Reflections: Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Today’s Reading: James 1:16-21
Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 24:1-23; Luke 12:54-13:17

Of [God’s] own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The letter of James has gotten a bad rap because many feel that he contradicts Paul’s statement that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the Law (Romans 3:28). Even Luther himself once thought less of James, but as Luther matured, his view changed. But first impressions can be confusing. After all, James does teach: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” But we must know that he is not contradictory to Paul, but complementary.

How so? Paul is teaching about our justification before God. This can only be by faith alone. James is teaching about our justification before people. How will anyone ever know you have genuine faith? Well, you can talk all day long, but if you have no good works, then people will consider you a hypocrite. How can we be sure that James was not confusing Law and Gospel? We know it from James 1:18. How is a Christian “brought. . . forth”? How is a Christian made a Christian? How does a Christian even get to the point of demonstrating (or giving evidence) of their faith through works? How does any of it even begin? Is James teaching that the answer is by what we do, or by what we are, or by what we try to be or try to do? No, not even close.

Read the verse again: “Of [God’s] own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James gives 100% credit and acknowledgment that our new lives ONLY and SOLELY come from being “brought. . . forth by the word of truth.” The Word of Christ has created our new lives, justified by faith (before God) and proven by works (before people). Without the Word of Christ, we would have no faith, and we could do nothing that is good. James attributes our new lives solely to the work of God in Christ “by the word of truth.” Rest assured that He is working in and through you to bring forth good fruits. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O Jesus, LORD of the Sabbath, rescue us from our hypocrisy, which keeps us from seeing You as the center of all of Scripture and acknowledging the present time as the time of salvation. Call us to repent of our self-righteousness so that we might look to You alone as the source of our life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch