‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him’ (Rom 8:28). What a promise! Yet, the promise here is not that ‘all things’ will be good – but that in ‘all things’ God would do what is good.
Hope is a funny word. It’s such a positive thing, and yet it can seem so fragile.
Psychologists tell us that hope is crucial for healthy functioning. People without hope die, while people with hope thrive. We all want something to look forward to; something to live for; a ‘destination’ in life.
And yet, who can predict the future? Life can often seem like little more than a wrecking yard of dashed hopes. What do we really have to live for? Can anyone have any certainty about what’s to come?
The fantastic message of the Bible’s letter to the Romans is that we can! – and not just a vague sense of wishful thinking, but real, grounded, impregnable confidence! – not just for now, but for all eternity!
In this talk, the question of whether James and Paul are at odds theologically over what it means to be justified by faith alone or by works is raised. The discussion is large and so the sermon deals with it briefly, but suggests this paper (‘Is James at odds with Paul?’) for further reading if so inclined.
Please note: This is an academic paper, so it is long, at times detailed, and uses technical language (including greek). Further, the paper was written several years ago and since then I have changed my position on the late dating of the letter of James (as you would hear in the sermon, I know think it is dated early). Regardless, it I think is still helpful for an inquiring mind.