Archive for June, 2008

July 6th, 2008 – James 2:14-26

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

The Book of James
Does Your Faith Work?
James 2:14-26


Though all people have the ability to put their trust and confidence [faith] in a chosen object (information, people, etc.), that faith – and the choices associated with it, can only be made within the sphere of that person’s nature (see 2 Thess. 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:6-8). For an unbeliever, they cannot choose anything within the sphere associated with God (see Rom. 8:5-8; 1 Cor. 2:14). For believers, because we have been regenerated and made alive spiritually, we have the ability to know and understand God’s word and to trust Him and His resources to live our daily lives. But possessing that ability is useless unless it is exercised!

Our Study of the Text‐

    1. “such faith” – a faith that is not used, that does not issue in a product.
    2. Save [deliver] him from what? The near context indicates being delivered from judgment (see 1:12, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom”).
      1. It is a judgment of works (the issue before us; see 1 Cor. 3:10-15).
      2. James is not talking about how a person is saved from the penalty of sin! Recall from our study of James 1:21 that the meaning of the Greek term sozo is to deliver; in the passive, to be delivered. The context must determine who or what is delivered from what. Here are some examples:
        1. Saved (delivered) from the penalty of sin (Eph. 2:5, 8).
        2. Saved (delivered) from sleep – to wake up (John 11:12).
        3. Saved (delivered) from Egypt (Acts 7:25).
        4. Saved (delivered) from sickness – become well (Mark 5:34; Acts 4:9).
        5. Saved (delivered) from drowning (Acts 27:20, 31).
        6. Saved (delivered) from prison (Phil. 1:19)

          We can now add an additional example:

        7. Saved (delivered) at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:10-15).

          Note: The term saved (Gr. sozo) is used five times in James. But not once is it used of salvation from the penalty of sin (see 1:21; 2:14; 4:12; 5:15, 20). The epistle was not written to explain how a person is saved from the penalty of sin, rather to explain how one who has been saved from the penalty of sin is to live.

    3. An example of a faith that works (2:15-16).
    4. A dead faith is a useless faith (2:17; see Rom. 4:16-21).
    1. The empty boast of faith (2:18-20).
    2. Abraham, an example of faith (2:21-24). Note, too, that Abraham was declared righteous by God in Genesis 15:6 when he was 85 years old. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Gen. 21:5). His sacrifice of Isaac is recorded in Gen. 22:1-19 when Isaac was a young man. Abraham was probably near 125 or 130 years old. He died at 175 (Gen. 25:7). The point is this: The justification mentioned in James 2:21 does not refer to when he was “saved.” It refers to his justification before man – his works vindicated the faith that God had declared him to have!
    3. Rahab, an example of faith (v.25).
    4. An analogy of faith (v.26).
    • Put God first in all that you do (intent of the heart).
    • Learn to make adult decisions (How does the royal law apply in this situation?).
    • Live your life with the realization that you are accountable for your thoughts, words and actions; they will be judged by the standard of the Royal Law.

June 29th, 2008 – James 2:1-13

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

The Book of James
Are There Favorites in Mercy?
James 2:1-13


At the moment we believe in Jesus Christ – that is, the moment we put our trust in Him for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life, many things occur. Here are but a few: we are forgiven all our sins (Col. 1:14); we are born into God’s family (1 John 5:1); the Holy Spirit indwells us (Rom. 8:9); we are transferred from darkness to light (Eph. 5:8); from death to life (Eph. 2:1, 5).

Following the moment of our justification, we begin the process of sanctification – growing up to spiritual maturity. As James has already explained, that process involves receiving or embracing the implanted word (1:21) – which we are learning from our study of the Bible, so that we can apply it within the context of the momentary tests of our faith. It is through that process that we grow and mature spiritually (1:2-4).

Changed thinking and behavior are obvious results of spiritual growth. Sometimes the New Testament writers use the metaphor of walking to address how we are to live our lives: walk in good works [works of faith] (Eph. 2:10); walk in a manner worthy of your calling (Eph. 4:1); walk no longer as the Gentiles walk (Eph. 4:17); walk in love [the "royal law"] (Eph. 5:2); walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8); and walk as wise people (Eph. 5:15).

