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James: From Unbeliever To Church Leader

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Radio transcript for the week of July 23, 2017

Ricky Berger speaks on "James: From Unbeliever to Church Leader" on Seeking the Lost - International Radio.

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James is the writer of the book of James in the New Testament. This book has been called "The Book of Practical Christianity". James himself is one who stressed growing as a Christian. In his earlier life, however, we find that James was not always a believer. His life began as one who doubted the deity of Jesus although he was personally related to Him. Matthew 13:55 shows us that James was an earthly brother of Jesus, along with Joses, Simon and Judas. Again in Mark 6:1-3, Jesus’ brothers are listed and among them we find James. Although he grew up with Jesus, we find that James was originally an unbeliever. He did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

John 7:1-5 shows that the brothers of Jesus did not have faith in Him at this time. They did not realize that Jesus was, in fact, the Christ. However, they would later become believers. Judas, also known as Jude, the author of the book with the same name made a similar turnaround in his life. During His earthly ministry, however, Jesus did not have the support from the majority of His physical family. The Bible shows us that the turning point for the earthly brothers of Jesus took place after his death on the cross.

1 Corinthians 15:1-7 shows us that the resurrection is the reason behind the faith of James and others. Today, we should strive to keep the resurrection as our focus. The resurrection is what converts people and it is our hope for eternity. Because of the resurrection, we ourselves are able to have eternal salvation. In this same passage, we see that James himself saw Jesus after the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:7. Acts 1:14 shows Jesus spending time with his brothers after His resurrection. We see Paul mentioning James by name in Galatians 1:19. Again in Galatians 2:9 Paul refers to James, calling him a "pillar". Acts 21 shows Paul talking with James after a missionary journey. It is amazing to think that his life made such a drastic turn. All of these passages show the growth of James and his role in the church during his life.

James later became a pillar in the church. There are several examples of James behaving as a strong Christian throughout the new testament. We find in Acts 15 that there was a conflict in the church concerning circumcision. Acts 15:6 and following show us how we should handle conflict. These men came together and discussed the question at hand, using the word of God to come to a conclusion. In verse 13, we see James, our Lord’s half-brother speaking up. James 15:13-21 shows us how James reasoned with the brethren and came to the conclusion that they should not trouble the Gentiles by forcing them to be circumcised. Here is an example of James standing up among faithful men such as Paul and Barnabas to speak out for truth. He was respected among his brethren. We can do the same today and perhaps even make the same drastic turn in our lives from being an unbeliever to being an active worker in the Lord’s church. With God, all things are possible. May we all learn to be more like the godly man, James.


Jesus asked in Luke 6:46, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not do the things I say?" Hebrews 5:9 says Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.

Jesus said unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God - John 3:3.

We are born again though belief in and obedience to the gospel. He who believes the gospel and is baptized shall be saved - Mark 16:15-16. We obey the gospel by:

  1. Believing in Jesus’ Deity, his death for our sins and his resurrection (John 8:24; 1 Cor 15:1-4)
  2. Repenting of our sins (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30)
  3. Confessing Christ as the Lord (Romans 10:9-10)
  4. Being baptized, that is immersed, in water to receive remission of sins (Acts 2:38)
  5. Living faithful to the Lord until the end (Matthew 10:22; Revelation 2:10)

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