24 September 2012
I have two questions for us as a church family this morning. The first question, is your faith an active commitment filled with love and obedience to a holy an awesome God? That's a Christian who is a doer of the Word in aspects of his or hers life. A faith that desires to please, not to win favor, but a life of active obedience to a Holy and Righteous God. A. W Tozer said “Faith, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ." The second question, is your Faith a mere Intellectual exercise? Which is a Faith that is just professing without action? A person who has orthodoxy but no orthopraxy. The kind of Faith that James is speaking about in this passage. This is mere empty profession, not a true genuine saving faith found in the mirror of scripture! A big head and shrunken heart. See when a person has been infected with saving grace found in the Gospel....He or she is has become a new creation. Why? The gospel completely juts you [a person] from the inside out with a passion for Christ and His truth. Paul wrote in 2Cor 5:17-21 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
What does Faith really mean? “Faith” is a conviction based upon hearing (akin to peitho, "to persuade"), is used in the NT always of "faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual." Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true (Phi_1:27; 2Th_2:13). Its primary idea is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in accordance with the evidence on which it rests.What does Works mean? “Works” by implication an act: - deed, doing, labour, work, an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasized in opposite to that which is less than work.
See! James is not talking about “a works righteousness” or “contradicting” Paul’s writings to the church. Actually James is reaffirming or complimenting what’s already been said by Paul and the Apostles.We need to understand before we continue…… it’s by His sovereign grace and work that we are saved, not our works or our own righteousness. Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Faith is a gift and we were created for good works according to Jesus! "CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS UNTO GOOD WORKS" Eph. 2:10. So! Is my faith genuine or is my faith fake? For example: You take a car that is empty. It has no gas whatsoever and then you take a gas can that is filled with gas. Neither one can work without the other……. the car cannot run without gas……the gas is useless until it gets poured into the gas tank. Our Christian walk is very similar …........faith in Jesus Christ is an action reality in the life of the believer. That’s the fruits of Christ righteousness being displayed in the believer……..one of the evidence or mark of the believer. Augustine said "Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe." A working faith is required attribute in the believer by a holy God……..you read throughout scripture the ones who walked by this premise of faith. The very same faith that James is speaking of in this passage is an action that works to display your faith in God. Remember the car and the gas! You add the gas to the car it will run they both work in harmony together. You take one away you'll not be able to go or do anything!
Ask yourself before we get deeper into the text! Are you obedient to your calling? Our works is to be our desire to please the one that enlisted us into the family in the first place. In 2Timothy 2:4 it says “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” Is this your desire? To be here in church this morning? to study, worship and to fellowship with God's children [the Elect]. Is your Christian life fake or is it alive? Do you believe, but don't have faith? Because you cannot have one without the other! Just like a car needs gas to go. Our Christian life requires a working faith in to produce fruit of Christ righteousness. John Selden says "As in the candle I know there is both light and heat, but put out the candle, and they are both gone.".........We are going to look at 3 requirements to a working faith in the life of the believer.
A WORKING FAITH IS COMPASSIONATE TO OTHERS (V14- V17) James clearly presents this truth by helping those in need do on to others help those in need this is a working faith! Helping others in Need. In Luke 3:11 “And He answered them, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." This is the same remark that James is saying to us! Help the one in need by acting giving what is required or needed at that point in time. We are to show compassion and kindness to someone which is a working faith. Where a dead faith on the other hand says "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled”. What this statement is saying "go warm and feed yourself and remember God bless”. This statement is worthless and does not show genuine love for others. It’s a lack of compassion, which shows a lack of a working faith found in the life a believer! We see it all the time in people….self-absorbed and could care less about anyone. It’s a person who walks around with blinders.....Think about this for a moment! Don't you find it amazing that so many people can become emotionally involved over a movie, song, or a TV program? Weeping over tragedies and becoming incensed at wrongs and injustices and yet show no concern or compassion for your neighbor….or someone on the street or at work a person who is in real needs people’s fantasy and self centered lives become more meaningful than reality! "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled”. Listen to what John said in his epistle…….1John 3:18-19 “My little children, do not let our love be in word and in tongue, but let it be in act and in good faith. In this way we may be certain that we are true, and may give our heart comfort before him,” What did the ancient church do to show a working faith? “Acts 2:44-46 “And all those who were of the faith kept together, and had all things in common; And exchanging their goods and property for money, they made division of it among them all, as they had need. And day by day, going in agreement together regularly to the Temple and, taking broken bread together in their houses, they took their food with joy and with true hearts,." We must show compassion to others, because you never know who you are helping or showing a working faith too! Heb 13:2 “Take care to keep open house: because in this way some have had angels as their guests, without being conscious of it.”
