) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

James 5:16

a) Confessing our sins and asking for prayer for healing increases humility on our part, builds in us the ability to receive grace from God and to extend grace to others, and builds in us a dependent heart on the Lord. Notice that as the Body ministers to itself, healing comes, and God is glorified.

b) Notice that the prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective. Another word for word translation of the Greek could be as follows: A person (no gender in the Greek) who is wise in the ways of God, asks God with energetic passion, is a great availing force. The KJV gets very close – “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

c) Our alignment with God, i.e. our obedience to His ways empower passionate prayer and releases power for healing. I always want tender disciples who love Jesus and are submitted to Him to pray for me. If we want to grow in power in prayer, intimacy and obedience to Jesus is the onramp.

d) St. Augustine – “O Lord my God, I believe in you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Insofar as I can, insofar as you have given me the power, I have sought you. I became weary and I labored. O Lord my God, my sole hope, help me to believe and never to cease seeking you. Grant that I may always and ardently seek out your countenance. Give me the strength to seek you, for you help me to find you and you have more and more given me the hope of finding you. Here I am before you with my firmness and my infirmity. Preserve the first and heal the second. Here I am before you with my strength and my ignorance. Where you have opened the door to me, welcome me at the entrance; where you have closed the door to me, open to my cry; enable me to remember you, to understand you, and to love you. Amen.”

James 5:17-18

a) James uses the example of Elijah and encourages his readers that by faith and in faith, we are like Elijah and can produce Elijah-like results when we pray.

James 5:19-20

a) Notice that James encourages us to watch over one another and seek out those who have walked away from the faith. They might not always return to the Lord, but those who turn them back to Christ will have released life and forgiveness into their lives.

b) It is a caution to us that we should never judge someone who has wandered away from Christ, but we should seek to restore them. Many in the Church hold people’s failures over their heads even 5-10 years after they have returned to Jesus, who forgave them in an instance.

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James the Just – James 5:1-9 – Week 12 – Rob Covell

James the Just

James 5:1-9

Week 12

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session, we will begin James 5, and explore verses 1-9. In these verses James continues use forceful language to provoke repentance in their hearts. Verses 1-9 contain multiple uses of cultural idioms and Old Testament parallels as the catalyst for considering the errors of living in a way that does not align with God. In the Epistle of James, we see James make sharp statements that are aimed at bringing change to his readers so that they can experience the goodness of God in its fullest sense.

In James 5:1-9 we see the following movements in the text.

1 – Independent and self-indulgent living leads to destruction.

2 – Injustice against humanity brings the judgment of God.

3 – Perseverance of faith in the face of suffering brings an eternal reward.

James 5:1

a) Before we build a theology that wealth is ungodly, we need to look at what Scripture says about wealth, and riches. In the context of the culture that James is writing to, wealth and prosperity are expected Covenant benefits for walking with the Lord in obedience.

b) Deuteronomy 28:12-13 – The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

c) Deuteronomy 8:18 – But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

d) Psalm 112:3 – Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.

e) Proverbs 8:18 – With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.

f) Psalm 128:2 – You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

g) From this brief overview of Scripture concerning godly wealth and prosperity, we can see that James must be speaking about an ungodly trust in wealth and the injustice that follows those who use wealth as a tool of oppression and manipulation, and in their pride deny their dependence on the Lord.

h) James is using Hebrew prophetic hyperbole similar to the Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel and others to bring an emphasis to this ungodly mindset.

i) Notice that James points his hearers attention to 3 forms of wealth that people trust in, instead of trusting and being dependent on the Lord. In the previous chapter, James 4:13-17, James addresses the independent spirit and exhorts his readers to not walk in pride and make their own plans for gaining wealth, but to trust the Lord and seek His direction, so that their prosperity is God given as they co-labor with God. These are the forms of wealth James addresses, 1 – Food, 2 – Clothing, 3 – Money. The people James is addressing are trusting in these temporary things instead of building eternal wealth that comes from walking with the Lord, hearing and responding to His voice, and serving His kingdom and loving His people. Matthew 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

j) The “last days” is a Hebrew idiom that is connected to the concept of God’s judgment on the wicked, unjust and the oppressors on the earth. Proverbs 11:28 – Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. James is using the saying to get their attention. James is not using this play on words in an eschatological sense as predicting the Day of the Lord.

k) The ungodly use of wealth testifies against us because it exposes the motivations of our hearts and reveals our true value system. Our spending habits reveal our hearts.

