We should endure affliction patiently.
We should pray to God in faith.
We should control our tongues and be
"slow to wrath."
We should be "doers of the word," showing
our faith by our works.
A study of this lesson will help us understand the characteristics we should
develop to live our religion more fully.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 42 Handout (PDF)
It is interesting to note that Martin
Luther tore the Book of James out of his Bible.
He felt that the Book of James disagreed
with Paul and his teaching on faith.
He did not agree with the doctrine taught
by James that faith was demonstrated by works.
- Martin Luther:
- "Many sweat to reconcile St. Paul and St. James,
but in vain. 'Faith justifies' and 'faith does not justify' contradict each
other flatly. If any one can harmonize them I will give him my doctor's hood and
let him call me a fool."
- "We should throw the Epistle of James out of this
school [the University of Wittenberg]...."
Who are the possible authors?
James - Son of Zebedee, Brother of John. One of the 12 (Matt.10:12).
James was killed by Herod (Acts 12:2).
At the time of his death, the church
was not big enough for James to have been considered the author.
James - Son of Alphaeus. One of
the 12. May also be the same referred to as James the Less (a smaller man) (Matt. 10:3).
Little is known of him, not likely to
have been the author.
James - Father or brother to Judas (one
of the 12 - referred to in Matthew as Lebbaeus Thadaeus) (Luke 6:16).
James - Brother of Jesus.
Most probably the author.
not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?"
Paul writes of
having seen James at Jerusalem (Galatians 1:17-19).
Paul makes reference to James as one of the
pillars of the Church. The incident mentioned occurred after the death of
James, the brother of John (Galatians 2:9-10).
James was the Bishop of Jerusalem.
Historians from that time say he was
killed about 62 A.D.
Sources from that period indicate that
James prayed so much that his knees were as calloused as those of a camel.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
have a book written by the Lord's brother is akin to having one penned
by the Master himself. And in this General Epistle we find the son of Joseph,
often in language reminiscent of that used by the Son of Mary, setting
forth the practical operation of the doctrines taught by his Elder Brother.
"James -- religious by nature; schooled in the strict Judaism of the
day; converted after our Lord's resurrection; and said to have died a martyr's
death -- took upon himself the awesome responsibility to write an epistle
to the saints in the dispensation of the fulness of times.
"Paul wrote to the saints of his own day, and if his doctrine and counsel
blesses us of later years, so much the better. But James addressed himself
to those of the twelve scattered tribes of Israel who belonged to the Church;
that is, to a people yet to be gathered, yet to receive the gospel, yet
to come into the fold of Christ; and if his words had import to the small
cluster of saints of Judah and Benjamin who joined the Church in the meridian
of time, so much the better." (DNTC, 3:244)
The Book Of James
1:8-14. If any of you lack wisdom.
James was inspired to impart this counsel
to the people of his time.
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT JAMES WAS INSPIRED TO WRITE
THESE WORDS SPECIFICALLY FOR THE BENEFIT OF JOSEPH SMITH?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "This
single verse of scripture has had a greater impact and a more far reaching
effect upon mankind than any other single sentence ever recorded by any
prophet in any age. It might well be said that the crowning act of the
ministry of James was not his martyrdom for the testimony of Jesus, but
his recitation, as guided by the Holy Ghost, of these simple words which
led to the opening of the heavens in modern times.
"And it might well be added that every investigator of revealed truth
stands, at some time in the course of his search, in the place where Joseph
Smith stood. He must turn to the Almighty and gain wisdom from God by revelation
if he is to gain a place on that strait and narrow path which leads to
eternal life." (DNTC, 3:246-247)
Beyond the inspiration to write these powerful words, one is left to wonder if
James had any further knowledge of the future impact and importance of this
The words we write in our journals may not
have the impact of James, but may yet have a powerful influence on those in
future generations. It behooves us to not only verbally
share our testimonies, but to write them for posterity.
- President Spencer W. Kimball: "I promise you that
if you will keep your journals and records they will indeed be a source of great
inspiration to you, each other, your children, your grandchildren, and others
throughout the generations." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p349)
- President Kimball: "Get a notebook, my young folks,
a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from
it for eternity." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p351)
WHAT DOES EXPERIENCE OF YOUNG JOSEPH
TEACH US ABOUT PONDERING THE SCRIPTURES?
When questions or difficulties arise,
the scriptures are an appropriate place to turn for answers.
We should thoughtfully consider the
issue, as did Joseph, as we turn to the scriptures.
After visiting the various churches,
Joseph was troubled by the confusion:
midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself:
What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they
all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and
how shall I know it?" (Joseph Smith-History 1:10)
After reading James 1:5 Joseph said
that he "reflected on it again and again."
DO WE DO THIS? DO WE CONSIDER
THE WORDS OF THE PROPHETS CAREFULLY? OR DO WE HURRY TO GET IN OUR THREE,
FIVE, OR TEN PAGES FOR THE DAY?
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS?
