Enduring And Eternal Faith

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Turn with me in your Bibles to James Chapter One. It’s in the latter part of the New Testament – Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, 1,2&3 John, Jude, Revelation.

James is not only one of the most misunderstood Books of the Bible, it is also one that is most needed in our day and age. You’ll understand why shortly.

James is the stepbrother of Jesus. After Mary bore Jesus as a virgin, she went on to have other children by her husband Joseph. Mary was not perpetually a virgin as the Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans and some Reformed Churches believe. One of the early Church pastors named Augustine stated in A.D. 411 that Mary was “a Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. With all due respect to this early pastor, and to the other churches that believe similarly, this is not in accordance with the Scripture. The Evangelist Mark wrote that – when others saw the miracles Jesus did – His neighbors said:

Mark 6:2-3 (ESV) “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?”

It is evident that Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters. These were children Mary had by Joseph her husband. There is nothing wrong with this, as “the marriage bed is undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). The Bible says that Joseph and Mary consummated their marriage after his wife bore Jesus (see Matthew 1:24-25). In John 2:12 we read that Jesus went to Capernaum with “His mother and his brothers and his disciples”. Based on the order in which the neighbors named Mary’s children, James would have been the firstborn after Jesus’ birth.

John 7:5 (ESV) Not even {Jesus’} brothers believed in Him.

Though James grew up around Jesus, he did not believe in the Lord until after Jesus rose from the grave. James, like most Orthodox Jews, believed that keeping the rituals of the Law saved him. It was only after Jesus rose from the grave and ascended to Heaven that James and his brothers began to believe in Jesus. The Scripture says:

Acts 1:14 (ESV) … {Jesus’ disciples} with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

James came to know Jesus as more than a stepbrother, but as the very Son of God, and was with the disciples on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given. Why did the brothers not believe in Jesus prior to the upper room? It is very possible that – as siblings – they were envious of the respect that Jesus received from Mary and Joseph. It is also true that the god of this world (Satan, the devil) blinds the minds of the unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). In order for a person to be saved the “God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” must shine in our hearts, giving us a knowledge of Christ. No person is ever saved unless “the Father Who sent Jesus DRAWS them” (John 6:44). Salvation is a supernatural work that God does in our lives from start to finish.

The main point of James’ writing is that ….

Though None Are Saved By Their Works,
Once Saved, Genuine Faith Works

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

The Book of James examines saving faith. As James writes under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit (see 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21), he immediately addresses the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, the exiled Israelis. Pastor John MacArthur states:

As those godly men were carried along by the Holy Spirit, He superintended their words and used them to produce the Scriptures. As a sailing ship is carried along by the wind to reach its final destination, so the human authors of Scripture were moved by the Spirit of God to communicate exactly what He desired. In that process, the Spirit filled their minds, souls, and hearts with divine truth” (Strange Fire, 2013, p 223).

God has James address the “twelve tribes scattered”, the nation Israel. Why is God addressing Israel? Because the Gospel came “to the Jew first – but also to the Gentiles” (Romans 1:16). God has not forgotten Israel (see Romans 11), but loves His people though they have forgotten Him. God is reaching out to Israel through James. Though “The Epistle of James is the most Jewish writing in the New Testament” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia), God included this Book in our New Testament for a specific purpose to us ALL, both Jew and Gentile.

Though salvation has always been by faith in God (and not a human work), once a person is saved the output or fruit of their life changes.

Before salvation, we ALL pursued that which is NOT God. We read:

Ephesians 5:7-9 (ESV) do not become partners with {the lost world); 8 for at one time you were darkness, but NOW you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true)

No Christian is saved by works – good or otherwise. We are saved by Grace alone, by faith alone in Christ alone. The same book of Ephesians notes:

Ephesians 2:8-9 … by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Salvation is the leper coming to Christ to be cleansed.
Salvation is the cripple crying out to Christ to walk.
Salvation is the blind calling to Christ to be given sight.
Salvation is the demon possessed soul being freed by Jesus.

Before James believed in Jesus Christ, he, like the twelve tribes scattered abroad, thought that he was right with God because he kept the feasts, the sacrifices, and the laws of God. James believed – along with other faithful Orthodox Jews – that they were Heaven bound because they followed the rituals of Judaism. God doesn’t care about our rituals, but wants us to love Him and walk with Him DAILY. God told Israel:

1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV) … Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

What God desires of us is that we follow Him as God, obeying Him and listening to His Word. God said:

Hosea 6:6 (ESV) I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

God does not want our stuff nor our abilities. God wants our company. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 40:6 (ESV) In sacrifice and offering You {O Lord} have not delighted, but You {O Lord} have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.

