1 Peter – Chapter 2

Desire the Pure Milk of the Word

Verse 1 – Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,

Verse 2 – as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

Verse 3 – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Grace is the first thing we should learn as new believers; that a God so gracious would forgive and love us, in spite of our sin. So as we fill our spirits up with the gospel, these old characteristics start to disappear.

Once we start to learn from God;’s word what it means to be  a Christian, we develop a strong desire to have self-control, by staying in the Word. Then as we see things like envy begin to fall away, we know we are maturing.

Verse 4 – Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,

Verse 5 – you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Salvation is often referred to as “coming to Christ” the “corner-stone” of the spiritual house. Some reject Him, some come to the “living stone,” for salvation. This body of believers, the spiritual house is built with “living stones,” living materials. This spiritual temple, not made with perishable materials, like that at Jerusalem, but made with redeemed souls, in which Christ is the head.

To offer up spiritual sacrifices – no more animal sacrifices, but a sacrifice of the heart; the sacrifice of prayer and praise, acceptable only y through Christ as our Intercessor before the throne of God.

Verse 6 – Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

Have you ever put your trust in something or someone, and then find out you were wrong to do so? This causes shame or embarrassment. However, God and His Word, can be trusted to their fullest, and you will never fall prey to shame because He does what He says and is who He says He is!

Verse 7 – Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,”

Verse 8 – and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

“But to those who are disobedient” – refuse to be persuaded, to believe. Some of these believe there are many ways to God’ some believe because they think they are a “good person,” that is good enough. However, they still refuse to believe in the only one and true way to God is through Jesus Christ. The gospel offends them, and it therefore becomes a stumbling rock to them! They are blinded to the truth.

Verse 9 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him which called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Verse 10 – who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

“Called out of darkness” – darkness is the emblem of ignorance, sin, and misery, and refers to their condition, and ours, before conversion. Those who are brought to the knowledge of the gospel.

A conversion is so great and so rapid, the views and feelings are so different before and after conversion, that it seems like a sudden transition from midnight to noon – darkness to light. In all cases of genuine conversion it is true that each one can say that they have been called from a state in which their mind was dark to one in which it is comparatively clear!

Verse 11 – Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

Verse 12 – having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Christians are identified as sojourners and pilgrims because this world is not our home. “Abstain from fleshly lusts” – these fleshly lusts can be sexual temptations; and be temptations that conquer us. There are all kinds of temptations to make the flesh feel fulfilled. It’s not wrong to want to be happy, but we know what is good for us and what isn’t. The choices we make in this life will affect us in the next.

Peter uses the Gentiles as the evildoers in the next verse, because there were a large number of non-believers that were involved in paganism surrounding the Christians that he was writing to. If we are constantly on guard of our behavior and conduct to honor God, we shouldn’t worry too much about what unbelievers say about us. When they speak lies, others will see that what they’ve accused us of is not true.

Verse 13 – Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,

Verse 14 – or to governors as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.

The meaning is to every institution of man, those who are in authority – obey the laws of the land unless contrary to God’s laws. If we don’t break the law, then we wont’ be punished by the law.

Verse 15 – For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men –

Verse 16 – as free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God.

Those who were converted to the Christian faith, whether from among the Jews or the Gentiles, were made to feel that they were the children of God, and that His law was the supreme rule of their lives. They were not to forget their subjection to civil authority and that liberty was an invaluable blessing. They were free from sin and condemnation.

Verse 17 – Honor all people, love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

Verse 18 – Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.

Our demeanor is not to change due to the response of the other person.

Verse 19 – For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.

Meaning: Even if we suffer at the hands of someone being harsh, we still do what’s right because we love God. He will make it right.

Verse 20 – For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer for it, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

The idea is, that if a person was justly punished, (meaning they deserved it) and take it patiently, there would be no honor in it. On the other hand, if someone who is unjustly punished for no wrong doing, then it is honor in God’s sight.

Verse 21 – For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

Verse 22 – “Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth,”

Verse 23 – who, when He reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;

Verse 24 – who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we have died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you ere healed.

Peter said all that , to show Christians: That because Christ suffered for the sins of others, who had no sin Himself, we will also suffer unjustly in this world at the hands of others, so let Christ be an example as to how we conduct ourselves when we are harshly treated.

“By whose stripes” – Christ took the scourging, beatings, and humiliation for us on account of our sin.

“Ye were healed” – Sin is often spoken of as a disease, and redemption from it as a restoration from it.

Verse 25 – For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Like sheep with no shepherd, we all had wandered away from the flock, and were following our own paths before coming to Christ. We were without a protector and were exposed to every kind of danger.

But once we became born-again, we return to the true flock and now have the great Protector and Shepherd of our souls living on the inside of us.

 

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1 Peter – Chapter 1

Introduction: Persecution can cause either growth or bitterness in the Christian life. Response will determine the result. In writing to Jewish believers struggling in the midst of persecution, Peter encourages them to conduct themselves courageously.  Both their character and conduct must be above reproach.

Chapter 1

Verse 1 – Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

Verse 2 – elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

Verse 3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Verse 4 – to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Verse 5 – who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

James was writing to the temporary residents which had been dispersed to that region – in this case, the five Roman provinces located in what is now modern Turkey.

Divine foreknowledge is the basis on which a believer is chosen. It is more than just God’s prior knowledge of everything; it also includes His predetermination.

All members of the Trinity work to bring about our salvation. The Father chose us before we chose Him (Ephesians 1:4).

For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, they have an inheritance with the Father for all eternity.

Verse 6 – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you  have been grieved by various trials,

Verse 7 – that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Verse 8 – whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Verse 9 – receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.

When Peter talks about sufferings he is not talking about natural disasters or experiencing God’s punishment, but the response of an unbelieving world to people of faith – persecutions.

All Christians will suffer trials, fiery trials, that burn away impurities and prepares us to meet Christ. Trials teach us patience and helps us grow into the kind of people God wants. Just as gold is heated to remove the impurities, likewise we are strengthened through trials of our faith.

Verse 10 – Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, when prophesied of the grace that would come to you,

Verse 11 – searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

The Old Testament people didn’t personally know Christ, but they believed God and His promise of a Messiah. That promise that the prophets had looked forward to had now been revealed – salvation through Christ.

The Spirit of Christ is another name for the Holy Spirit.

Verse 12 – To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into.

Verse 13 – Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

When Christ is revealed to you, grace is supplied. When Christ is accepted, hope takes hold of an eternal rest with the Savior.

Verse 14 – as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;

Former ignorance: suggests that the recipients of this letter were mostly Gentiles who, before coming to Christ, practiced pagan religions.

Verse 15 – but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,

Verse 16 – because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Holiness means being totally devoted or dedicated to God, set aside for His special use and set apart from sin and its influence. This is in contrast to the way we used to live. Always keep in mind, we are all accountable for our actions.

Verse 17 – And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear;

Verse 18 – knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,

Verse 19 – but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

We are not to take our salvation, that was bought with the precious blood of Christ, for granted. That alone should make anyone want to live a holy life.

Verse 20 – He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for you,

Verse 21 – who through Him believed in God, who raised Him form the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Christ was not an afterthought after man sinned. The plan was set in motion by the all-knowing, eternal God long before the world was created.

Verse 22 – Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,

Verse 23 – having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,

Verse 24 – because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away,

Verse 25 – but the word of the LORD endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

Do you know a self-centered person cannot truly love. Everything is only temporary except the Word of God, which is eternal! Why is it that something that is so important to our very life and destiny after death, do so many know so little about? If people want a spirit filled life, then they need to go to the word of God and get filled. It makes all the difference in the world how your life will turn out.

 

 

 

James – chapter 5

Verse 1 – Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!

James proclaims the worthlessness of riches, not the worthlessness of the rich. Today’s wealth will be worthless when Christ returns. Money is not he problem. It’s the love of money that causes people to oppress people in order to get more. This is a warning to all Christians not to adopt the world’s standards of money and riches.

Verse 2 – Your riches are corrupt and your garments are moth-eaten.

This verse is talking about “hoarded treasures.” The idea here is, they have accumulated in excess of what they need for their own use. Instead of sharing to help others, they keep it and it rots and rusts.

Verse 3 – Your gold and silver are corrupted, and their corrosion will be witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasures in the last days.

This verse refers to greed and will be the undoing of some.

Verse 4 – Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers.

Verse 5 – You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.

Meaning: They lived in indulgence and what gratified them, while those who worked for them lived without and under their oppression.

Verse 6 – You have condemned, you have murdered the just, he does not resist you.

This is what dictators do. This is also what happened in Biblical days. The poor were not able to pay their debt, so they were thrown in jail or sold into slavery. The rich lived well; they had the fine houses and all the food they could ever eat, all the while the majority of the people starved.

Verse 7 – Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.

Verse 8 – You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Verse 9 – Do not grumble against one another brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!

While living on this earth, some will suffer a long time. James says to be patient without grumbling against others or what has been done to you, also. God sees what others do to His children and will punish those who don’t repent. Sometimes the punishment will come in this life-time, some the next.

Verse 10 – My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.

Verse 11 – Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Was Job tested to the fullest? Yes, and the Lord blessed him with double of whatever he had before the testing started. Did he get discouraged? Sure he did, just like we do when trying times hit. But please remember, if you are trusting and walking with God, you are exactly where you are supposed to be, “right now!”

Verse 12 – But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven, or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.

The habit of swearing by various things was a very common one among Jews. What James is saying is, we ought to be of the representation, that when we say yes or no people believe us. You shouldn’t have to convince them by saying, “I swear.”

Verse 13 – Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

Verse 14 – Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Does the church you attend do this? So many have forgotten these verses that James wrote. They come into the house of God every week,with either spiritual or physical aliments, and no one calls for the elders to pray for them. I haven’t seen this done in years. What I see is a “hurry up,” let’s get this over with attitude, because another service has to take place and be on time.

You want to know why Christians of today are defeated, sick, and grown cold, it’s because no one takes the time to pray as a whole congregation should. Congregational prayer takes time and it can get loud and messy when people need deliverance. Nothing should take over seeing a person saved or the sick healed when we gather, with the exception of the gospel being preached.

Verse 15 – And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Now do you see why it is so important that we should pray? There is nothing that compares to the power of Christians praying over the sick to be healed. God says, “He will raise them up!” Then why is this not happening all over our churches today? One very good reason is because people know so little of God’s word and His character, that they don’t believe He will do it!

Verse 16 – Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Do you see a connection between un-confessed trespasses and being healed?

Verse 17 – Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.

Verse 18 – And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

In other words: We have the same ability to have the same faith that Elijah had, so use it! That same power lives in each Christian.

Verse 19 – Brethren, if anyone among you wonders from the truth, and someone turns him back,

Verse 20 – let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Clearly this person who has wondered from the truth is a believer. This is one who no longer is living a life consistent with their belief. They need to repent and if they refuse, we can’t help them. James urges Christians to help backsliders return to God by caring enough to pray with the.

The Book of James teaches us that our faith has to have hands and feet!

 

James – Chapter 4

Faith Produces Humility

Verse 1 – Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?

James is talking about conflicts among Christians and Jews or Christians among Christians. This desire for pleasure can be anything from ambition of fame, lust, or indulgence of any corrupt propensity of the mind.

Most of the wars which have occurred in the world can be traced to lust. The lust of conquest, the ambition to rule, the gratification of revenge, are all reasons for war.

Verse 2 – You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.

That is, you wish to have something which you do not now possess, and in which you have no just claim, and this prompts to the effort to obtain it by force. The causes of war on a larger scale by nations is, extension of territory, wealth, and total rule over people, and leads to bloodshed.

Yet you do not have because you do not ask – if you sought that from God which you truly need, you would obtain it.

Verse 3 – You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James mentions the most common problems in prayer; either not asking at all, or asking with selfish desires. When we start to line our attitudes and desires to God’s will for our lives, we will start to see answered prayers.

Verse 4 – Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Sometimes having friendship with the world involves seeking pleasures at other’s expense or at the expense of disobeying God. Pleasures from disobeying God is sin; pleasures from God which enrich our lives is good!

Verse 5 – Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain,”The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?”

Verse 6 – But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

God gives more grace to overcome evil passions, and to subdue the corrupt inclinations. And this “more grace” will be given to the humble, not to the proud.

Verse 7 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

So how do we submit to God? We start with a repentant heart and then receive forgiveness. We submit our ways to God’s ways and we learn God’s ways through Scripture and the Holy Spirit. And then we resist the temptation that the devil has put before us and he will flee!

Verse 8 – Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Verse 9 – Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

James gives us five ways to draw near to God: (1) submit; (2) yield to His authority and will; (3) resist the devil; (4) purify our hearts; (5) be sincere for our sins and humble ourselves before Him.

Verse 10 – Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.

Verse 11 – Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

Jesus summarized the law as love for God and neighbor and Paul said that love demonstrated toward a neighbor would fully satisfy the law (Romans 13:6-10). When we fail to love, we are actually breaking God’s law.

Verse 12 – There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Verse 13 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit”;

Verse 14 – whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Leaving God out of our plans and desires, is paramount to arrogance and unbelief.

Verse 15 – Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Verse 16 – But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Verse 17 – Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Most tend to think that doing wrong is sin, but James reminds us that not doing what is right is sin also. Yes, it is a sin to lie, but it is also a sin to know the truth and not tell it. Think about that the next time you withhold from someone who needs help and the truth needs to be told.

James – Chapter 3

Faith Controls the Tongue

Verse 1 – My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive stricter judgment.

Those who teach are held to a much higher standard. If they haven’t had proper training, they might teach in error. Teaching in error of the Scriptures can affect someone’s spiritual growth.

Verse 2 – For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body.

Verse 3 – Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.

Verse 4 – Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.

Verse 5 – Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

Verse 6 – And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell.

Once a wildfire starts, it’s hard to contain. Verse 6 says the tongue can defile the whole body and has its source from hell. Once words are spoken, you can’t take them back. Harsh words spoken, can divide people and cause major destruction. We all have a choice how we speak to others. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).

Verse 7 – For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.

Verse 8 – But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Verse 9 – With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

Even though no one is always kind in their speech, that doesn’t mean we don’t try. It’s better to fight a little fire than to go around setting them.

Look carefully what James says about blessings and cursing with the same tongue. Whatever is in the heart will come out of the mouth.

Verse 10 – Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be so.

Verse 11 – Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?

Our words can change the atmosphere in any situation we are in. Words have power either to destroy or bless! That’s why when we speak about a certain situation, we speak faith toward the end result. Or when  comforting someone, we speak encouragement and love. Our words need to live up with what God says, goodness, forgiveness, and mercy towards others.

Verse 12 – Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh.

When the Holy Spirit changes a heart, He gives us self-control. We will start to speak words that are pleasing to God.

Verse 13 – Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

Verse 14 – But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, also not boast and lie against the truth.

True wisdom can be measured by the depth of a person’s character. James is still talking about those who desire to become teachers. Envy and selfish ambition are far from being a minor flaw in someone’s character. Sometimes its evident but sometimes it’s hidden. Eventually it will come out of mouth and through their actions.

Verse 15 – This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.

James is referring to envy and selfish ambition.

Verse 16 – For where envy and self-seeking exists, confusion and envy evil things will be there.

Verse 17 – But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Verse 18 – Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I know a lot of people who call themselves Christians, but need to ask themselves, “Do I cause discord and strife, or do I bring peace when I come?

 

 

James – Chapter 2

Verse 1 – My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

Verse 2 – For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,

Verse 3 – and you pay attention to the one wearing fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or “Sit here at my footstool,”

Verse 4 – have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

James is drawing attention to playing favoritism because of appearance. I’ve been in churches like that. The wealthy can financially help a church, but the poor suffer need. When we show partiality because of someone’s status, we disgrace the Lord of glory.

Verse 5 – Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

This verse does not mean that the poor automatically go to heaven and the rich go to hell. James is telling us that the poor are more likely to listen and believe the gospel because of a humble state of mind. Have you ever tried to convince a wealthy person their need for Christ? It’s hard! I have and they see no need for a Savior, because their money buys everything they need or want. If they are never in any kind of lack, they see no need to trust in the One which can supply all things pertaining to life.

Verse 6 – But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?

This might be referring to something in their conduct which existed particularly back then. Those to whom James was speaking were Christians, and most likely poor.

Verse 7 – Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

That noble name is Jesus Christ. Blaspheme means that the wealthy were speaking against Christ or directly through their actions toward the members of the assembly.

Verse 8 – If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well;

Verse 9 – but if you show partiality you commit sin, and are convicted by law as transgressors.

Attitudes among Christians should be based on the royal law which says love your neighbor as yourself. We are to treat all people the same, whether rich or poor, the way we want to be treated. We don’t favor those that can return favors or can do something for us better than the ones which can do nothing for us.

