Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Real Belief (James 2:14-26)

James 2:14-26. Let´s talk about true belief. I know many people who would be quick to tell me that they are true follwers of Christ. However, when it comes down to it, their actions don´t back up their words.

We live in a world where 33% of the population claims the name of Christ. If so many are true believers why isn´t the world being revolutionized? In Matthew 7:13-14 Christ tells us that the gate which leads to life is narrow and there are few who find it. Christianity is the worlds biggest religion. So if the way is really so narrow, who´s wrong here? God or us?

(v14) USELESS FAITH: What use is a faith without works? Is this a faith that can save us? The word here is save: (sozo) keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction, to save from suffering or disease, to make well, heal, or restore to health, to preserve from danger or destruction. James introduces the subject of faith here asking what use is a faith that has no works, can it save you or others from danger?

(vv15-16) PICTURE OF FAITH WITHOUT WORKS: A picture of faith without works is listed in these verses. If you see a person with a need and simply say ¨...be warmed and be filled¨, how useless is that. Faith without works is related to seeing a problem or believeing that there is a problem but doing nothing to change or help it. What use is this so-called faith for you or for the person in need?

(v17) FAITH-WORKS=DEAD: Just as in the example, faith works the same way. Faith without works is dead. Just as telling someone to ¨...be warmed an filled¨ is useless. Faith by itself is dead and is of no use what-so-ever.

(vv18-20) SHOW ME YOUR FAITH: If someone were to tell you ¨show me that you believe it´s going to rain today¨, what would you do? Would you simply say, well, it´s on the forecast or the sky´s dark. No, if you truly believed that it was going to rain you would go outside with your umbrella. This would demonstrate that you believe it will rain. This is the same idea of verses 18 through 20, the only way for someone to truly see your faith is by the actions that you exhibit. Look at this, the demons know and believe that God exisits but they aren´t justified before God. Simply saying that you believe in God is not good enough.

(vv21-25) ABRAHAM: Let´s go to Genesis 15:1-6 then to Genesis 22. We see the justification or salvation of Abraham. At first he simply believed the promises of God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Then in chapter 22 we see that his works proved that he believed God. He heard God´s call and obeyed, showing that he truly believed God. In other words his faith was perfected by his works. We also have the example of Rahab being justified in Joshua 2. This is the kind of faith we need in order to be justified. Not that we are justified by works but that our faith is true and because of that we have works to back our faith up.

(v26) JUST TO MAKE SURE: In case the point isn´t very clear James brings it up again. Faith without works is dead, useless, caput. We need to examine ourselves. Do we have the works to back up what we believe? If not, we have reason to fear and reason to get on our knees seeking the Father in prayer.

CONCLUSION: Jesus has something to say in John 15:1-11 concerning this subject. He is the True Vine and we are just the branches. If we truly abide in Him and Him in us we will bear fruit showing that we are of the Father. If we are not bearing the fruit of the Father we are children of the Devil. There is no inbetween. Where are you at? Examine yourself to see if you are of the faith. Some good Scriptures for self examination are Galatians 5:18-26 and 2 Peter 1:4-11.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Partiality (James 2:1-13)

James 2:1-13 is about the sublect of showing personal favoritism. It´s very easy for us all to judge based on appearance or by the way someone acts but Christ tells us not to make distinctions among ourselves. In this section we will be instructed on how we are supposed to live and deal with those whom we would like to judge.

(v1) NO PERSONAL FAVORITES: Here the verse is very straight forward and also introduces the subject. In your faith, don´t hold an attitude of personal favoritism. This is actually the word for respect of persons, partiality, or recognizing of faces. One example: There´s a judge who has a good friend named Jack. One day Jack commits murder and has to stand before his friend the judge. The judge is expected not to recognize his face, or in other words, judge according to the friendship that he has had with the man. Likewise we are not to act out of the recognizing of faces.