God does not want empty ritual. God wants US. He wants US to walk with Him, to talk with Him, to be in His Presence moment by moment. God wants to walk with us – as He did with Adam – prior to the fall. When we walk with God in love with Him, we are as God has designed us to be. We begin to walk with God when we give our broken lives to Him. God said:

Isaiah 1:16-18 (ESV) Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before My eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

When we come to Jesus with empty hands, receiving Him as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit effects a change in us. We become sons of God, children of the Most High. We were corrupt trees, bearing only corrupt fruit. Jesus said, A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit” (Matthew 7:18). When you give yourself to Jesus, believing Him to be YOUR Lord and Savior, God changes you from bad tree to good tree. God changes your root, and plants Himself smack dab in the middle of your life.

Jesus changes you from son of Adam to child of God.

Illustrate: When you are changed by Jesus, your perspective changes. I was pumping gas in my van the other day when a TV advertisement came on the pump (yes, it is weird). On that advertisement a young lady was saying that every morning you should get up, look in the mirror, and give yourself a “high five”. She said that this would change your day, giving yourself that “high five”. Beloved, this is what the devil wants you to do. He wants you to make a god of yourself, a god of your appetites, a god of your desires. This is not what your Heavenly Father wants. The opposite of this is true. The Bible says:

James 4:10 (ESV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.

God does not want us to “high five” ourselves in a mirror. This is idolatry. Instead, God wants us to “high five” HIM. To start your day looking to the Lord Who loves you and has saved you.

If You Are Genuinely Saved By Faith In Christ,
Trials Will Strengthen Your Faith

The twelve tribes are scattered abroad because God allowed Israel to be scattered. James writes:

James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

Word Study: Let’s look at the words divers temptations first. The word divers is the Greek Adjective ποικίλος poikílos, {pronounced poy-kee’-los}, which means “many types of”. The word is used in Matthew 4:24; Mark 1:34; and Luke 4:40 when speaking of the “many types of diseases” that Our Lord Jesus healed. The word TEMPTATIONS is the Greek Noun πειρασμός peirasmós, {pronounced pi-ras-mos’}, which means “experiences or trials that test or prove the quality of something”. God uses trials to test our faith so that we can see if it is genuine or disingenuous. When negative experiences come on the believer in God, they are not there because God is mad at us, nor because God does not care. The opposite is the truth. The Bible is clear that:

Romans 8:28 All things work together for good to those who love God; to them who are called according to His purpose

Every trial that comes our way, comes because God Himself in love allows them. For the believer the trial causes us to examine our faith. Pastor C.H. Spurgeon said:

Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of”.

God does not ordain trials to destroy us, but to make us more like Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. A surprising truth in Scripture is that trials not only prove and perfect our faith – trials proved and perfected the ministry of Jesus Christ. Now before you shut me out as a heretic, I believe that Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be without sin. The Book of Hebrews says of Jesus:

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but {Jesus} was in all points tempted {peiraō} like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Jesus Christ was tried just as we who believe in Him are tried. He was tried when He was arrested, put on trial, beaten, and nailed to that Cross. Though John the Baptist declared that Jesus was “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, also see John 1:36),

Jesus did not practically become “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” until He was tried and abandoned, forsaken on the Cross of Calvary.

This is why the writer of Hebrews says (2:10) “it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. The Captain of our salvation was made perfect in that the suffering of the Cross was the reason why He came to this earth. Jesus was not abandoned on Calvary for no reason (see Mark 15:34). Jesus was left under the crucible of Calvary because it is only through Calvary that we can be saved. “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17).

Every trial, every tribulation, every valley, every suffering for the believer must be viewed through the lens of God’s love. We are called to REJOICE in trials, not to mourn them or be in fear of them. James tells us to count it all joy when we go through the fire of testing, for this fire will not burn up a genuine faith, but will prove a genuine faith.

James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

James is not talking about trials that we bring upon ourselves. There are many trials we bring upon ourselves by walking away from God our Savior, by following our own path. James says when ye fall into. A fall is not deliberate – I never plan out a fall!

The only ones who plan a “Fall” are
Stunt-men and con-men! Amen!

Do you know when I am most likely to fall? When I walk in darkness. When I walk in the light, watching where I step, I do not find myself in free fall. We as believers are to:

1 John 1:7 .. walk in the light, as {God} is in the light

James is not here talking about trials or suffering that comes upon us because we deliberately depart from God’s Word. It was when Israel refused to cross over into the Promised Land that God decreed they would wander in the wilderness 40 years, until that generation of faithless believers died off.

When we suffer because we did something wrong, something against the clearly revealed Will of God, this is not a “trial” but a “discipline”.

