September 2016 - February 2017
The letter of James has strong claims to be both the most celebrated and most criticized of all New Testament books. It has been criticized because the words “Christ” and “Jesus” appear only a couple times. Martin Luther fumed that “James mangles the Scriptures and thereby opposes Paul.” He was referring to the faith and works discussion in chapter two. But in spite of such charges, this letter has persistently found its way into the hearts and affections of countless Christians through the ages. It remains one of the most cherished books of the Bible because it is very practical. James addresses everyday issues of living such as how we speak, how we should think about wealth and poverty, how to approach conflict, sickness and suffering. James is a wonderfully down to earth book, and through our study, may the Lord show us what genuine faith looks like in real life. May the Lord show us how real faith works hard and lives distinctively.
Sun, Feb 26, 2017
54 mins 30 secs
Speaker: Lukus Counterman - James 4:1-6 presents a key problem that can exist even amongst the people of God. They still fight with each other - maybe in the home, at work, or even in the church. Where does this come from? James raises and answers his own question - from the lustful desires that remain part of humanity’s fallen nature, even after redemption. These desires regularly attach themselves to what people do not already possess, leading to all kinds of quarrels - from verbal assaults to literal warfare. So, where do fights and quarrels come from? They emerge from conflicting passions and rivaling affections in our hearts. So, James calls us to run to God’s over-abounding grace - “he gives more grace.” May the Lord help us to run to his throne grace this morning to find help in our time of need.
Sun, Feb 19, 2017
58 mins 33 secs
Speaker: Lukus Counterman - James establishes the existence of two kinds of wisdom: one from above, the heavenly, and the other from below, the demonic. He takes time in (James 3:13-18) to describe the characteristics, sources, and fruit of each of these types of wisdom. Today we will be examining wisdom from below, and we will discover that where such pollution of the soul exists, there is disorder and vile practice soon to follow. When we see jealousy or selfish ambition, we should be on the watch for earthly wisdom. In those moments we must repent and run to Christ who is the wisdom of God. We must ask him for wisdom from above so that we can live a life that pleases Him. May the Lord help us to seek him and His wisdom for life.
Sun, Feb 12, 2017
52 mins 52 secs
Speaker: Lukus Counterman - James 3:13-18 continues to unpack the second major theme of the letter - wisdom and speech. The theme of wisdom first appeared in James 1:5-8 and then again in James 1:19-26. In our present context, James is explaining that by their good conduct, Christians should demonstrate heavenly rather than worldly wisdom. Specifically they should exhibit purity and peacefulness rather than jealousy and strife. When we fight for power in Christian circles, evil establishes a foothold. When we operate with worldly values, seeking our own honor and status, we even offer Satan an entrance into the house of God. May the Lord protect us, and teach us to live with wisdom from above.
Sun, Feb 05, 2017
51 mins 22 secs
Speaker: Lukus Counterman - Ask what James 3 is about and there is only one possible answer: the tongue. The control of one’s speech is one of the tests of true religion that James mentions at the end of chapter one. Believers must control their speech because the tongue has an influence on life for good and bad that is all out of proportion to its size. As we continue to look at this chapter, James explains the nature of the tongue - it is puny but powerful, it is humanly untamable, and it is shamefully inconsistent. If no man can tame the tongue, we are left without hope unless there is someone greater than a mere man who can intervene. Our hope is in Christ - the one who changes hearts and changes tongues. May the Lord help us to receive his word with meekness such that our hearts and mouths are changed.
Sun, Jan 29, 2017
51 mins 29 secs
Speaker: Jon Kopp - This morning, James is going to introduce the next major section of his epistle by addressing another characteristic of genuine faith. If you remember back to Chapter 1:26-27, James has already given us a rough outline for the major topics for his epistle. The outline flows like this: Those who have genuine faith care for the neediest around them. That was chapter 2. They also interact well with the world. That will be James 4 and following. Then this morning, those with genuine faith control their tongues. and to introduce that topic, he points out something that is universally true of human beings. There is no more consistent and penetrating evidence of our need for genuine faith than what comes out of our mouths. Over and over again, many times a day, our tongues humble us and shows us our need for a faith that can transform us. So, thats what we will look at today. May God use our tongues to humble us to our desperate need of his grace.
Sun, Jan 22, 2017
48 mins 16 secs
Speaker: Lukus Counterman - The latter half of James 2 is the best-known part of the letter because at points it appears to directly contradict the teaching of Paul that believers are justified by faith apart from works. Upon closer examination however, we can discover that the apparent contradiction is superficial and results from Paul and James having different concerns, different backgrounds, and different audiences with different problems. The fact of the matter is that faith is no less important to James than it is to Paul, and it is precisely because faith is so important to James that he harshly condemns a false variety of it. What we will discover this morning is that James never condemns faith, but rather the hypocritical variety of it that fails to produce righteous behavior, thereby indicating that it is a brand of faith that is actually dead. May the Lord help us to understand the relationship between faith, works, and salvation as we seek to rightly divide the word of truth.
Sun, Jan 15, 2017
45 mins 18 secs
Speaker: Lukus Counterman - In this passage James converses with an imaginary person, a person who claims to have faith but has no deeds, a person who claims that you can separate faith from works. This was obviously a common thought among James’ readers, so he addresses it squarely and strongly. He discusses just how scary it is when our lives don’t mesh with our words. What we find in James 2:14-26 is that true faith is demonstrated by costly obedience to God and sacrificial love for others. May the Lord lead us further into true, living faith this morning.
Sun, Jan 08, 2017
51 mins 30 secs
Speaker: Lukus Counterman - Christians must not discriminate either in favor of or against anyone because of superficial external things as trivial as wealth or poverty. Such behavior is inconsistent with God’s impartiality. Instead we must live in ways that anticipate the Judgment Day when the measuring stick we apply to others will be applied to us. We must live in ways that reflect the mercy of our Savior and demonstrate that we have been grateful recipients. May the Lord help mercy to triumph over judgment in our lives and in our church.
Sun, Nov 13, 2016
54 mins 40 secs
Speaker: Jon Kopp - "We all too often want a Christianity and church on our terms according to our preferences and aligning with our lifestyles. We are a people happy to go to church just so long as nothing in our lives has to change. We are a people happy to be Christians as long as we can define Christianity according to what accommodates us. The only problem with that is that in order for the religion of Christianity to be authentic, true and actually acceptable to God, we have to let Him define what it looks like. And His definition of true Christianity is radically different from ours." (David Platt) In James 1:26-27, God defines for us what true Christianity looks like. It isn't easy and doesn't make us comfortable, but it does reveal whether our hearts have been "brought forth by the Word of truth." May God transform us to reflect a Christianity that is valuable, pure and undefiled.
Sun, Nov 06, 2016
45 mins 13 secs
Speaker: Lukus Counterman - The first chapter of James has laid out tests for authenticating true believers. The author examines a persons response to certain things in life and concludes the following: true believers respond to trials with joy and endurance, trusting in God who uses them for our benefit and his glory. True believers respond to temptation by understanding the ensnaring tendency of sinful desires and running to God who is good and who gives what we truly need. In our text this morning James explains how true believers receive the word of God with submission, purity and humility. And then they respond with more than just hearing. They move to faith-filled heeding. May the Lord help us to be doers and not hearers only - that we might be blessed and that He might be glorified.