Verse 10 – For whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

Simply put: There is no one who can keep all of God’s law perfectly. There was only One who did and that was Jesus. However, that is no excuse to not try. That is why we all need Christ. He paid for our sin of breaking the law because we couldn’t keep it. But if you live strictly by the law, and refuse God’s Son, you will be required to keep all the law. That is, you choose to go it your own way based only on your works and not by what Christ has done for you.

Verse 11 – For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

Verse 12 – So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.

As Christians we are saved by God’s gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ – the law of liberty. But as Christians we are required to obey Christ. God’s grace does not cancel our duty to obey Him.

Verse 13 – For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy trumps over judgment.

When we withhold forgiveness from others after having received it for ourselves, we show that we don’t understand or appreciate God’s mercy toward us.

Verse 14 – What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

Can a faith that does not express itself in good works be a saving faith? No.

Verse 15 – If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,

Verse 16 – and one says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

Faith that does not produce good works is dead! It does no good to tell a person that is hungry that you wish them well, or hope everything works out, all the while we sit there with a refrigerator full of food. Faith has to have the evidence of good works.

Howe many times did Jesus feed the multitudes before He taught? Our influence on the lost is useless if we never produce any fruit from our faith!

Verse 17 – Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead.

This action we take to care for those in need is no different from the faith we express when we pray. There is usually something that God will tell us to do in order to put that faith in motion. We don’t just sit back and wait for things to happen on their own. “Put legs on them prayers!”

Verse 18 – But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

While it is true that our good deeds can never earn salvation, true faith always results in a changed life and good deeds. True faith involves a commitment of our whole self in God.

Verse 19 – You believer that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!

However, demons do not intend to obey Christ. As Christians we receive, love, and obey our Savior. Big difference.

Verse 20 – But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Verse 21 – Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?

Verse 22 – Do you see that faith was working together with his works and by works faith was made perfect?

Active obedience demonstrates that our faith is genuine.

Verse 23 – And the Scripture was fulfilled which says. “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.

Abraham’s act showed that his faith was genuine, and that the declaration that he believed in God was true; for what could do more to confirm that than a readiness to offer his own son at the command of God?

Verse 24 – You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

It must be a faith that produces good works, and whose existence will be shown to others by those good works.

Verse 25 – Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

Remember Rahab from Joshua, chapter 2? When Joshua sent spies into Jericho, she hid them and helped them escape without detection. In doing this she demonstrated faith in God’s purpose for Israel. As a result, she and her family were saved when the city was destroyed.

Verse 26 – For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

So, now do you understand how our Christian faith works? A lot of Christians are never taught this. If good works do not follow faith, that faith is useless!

 

James – Chapter 1

Introduction: Since there were several “James” in the New Testament, it is not known for certain which “James” wrote this book. However, we can eliminate James, Jesus intimate disciple, because of his martyrdom by A.D. 44. Tradition points to the James that was Jesus brother. He became a devoted leader in the church in Jerusalem.

Throughout this entire epistle, James stresses that, “Faith without works is dead.” True faith must manifest itself in works of faith. Verbal faith is not enough, mental faith is insufficient. Faith must inspire action on our part. Faith must produce; it must be visible. My aunt used to say, “Put some legs on that prayer!”

Faith endures trials. Trials come and go, but a strong faith will face them head-on and develop endurance. Faith understands temptations. It will not allow us to slide into sin. Faith obeys the Word. It will not merely hear and not do. Faith produces doers. Faith demonstrates obedience and controls the tongue. Faith will produce submission to God. It provides us with the ability to resist the devil and draw near to God. Faith also stifles complaining.

Chapter 1

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

This letter is written to the Jewish Christians scattered abroad throughout Rome, Alexander, Cyprus, cities in Greece and Asia Minor.

Verse 2 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

Verse 3 – knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

This does not mean that we are to be “happy” because of a trial. It simply means not to consider it as punishment, a curse, or a calamity. Our outlook, when facing trials, is to be positive. Our trials can be opportunities to learn. Tough times can teach us perseverance. Not always finding the quickest way out, will cause patience while going through.

Verse 4 – But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Don’t let your patience be hindered by murmurings, complaining, or rebellion. When we do these things, we are in opposition to the will of God. Trials will develop our character to its fullest, complete.

Verse 5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

By wisdom, James is talking about the ability to make wise decisions in difficult times. Wisdom means practical discernment. It begins with respect to God, leads to right living and an increasing ability to tell right from wrong.

