James, a fall bible study
Lying and treason committed by a prostitute with the intent of saving her own life does not usually make the top ten list of acts of admirable deeds, but that is how Rahab expressed her faith in God. God knew her actions came from faith in the power of God. She said to the spies as they were about to hide on her roof:
“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” –Joshua 2:9-11
Unlike our faith today, which first acknowledges this great God and then receives his mercy, Rahab merely knew of God’s greatness. But she acted accordingly.
“5 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” –James 2:25-26
James is arguing for deeds to accompany faith, yet as our minds race toward “good deeds” and ways to love our neighbors as ourselves and love God with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength before our faith is discounted as genuine, James gives the example of Rahab. I love that James uses Rahab as an example of faith in action because she is about as unlawful as they come. (Not to mention that if he wanted to find someone who was obedient to the law as an expression of faith, he might have trouble locating an example.) Instead, he used someone oblivious to God’s law yet having faith with tangible actions. Accordingly, James is not arguing for a faith that is accompanied by obedience to the law; he is arguing for a faith accompanied by action. If one has faith that mercy triumphs over judgment, then an expression of that faith is to extend mercy to those who do not abide by the law.
This series is inspired (but not sponsored) by FBC (First Baptist Church of Davis) and their fall focus running from October 4, 2015 through November 28, 2015. When I first heard FBC was doing this series, the lectionary reading and sermon that day at my own church, Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church, was from the book of James, and it really spoke to me; James is also the first bible study I completed on my own: I was fourteen, and I wrote with colored markers in a spiral notebook each morning before school, using an observation-reflection-action method similar to the one outlined in FBC’s bible-study guide. I am looking forward to spending more time meditating on this challenging book of the New Testament. I will be using the bible study guide provided by FBC with the accompanying scripture throughout this series; however, my methodology might hop around from anecdotal to more analytical word study. My goal is to do this study daily, or at least a few times a week! A big thanks to FBC for their theme, chosen scriptures, and structure of this study.