A WORKING FAITH IS EVIDENCE OF OUR OWN CONVERSION (V18- V19) A person who desires to build his or hers life on the foundation of Christ Jesus our Lord. How do we know that? Luke 6:44-45 “for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” If we have not had any growth since the time of our conversion then we are no better off than the demon's that believed! Because Jesus also went on to say! "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great." Luke 6:46-49. A living and active faith produces good fruit for this is a working faith…..Trusting and obeying the word, so that we can bring Him Glory and praises for His wonderful work of Salvation. To all those who believe and follow by obedience because without a working faith it is impossible to please Him. In Heb 11:6 it says “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” It's a trusting and obeying Him to what He said He would do! Because according to this portion of scripture….the demons believed! It’s the incident with the demon possessed man. Luke 8:27-30 says "When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me." For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," for many demons had entered him." This is a person who knows the truth about God, Christ, and the Spirit but hates the truth and them!
A WORKING FAITH IS OBEDIENT TO THE LORD (V21- V25) The question we need to ask ourselves is am I being obedient? Is my faith living to serve the Lord? JAMES GIVES US TWO ILLUSTRATIONS OF LIVING FAITH……… Abraham…..and Rehab. Both who were saved by grace through faith yet showed it by their works…..Abraham was told by God to leave his land of Ur, and go to the land Canaan. In Gen 12:1 “Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.” Abraham was told by the Lord not to fear when he meet Melchizedek the Priest of God. Gen 15:1 “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." It was by a working faith that he obeyed the Lord to offer his only son! Gen 22:1-2 “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." George Whitefield said “a true faith in Jesus Christ will not suffer us to be idle. No, it is an active, lively, restless principle; it fills the heart, so that it cannot be easy till it is doing something for Jesus Christ.” THE SECOND ILLUSTRATION IS RAHAB. It says by faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient. Heb 11:31 “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” She protected the spies who were checking out the land. Joshua 2:14 “And the men said to her, "Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you." These two saints are great examples displayed a working faith, trusting and obeying the Lord of all creation!
Are you doing the same today? James concludes this section by boldly stating in (v26) “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” To sum it up! Just as a body that does not have a spirit is a dead body. A faith that does not produce good works is a dead faith. Gil Rugh said "faith is a living restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works, but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith. It is quite impossible to separate works from faith as to separate heat and light from fire. Obedient to our calling as His children to follow by His example…with a working faith that gives to those who are truly born again. Not to attain glory, self-righteousness or salvation…..but a working faith that is a desire not a burden to please a Holy and Sovereign LORD! Martin Luther said "Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works." So! Is your faith real, is it genuine” (v18) “But a man may say, You have faith and I have works; let me see your faith without your works, and I will make my faith clear to you by my works.” Or is your faith fake, dead, lifeless, none existent? (v26) “For as the body without the spirit is dead even so faith without works is dead.” My prayer for you and our church family is that it’s real, working and active to do the will of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith. SDG
21 September 2012
20 September 2012
How does the world look at others? Better yet how do you look at others? Do you judge a person by their outward appearance?Which is a no,no! As the old saying “never judge a book by its cover.” Do you look with'in the person to see who they really are? The reason I ask that is because every human being, even Christians are not naturally inclined to be impartial [Which means: fair, unbiased]. We tend to put people in groups…..we tend to put them in predetermined categories or pockets. Ranking their worth or their success by:
- Their looks
- Their cloths
- Their race
- Their social status
- Their personality
- Their intelligence
