James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
The writer of this epistle is identified as James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are several men with the name James in the Bible. God did not direct this James to identify himself further and it is assumed that this James was the half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, His siblings, who were all “half siblings” doubted who He was. Jesus Christ had no earthly father. Jesus demonstrated His deity to them and we know that some of them were saved. It is also generally understood that this James was martyred in 62 AD.
We are told in this opening statement that James was directed to write to the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad. This letter is Jewish in origin. Even though it was written to the twelve tribes, it is also applicable to Gentile saints. During the time of this writing the Jews were not contained in one certain area. They were scattered abroad. We know that persecution scattered the saints in the first century. God’s design was for the Gospel to be preached everywhere. Churches were to be established everywhere. This scattering was brought about because of their faith in the true God and in the Lord Jesus Christ. There was a strong opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ among the Jews. There was a large segment of the Jewish population that were religious, but they were lost. Their religion was a man-made religion that was designed to keep the people in bondage to their false teachers.
There is a cult in our town that is of Philippine origin. They pride themselves in being called “The Church of Christ”. They claim to be the only true church because of their name. They are different than the Campbellite churches of Christ. This Filipino cult claims to take their name from the Bible. They claim other churches are not legitimate because they do not take their names from the Bible. A Bible search will show that the Bible never names any church as “the Church of Christ”. (Apparently in some of the Filipino languages their Bible has “the church of Christ” in them.) There are churches that are identified with Jesus Christ, but the Bible never calls any church “the Church of Christ”. Romans 16:16 addresses the “churches of Christ.” Several times the church is called “the Church of God”. This group has made a big deal of something that the Bible does not. They deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet they claim to be true churches.
There is a great need for the truth to be proclaimed throughout the entire world. The Bible is clear that God did not intend for man to live in bondage. Adam was not in bondage in the Garden of Eden. The one command that God gave him regarding separation and life did not put Adam in bondage. Adam came into bondage when he decided not to obey God and he chose to eat of the forbidden fruit. That is where bondage started.
The first century Christians were not welcomed by those who were not saved. That is still true today. New Evangelicalism has tried to broaden the tent of what defines a Christian. God gave us His Word to show us we do not need to be deceived. James was directed to write to Jewish saints who were scattered abroad. They needed to be taught and reminded of some important matters. James began by dealing with the matter of faith.
In verse 2 James encouraged the brethren with regard to temptation. Verse 3 helps us to understand what these temptations were. They were not the temptation to sin, but rather the testing of their faith. Did they have a genuine faith in the Lord? That is a valid question that every professing Christian needs to consider. Is there a right foundation to what you believe?
In verse 3 they needed to understand and know that the trying of their faith worketh patience. We need to be tested in what we believe to make sure it is genuine. There are those who deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. They do not have a valid faith. Is your faith valid? If you say it is, what do you base that on? It must be more than your feelings. It must be solidly founded in the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be defined by the faithful study and application of the Word of God.
James tells us here that the trying of our faith will produce patience. Will your faith stand up against the scrutiny of the world and the devil? In my life time I have witnessed the failure of the faith of the religion I was raised in. That religion has changed drastically from the time I was a child to where it is today. The changes have proven that it was built upon sand. It was not built on the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ.
A faith that is built upon the Lord Jesus Christ can weather the storms of life. It can remain stedfast even when challenged. A church that is built upon the Lord Jesus Christ must be faithful in its teaching so that the next generation can have the opportunity to know the truth as well. From my observation one of the early signs of the failure of the faith that I was raised in was the adoption of a perversion rather than holding to the Word of God. The world was gaining ground in that religion and the older men did not have the conviction to contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints. They did not have that faith. They had a man-made faith that could not stand the testing of the next generation. They did not have a valid faith. Sadly, there are many that I grew up with that have either remained within that religion or have drifted off to something more radical.
What we believe, must be built upon that one true faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jesus addressed seven different churches in Revelation 2&3. Those churches had all started off strong and right. However, over time, most of their pastors had turned aside from the truth. The apostle Paul warned the elders in Ephesus of the fact that there would be wolves coming up from within their own ranks. These wolves would seek to scatter the flock.
If we take God at His Word we can take joy in the temptations that we will face. We can be thankful that we can be tested and survive the testing in Christ Jesus. We can thus help others to build on that sure faith as well.
We need patience and drill down deeper into God’s Word as we are tested. Don’t run and hide. Don’t cave in to the temptation. Get into God’s Word and grow in Him. This growth will start with salvation.