At first glance, James appears to be one of the most practical books in the New Testament. The letter is filled with advice about facing the trials of life, coping with poverty, managing the desire to be rich, controlling the tongue, making plans for the future, and so on. James underlines the need to be active, practicing believers. We are to be those who do not merely listen to the Word, but do what it says. However, no matter how enthusiastically we embrace a practical approach to the Christian life, that life has no value unless it is based upon God, who is the source of life. As Anthony Bird demonstrates in this commentary, what is remarkable about the letter of James is the glorious vision it presents of God, the descriptions of whom are both extensive and breathtaking. Reading it ought to drive us to contemplate afresh the wonder of God—then lead us to worship him.
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“If we are members of the church we are the bride of Christ. We belong to him absolutely, exclusively and sacrificially. And we are to be wholly faithful to him in our love and service. It would be unthinkable to cultivate other lovers. How well do our lives, our values, our thinking, our speaking reflect this exclusive marriage bond? We may never have been guilty of sexual unfaithfulness, but has there been spiritual adultery? Are there other lovers in our lives?” (Page 159)
“Showing partiality is a contradiction of faith in Christ, who did not show partiality in coming down from glory to save us, poor as we are. Though it may be detected in the home, school, workplace, or even in the judicial system, in the church it is a fundamental denial of the gospel of grace. If the church does not wipe out partiality, then partiality will wipe out the church.” (Page 95)
“He does not shame the poor brother by highlighting his poverty; nor does he condemn the rich brother for his wealth. But he points to something they both have in common, which is their faith in Jesus.” (Page 48)
“When I ask, ‘How are you?’ he replies, ‘Nothing that a good resurrection will not cure’!” (Page 197)
“The earnestness of his prayer has little to do with passion, or posture, or the length of the prayer. It has everything to do with God’s promise of rain (1 Kings 18:1). Elijah knew beforehand that God would answer. Earnestness in prayer flows out of a confidence in the promises of God. Charles Spurgeon wrote, ‘Every promise of Scripture is a writing of God which may be pleaded before him with this reasonable request: ‘Do as you have said.’ ’” (Page 212)