We must choose to live in this manner. But since we still have to deal with old habits and desires [approbation lust/lusts of the flesh], sometimes we choose not to live as we should. James now draws our attention to one of those problem areas.

Our Study of the Text

    Partiality: A biased attitude or behavior — an unfair preference for one person or thing over another.

    1. Generally, the problem is one of approbation lust (cf. Matt. 6:5,16).
      1. We want those “of reputation” to respond to us in a certain way. Example: Gal. 2:11-14.
      2. We want to be a part of the “in group”: 1 Cor. 1:11-13.
    2. Showing partiality is SIN.
      1. It violates the moral character of God. cf. Rom. 6:9; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25.
      2. It violates the “Royal Law” (vv. 8-9). (See 2A. below)
    3. How we show partiality:
      1. Letting someone get away w/ something that you will not let another get away with.
      2. Conducting ministry to people based on socioeconomic or cultural considerations.

        Note: We are not talking about differing levels of friendship; we are talking about dealing with people on the basis of different standards. It is perfectly acceptable to do something for one person that you would not do for another, but only when moral standards are not violated.

  2. THE ROYAL LAW (2:8)

    James is writing from a doctrinal point of view that represents an admixture of what the Law of Moses taught and what was taught by the Lord Jesus Christ. The summary of both is this: Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself. These are the two great commandments (Matt. 22:34-40) and are a statement of the moral character of God.

    1. The Law of Moses was introduced by these two laws (Ex. 20:3-17).
    2. They are also included in the New Covenant (Ro. 13:8-10; Ga. 5:13-16).
    3. James has used the expressions “The perfect law of liberty” (1:25), and “the royal law” (2:8), in ref. to the two great commandments.
      To illustrate how we violate the “royal law” he has addressed the matter of showing partiality or making distinctions between Christians – with wrong motives (vv. 1-9). When we show partiality (with wrong motives), we “commit sin and are convicted by the law (i.e., The Law of Liberty) as transgressors” (v.9).
    1. Recall 1:21: “Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Recall, too, that the doctrine of the salvation of the soul is addressing the matter of sanctification and is directly related to our rewards and inheritance in Christ.
    2. There are serious consequences for living contrary to the “Law of Liberty.”

      NOTE: Remember, there is no condemnation for sin (Ro. 8:1), but there are consequences that will be faced, one of which is loss of reward and inheritance.

      1. The fact of transgression (10-11). Showing partiality is the example before us.
      2. “So speak and so act” (12) i.e., live your lives as those who will be judged by the law that gives freedom (the Law of Liberty).
      3. The way we live should be a reflection of a walk of faith and that we are living according to the “Royal Law.”
    • Put God first in all that you do (intent of the heart).
    • Learn to make adult decisions (How does the royal law apply in this situation?).
    • Live your life with the realization that you are accountable for your thoughts, words and actions; they will be judged by the standard of the Royal Law.

June 22nd, 2008 – James 1:19-27

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

The Book of James
Knowing the Word Is Only Half the Battle
James 1:19:27


President Franklin D. Roosevelt got tired of smiling that big smile and saying the usual things at all those White House receptions. So, one evening he decided to find out whether anybody was paying attention to what he was saying. As each person came up to him with an extended hand, he flashed that big smile and said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” People would automatically respond with comments such as “How lovely!” Or, “Just continue with your great work!” Nobody listened to what he was saying, except one foreign diplomat. When the president said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning,” the diplomat responded softly, “I’m sure she had it coming to her.”

Listening is a major problem for lots of people. For to a great extent they hear words only; they do not hear with understanding. On at least three occasions, Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15; 13:9, 43; cf. John 8:43, 47). At the end of each of the seven letters He dictated to John in Revelation 2 and 3, He ended with the statement, “He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.

Do not miss the point: “listening” (or hearing) is not just a response to the stimulus of sound waves, it is perception and understanding. James learned this lesson well. At one time he himself was one who heard Jesus speak, but did not hear Him.