We also tend to [sadly] rank people by their power and wealth: What kind of car they drive or how many vehicles they have sitting in their drive way, How expensive their toys are [e.g: ATV, Sea Doo, Snow machine…..maybe in our area what brand of tractor or equipment], What type of house they live in or how big there farm is, What neighborhood they live in. But all these things are meaningless and add no eternal value to a person’s soul. And they hold no favour with a holy God. Listen to what Moses said about this……Deut 10:17 “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial (does not show partiality) and takes no bribe.” What’s amazing about that statement that Moses makes is that God expected His people to reflect that same impartiality toward one another.....Deut 1:17 “You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God's. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.” Why do we tend to put people in categories? Just because they are different financially or physically, socially. If you think about for a minute, we are really all the same whether you have more, less or have a terrible background than your neighbor. We are all sinners in need of a Saviour whether you're rich or poor. In the mirror of scripture we are all criminals who deserve HELL. So why do we look sideways at people before we get a chance to know them? What are we to do, so that we do not fall to this kind of behavior? The true Christians must not fall to this kind of behavior because as will see…..its sin! (v9). James feared that the early church believers we’re falling to this kind of thinking. Remember what James said earlier James 1:9 “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,…” Let the poor brother in the Lord, glory or rejoice in his position as a son of the Living God. For his home is the same as my home, your home….the same thing was said to Philemon......in Philemon 1:13-16 “………..no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. Let me warn you this morning! If this is happening in your life, you must stop this wicked behavior? If this is happening in your life you need to repent and show mercy to those who have less than you? Every soul is precious to God…..remember that!
Christ came to save the meek, the poor……Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
He came to save the lost not the self-righteous and the ignorant!.....Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Why? He was one of them…….Matt 8:20 “And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
This is the Gospel……….Listen to Paul as he implies this truth that Jesus spoke...in 1Cor 1:26-29 “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” We are called to love the church not by whom they are but by whom they love! Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. All true born again believers have one thing in common….And that is? His saving grace found in the gospel. Richard Baxter says "We must feel toward our people as a father toward his children; yea, the most tender love of a mother must not surpass ours. We must even travail in birth, till Christ be formed in them. They should see that we care for no outward thing, neither liberty, nor honor, nor life, in comparison to their salvation... When the people see that you truly love them, they will hear anything from you... Oh therefore, see that you feel a tender love for your people in your hearts, and let them perceive it in your speech and conduct. Let them see that you spend and are spent for their sakes." There are 2 major behaviors True Christians Must Do! First behavior we must have is to show love and mercy for all people……at all time.
A TRUE CHRISTIAN SHOWS LOVE AND MERCY TO ALL THE UNLOVABLE (V1- V5)
Showing the same mercy to others as Christ showed you.....But, what does James mean by favoritism? Favoritism (means) lifting up someone face, with the idea of judging by appearance and on that basis giving special favor and respect. It pertains to judging purely on a superficial level, without consideration of a person's true merits, abilities, or character.
James warns us about this in (v5) “Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” James here is pointing out the inconsistency between God's character and the attitude of a believer who are disrespectful of poor people. We must show the same love and mercy as our Lord Jesus Christ did when He saved your undeserving soul. Jesus Christ set the example for all of us to follow [remember Simon says?] Luke 19:41-42 “And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” We have a duty and responsibility to show……
MERCY FOR THE POOR........Prov 19:17 “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.”
MERCY FOR THE WEAK.......Gal 6:2 “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
MERCY TO OTHER BELIEVERS......1Cor 12:25-26 “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
MERCY IS INSEPARABLE FROM THE LOVE OF GOD......1John 3:17-18 “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Charles Spurgeon says “I wish, brothers and sisters, that we could all imitate "the pearl oyster"— A hurtful particle intrudes itself into its shell, and this vexes and grieves it. It cannot reject the evil, but what does it do but "cover" it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl! Oh, that we could do so with the provocation's we receive from our fellow Christians, so that pearls of patience, gentleness, and forgiveness might be bred within us by that which otherwise would have harmed us.” We were once the poor person who desperately needed the Savior! But now we are rich in Jesus Christ our Lord.
A TRUE CHRISTIAN SHOWS GENUINE CHARACTERISTICS OF HAVING RECEIVED GOD'S MERCY (6-v13)
A born again, a true believer is ready to face the Lord because he or she has the liberty through the blood of Jesus Christ! The Pharisee's thought the other way just like the situation that James speaks about the rich and the poor man! James was warning us about showing favor to others and looking down on the feeble and the poor!
