Pastor James J. Barker

Text: JAMES 1:1-12


    1. It is generally agreed that James was the first book of the New Testament to be written.
    2. The epistle of James is the first in a group of epistles customarily called the "general epistles," which also include I and II Peter, I,II, and III John, and Jude.
    3. They are sometimes referred to as the "catholic" (not RC) epistles in the sense that they are universal, not being addressed to any particular individual or church, but to God’s people everywhere.
    4. THE AUTHOR – There is some confusion over which James wrote this epistle. For example, while I greatly appreciate the notes in the Scofield Study Bible, I do not agree with him here. I do not think that this James is either James the son of Zebedee (Matt.10:2) or James the son of Alpheus (Matt.10:3).
    5. James the son of Zebedee was killed by Herod around AD 42 (Acts 12:2), whereas this epistle was probably written sometime between 45-50 AD.
    6. I believe that the author is James, the Lord’s brother (cf. Matt.13:55; Acts 15:13; I Cor.15:7; Gal.1:19; 2:9). He did not believe in the Lord until after His resurrection (cf. John 7:5).
    7. THEME – While I may disagree with Scofield over which James wrote this epistle, as well when the epistle was written, I agree with his notes on James’ theme.
    8. The epistle of James has been misunderstood. Some have wrongly supposed that James was teaching that one is saved by works. The great Reformer, Martin Luther did not believe it belonged in the Bible and called it an "epistle of straw."
    9. So it wasn’t only the ordinances that had Luther all confused; he was quite mixed up in many areas – but God still used him.
    10. Paul emphasized our justification before God, and James our justification before men – there is no contradiction.
    11. I once heard Dr. John McCormick preach a message from the first chapter of James and he entitled it, "The Believer and His Battles."
    12. It has rightly been said that character is formed under pressure, and that is the theme of my message today.




    1. James starts off by identifying himself, not as our Lord’s brother, but simply as "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (1:1).
    2. He is writing "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" (1:1). He is referring to the dispersion. Because of Israel’s sins, they were driven from their land and scattered throughout the world. The original dispersion took place when the ten tribes were carried away into captivity by the Assyrians in 721 BC. Only a small remnant returned. That is why when we turn to Acts 2:5, we read of "Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven." Another dispersion occurred in Acts 8:1 where we read of Christian Jews being "scattered abroad" (cf. acts 11:19). There was yet another dispersion in AD 70 when Titus, the Roman general destroyed Jerusalem, but that took place after this epistle was written.
    3. Some people erroneously refer to "the ten lost tribes of Israel," but none of them is lost, God knows exactly where they are, as we can see from Revelation 7.
    4. Today, the Jews are still scattered all over the world . They will remain scattered until the tribulation period when God will bring them back to Israel.
    5. Now, I have entitled my message, " Christian Character is Formed Under Pressure" and my first point is, "Patience Through Tribulation." I am not speaking here of the "great tribulation," but the usual trials and troubles that we all experience (cf. John 16:33).
    6. Webster’s Dictionary defines patience as the ability to "bear pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under pressure; remaining steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity."
    7. The Bible teaches that God is trying to produce Christ-likeness in all of us. This process necessarily involves suffering, frustration, and great difficulties (1:2).
    8. There is a distinction between temptations and trials (1:2; cf. Scofield notes, bottom of page 1307). The word as it is used here means "testings" (margin). These are from God, though He may use Satan, as in the case of Job.
    9. But God never tempts a man to do evil (cf. James 1:13-15). The devil tempts men to do evil (Matt.4:1-11). In fact, he is called "the tempter" (Matt.4:3; I Thess.3:5).
    10. It is tough to go through trials and troubles and testings but if you know the Lord, you can see His hand at work and "count it all joy" (1:2).
    11. God is working in all of the events of life and is seeking to build Christian character. We can be sure that God is dealing with us for our own good (1:3; cf. Rom.5:3,4; 8:28).
    12. It is a fact that without patience we would never develop patience. Even worldly people recognize this principle. Charles Kettering was a successful inventor and businessman, who invented the electric starter, developed the first electric cash register, and founded the Delco Company. When Delco became a subsidiary of General Motors, Kettering became VP and director of research for GM. He said these words: "Problems are the price of progress. Don’t bring me anything but problems. Good news weakens me."
    13. A young preacher once asked an older pastor to pray that God would give him more patience, because he realized that he was very impatient. The old preacher knelt down and began to pray that God would send trouble and difficulties upon the young pastor. Finally the younger man tapped his older friend on the shoulder and whispered: "You must have misunderstood me; I asked that you would pray that I might have more patience, not more trouble." The old preacher replied: "Remember the Scripture says, ‘Tribulation worketh patience’ (Rom.5:3). That is the only way!"
    14. We are to "let patience have her perfect work" (1:4), that we "may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." I preached on this subject of being perfect and entire. I do not have the time to go over all of this again, but let me just say first of all that Matt.5:48 is to be understood as a literal command – "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Secondly, this Christian perfection can never be attained without patience having "her perfect work" (1:4).
    15. When Fanny Crosby was eight years old, she wrote these words: "Oh what a happy soul am I

Although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t.
To weep and sigh because I’m blind
I cannot and I won’t."

    1. God is trying to refine the gold from the dross in His fire. His fires of persecution, sickness, sufferings, and sorrow determine if our faith is genuine. "As soon as the Refiner sees His reflection in the molten metal, He turns off the heat" – William MacDonald.



    1. The Bible does not give specific answers to the many different kinds of problems that arise in life. What it does is give us basic principles that we must apply to the various and diverse problems that God allows us to go through.
    2. This is why we need wisdom (1:5). Wisdom is the practical application of God’s Word to everyday situations. There are many people who are intelligent and well-educated but lack wisdom (Pro.1:7; 9:10).
    3. For example, listen to this horrible statement by one of the most intelligent men of the twentieth century: "In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal god" – Albert Einstein.
    4. We are to pray for wisdom, believing that God will give us what we ask for (1:6-8). Many Christians have just enough faith to believe God saved them but that’s about as far as it goes (cf. Mark 11:24).



    1. "The brother of low degree" (1:9) means low in income, not poor spiritually. He is to "rejoice in that he is exalted."
    2. "Exalted" here means that he is a joint-heir with Jesus; he is accepted in the beloved; he is saved from hell and on his way to heaven (cf. I Cor.3:21-23).
    3. On the other hand, the rich man should not rejoice in his wealth, but "that he is made low" (1:10; cf. Jer.9:23,24).
    4. Earthly riches are destined to pass away "as the flower of the grass" (1:10,11). James develops this theme later on (chapter 5).
    5. Any trial that pulls us away from the love of money and directs our affections on things above is truly a blessing in disguise. I have never seen a funeral hearse pulling a U-HAUL.
    6. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation" – or "testing" (1:12), who can hold up well under pressure. "When he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life" (1:12; cf. Rev.2:10).
    7. This will take place at the judgment seat of Christ. We are saved by grace but judged by our works (cf. Rom.14:10,12; I Cor.3:12-15; II Cor.5:10,11; II John 8; Rev.3:11).


  1. An Englishmen named Sir Philip Sydney was shot in battle. As the doctor cut out the bullet, some of the other soldiers standing by, pitied his pain, but he replied: ‘Though I groan, yet I bless God I do not grumble. God allows his people to groan, though not to grumble."
  2. Let’s not grumble; let us "count it all joy" (1:2).

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