  • When Moses struck the Rock in the wilderness instead of speaking to it (Numbers 20:12), God told him “Because you did not believe Me nor honor Me before Israel, you will not lead Israel into the Promised Land”.
  • When King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered Uriah her husband, God told him “the sword shall never depart from your house, because you despised Me, and took the wife of Uriah to be your own” (2 Samuel 12:10).
  • When King Jehoshaphat entered into an alliance with a wicked king to build ships, God told him “Because you allied yourself with an unbeliever, I will destroy your works” (2 Chronicles 20:37).

In our world today people ask, “Why is there HIV? Why is there AIDs? Why are there sexually transmitted diseases? Why are there so many mass shootings? Why are there homeless people? Why are so many addicted to drugs? Why are there so many single parent homes? Why are there this ____ and that ____? Many times our trials are not something that we “fall” into, but something we actively pursue. We may fall into a trial like this, but the truth is, we usually dig the hole. The Apostle warned:

1 Peter 2:20 (ESV) … what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

When we “fall into” trials not of our own making, these are events that God sends our way to grow us to be more like our Jesus. This is brought out in the next verse:

James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Dr. Warren Wiersbe said:

“The Epistle of James was written to help us understand and attain spiritual maturity (James 1:4b)… James used the word ‘perfect’ several times, a word that means ‘mature, complete’ (see James 1:4, 17, 25; 2:22; 3:2). By ‘a perfect man’ (James 3:2) James did not mean a sinless man, but rather one who is mature, balanced, grown-up.”

Charles Swindoll states:

Throughout the book, James contended that faith produces authentic deeds. In other words, if those who call themselves God’s people truly belong to Him, their lives will produce deeds or fruit. In language and themes that sound similar to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, James rails against the hypocritical believer who says one thing but does another. For James, faith was no abstract proposition but had effects in the real world.”

We Are Either In Christ’s Kingdom,
Or In Satan’s Kingdom

James 1:5-7 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

If we are saved by faith in Christ, we wholly belong to the Kingdom of God. We have been …

Colossians 1:13-14 (ESV) … delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The Bible uses two words to describe the Christian. We are delivered from Satan’s dark domain. This is the Greek verb “ῥύομαι rhýomai, {pronounced rhoo’-om-ahee}”, which means “to be rescued”. When Jesus taught us to pray, He said we were to ask the Father:

lead us not into temptation, but DELIVER {rhýomai}
us from the Evil One
” (Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4)

Christian, we do not belong to Satan’s kingdom any more. We have been rescued from the darkness so that we might walk with our God every moment of every day. We are “DELIVERED {rhýomai} from the coming wrath of God” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). We are “DELIVERED {rhýomai} from unreasonable and wicked people”. We are “DELIVERED {rhýomai} from every evil work” (2 Timothy 4:18). We are “DELIVERED” rhýomai} out of temptations to wickedness (2 Peter 2:9). In short, as a believer in Christ we are called to walk in His Kingdom day by day, moment by moment, knowing that we are prized and loved of God for Christ’s sake.

What a wonderful blessing this is! God is there. Jesus is with us. He has saved us. “We are not our own, but we are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You either belong to God, or you DON’T belong to God. You are either God’s child, or you are NOT God’s child. Make up your minds. Decide which side of the fence you are coming down on, and claim it!

James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

To whom do you belong? If you belong to Jesus, you belong to God. If you belong to God, then even the “bad” things that come your way are in reality good, for God watches over you.

James 1:9-12 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. 12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

James says that Blessed is the man that endureth temptation {πειρασμός peirasmos}. If your faith is genuine, then your faith will endure the testing that God sends your way. God sends that testing because He loves you. God allows that testing, that you might be drawn to the Cross of Christ and be saved. Once saved by faith in Him, God allows the trials of life to come your way to grow you in your faith, to lead you into a moment by moment walk with God. This is what God in Christ desires for your life.

Will you come to Him? Will you take the brokenness of your life and bring it to Jesus? Oh, that you would. Oh, that you would be saved into the Kingdom of God, to be a child of God by faith in Him. In Jesus there is power for living. In God’s kingdom there is power over every evil and darkness that this world might bring. The life that God our Father wants for you is only found in Jesus. Our Lord Jesus told the Pharisees:

John 5:40 … (ESV) you refuse to come to Me that you may have life.

Jesus warns us all:

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

If you have Jesus, you have life! (1 John 5:12). Do you have Jesus? Or are you, like the twelve tribes scattered abroad, just a possessor of ritual? Oh, how Jesus wants a relationship with you! I beg you, come to Him this very day! Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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