JOB'S FRIENDS…….Listen to what Bildad said to Job “you must repent" Job 8:4-6 “If your children have sinned against Him, He has delivered them into the hand of their transgression. If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then He will rouse (to wake, to rise up) Himself for you and restore your rightful habitation.
THE BLIND MAN THAT COULDN'T SEE........John 9:1-3 “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR......Luke 18:9-14 “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
Whose prayer do you think God listened to that day? It surely wasn’t the self-righteous ignorant man who thought he was better that’s for sure. We need to understand something…….. a person who shows no mercy and compassion for people in need…Demonstrates that he or she has never responded to the Great Mercy of God and as an unredeemed person will receive only strict unrelieved judgement in eternal Hell. Are you doing this or thinking this in your life? I’m not saying it’s going to be easy……because we are prone to judge people by the outward appearance or mostly because of their past. Warren Wiersbe said these words of wisdom that rings true in the church today!. He said “we are prone to judge people by their past, not their future. When Saul of Tarsus was converted, the church in Jerusalem was afraid to receive him! It took Barnabas, who believed in Saul’s conversion, to break down the walls. We are prone to judge by outward appearance rather than the inner attitude of the heart. We do not enjoy sitting with certain people in church because they “are not our kind of people.” Jesus was the Friends of sinners, though He disapproved of their sins. It was not compromise, but compassion, that caused Him to welcome them, and when they trusted Him, forgive them.” Jesus was a friend of sinners……He showed the same grace whether you had much or had little. Jesus equally loved all the disciples….even Judas when he betrayed Jesus that night in the garden. Jesus ate with sinners….spoke to sinners….lived with sinners!
My question for you is! Are you sinner? Or are you better than everyone else? Love like Christ…..not because someone looks good! But because Jesus came to save sinners like you and me. Those wretched….nasty….rotten…sinners like us! Who have a future of eternal glory with Jesus Christ. That’s what a Christian looks like at work! Think back to the people who welcomed you into the flock and those who didn’t? Despite what the world thinks and people think about you ….we have been cleansed by the spotless, sinless, Lam of God who took away my sin. As John wrote in 1John 3:9-18 “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." SDG
13 September 2012
10 September 2012
I always love to watch the latest church band wagons or trends and see who jumps on and who jumps off. The biggest church band wagon or I should say! One of the biggest church band wagons that has poked it's ugly head is the expression "I love Jesus and hate the church or religion." A few months back a young man posted a video about his love for the Savior and his dislike towards religion. Very thought provoking and poetic; some of the things he said were spot on and absolutely true.....But, he was completely wrong in how he used the word "religion" in his expression about his love for Jesus. See! The biggest statement many say in the evangelical world is “I love God but hate religion”. My response to that is! If you hate religion or the church …in reality you hate God, which ultimately means you hate Christ [Because He is God is flesh] Jesus said just from Matthew’s Gospel alone "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matt 5:17. In Matt 16:18 we see the foundation for the church “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” In Matthew 18 we see Jesus implementing the process for church discipline. In Matthew 26 we see Jesus implementing the importance of the Lord’s Table. In Matt 28 we see Jesus command His disciples to evangelize the lost with His religion. Ya Mike! But doesn't religion kill and destroy churches? My response! No, people do…….it our sin, it’s our ignorance to the truth that kills and disrupts churches…not religion…..otherwise we wouldn't have all these different religious groups or organizations.
Let me explain: You can go home and Google the word “religion” and come across hundreds if not thousands of religions and religious types….….for example
- Satanism is a religion
- Mormonism is a religion
- The Watchtower is a religion
- Buddhism is a religion
- Hinduism is a religion
- Islam is a religion
- The Shriner’s and Free Masons is a religion
- Judaism is a religion
- Christianity is a religion
See you are a religious person whether you want to think that or not! You can’t remove that word “religion” for the sake of what society thinks or understands of that word to be whether it has a negative or positive connotation at the end of it. Religion by definition according to Wikipedia…….. is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. Many religions may have organized behaviors, clergy, a definition of what constitutes obedience or membership, holy places, and scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture.
