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>> Chapter Eight - The General EpistlesHigher Praise Bible School - Chapter Eight - The General Epistles - Page: 1

Lesson One Section IV THE GENERAL EPISTLES The General Epistles are so called because, unlike the Pauline Epistles, they are not addressed to any particular church, but to believers in general. Two of them (Second and Third John) are addressed to particular individuals. JAMES Theme. The epistle of James is the practical book of the New Testament, as Proverbs is of the Old Testament. Indeed it bears a remarkable resemblance to the last-named book because of its terse, pithy statements of moral truths. It contains little direct doctrinal teaching; its chief purpose is to emphasize the practical aspect of religious truth. James was writing to a certain class of Jewish Christians in whom there was appearing a tendency to divorce faith from works. They were claiming to have faith, yet there existed among them impatience under trial, strife, respect of persons, evil speaking and worldliness. James points out that a faith which does not produce holiness of life is a dead thing, a mere assent to a doctrine, which goes no farther than the intellect. He emphasizes the need of a living, effectual faith for the attainment of Christian perfection, and goes back to the simple Sermon on the Mount in demanding real deeds of Christian life. "There are those who talk holiness and are hypocrites; there are those who make profession of perfect love and yet cannot live peaceably with the brethren; those who are full of pious phraseology but fail in practical philanthropy. This epistle was written for them. It may not give them much comfort but it ought to give them much profit. The mysticism that contents itself with pious frames and phrases and comes short in actual sacrifice and devoted service will find its antidote here. The antinomianism that professes great confidence in free grace, but does not recognize the necessity for corresponding purity of life, needs to ponder the practical wisdom of the epistle. The quietists who are satisfied to sit and sing themselves away to everlasting bliss ought to read this epistle until they catch its bugle note of inspiration to present activity and continuous good deeds. All who are long on theory and short on practice ought to steep themselves in the spirit of James; and since there are such people in every 'community and in every age, the message of the epistle will never grow old". D.A. Hayes. We shall sum up the theme as follows: Practical Christianity. Key words. Works Key verse. 2:20.
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