This is our last week of the "Getting Ready" series, where we consider the high-level questions about these books. If you have additional questions, don't be shy about e-mailing the coaches!
Romans and James are such different books, why are we studying them together?
It would be hard to imagine how the books of Romans and James could be much more different. Different authors, different audiences, different emphases. Some even argue they have different theologies! (Martin Luther even once called James "a false gospel", in one of his grumpier moments.) The only thing they have in common, it seems, is that they're both in the Bible!
But, really, Romans and James highlight the two inseparable sides of Christianity.
Romans has a focus on the grace of God. Paul talks over and over about the fact that our salvation is a free gift, and that there was nothing in ourselves that made us worthy of Christ. He highlights the fact that the Old Testament Law can't save anyone, which is why Jesus had to come and die and rise. Romans takes our eyes off of ourselves and our own good deeds, and puts them onto God.
James, on the other hand, has a focus on what we do. James agrees wholeheartedly that our works don't save us, but points out that such an amazing gift should spur us onto good works that will please our savior. He challenges lazy or sinful Christians to examine themselves and start doing all the things Jesus commanded us to do. James reminds us to remember while our eyes are on heaven, we're on mission on the Earth!
If you have Romans without James, you have happy Christians who are of no use to anyone. If you James without Romans, you have busy Christians without any joy. You need them both to be the men and women God called us to be.