Biblical “religion” is defined this way……. a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.
The word “religion” occurs five times in English Standard Version of the Bible. It is, by itself, an entirely neutral word. Religion can refer to Judaism (Acts 26:5) or the Jewish-Christian faith (Acts 25:19). Religion can be bad when it is self-made (Col. 2:23) or fails to tame the tongue (James 1:26). But religion can also be good when it cares for widows and orphans and practices moral purity (James 1:27). We come to this section of James letter that addresses what true religion looks, smells, sounds and tastes like. He begins with what true biblical religion isn't! It's only a false understanding or misleading characteristic of a false religious person [unconverted] (v26) What does this look like? That person is unable to tame his tongue….his religion is? Worthless
“Worthless” means…. useless, and unprofitable to himself and others; all his preaching, praying, hearing, and attendance on the ordinances will be of no avail to him. Why? Because he or she cannot bridle their tongue….that muscles that gets us into trouble all the time. What James is telling us in this passage is that a corrupt and unholy heart will be exposed by corrupt and unholy speech. The inward heart will come to through your external behaviour. As John MacArthur said “the tongue is not the only indicator of true spirituality but one of the most reliable. Remember what Jesus said in the Gospel? In Matt 12:34“Brood of vipers! [or as the King James says “O generation of vipers….which implies “you group of poisonous snakes] How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” There are many people who follow after religious traditions and rituals all in the name of Jesus to appease their conscience. But the sad reality is that it’s a man made and man centered religion that according to James “is worthless.”As Paul Washer said “what does your profession in Jesus Christ worth? Nothing apart from the sustaining and continuing work of the Holy Spirit.”
- You will know them by their fruits
- You will know them by how the face trials and temptation
- You will know them by how they respond to God
- You will know them by their love for the Saviour
- You will know them by their desire to study the God breathed scripture
- You will know them by their speech
- You will know them by their true religion
A tradition 0r ritual won’t! And can’t save you! Man centered religion won’t! And can’t save you! Hoping on the latest trend or band wagon won’t! And can’t save you. The only true religion that saves if found in Jesus Christ alone. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12. What does true religion look like? (v27)
YOUR SPEECH Which we already looked at minute ago…..a proper and controlled speech is evidence to the sanctifying work that God is doing in your life. A controlled speech is one of the ways the fruit of the Spirit [self-control] works together in the believer. Ask yourself in the mirror of scripture…..Am I changing? Is my lifestyle changing for His glory or for my shame? Is my life displaying the firstfruits to His creation about the glories of His goodness. Because as Jesus said…..Out the heart will display the truth of your life….is it Christ like or is like an open tomb [rotting corpse] full of venom as Paul explains it in Romans chapter three?
YOUR SERVICE When we have been given a new life we have a different and greater outlook on life and the people that live in it. This present world! I’m grieved all the time with the ramp sin in our world, the disregard for human life and self-centeredness each and every day to name a few. The true religion that James is talking about is that…..God implants this new passion in our hearts….which is the gospel and the love of Christ to all people groups. James picks two particular groups of people as examples………Widows and orphans. The word “Visit” means much more than to drop by for a chat. It carries the idea of caring for others, exercising oversight on their behalf helping them in whatever way is needed. If you went back into the Old Testament you would find the writers mentioning these two groups often to God’s chosen people.........For example:
- We hear about Moses instructing the people about caring for the widows and orphans [Deut 10:18; Deut 14:9]
- In Job’s letter we see the mentioning of widows and orphans [Job 29:12-13; Job 31:15-20]
- Isaiah speaks of protecting them [Isa 1:16-17; Isa 58:6-7]
- Jeremiah gives instruction about widows and orphans [Jer 49:11]
Martin Luther said “It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbor.” David said in Psalm 68:5 says “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” David had such a love for God he couldn't do anything else other that have a heart for God’s people. Remember what happened after his closet friend died [Jonathan] what did David do? He displayed his true love for God by taking in Jonathan’s son. He saw this young man through the eyes of his greatest love……the LORD! 2Sam 9:6-9 “And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, "Mephibosheth!" And he answered, "Behold, I am your servant." And David said to him, "Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always." And he paid homage and said, "What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?" Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, "All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson.” This same truth has been sown throughout the scriptures into the New testament were we hear Jesus speak [Matt 25] about how we are to treat the people of God! Paul instructing Timothy about the importance of widows and orphans [1 Tim 5:3; 1 Tim 5:16]
Orphans and widows were generally the neediest people in the early church. We need to understand in those times there were no life insurance policies or welfare system to get a person or child by. Woman didn't have employment as we know it today or group homes for children. Children were defenseless and helpless without parental care and assistance. James says a characteristic of the transforming work [true religion] as found in the word is an outward adoration to seek the interest of others for the glory of His name. It’s a selfless love for souls and for the gospel to penetrate the heart of the broken and the lost. It’s a genuine heart that doesn't seek praise, money or fame! They do this for the sake of our Lord…..the one who gets the glory.
