As you will have no doubt seen in our Discipleship corner, starting in September I will be leading a Wednesday night Bible Study. I wanted to give you a little information about exactly what you can expect from that study. This Bible Study, whose subject will be the Epistle of James, is going to look a little bit different from other studies you might have done in the past. I’ll explain why below, but first, an introduction to the Epistle of James.
James is one of 21 epistles found in the New Testament and is one of the epistles not attributed to the apostle Paul. Instead, this letter is commonly attributed to “James the Just,” James the Just was not one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, but instead was commonly believed to be a brother of Jesus, who later became one of his apostles and also became a leader of the church in Jerusalem. As a result, the letter in some ways is geared towards a heavily Jewish audience.
The primary content of the epistles of Paul is theological in nature, discussing the nature of Christ and the importance of faith. James, however, focuses more on the practical elements of life as a follower of Christ. One of his most famous lines is from chapter 2, where he writes “…Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).
In many ways then James is less similar to Paul and more similar to Old Testament books like Proverbs. We turn to James for advice on what exactly the life of a Christ-follower is supposed to look like. What do we say? What do we do? James raised important points about taming our tongues, about controlling our boasting, and other things that affect our daily lives, and how we can live a fuller life.
Now as to how this Bible study will be a little bit different. The study is scheduled for Wednesday evenings from 7PM-8PM. However, we will not be using the entire time for studying the scriptures. Instead, we will be devoting the first half of each session to prayer. James writes
“13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:13-16)
In this study, we are going to take these words seriously. We are going to devote ourselves to prayer for each other before we dive into the scriptures, caring for needs both large and small in our congregation. We hope you’ll be able to join us!