Is the Book of James Really ‘An Epistle of Straw’?

We have a lot of books in our New Testament. All of them, we believe, are divinely inspired. And yet we don’t spend equal amounts of time reading them. For most of us, our reading pattern is profoundly lopsided, focusing mostly on Paul (especially Romans and Galatians) and the Gospels (with John leading the way). Indeed, some books (like 3 John) hardly get read at all.

This trend raises intriguing questions about why certain books were even included in the New Testament. What purpose do these less famous books serve? This becomes particularly acute with the book of James. Although 500 years have passed since Martin Luther called it …

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Five Things Every Christian Should be Doing with God’s Word

Psalm 119 is an amazing Psalm.  Not only is it the longest Psalm (176 verses!), but it is also the Psalm that deals the most directly with the topic of Scripture.  Virtually every verse, in one way or another, refers to God’s Word.

David (who is most likely the author) uses a variety of terminology to describe God’s Word:  commandments, law, statutes, precepts, ordinances, rules, words, testimonies, etc.  These all refer to the Scriptures as they existed in David’s day (essentially the Pentateuch).

Thus, Psalm 119 is one of the best examples of Scripture speaking about Scripture.  It is the Word about the Word.

And in it, we find David …

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When You Fail to Distinguish Second and Third Use of the Law–A Response to Tullian Tchividjian

Last week, Jen Wilkin wrote a very helpful article on TGC entitled “Failure is not a Virtue.”  The purpose of her article was to push back against those who advocate what she calls “celebratory failurism.” She says, “Celebratory failurism asserts that all our attempts to obey will fail, thereby making us the recipients of greater grace. But God does not exhort us to obey just to teach us that we cannot hope to obey.”

Put differently, Jen was concerned about those who view the law only negatively (as a means of exposing failure), and rarely discuss how Christians are empowered to obey it.

Just recently, Tullian Tchividjian has …

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Why We Need the Book of James in the New Testament Canon

In many ways, the book of James has not had an easy journey into the New Testament canon.  We have few references to it in the earliest stages, it was doubted by some church fathers, and, of course, Luther himself referred to it as “an epistle of straw.”

However, we should be immensely grateful that God has preserved this book for us. Despite its detractors, the book of James provides essential theological balance for the key doctrinal debates in the church today.  Several key contributions:

1. James reminds us that one can offer extended moral exhortations without being a “moralist.”   In an effort to avoid the charge of “moralism,” many …

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