YOUR SEPARATION FOR THE WORLD [SYSTEM] This is a great test for all of us! What do I love more the things of this world or Christ and His precious truth? Those that belong to God are to be characterized by moral and spiritual purity. How do we do that? By “keeping oneself unstained” (v27) is the means of its being “pure”. James isn't talking about sinless perfection. James is talking about a habitual lifestyle that doesn't conform itself according to the world’s fallen standards of morals and carnality. Paul laid the foundation clearly when he said ……“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Rom 12:1-2. Our lives are to be examples of the glories already been given through the gospel. That’s what true religion looks like. Again as Paul Washer said “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.” That means my desires are to be His desires …which requires me to give up something….which is this world and all it has to offer. John MacArthur said “The cost of true greatness is humble, selfless, sacrificial service. The Christian who desires to be great and first in the kingdom is the one who is willing to serve in the hard place, the uncomfortable place, the lonely place, the demanding place, the place where he is not appreciated and may even be persecuted. Knowing that time is short and eternity is long, he is willing to spend and be spent. He is willing to work for excellence without becoming proud, to withstand criticism without becoming bitter, to be misjudged without becoming defensive, and to withstand suffering without succumbing to self pity.” A true religion is to put off and then to do with y0ur life according to the scriptures to glorify His precious name as the first fruits of His creation. Why? Because in all reality the Christian religion is an active display of mercy and grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. SDG
07 September 2012
03 September 2012
When you think of the game “Simon says” what comes to mind? Maybe it's playing in the playground during lunch hour at school when you were a little girl or boy. Maybe it was at a birthday party or a group of friends over for a sleep over. Maybe an activity at a summer camp. Let me ask you! What was the premise of that game? Whatever Simon said? You did it, right? If Simon said pat your head in a circle you did it otherwise your....out of the game! If Simon said jump up and down you didn't do follow his instruction your out of the game. The game would go until there was? The last person standing, because that person obeyed Simon’s commands. Now flip this same principle to the Christian life! Does God say the same thing? He tells us to…….
- Pick up our cross
- Deny ourselves
- Sell everything we have
- Give to the poor
- Proclaim the good news of the gospel
- Flee from all forms of evil
- Walk in holiness
- Walk in serving others and especially the church
But do we really obey Him as you did when you played Simon says as a child? We may study it, memorize it, work it out in our heads, and maybe even learn it in the Greek. The sad reality is that we have a tendency to never really apply His truth to our lives. Why? Maybe because He’s too demanding.....It requires me to change too much in my lifestyle to fit His demands. John MacArthur says "obedience to the Word is the most basic spiritual requirement and is the common denominator for all true believers. The bottom line of true spiritual life is not a momentary feeling of compliance or commitment but long-term obedience to Scripture. Listen to what Jesus says about the privilege and importance of His word! John 8:31-32 “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Last week we saw that….. The word of God is a privilege that requires submission, to put of all filthiness and wickedness. The word of God is a privilege that requires meekness (humility), which is able to save your soul
Now James is about to give us some more clear instruction or a proper foundation about what we are to do with this truth that is a privilege. This truth that we hold so dearly in our hearts because it brought us to the cross, it sanctifies my soul and will always faithfully lead me home to Jesus. Look what James writes in (v22) We are to be "doers of the word” which means: a person's life who is dedicated not only to learning God's Word but also to be faithful and continual obedience to it. Someone who has received it with joy and has the desire to do what the Lord commands from His children. Someone who spiritually understand it; gladly receive it; and from the heart obeys it. Someone who make a sincere and honest profession of it. Someone who submits to the rules it directs to. Someone who keeps them as they have been delivered; and live them, and walk by them. This is the foundation we have as Christians in Col 3:16-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” To put your life into Action, we must be doers of the word. Everything we do must be done in the name of our Lord Jesus, let your words be right, and your actions upright. HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF BEING A DOER OF THE WORD:
1. Noah did what the Lord commanded him to do when it came to building the Ark
Gen 6:22 “thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did”
