Essay: Epistle of James and Progressive Justification

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SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] To win the race, or to persevere—i.e., to be progressively justified—requires sweat and hard work: it requires renunciation, fasting, prayer, abstinence—all the things the Christ shows us to do, for example, when He is fasting in the desert. The preparation of the soul to hear, receive and apply the Word of God is a continuous effort or exercise that cannot be accomplished in one sitting. In one sitting, one can examine one’s reflection and see how one looks—but if that individual does not keep that image always before his mind’s eye, he will forget internally what his condition is, and that is the mistake on the part of one who thinks that justification is not a continuous process. Hearing the Word and keeping it (applying it to one’s life) is what James is saying a Christian must be willing to do so as to really and truly be united to God.

Step 3: Applying the Theological Principle

In terms of the question of Character and the question, “Who should I be?” the answer is simple when this theological principle is applied: one should be like Christ. One should put off the “old man” and put on the “new”—which is Christ. Two real world ways in which this principle may be applied can be seen in the answer to this question of character. To become like Christ, one should make use of the sacraments that Christ has left for Christians to utilize through the Church—in particularly Confession and the Holy Eucharist; the former makes one clean again and the latter gives one the supernatural life of God. The second way this may be applied is to do daily meditation so as not to forget who one is and who one should be—i.e., to always have Christ’s image before one’s eyes. By keeping the image of Christ in one’s mind, it will be like keeping the Word of God in one’s mind and heart at all times (Frey, 1948. This is the point that James is making, so constantly staying recollected and constantly making use of the sacraments are two ways that this principle of progressive justification can be applied in the real world. This principle could also be applied externally by doing as James suggests in the verses that follow 22-25—namely by doing acts of charity for others, in looking after orphans or widows or essentially anyone in need. This could be accomplished by cooking meals for the homeless at a shelter or by donating goods to the poor.

Conclusion

In conclusion, James 1:22-25 teaches Christians to stop being so focused on and distracted by the worldliness around them. It reminds them that the key to happiness in this life and in the next is to always be mindful of the Word of God—not by hearing it and setting it aside but rather by hearing it and keeping it always on one’s mind so that one’s life is a reflection of the life of Christ: one takes care of one’s own soul by putting away all uncleanness and immorality and by doing works of charity for one’s neighbor. This is the essence of the spiritual life that Christ wants us to have. The Christian religion should not be considered like a coupon that one gets in the mail, which can be redeemed once and for all time for eternal salvation and then one does not have to give it any more thought; on the contrary, religion must be lived out daily so that one is progressively justified. This can be accomplished through reception of the sacraments, and through meditation, constant recollection and good works for one’s neighbors.

References

Brown, R. (1997). An Introduction to the New Testament. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Frey, J. (1948). The New Testament. New York, NY: Confraternity of the Precious

Blood.

Malick, D. (2014). An introduction to the Book of James. Retrieved from

https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-james

Mayer, F. E. (1961). The Religious Bodies of America, 4th ed. Saint Louis, MO:

Concordia Publishing. [END OF PREVIEW]

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