James?Straw or Substance?

Don DeYoung

READ : James 5:19-20

Walking with you through the practical Epistle of James this month has been a privilege I cherish and an opportunity I approached prayerfully . . . and somewhat anxiously. At this point I feel safe in reporting to you that Martin Luther called the book of James “a letter of straw.” James, straw or substance? Luther contended that “the just shall live by faith alone” over against a salvation claimed by “works righteousness.”

Nothing in James has in any way diminished the wonder of “by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that is not your own doing, it is a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:8). James has simply insisted that our deeds need to give substance to and demonstrate that faith! We work out what God works in!

The concluding verses bring us to the crucial issue of our personal relationship with our Lord . . . and the call to encourage that relationship between others and Christ. “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

James leads us to a mature faith in genuine relationships with God and each other. The straw, the chaff blows away in the wind. The substance of James endures.


Father, may the blessings of your servant James continue with us all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.