2. Josiah when he became king at such a young age.
2 Kings 22:2 “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem…....And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.”
3. Joseph after finding out about future bride Mary.
Matt 1:21-24 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,”
Another great example:
Two men John & David, who sold themselves into slavery. These men were not going on a nice short term mission to the Caribbean, or even Africa or China but they sold themselves into slavery to answer the call ‘come and minister the gospel to us’. They became slaves in order to have the opportunity to reach the slaves of the West Indies for their Lord. Their life’s purpose was to follow the Lamb who had given His life for them and for all the souls of the world. Their mission statement was “Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow Him.” One of the men left his wife and children begging on the wharf for him to reconsider and stay. But the call and heart of God for these slaves in the West Indies was even greater than the pull of home. As the ship pulled away from the docks the men lifted a cry, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering” which became the echoing heartbeat of the Moravian Missions movement.
Listen to what being doers of the word brings….."blessings from the Lord" (v26) Jesus said in Rev 22:7 "And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." These are the blessings that flow when we are to be doers of the word! Without excuse or questioning His authority over our lives. James calls all professing believers to be doers rather than: simply keep it to yourself! James calls this deceiving yourself “Deceiving” (v22) means: to reckon wrong, miscount, to cheat by false reckoning, to deceive by false reasoning, to deceive, delude, circumvent, to misreckon, beguile which means: to seduce or to lure away. In Rom 2:12-13 “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” This regards the inward as well as the outward man, it requires internal holiness, as well as external obedience; and the apostle is speaking of justification before God, our God who sees the heart, Is it of obedience or is it someone who is fooling themselves by not putting the word of God to practice, thinking they have favor with God. Do not be a person who is an observer and deceives himself, for they do not have the liberty in Christ Jesus our Lord......Jesus said in Matt 7:26-27 “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it." The floods are wearing away there sandy foundation, soon one tremendous storm shall beat upon them and their hopes shall fall, forever fall out of Christ. Perhaps having "heard" His words from very childhood; or grew up in a Christian home. Perhaps having taught them to others in the Sunday school; from the pulpit. There end results in a great storm that leads to eternal destruction, without a proper foundation because they either refused or denied the truth that was before them. A person who pretend to make their peace with God by their own works; a person who hope for pardon on the foot of the mercy of God, by their own repentance; seeking for justification by their own, not the righteousness of Christ; they look for acceptance with God, for the sake of their own worthiness; this person expects salvation in any other way, other than by Christ: This goes for the same person that James is speaking of! This same person who looks in mirror and forgets what they see! Even the prophets said this was going to be a problem. In Eze 33:31-32 “And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it.” This is like a person who sees his sin portrayed for the horrible evil that it is and does nothing or cares about it. He also sees God's gracious provision in Christ for a remedy yet this person goes on his or her merry way as if they were never exposed to those realities. If you do not apply the truths of scripture to your life…… you are like a person who looks at himself in the mirror walks away and forgets what he was looking at. James has called us clearly to be doers of the word! We have been called to bear fruit and display the glories of His grace. We have been called to grow and mature though the all sufficient word of God. We have been called to an active faith which responds to the written word. We have been called to be doers! Not hearers only. As the Moravian missionaries said “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering” The greatest reward we can do for our King is to obey His every word and be doers of that word. The fruit of my life should always display the glorious truth of the gospel at all times, because He is worth my devotion for the Gospel saved my wretched soul. May the word of God mirror my life as He grows me into His Son’s likeness. BE A DOER OF THE WORD.....Why? Because Jesus said so!