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Sabbath School Lessons on James
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 11: Getting Ready for the Harvest *
Introduction: In our study last week, James told the rich a terrible
time was coming upon them. Part of the reason was that they had been
unjust to their workers. This week James addresses a different
audience, church members. The message last week and the message this
week, however, seem to have some relationship to each other. Let's
plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!
- Read James 5:7. He says, "Be patient, then." If James is
continuing from last week, what are they to be patient
about? (Last week James said to the rich, "Misery ... is
coming on you" ( James 5:1). Members of the church were
apparently employees who had been cheated. They should be
patient because vindication is at hand. God will deal with
- What will vindicate the church members? (The coming
of the Lord - which is near.)
- That is a problem, isn't it? If James had written
that they should be prepared for the Second Coming,
that would be a good message. But, he says that the
rich are going to get justice and their victims
vindication if they show patience. The problem is
that they all died before Jesus came. Is James a
false prophet? (I would have thought God was going to
give me justice soon.)
- Read James 4:14. James says life is like a mist that
disappears quickly. When we die, these kinds of
problems come to a conclusion. Is that what James
- Re-read James 5:7 and add James 5:8. Does this sound like
James is talking about death? (No! The farmer sees the
autumn and spring rains. They come in a year. James also
says "the Lord's coming is near.")
- If the time of vindication is like an annual event,
and James says the time is "near," how do you explain
that it has been 2,000 years?
- It seems all the disciples thought Jesus return was
near. To explain this I've heard people say something
like: "Well, if the disciples had thought that the
Second Coming was 2,000 years away, they would not
have been motivated to share the gospel." What do you
think about that explanation?
- How many people lie to motivate you to buy
something, because the truth would not be very
- Read Acts 1:6-8. What is the last thing that our Lord said
before He returned to heaven? (He told the disciples that
God sets the times for future events and it is not for us
- Does this put James in an even worse light? He says
the Second Coming is near when he has no idea - and
has been told by Jesus that only God knows the time
of the Second Coming?
- These are hard questions, the kind you might expect
from a lawyer in cross-examination. But, they are not
unfair questions. Let's explore an explanation, one
that does not involve the assertion that James was
not telling the truth.
- Crossing Over
- Read John 5:24-25. James and Jesus are speaking of the
same event - the Second Coming of Jesus. Notice that Jesus
says that the time of the Second Coming "is coming and has
now come." How could Jesus say the Second Coming "has now
come" when it was thousands of years in the future?
- What is the most important part of the Second Coming?
(Death is defeated. We are given eternal life.
Because of the way that Jesus phrases this, I think
He is speaking of the essence of the event (which is
defeating death), instead of focuses on the timing of
the Second Coming.)
- If you think I might be right about this, what
evidence is there that death was defeated while Jesus
was still here the first time? (Look again at John
5:24. Jesus told those who were listening to Him that
they could, right now, cross over from death to
- Do you think that you can enter into eternal life
now? (Read John 5:26. Jesus has the power to give us
eternal life. The essential part of the Second Coming
- defeating death - can take place right now.)
- Read James 5:8-9. What could James be talking about here
that is true? (Our Judge is constantly "standing by the
door." He is willing to open the door to eternal life
right now. When we give our life to Jesus, He opens the
door that allows us to cross-over from death to eternal
life. The essence of the Second Coming is available to us
now. If we realize that, it helps us to be patient with
the long wait.)
- Examples of Patience
- Read James 5:10-11. Why are the prophets a good example
for the people to whom James is writing?(The prophets
needed patience because they suffered the most from their
fellow citizens. Those who claimed to know God were the
main problem. Recall that James is writing to believers
who fled persecution from fellow Jews. They are just like
the prophets in that respect.)
- Why is Job an especially good example for these
people? (Job was not only given a difficult time by
this friends, but he lost his earthly wealth. That is
likely the situation of those to whom James is
- Look again at James 5:11. James says look at what God
finally did for Job. What God did for Job occurred during
his lifetime. How would those to whom James was writing
understand this "be patient" advice?
- Don't you hate it when people are so theoretical that
they seem to have no common sense? We started our
discussion ( James 5:7) with James telling people who
were abused by the rich to be patient "until the
Lord's coming." I then pointed out the spiritual
aspect of the Lord's coming, the cross-over from
death to life. What about the practical part of
retribution against the rich? If we take a
commonsense point of view, is James misleading the
people to whom he is writing?
- Read Matthew 24:1-3, and then skim over the rest of
the chapter. What is Jesus describing in answer to
the question of the disciples? (He is describing both
the fall of Jerusalem and His Second Coming.)
- Why is it appropriate for Jesus to mix up the
two? (Look again at the question the disciples
asked. They asked about both events. Their
assumption was that they were the same event.)
- Does this discussion help us with the
practical, retribution aspect of what James
wrote? (Yes. The fall of Jerusalem was very
close. The rich who had abused the poor were
about to suffer some serious retribution.
Having cheated the poor to gain more money
would do them no good now.)
- Let's look back at the hard cross-examination questions I
asked. Is James misleading those to whom he is writing?
(They were likely to believe the Second Coming was close.
But, the essence of the message, entering into eternal
life and retribution for being cheated, those truly were
both at hand.)
- Read James 5:12. Is James off on another, unrelated,
topic? (Read Matthew 5:34-35. Notice that swearing by
Jerusalem was one of the grounds for claiming you were
telling the truth.)
- How reliable would it be to swear by Jerusalem? (I
think this advice is related to the prior discussion.
James tells his readers don't rely on money, rely on
God because He will make things right. Now he says
that when it comes to you doing the right thing,
don't suggest reliance on anything God has made,
rather just do what is right as a child of God.
Swearing by Jerusalem would soon prove to be a bad
- Friend, would you like to cross over from death to eternal
life right now? James suggests this is a solution to many
of the problems of life. Why not repent, confess and claim
Jesus' promise of entering into eternal life today?
- Next week: Prayer, Healing and Restoration.
* Copr. 2014, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.