Teaching on James Part 1
Palm Beach Men’s Bible Study Group July 13, 2011
Today we will talk about James and why his story is so compelling to all Christians. Why is it compelling? Because it is a very human story, a story that in so many ways traces and replicates the experiences we all have had in coming to Christ. You see, the truth is that most of us do not have one magic moment, a Road-to-Damascus moment, like St. Paul experienced, in our coming to Christ. Even in St. Paul’s case it must be said that after Christ appeared to him in the year 35 AD, he spent three years learning, studying, praying to the Holy Spirit, before he re-appeared and asked to be introduced to the church in Jerusalem. So even for Paul the road to Jesus was a road of commitment, of humility, of practicing what God’s word says(as taught by Jesus), and he was already a devout a Jew, a Pharisee in fact, who knew the Old Testament well before his coming to Jesus.
So, as we talk about James the Just this morning, the brother of Jesus, let us learn from his experiences too. Let us be mindful that coming to Christ is not an-all-in-one-magic-moment experience, where God picked us and saved us and now we are done. It is, rather, a road of gradually understanding Jesus, of studying and reflecting upon God’s Word, of practicing a life that is lived according to that Word. And that God will come to us, perhaps at only key points in our travel, to strengthen us in our pursuit of Him. While the life of James teaches many lessons, this is one very fundamental one.
First we will look at the transformation of James, a brother of Jesus, from doubter and disbeliever to Believer and leader of the early Christian Church in Jerusalem. And then we will look at what it is that makes James a pillar of Christianity.
So who was James? He was not James the Elder who was one of the Twelve, and an Apostle of Jesus. And he was not James the Younger. James the Just was in fact the second-born son of Mary and Joseph. Jesus was the first, conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of Mary. We are told in the New Testament that Jesus had four brothers, James, Joses, Judas and Simon, plus several sisters. The New Testament does not tell us much about James’ childhood, so we do not know where he was or what he did while Jesus was preparing Himself for His mission.
What do we know of James’s travel to Jesus? As we study his road to becoming a saved Christian, we will see that there are three distinct phases to his trip: a) his childhood and life up to the time of the Crucifixion b) his transformation to a follower of Jesus after the Crucifixion, and to a leader of the early Christian church in Jerusalem, and c) his becoming a pillar of the Christian faith
“TRIUMPH of DEMOCRACY” In EGYPT?
by Nicholas F.S. Papanicolaou
It is easy to fall in with the euphoria that now has taken hold in the aftermath of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation on Feb. 11th. Already people in America and in the Middle East are exulting over the “triumph of democracy” in Egypt. So it is perhaps not popular for some like me, to sound the alarm bell. Doing so does not mean I applaud the Mubarak government and its thirty years in power. It does mean that I see plenty of dangers ahead which need to be addressed in a realistic way lest Egypt become another radical Islamic state. Let us look at two examples from other countries, to see if they provide any guidance for what may well develop in Egypt. In late 1944, as the Nazis withdrew from occupied Greece, communist guerillas who were supplied by Stalin, were trying to take over the country by force. In a country of about seven million people, they numbered less than 15,000 people in total, including some 5,000 men under arms and 10,000 people who accompanied them, some of whom had been forcibly abducted from their villages. Yet the power they wielded was completely disproportionate to their numbers.They controlled most politicians through sheer fear of physical violence.The government of national unity, under George Papandreou (grandfather of the present prime Minister of Greece) was yielding to their demands. One of their demands was that the armed communist guerillas be included in the regular Greek Army, which they would then ruthlessly co-opt and neutralize, or take over. With the government cowering to their demands, Winston Churchill visited Athens on Christmas Day 1944 to face the communists down. He had the personal courage, and the power of what was left of the British and Greek armies, to reject their demands. They tried to blow him up as well as the entire British Embassy that day by planting a mega bomb under the Embassy, but thankfully did not succeed. A second example is the Islamic party of Prime Minister Erdogan in Turkey. A little more than ten years ago the Turkish military allowed this party to participate in Turkey’s national elections. They fielded some ten percent of the vote in their first election. But within ten years they had gained an absolute majority, and began to dismantle the secular Turkish state founded by Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Today Turkey is very firmly on the road to Islamization, and is participating in the disruption of the other secular regimes in the area, such as Iraq and Jordan. The prospects for Egypt are fraught with danger. The Muslim Brotherhood will, I expect, be exerting every type of influence it can in order to gain control of the country in the next five years. Democracy has not yet won.