Verse 6 – But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Verse 7 – For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord:

When we as Christians, go to the Lord in prayer, we must have confidence that God will answer according to His will. There is an expectation. We know He hears us! When He hears what we ask, He knows what is best for our lives. It may not happen the way we think, but He will work it out. Doubt has to go out the window. A person can hope for favor from God only as they put their confidence in Him. He sees the heart and He sees the motive behind the supplication. When we approach the throne of grace with the belief that it will be done, it will be done!

Verse 8 – he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Here is what I see a lot of times from a Christian that is waiting on an answer from God about a particular situation. They say they have prayed. Then to anyone who will listen, they complain about the situation. They will repeat it over and over and then finish up with, “Yeh, I know God’s in control.”

Poppy-cock! That person is controlling their situation with their mouth! You can’t believe that God will do it when you pray, and then destroy everything with your mouth. That is double-minded and they won’t receive anything.

Verse 9 – Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,

Verse 10 – but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.

Verse 11 – For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

To me, in these verses, we are to assume the “lowly man” that is poor in material wealth and the rich man who is without God, will one day lose all he values because of death. This is not to  say we are never to acquire material things. However, I think the main point here is, no matter what state we live in, wealth or a desire to be rich, will amount to nothing in the end.

Some have the mindset that it’s a sin to be wealthy. They think God wants us all to be poo. That’s not true. If you are continually in lack, how are you ever going to help someone else? Rich or poor is a matter of the heart. If your heart is right before God, good works will come from what He has blessed you with.

Verse 12 – Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

God’s crown of life is not glory and honor here on earth, but the reward is eternal life – living with God forever. The way to win in this life, is to remain faithful to the One who saved us, even when temptation comes.

The Source of Temptations

Verse 13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

Temptation comes from evil desires inside us, not from God. It begins with an evil thought and becomes sin when we dwell on those thoughts and then allow it to manifest into an action. We have to learn to stop that thought before it ever takes life. We know it’s wrong when we think about it.

Verse 14 – But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

Verse 15 – Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

People are tempted by many things and in all kinds of different areas. Temptations usually come by some desire for something or someone we do not possess. It is a lust, strong desire, knowing it would not be in one’s best interest to obtain it!

However, when that desire or lust, takes hold and is conceived, it gives way to sin and the penalty for sin is death.

Temptations come from the devil in areas that he knows we are weak. Sometimes that temptation is not so obvious. That is why it’s so important to know God’s will for our lives and His principles.

Verse 16 – Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

Verse 17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

God’s nature is unchanging and His promises are secure. The sense here is: God is the author of all good. Everything that is good, including the perfect gifts He gives, are all from Him. Darkness surrounds evil and light surrounds good. Choose good!

Verse 18 – Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

The idea is, the fact that we are “begotten to be His children and can be solely traced to His will. He purposed it, and it was done. We owe the beginning of our spiritual life to God.

Faith Obeys the Word

Verse 19 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;

Verse 20 – for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

When others talk to you, do they feel as though what they are saying has any value to you, or do you dominate the conversation and don’t let them get a word in?

When someone gets angry because of a disappointment or a hurt from another, anger doesn’t produce anything good. Wrath and anger will never produce anything but regret. Righteousness will produce peace which pleases God.

I’ve said it before, but will say it again; Anger will fester and then turn into rage and then can turn into revenge or vengeance – an action, which then become s sin!

Verse 21 – Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

The word filthiness is applied here to mean evil conduct considered as disgusting or offensive, loathsome. Receive meekness – have an open mind and heart to instruction of the truth – Word of God. God’s Word has the power to save our soul!

Verse 22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Does what you believe line up with your actions?

Verse 23 – For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;

Verse 24 – for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

Verse 25 – But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Plain and simple – Obey God and be blessed in all you do.

Verse 26 – If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.

We can do all the right actions that make us look religious, but if our speech doesn’t line up, the evidence we showed in works, is useless.

Verse 27 – Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this; to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself un-spotted from the world.

In the first century, orphans and widows had very little means of economic support. Unless a family member took them in, they would have to beg on the streets. By caring for these people, the church put God’s Word into practice.

We are not to be influenced or adapt the world’s way of thinking. Just because our government makes something a law, does not mean we as Christians have to agree with it, especially when it contradicts His word! The world system is based on money, power, and pleasure. True faith means nothing if we are contaminated with such values.