May 31, 2016

A Monthly Publication of 
Bethesda Baptist Church

May 31, 2016

 Church Picnic!

The annual Bethesda Baptist Church Picnic begins at high 
noon on Saturday, June 18th at our church.  The church will 
provide the meat as well as lemonade. 

Families are asked to bring a side dish or a dessert and, 
if you don’t want lemonade, something to drink.

Come out and join us for some good Christian fellowship!

Bethesda Church Picnic
Saturday, June 18

Wednesday, June 8th 
7 p.m.


Happy Birthday to the following Bethesda family members:

* Ken Romans on the 13th 
* Samuel Bounds on the 16th 
* Austin Wildgrube on the 26th 


and Happy Anniversary to:

* Dennis & Pam DePriest on the 7th 
* Jeff & Alicia Mueller on the 12th 

The Book of James

Having completed our exposition of Paul’s letter to the 
Romans, beginning this Sunday we turn our attention to what 
is likely the oldest of the New Testament books: James. 

Come and hear the Word of God this Sunday! 

The Luther Monthly

Martin Luther was very much a theologian. He lived and 
breathed theology and loved teaching, preaching, discussing, 
and arguing the doctrines of the faith. His love of theology is 
one of the reasons he adored the Gospel of John, the Epistle to 
the Romans, and Paul’s letter to the Galatians. However, 
concerning the less theological and more practical book of 
James (which we begin this Sunday), here is what the good 
doctor had to say:

“In fine, Saint John’s Gospel and his first epistle, Saint Paul’s 
epistles, especially those to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 
and Saint Peter’s first epistle,--these are the books which show 
thee Christ, and teach thee everything that is needful and 
blessed for thee to know even though thou never see or hear 
any other book or doctrine. Therefore is Saint James’s epistle 
a right strawy epistle in comparison with them, for it has no 
gospel character to it.”

As far as I know, Luther never denied that James was inspired 
by God. Actually, on my bookshelves are some of Luther’s 
sermons. One that he preached and was first printed in 1536 
is on James 1:16-21. I do not believe Luther would have used 
this text for any sermon if he did not believe it was the Word 
of God. 

In the above quote Luther says “in comparison with them” 
which I believe supports that opinion. His problem with James 
was likely two-fold. First, as I have already mentioned, James 
does not contain a great deal of teaching on the doctrines of 
the faith which Luther thoroughly enjoyed. That doesn’t 
mean there is an absence of theology in the book, rather, there 
are simply no extended discussions on the person of Christ, 
justification by grace through faith, or other doctrines.

A second problem I believe Luther had with James is the fact 
that his Roman Catholic opponents misused James chapter 2 
in their attempt to defend justification by works. For Roman 
Catholics, Luther’s idea that one could be saved on the basis 
of his faith in Christ alone was heresy. They read James 2 to 
imply that salvation required the performance of good deeds 
(e.g., baptism, observing the mass, confession, penance, etc.). 

James chapter 2, as we will see, is not at odds with Romans 
chapter 3. James is not teaching a salvation requiring works. 
The Roman Catholics are wrong in their understanding of the 
text and Luther was wrong to lessen the value of James when 
compared with other books of the New Testament.

The Epistle of James is the inspired Word of God. It is far 
more practical and less theological than many of the Pauline 
epistles. Nevertheless, as Scripture it is profitable to us. 
So let’s see what we can learn from this small but very 
powerful book!

Pastor’s Postscript

As I mentioned at the beginning of my sermon on Sunday, 
while we spent over 2 years in the book of Romans, there is so 
much more gold to be mined from that book that I almost feel 
guilty leaving it! Yet I sense God wants us to move on to 
other texts.

Given our society’s demand for “satisfaction now” and our 
short attention spans, I applaud you who regularly attend our 
worship and listen to the preaching of the Word. There are 
some (perhaps many based on what other preachers tell me!) 
who do not like preachers who preach from one book for 
many weeks. They believe such expository preaching “robs 
them” of other parts of God’s Word. Personally, I believe 
expository preaching is the best way to proclaim the Word of 

Some time ago I took some time and prayed about my future 
direction in preaching the Word. Given my age as well as my 
commitment to preach expository messages, I realized I will 
never be able to preach through every book of the Bible. So I 
decided to focus on the New Testament for my sermons.

Do not misunderstand my decision to mean that I consider the 
Old Testament of no value. To the contrary, it has so much to 
offer. No, my decision to focus on the New Testament is 
simply based on the amount of time I have left to preach and 
the need to proclaim the message of Christ. The New 
Testament is the best place for doing that.

There will likely be some Sundays when I take a “time out” 
and preach a message from the Old Testament. At the 
moment the adult Sunday School class is looking at an Old 
Testament book. So your pastor has not “disowned” the Old 
Testament! But until God changes my mind, I will continue to 
preach through New Testament books.

Beginning this Sunday we turn our attention to the book of 
James. I do hope you make every effort to join us each week 
as we see what God has for us from this wonderful book.

May the Lord bless your June! 

Pastor Bruce