(vv2-3) EXAMPLE OF PARTIALITY: Here we see a poor man and a rich man who are in the assembly or synogogue. The rich man is given the better seat and the poor man is neglected. Obviously the person here has deduced that the rich man is better and therefore deserves the better seat. Ok, this example is very specific but let´s look at the heart issue. Have we ever seen someone who looks, talks, or acts funny and because of that we´ve neglected to treat them correctly. And instead of talking to them we talk to the person who appears to be normal. The heart issue is judging someone based on outward appearance and then acting or treating them in a wrong way.

(v4) RECOGNIZE WHAT YOU´RE DOING: You have made Distinctions: (Diakrino) to separate, discriminate, prefer, withdraw from one, to oppose. And you are now a judge with evil motives.

(vv5-7) GOD´S PERSPECTIVE: The person that you´re discriminating against just might be the person that God has chosen to be rich in the faith. And the person that you show preference to just might be the one who blasphemes your name.

(v8) EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW: If we love our neighbor as we love ourself then we will be doing fine. (See Luke 10:25-37)

(vv9-11) RECOGNIZE THE SERIOUSNESS: Not much to say here except that if we think this issue is petty, we´re wrong. Partiality is sin and if we commit partiality we are considered to be sinners.

(v12) BE CAREFUL: Now that we realize how serious this issue is, we should be careful as to how we live. We should speak and act in accordance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The love that He has showed us should compel us to love as He did.

(v13) JUDGMENT OF GOD: If we do not show mercy we should fear the judgment of God. Because, ¨...judgment will be merciless for the one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.¨ But what exactly is mercy? Mercy is kindness or goodwill towards the miserable and afflicted, mercy is holding back a bad thing that someone might deserve, mercy is what Christ did for us. We deserve Hell but Christ showed mercy towards us so that we could live with Him in Heaven.

CONCLUSION: This week let us show mercy and love towards those less fortunant. Those who look, smell, and act funny. This is what Jesus has called us to.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Taking Responsibilty (James 1:19-27)

Today we get to a hard section of Scripture. Not so hard to understand but convicting and hard to live. This section is about being slow to anger and speech and being quick to listen. Also that the Bible is not meant to be read and studied but to be lived.

(v19) THINK: Many times in life I want to be the first one to speak and the last one to hear. This section of Scripture is very convicting and straight forward. Be ¨... quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.¨

(v20) ANGER OF MAN: Many times people would say that they had righteous anger, or that they only did something because God had instilled a righteous anger within them. I believe that this verse is very straight forward, ¨...the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.¨ I would go as far to say that every time we are angry there is either selfishness or some ungodly motive behind it all. This is why we need to be quick to hear and slow to anger.

(v21a) PUT ASIDE THE OLD: The first word that this section starts with is therefore. As my Pastor in Florida would say, ¨What is the therefore there for?¨ Therefore, (since the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God) we need to put aside Filthiness and Wickedness: (Kakia) malignity, ill will, desire to injure, depravity, wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws, evil, trouble.

(v21b) RECEIVE THE NEW: After we put aside the old we need to receive the new in Humility: (Prautes) mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness. We need to receive the word implanted. In the Greek the word ¨word¨ does not sound like the Gospel, in the Greek it is Word: (Logos) sayings of God, decree, mandate or order, what is delcared, a thought, declaration, a word of speech. We need to Receive: (Decomai) to take with the hand, to take hold of, to take up.

It sounds like the word is the Word of God. We need to not only hear the word but also receive it. It´s interesting how the Greek actually makes it sound to be a tangible action. We are called to change.

(v22) BE A DOER OF THE WORD: This passage is very straight forward. We are not called to simply read our Bibles or listen to sermons. We are called to change! If you are reading the Word and nothing is changing, something is wrong. The ones who only hear delude themselves.

(vv23-24) THE HEARER

(v25) THE DOER

(v26) THE TONGUE: If we claim to be Christians and do not control our tongues our religion is Worthless: (Mataios) devoid of truth, force, success, or result, useless, of no purpose. That´s a tough word. If we don´t bridle our tongue our so-called religion is worthless.

(v27) CORRECT VIEW OF RELIGION: True religion is lived out. Helping those who can´t help themselves. Not only this but keeping yourself ¨unstained by the world.¨