James Purpose Statement
Whenever we begin an in depth study of any book of the Bible, we should ask the question, “For what purpose did this apostle write this book?” James contrasts two ways of life, the way of the converted and the way of the unconverted in order to demonstrate that genuine conversion produces Christ-like values, patterns of thinking, and patterns of action. As one reads the book, he should be struck with the reality, that there are two kinds of righteousness that relate to believers. One is positional or legal, while the other is practical.
Positional or legal righteousness is a gift from God, received from God at conversion, based solely on the work of Christ when one places his faith in Christ alone. This righteousness is the primary subject in Romans 3:21-22. According to Romans 3 and Ephesians 2, it is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, and is not of our works in any way. This is the righteousness that believers receive when they are justified.
Practical righteousness is produced by God in the lives of converted people as they walk by faith in communion with Him. This righteousness could be rightly called the fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of abiding in Christ, and is the emphasis of Galatians 5, John 15, and Philippians 2:12.
Positional righteousness provides our legal standing before God as saints, forgiven and related properly to our heavenly Father, while practical righteousness demonstrates to men the genuineness of our profession of faith. As you read the book of James carefully, I believe you will see the relationship between these two types of righteousness, and how they relate to the believer.
Pastor Joel Porcher Anchor Baptist Mission, Cape Coast Ghana