The Fellowship of Believers
I received a newsletter in the mail that contained this article. It was written by a great preacher and teacher of the gospel, Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Dr. McGee is in heaven now, but his teaching lives on. I was so inspired by this article that I thought I would share it with my internet friends….
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
“Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ” should be “Hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice that James is His half brother according to the flesh, but he gives Him here the full name, “our Lord Jesus Christ.” And he calls Him “the Lord of glory.” Here is a strong assertion of the deity of Christ. I know of no one who was in a better position to determine the deity of Christ than a younger brother of the Lord Jesus who was brought up in the same home with Him. Frankly, I think James is in a better position to speak on the deity of Christ than some theologian sitting in a swivel chair in a musty library, removed from the reality of even his own day. Such a man is really far removed from the reality of the first century and the home in which Jesus was raised. Therefore, I go along with James, if you don’t mind. He is the “Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.”
What James is telling us here is not to profess faith in Christ and at the same time be a spiritual snob. Don’t join some little clique in the church. All believers are brethren in the body of Christ, whatever their denomination. There is a fellowship of believers; friendship should never be over them as a banner. James is addressing the total community of believers—the rich, the poor, the common people, the high, the low, the bond and the free, the Jew and the Gentile, the Greek and the barbarian, male and female. They are all one when they are in the body of Christ. There is a brotherhood within the body of believers, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the common denominator. Friendship and fellowshp are the legal tender among believers.
James says, “Don’t hold your faith with respect of persons.” If you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and another person belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, he is your brother. Furthermore, if a sinner comes into your assembly or you otherwise come into contact with him, remember that he is a human being for whom Christ died. He stands at the foot of the cross, just as you stand at the foot of the cross.
The Old Testament taught Israel not to regard the person of the rich or of the poor. God, in the Mosaic system, cautioned: “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15). Simon Peter learned this lesson at Joppa when God let down from heaven the sheet full of unclean animals and commanded him to eat of them. Peter concluded from that experience, “…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).