By Joseph Ametepe
The Letter of James, written between A.D. 45 and 49, was the earliest book in the New Testament. It was written by Elder and Apostle James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 12:17; 15:13-21; 21:18; Galatians 1:19). James, however, humbly called himself as the "servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (James 1:1). James wrote his Letter to believing Hebrew Christians who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire (shown in the map below) as a result of the persecution in Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen in A. D. 35 (Acts 8:1; cf. Acts 12:1-23). His epistle clearly indicates that the scattered Jewish believers were suffering persecution and trials (James 1:2-4, 12; 2:6; 5:4).
The Letter contains timeless truths such as; the source of sin, suffering, the sure and soon return of the Lord Jesus, saving faith, seeking security in God rather in the riches of this world, source of true wisdom, selfish ambition and its destructive work among God's people, submission to God's will and spiritual power effected through earnest and effectual prayer.
The Letter has a relevant message for our day. It deals with important questions such as: What possible good can come from trials and hardships in the life of believers? Is it right to blame God for the trials and sufferings Christians experience? How can believers continue to express faith in God that God is good when they are suffering so severely? What is the relationship between the believer's beliefs and what he actually does? In other words, is it possible to have saving faith without works? Is intellectual faith alone acceptable to God as a true living faith? Should God's believing people look to worldly status and riches as a security against the problems of this world?
There are selected messages from the Letter of James to help us rediscover God's perspective for our lives. Also, it is our prayer that these messages will challenge and motivate us, who have been blessed with true saving faith in Jesus Christ, to "prove ourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude ourselves" (James 1:22). May the Holy Spirit speak to your heart as you listen to the selected messages!