The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Category Archives: James

The Power of a Righteous Man’s Prayer

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The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (Jam. 5:16)

What makes this verse such a favorite among Christians? The wording. Notice the reference to power: that always perks the ears of our little egos. And then notice who is wielding that power: a human being, not God. And here is where we should be slamming on the brakes and saying, “Wait a minute—something’s wrong. Humans don’t have power.” But this is not what we say, is it?

Humans don’t have power. Humans aren’t potent little sorcerers who can go around zapping God into action with their universe altering utterances. So whenever someone starts trying to pump you up about YOUR power, you need to look to the Holy Spirit for help. Whether that person is a dead apostle like James or a living leader in the Church today, anyone who tries to make you view YOURSELF as a powerful entity is leading you astray. GOD has power, and He doesn’t take orders from you. Read more of this post

Applying James 5: Concluding Foolishness

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This is a continuation of Applying James 4.

James doesn’t like rich people. We’ve picked up on this through comments he’s made in previous chapters, but as we begin the final chapter of this book, he really lets loose. Read more of this post

Applying James 4: Railing at Rebels

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This is a continuation of Applying James 3: Warnings to Teachers.

As we begin the fourth chapter of James, it becomes clear that things aren’t going well among the group of Jewish Christians that James is speaking to.

What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires. (Jam. 4:1-3)

This bit about “You do not have because you do not ask” is a favorite among those who like to yank Scriptures out of context and then throw them in God’s face as a reason for why He has to give us what we want. And yet is God really the kind of Father who won’t feed His children until they come and ask Him to do so? Not hardly. Read more of this post

Applying James 3: Warnings to Teachers

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This is a continuation of Applying James 2.

In Chapter 1, James made us all feel bad for the many ways we are falling short of Yahweh’s demands. In Chapter 2, James hammered the point that merely responding well to God in our souls is garbage—we have to also come up with a constant stream of righteous behaviors. There’s no room for depraved flesh in James’ theology—we Christians are supposed to just rid ourselves of all our moral filth. It’s very simple to James: just stop sinning. Just be perfect. And when we take his teaching to heart, we end up just wanting to cry because we’re such worms in God’s eyes.

Happily for us, James is totally wrong about God judging us by our earthsuits. God judges us by our souls, for He knows that our souls are the only part of our beings that He gave us total control over. Certainly we’d all like to please God with our flesh as well, but far too often God withholds this option from us by not giving us the empowerment we need to choose the higher road. In this world, we crash and burn in temptation A LOT. We do nasty things to other people. We think nasty thoughts. Our souls groan in their cages of depravity, but there is hope on the horizon. God says that when we die, we’ll leave these earthsuits behind for good. We won’t have to battle with fallen flesh in Heaven. And while we’re looking forward to that glorious day, there is much joy and freedom to be had on this earth as the Holy Spirit reveals to us how easy it is to succeed with God. Because God judges us by our soul’s response to Him, and ONLY by our soul’s response to Him, we can all succeed at greatly pleasing Him no matter what kinds of struggles we’re having. God evens the field for us—putting spiritual excellence well within the grasp of every soul. The more we understand the truth about how God judges, the more encouraged we become. Read more of this post

Applying James 2: Faith without Works is Dead

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This is a continuation of Applying James 1.

In Chapter 1, James made a couple of comments that revealed he has a rather low opinion of rich people and an exalted view of the poor. As we begin this new chapter, he returns to the topic of economic status.

My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For example, a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man dressed in dirty clothes also comes in. If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or, “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” haven’t you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (Jam. 2:1-4)

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Applying James 1: The Many Ways You’re Failing God

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If you’ve bought into the delusion that you can be morally perfect after salvation, you’re going to love the book of James. If you’ve figured out that you can’t, you’re going to hate James.

If you’re looking for a way to guilt more Christians into signing up for ministries, you’re going to love the book of James. If you’re trying to slog through a long period of waiting on God and wrestling with “slacker” guilt, you’re going to hate James.

If you’re currently feeling like you’ve got your flesh under control, you’re going to love the book of James. If your flesh is currently winning the day, you’re going to hate James. Read more of this post