Our Study of the Text

    1. Be quick to listen:
      Listen carefully to what is said :: and with understanding. Perceive what the person means by what he is saying. Ask questions to clarify meaning (not in a suspicious or challenging way). Repeat back to the speaker what you understand them to say – and ask if you understand correctly.
    2. Be slow to speak:
      Speak when it is necessary and beneficial to do so.
      After telling his patient to put out her tongue, the doctor continued writing out the prescription. When he had finished he turned to her and said: “There, that will do.” “But Doctor,” protested the lady, “you never even looked at my tongue.” To which the doctor replied, “It wasn’t necessary. I just wanted you to keep quiet while I wrote the prescription.”
      cf. Eph. 4:29: NO GOSSIP OR MALICE!
    3. Be slow to become angry:
      James states clearly that anger does not produce the righteousness of God.
      Moses had a problem with anger – so much so that it kept him out of the promised land (see Exodus 2:12; 32:19; Numbers 20:8:12).
    Since James is writing to believers, it is obvious the accepting the word of God so as to save one’s soul is not talking about being saved from the penalty of sin. So to better understand his meaning we need to take a closer look at the words involved.

    1. The meaning of save:
      The basic meaning of the Greek term sozo is to deliver; in the passive, to be delivered. The context must determine who or what is delivered from what. Here are some examples:

      1. Saved (delivered) from the penalty of sin (Eph. 2:5, 8).
      2. Saved (delivered) from sleep – to wake up (John 11:12).
      3. Saved (delivered) from Egypt (Acts 7:25).
      4. Saved (delivered) from sickness – become well (Mark 5:34; Acts 4:9).
      5. Saved (delivered) from drowning (Acts 27:20, 31).
      6. Saved (delivered) from prison (Phil. 1:19)
    2. The meaning of soul:
      The term soul (Gr. psuche) is used several ways. Again, the context must determine its ultimate meaning. Soul is used in four different ways:

      1. As the principle of life (Acts 20:10).
      2. As an animate human being (1 Cor. 15:45).
      3. As the immaterial aspect of man (Matt. 10:28).
      4. As the temporal experience of human life (Luke 9:23:25).

    The apostle Peter explains the concept that James is referring to more fully in 1 Peter 1:3:9. He concludes the section with, ” Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

    Here is a summary of what James and Peter are saying:

    James uses our proper responses to life’s trials to indicate how our faith is proven (1:12). Peter uses proof of faith to indicate the same thing. Both refer to what the Bible also calls good works. Our evaluations and responses to the concerns of life will either issue from faith in the provisions of God’s grace, or in our own self:sufficiency. In either case, a work is produced. If the work issues from our faith in God, it is a good work (cf. Romans 14:23b; Ephesians 2:10). It is proof of faith. All our works, good and bad, will be “tested by fire” at the judgment seat of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10:15). The judgment by fire is to test the quality of our works (vs. 13). Good works (proof of faith) become the basis for reward (vs. 14). This is precisely what Peter has in mind when he says that our “proof of faith” (good works) will be “tested by fire”, and having passed the test will result in “praise and glory and honor” (reward). And it will happen at “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (the judgment seat). To put it another way, our faith is proven in time, but that proof is demonstrated and rewarded in the future – at the judgment seat of Christ.

    1. One of Satan’s lies is this: If I know the truth I will experience the truth. And nothing could be further from the truth! Listening to the presentation of truth does not mean that the listener has learned anything. In fact, James is telling us that listening in itself is only temporary. It is very much like a person who looks in a mirror. As soon as they go about their business they forget what they saw in the mirror.
    2. It is the doers of the word that are blessed.
      To be blessed means to be the privileged recipient of divine favor. Being a privileged recipient of divine favor means that one is abiding in that state in which full assurance and confidence of faith is realized. That is, that state in which blessing is realized. Remember 1:12?

      “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
      That state of blessing can be summarized in this way: it is the state that is created and maintained by living obediently to the principles and precepts of the Scriptures (and it assumes a continual cleansed life).


    The Word of God demonstrates to us that we can be very involved in Christian activities and still be characteristically fleshly and immature spiritually.

    1. Biblical Christianity is seen in ministry to others.
      1. Orphans and widows are representative.
      2. Some other aspects of ministry:
        1. Evangelism (2 Tim. 4:5; Eph. 4:11)
        2. Financial help (Eph. 4:28; Phil. 4:10:20)
        3. General principles: 1 Thess. 5:14
      3. Biblical Christianity is seen in godly character.
        A great example is the list (not an exhaustive list) of the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22:23.