James 5:4

a) Notice that ungodly wealth is aligned with injustice. Godly wealth and favor from God benefit the people around us. Godly wealth builds infrastructures, feeds people, employs people, builds inheritances, and institutions that benefit the generations. The people James is speaking to, had withheld pay for labor. James is mirroring language in Deuteronomy 24:15 – Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.

b) Notice the Reference to the LORD Almighty. The Greek is kyrios Sabaōth, i.e. Lord of the armies of Israel, as those who are under the leadership and protection of Jehovah maintain his cause in war, used in a military context of God making war on disobedient enemies.

James 5:5

a) The NASB is better translation of James 5:5 – You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. We should clarify that the “day of slaughter” reference is cultural play on words for a feast day, or day of festive celebration, since the meat for the feast was slaughtered and prepared the same day.

b) Notice that the charge here in the Scripture is reference to wanton pleasure/luxury and self-indulgence. The godly use of wealth, prosperity and resources is focused, purposeful and accomplishes specific directive assignments that come from God. Luxury and self-indulgence is undisciplined spending, wasteful use of resources, independent living and prideful disregard for God, His laws or His ways. This is the rebellion that comes from wealthy independent lifestyles, that disregard the ways of the Lord.

James 5:6

a) James is highlighting one of the highest offenses against the Lord, which is murdering the innocent by false testimony, the same sin that the Sanhedrin
committed against Jesus. Jeremiah 22:3 – This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

b) We should point out that some Bible scholars see James using cultural idioms that invoke reverence for God, as an opportunity to cause repentance, and that James is not literally addressing people who have withheld wages and murdered the innocent, but provoking them that their sins of self-indulgence and independence from God will result in the same consequences as those that bring the judgment of God in the Old Testament.

James 5:7-8

a) James shifts the subject from the self-indulgent and independent to the Apostolic Church in Judea that needed to stay in the perseverance of faith. James uses the example of the farmer, who hands plowed the ground, sowed the seed, then patiently waits for the rains that yield an abundant harvest. This is perfect metaphor to describe our walks with Christ. Jesus used a very similar parable in the Parable of the Sower. See Matthew 13.

b) Romans 5:3-4 – Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

c) Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

d) Notice James’ focus on being urgent in our personal lives regarding the return of Jesus Christ. Our daily decisions affect our eternity. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is an uncomfortable one because we do not want to consider that there is a reward for staying true to Christ in the midst of suffering. We can look at the Letters to the 7 Churches in Revelation and see that Christ promised all of them a reward for enduring under the pressure of life. Scripture certainly promises us very good things like healing, provision, peace and many other benefits that flow from the cross. However, our world is still subject to the Fall and a very real enemy seeks to kill, steal and destroy. Whether we are in peace and blessing, or enduring persecutions or trials, our faith should remain constant and our devotion to Jesus should continue.

e) Spurgeon – “A man to whom it is given to wait for a reward keeps up his courage, and when he has to wait, he says, ‘It is no more than I expected. I never reckoned that I was to slay my enemy at the first blow. I never imagined that I was to capture the city as soon as ever I had digged the first trench; I reckoned upon waiting, and now that is come, I find that God gives me the grace to fight on and wrestle on, till the victory shall come.’ And patience saves a man from a great deal of haste and folly.”

James 5:9

a) James parralells Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and warns his readers against judging one another. Grumble – Greek – stenazō – a sigh, to groan.