In 1:26 James dropped a small bombshell against the unbridled tongue. Now in 3:1-12 he drops a large one, a blistering attack against the tongue. He does not really explain why this issue is so important to him, given his concern for social justice. Nor does he give us any direct help in controlling the tongue. But it is an urgent issue that deserves our attention.
Questions for Discussion:
The most highly visible passage in James involves the apparent tension between Paul and James on the question of faith and works. The most striking “contradiction” is between James 2:24 – “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” – and Romans 3:28: “For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.”
Click the play button below for podcast of Alden Thompson, Pedrito Maynard-Reid and Dave Thomas discussing this week's Sabbath School lesson from the Book of James.
Synopsis: Doing, Not Just Hearing
Since this is the last Sabbath of the quarter dealing with the “Teachings of Jesus,” I am going to break some polite rules governing this column – mostly unwritten and some of them of my own making – because this particular lesson provides a wonderful opportunity for us to discover things in Scripture we had forgotten or never knew before. And let me be extraordinarily candid about the situation facing Adventism right now. A great fear is stalking the land, a fear that if we don’t reinforce what we have always said, and with greater emphasis, the church will disintegrate.
In some ways, Adventists are very conservative, believing in a God who answers prayer and who is coming again. But even the most conservative Adventists are “liberal” in at least one key respect: “mortalism,” the belief that the body is a holistic unity and does not have a separate soul. Mortalism means no eternally burning hell, a very “liberal” idea.
What does Jesus tell us about growing in him?
If “repentance” is the crucial element in God’s plan of salvation, then what comes next? How does the believer grow “in Christ” ? For Paul, the idea of being “in Christ” was crucial. Note 2 Cor. 5:17 (NRSV): “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
Leading Question: What do Jesus and Gospels tell us about salvation before Jesus died on the cross?
Given the strong emphasis on substitutionary theology in evangelical circles, a position which sees the death of Christ as essential in the salvation process, it is instructive to note the teachings of Jesus on the theme of “salvation,” teachings which would have been given before he died to pay the price for our sin.
In our day, whenever Gospel and law or grace and law appear together in the same breath, law always takes a beating. Law condemns, but grace redeems. Now to see law viewed as some kind of culprit is an astonishing development, because in the Old Testament Torah is viewed as very good news indeed. The longest of the psalms, Psalm 119, is nothing but a celebration of Torah.