James the Just
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.”
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.
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.