Joseph Smith: "The
things of God are of deep import; and...careful and ponderous and solemn
thoughts can only find them." (TPJS, p137)
President David O. McKay:
"Meditation is one
of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of
the Lord." (Man May Know for Himself, p23)
We must take action on the truths we
at length came to the determination to 'ask of God'." (Joseph
in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the
woods to make the attempt." (Joseph Smith-History 1:14)
By taking action on this one truth,
much more was revealed to the Prophet and it became the catalyst for an
outpouring of truth.
double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:8)
WHAT IS A DOUBLE MINDED MAN?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
fickle, wavering man, as contrasted with one who is constant and firm,
who always sustains the cause of righteousness. A member of the Church
who tries both to forsake and to follow the world and who does not serve
the Lord with an eye single to his glory." (DNTC 3:248)
- WHAT IS THE PERIL OF BEING A DOUBLE
Do we have an "eye single" to the glory
of God? If not, we will be unstable in the faith. We cannot
serve both God and mammon.
As we ponder our lives, James has provided
a standard to judge our progress. Are we "double minded" or do we
have an "eye single" to the glory of God? I suspect that most of
us are somewhere on the path between. Hopefully, we are consistently
progressing away from double mindedness toward having our focus upon the
things of eternity.
James teaches that we should
be "swift to hear, slow to speak" (James
WHAT EXPERIENCES IN YOUR LIFE HAVE CONFIRMED
THE WISDOM OF THIS COUNSEL?
Have you ever had an experience with
your children where you were quick to issue a judgment and found that you
had made a mistake?
Would it have made a difference if you
had heard the whole story before taking action?
Do you suppose there was a reason we
were created with two ears and one mouth?
HOW CAN WE BECOME BETTER LISTENERS AND
MORE THOUGHTFUL SPEAKERS?
As we seek to focus on the needs of
others, we will listen with greater care rather than be concerned about
what we might say next. If we have truly listened, we are taking
the time to speak from the heart rather than shoot from the hip.
James continues by saying that
we should be "slow to wrath: For the wrath of
man worketh not the righteousness of God." (James1:19-20)
man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth
his own heart, this man's religion is vain." (James 1:26)
THROUGHOUT HIS EPISTLE JAMES EMPHASIZED
THAT WE SHOULD BE SLOW TO ANGER. HOW CAN WE BE SLOW TO ANGER AND
BRIDLE THE TONGUE?
Recall what James said in verse 19,
that we ought to be swift to hear and slow to speak. If we focusing
on listening and understanding, our anger tends to dissipate.
Consider the consequences of letting our
anger get the best of us.
so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold,
how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" (James 3:5)
A single match can start the fire that
burns down a forest.
- In June 2002, Forest Service employee
Terry Barton was arrested for accidentally starting a forest fire in the
tinder-dry Pike National Forest. Barton burned in anger a letter from her
estranged husband, in violation of a ban on fires in the forest at that time. Though she attempted to stop the fire, it got out of control and became the
largest fire in Colorado history. The cost: $40,000,000, 137,760
acres, 600 structures lost including 133 residences. Additionally, Terry
Barton pled guilty to arson charges and is currently serving prison time. All because of a little fire started over anger.
Likewise, angry words can start
a fire that may destroy a family or even a life.
Dale Carnegie in his classic work, How
To Win Friends and Influence People, made comments and quoted others
on the virtue of avoiding an argument, that which often leads to anger
by one party or the other.
Mr. Carnegie said that he had come to
the conclusion "that there is one way under high
heaven to get the best of an argument--and that is to avoid it. Avoid
it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes."
you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes;
but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent's
once reprimanded a young army officer for indulging in a violent controversy
with an associate. After explaining to the officer the fallacy of
engaging in contention, he concluded by saying, "Better
give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite."
Seek for the Spirit
at all times. Have you ever felt the sweet whisperings of the
spirit at the same time you engaged in unbridled anger? It is
Take the time to pray about the issue
at hand. We may find it so trivial a matter when we present it to
the Lord, that we will simply let it go. Isn't it interesting how
our view of things change when we are on our knees.
Be ye doers of the word.
IN WHAT WAYS MIGHT WE BE "HEARERS ONLY"?
Attend church weekly, but do not attempt
to incorporate the truths we have learned.
We can become gospel scholars, but unless
we do what is taught, we are a "hearer only."
IN WHAT SENSE DO "HEARERS ONLY" DECEIVE
As "hearers" we feel good about the
truth that we are learning, but action is the real demonstration of our
James continues by telling us what "doers"
of the word do.
HOW DID JAMES DEFINE PURE RELIGION?
One who disciplines his speech.
To serve others, particularly those
with challenges in life.
Keep oneself unspotted from the world.
President Joseph F. Smith: "This
may be interpreted as meaning that a person who is religious is thoughtful
to the unfortunate, and has an inner spirit that prompts to deeds of kindness
and to the leading of a blameless life; who is just, truthful; who does
not, as Paul says, think more highly of himself than he ought to think;
who is affectionate, patient in tribulation, diligent, cheerful, fervent
in spirit, hospitable, merciful; and who abhors evil and cleaves to that
which is good. The possession of such a spirit and feeling is a true sign
that a person is naturally religious.