        • Love [the voluntary and unconditional provision of money, materials, help to people in need]
        • Joy [happiness or satisfaction]
        • Peace [a state of mental calm and serenity, with no anxiety]
        • Patience [able to tolerate being hurt, provoked, or annoyed without complaint or loss of temper]
        • Kindness [compassionate, generous]
        • Goodness [virtuous, moral integrity]
        • Faithfulness [consistently loyal]
        • Gentleness [having a gracious or honorable manner]
        • Self:control [the ability to control your own behavior, especially in terms of reactions and impulses]
    • When you don’t listen carefully, not only will you relate untruth to others, but you will form opinions about people that are not true.
    • Don’t be so quick to tell people what you know – they very likely do not need to know what you know.
    • Realize that when you are angry, you are not getting your own way – which is selfishness – and that is a major sin problem!
    • Spend regular time in the Word of God. Attend Bible class. Learn to study the Bible for yourself.
    • Learn to think biblically, not glandularly!
      Some people seem to pride themselves on their “natural instincts.” And that is very dangerous. What we need is biblical perception, not natural instinct. The object of our faith is God and his Word, not us and our abilities!
    • Set the direction of your heart toward God not self.
      We spend a lot of time in front of the mirror to be sure that we look a certain way so that people will respond to us in ways that will please us. We should be that concerned about how God perceives and responds to us :: whether He is pleased by what He sees in us.

June 15th, 2008 – Father’s Day

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Is There Hope for the Fatherless?
2 Timothy 1:3-7; Acts 16:1-3


When it comes to raising children, The “Dynamic Duo” is not Batman and Robin, but mom and dad! The Bible assumes that there will be a Mom and a Dad in the process and for there not to be is the exception! Scripture recognizes that death may create the absence of a Mom or Dad. In that case, “The LORD . . . sustains the fatherless and the widow” (Psm. 146:9). And although the Scriptures do not explicitly say so, we might also understand that He would provide special grace for the same situation brought about by divorce.

God has given us some basic directives and principles for the task of raising children, but He has not given us an instruction book as to how those directive and principles are to be implemented. Therefore, we are in need of wisdom (skill); and we can share with one another what we have learned from our own experience. (e.g. “Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. In this way they will train [sophronizo – to train, teach, advise, encourage; the noun has the sense of prudence] the younger women . . . .” (Titus 2:3-5). And although the task involves both parents, the church should stand ready to help with this task as mentors and teachers.

Our Study of the Text

  1. Parents have the primary responsibility for the training and education of their children.
    1. The Old Testament pattern.
      “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9).
    2. The New Testament pattern.
      “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 ‘Honor your father and mother”– which is the first commandment with a promise– 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord’” (Eph. 6:1-4).
  2. But is there hope for the fatherless?
    Sometimes, because of death, divorce or out-of-wedlock births, a woman may find herself alone in fulfilling the biblical mandate to train her children in godliness. As mentioned in the introduction, such women are recipients of divine favor and grace. God will strengthen and protect such a mother — assuming she looks to God in faith for such provision.
    And then, too, there is the problem of mixed marriages – where a believer is married to an unbeliever. God has also made special provisions for the believing spouse in such relationships: “For the unbelieving husband (or wife) has been sanctified through his wife (or husband), and the unbelieving wife (or husband) has been sanctified through her believing husband (or wife). Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy” (1 Cor. 7:14).

    1. The example of Timothy (Acts 16:1-3).
      On Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13-14), he planted new churches in four locations in southern Galatia: Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe. As he began his second journey he revisited those same churches; and when he arrived in Lystra, he encountered a young man by the name of Timothy. Timothy’s parents formed a mixed marriage: “A disciple named Timothy was there, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but whose father was a Greek” (16:1).

      Timothy was a believer in Christ and had matured so much that Paul enlisted him in ministry – and became his mentor. But with a believing mom and an unbelieving dad, how was he able to grow so well spiritually?