"The Church's outward ordinances and requirements are but necessary
-- yet they are necessary -- aids to the inner spiritual life. The Church
itself, the organization, meetings, ordinances, requirements, are only
helps, but very necessary helps, to the practice of true religion
-- schoolmasters to direct us in the way of eternal light and truth."
(Gospel Doctrine, p121)
THE GREAT CHALLENGE - HOW CAN WE STAY
UNSPOTTED FROM THE WORLD?
Apparently, staying "unspotted" from
the world has always been a challenge for James to have written about it
over nineteen hundred years ago. And yet, we live in a time unprecedented
in the history of the world. Until the last century, one could retire
to one's home and generally have some protection from the evil influences
of the world. In our day, those influences sneak into our homes through
books, magazines, radio, television, videos, music, and the Internet. It often
sneaks in, looking harmless. What a challenge to survive this
insidious battle. And yet there are some keys.
As James indicates, we are strengthened
in that resolve by serving those in need.
The Lord said that to
keep ourselves "unspotted from the world" we should "go to the house of
prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day." (see
This renewal of baptismal covenants
strengthens our resolve to keep ourselves on the straight and narrow.
Our life is a long journey. Weekly
attendance is as necessary as fueling our cars every few hundred miles. If we do not renew our covenants on a regular basis, we are putting ourselves
in jeopardy of getting caught in the flood.
WHAT DOES JAMES TEACH US ABOUT JUDGING
We should treat people equally and not
create castes among us.
WHY DO MANY OF US TEND TO JUDGE OTHERS
BY THEIR EARTHLY POSITIONS OR MATERIAL POSSESSIONS?
We seem to be impressed and awed by
position, power, and wealth.
HOW CAN WE LEARN TO LOOK BEYOND THE
Seek to become like Christ in all things.
Seek for the Spirit.
Faith without works is dead.
WHAT DID JAMES TEACH ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP
OF FAITH AND WORKS?
Works are a demonstration of our faith.
Faith is made perfect by righteous works.
There is no faith without our works.
True faith causes good works as in the
case of Abraham and Rahab.
HOW HAVE WORKS AFFECTED YOUR FAITH?
Effects of lust and envy.
WHAT EFFECTS OF LUST AND ENVY ARE CITED
IN THESE VERSES?
Wars, fighting, killing, friendship
with the things of the world, envyings.
How can we overcome temptations to do
Submit yourself to God and resist the devil.
Draw nigh to God. How do we do that?
Cleanse your hands. Repent. (v8)
Double minded need to purify their hearts. How? (v8)
Humble yourselves before God. (v10)
Speak no evil of one another. (v11)
He that does not good and knows that he
should, it is sin. Strive always to do good. (v17)
President Spencer W. Kimball: "In
abandoning evil, transforming lives, changing personalities, molding characters
or remolding them, we need the help of the Lord, and we may be assured
of it if we do our part. The man who leans heavily upon his Lord
becomes the master of self and can accomplish anything he sets out to do,
whether it be to secure the brass plates, build a ship, overcome a habit,
or conquer a deep-seated transgression.
"He who has greater strength than Lucifer, he who is our fortress and
our strength, can sustain us in times of great temptation. While
the Lord will never forcibly take anyone out of sin or out of the arms
of the tempters, he exerts his Spirit to induce the sinner to do it with
divine assistance. And the man who yields to the sweet influence
and pleadings of the Spirit and does all in his power to stay in a repentant
attitude is guaranteed protection, power, freedom and joy."
(Miracle of Forgiveness, p176)
Be patient to the coming of the Lord.
count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that
the trying of your faith worketh patience." (James 1:2-3)
HOW DID JAMES COUNSEL PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE
TRIAL AND AFFLICTION?
Do not hold a grudge.
Look at the prophets who have suffered
affliction in patience.
Pray for the afflicted.
Confess your faults.
HOW HAVE YOUR TRIALS HELPED YOU DEVELOP
Elder Orson F. Whitney: "No
pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers
to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith,
fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially
when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts,
expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy
to be called the children of God." (quoted by Spencer W. Kimball,
Faith Precedes the Miracle, p98)
if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know,
that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save
a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20)
JAMES EMPHASIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF HELPING
PEOPLE WHO "ERR FROM THE TRUTH". HOW SHOULD WE DO THIS?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the teachins of James. What counsel
from James do you need to incorporate in your life? How will you do that?
Resources Used In This Lesson
CNN.com: Feds Charge
Forestry Worker With Starting Fire.
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary by Bruce R. McConkie.
Faith Precedes the Miracle by Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine by Joseph F. Smith.
How To Win Friends and Influence People by
Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay.
Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation edited by Robert L. Millet.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball.
The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
07 November 2015