    2. The training of Timothy.
      1. His formative years.
        God’s mixed-marriage provisions mentioned earlier have been fleshed out in Timothy’s life. Paul describes it for us in a later letter sent to Timothy:
        “I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:3-7).
      2. His later years.
        Though an argument from silence, it seems clear that the local church in Lystra must have played a big role in his development. And that is one of the grace provisions God has made for women (or men) who are faced with the task of raising children alone. But his greatest time of development was under the mentorship of the apostle Paul who loved him as his own son and who elevated him to the role of an apostolic representative – to serve the Church in Paul’s place when it was not possible for him to do so in person.
  3. Points to Ponder
    • Training and raising children is an awesome responsibility. It takes parents who are committed to personal godliness and who function as “team-mates” (not competitors).
    • To teach children “wisdom from above” requires that parents have “wisdom from above.” You can’t teach what you don’t know. In other words, to teach life-skills without molding godly character is to do nothing more than teach the wisdom of the world.
    • Next to a parent’s own pursuit of godliness and godly wisdom, the child-training process must take top priority in the home.
    • Training children is an arduous task – and the outcome is not guaranteed!

June 8th, 2008 – James 1:13-18

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

The Book of James
Is God Enough?
James 1:13-18


And the Lord God asked Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me– she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:11-13).

Since the time of the sin of Adam in the garden, one of the natural characteristics of people is that they tend to hide (or flee from) their own imperfections (sins) and hurl at the imperfections of others – to justify ourselves. Together with that is the notion that they are not responsible for their sinful thinking and behavior.

James is well aware of this problem that touches all of us. Trials (or tests of our faith) involve how we handle the momentary issues of life. Will our thinking and responses reflect a biblical worldview, or will they represent the thinking of the world in which we live (the advice and consensus of our friends, etc.)?

Sometimes our trials will involve moral choices – enticement to evil. If God is absolutely sovereign over all of life, he must be responsible for the trials as well – he is tempting me! “Not so,” says James.

Our Study of the Text

    1. The same term is used for both: peirasmos.
      1. peirasmos as a trial (James 1:2, 12).
      2. peirasmos as temptation (James 1:13; Matt. 6:13; 26:41).

      The point James is making is this: God tests us through life circumstances to prove that we will (or will not) respond to life issues on the basis of trust in Him and His word. On the other hand, temptation is something that originates within us – our own lust patterns, which respond sinfully to what is outside of us.

    2. God is not the source of temptation because it is contrary to His nature – He cannot be tempted and He does not tempt.
    3. A person is tempted in this way:
      1. He is, by his own evil desire, dragged away and enticed.
        The phrase “dragged away” is one Greek word: exelko – which means to drag away by force. The term “enticed” is deleazo which means to bait or lure – as one would bait a hook to catch fish (cf. 2 Pet. 2:14, 18).
      2. His desire and its object become as an egg and sperm in human conception.
      3. That “embryo” is birthed as sin.
      4. Sin brings with it the experience of death.
        Death in concept means separation. All people are born spiritually dead – separated in spirit from God (see Eph. 2:1-2). Physical death occurs when the material aspect of a person separates from his non-material aspect (see 2 Cor. 5:6-8). For a believer, when he sins, he is at that time separated from an experience of God’s life. Some refer to this experience as being “out of fellowship” with God. The truth is, at such times, we experience death, not life (see Rom. 8:12-13).
    1. Believers are disposed to deception. To be deceived means to be lead away from the truth, into error; to be deceived, especially through ignorance.

      “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).

    2. Several specific areas are mention in which believers are disposed to deception.
      1. Deceived about the company we keep.

        “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).

      2. Deceived and taken captive by thinking which is in conflict with a biblical worldview (see Col. 2:8).

        “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8).

      3. Deceived by teachers who use the Bible to advance themselves.

        “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God” (2 Cor. 2:17).

        “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2).

    1. There may be many secondary causes, but He is the originating source of all the good which comes to us – including truth.

      The phrase “Father of the heavenly lights” is a Hebrew expression for “Creator-God, the source of all that is.” And He changes not!

      The great example of course is our great salvation in Christ Jesus:

      ” He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (NIV)

      “By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (NET).

    • Think right thoughts (Phil. 2)
    • Consider yourself dead to sin (Rom. 6)
    • Determine to use the members of your body only to serve God (Rom. 6)
    • Pay close attention to what your conscience tells you.
    • Confess your sins and turn from them (1 John 1:9)
    • Give thanks to God for all His wonderful gifts (1 Thess. 5:18)