James 1:1-11

1. JAMES, A servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered abroad [among the Gentiles in the dispersion]: Greetings ( rejoice)!

2. Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

3. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

4. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.

5. If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.

6. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind.

7. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord,

8. [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

9. Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his elevation [as a Christian, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God],

10. And the rich [person ought to glory] in being humbled [by being shown his human frailty], because like the flower of the grass he will pass away.

11. For the sun comes up with a scorching heat and parches the grass; its flower falls off and its beauty fades away. Even so will the rich man wither and die in the midst of his pursuits.

Verses 1-11

Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God’s love; and trials in the way of duty will brighten our graces now, and our crown at last. Let us take care, in times of trial, that patience, and not passion, is set to work in us: whatever is said or done, let patience have the saying and doing of it. When the work of patience is complete, it will furnish all that is necessary for our Christian race and warfare. We should not pray so much for the removal of affliction, as for wisdom to make a right use of it. And who does not want wisdom to guide him under trials, both in regulating his own spirit, and in managing his affairs? Here is something in answer to every discouraging turn of the mind, when we go to God under a sense of our own weakness and folly. If, after all, any should say, This may be the case with some, but I fear I shall not succeed, the promise is, To any that asketh, it shall be given. A mind that has single and prevailing regard to its spiritual and eternal interest, and that keeps steady in its purposes for God, will grow wise by afflictions, will continue fervent in devotion, and rise above trials and oppositions. When our faith and spirits rise and fall with second causes, there will be unsteadiness in our words and actions. This may not always expose men to contempt in the world, but such ways cannot please God. No condition of life is such as to hinder rejoicing in God. Those of low degree may rejoice, if they are exalted to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God; and the rich may rejoice in humbling providences, that lead to a humble and lowly disposition of mind. Worldly wealth is a withering thing. Then, let him that is rich rejoice in the grace of God, which makes and keeps him humble; and in the trials and exercises which teach him to seek happiness in and from God, not from perishing enjoyments.

~ Matthew Henry Complete Commentary

Who Receives Spiritual Resurrection?

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

John 5:25

Jesus begins this emphatic, unarguable declaration with the seemingly paradoxical statement “an hour is coming and now is.” The hour of the believers’ resurrection “now is” in the sense that when they “were dead in [their] trespasses and sins . . . [God] made [them] alive together with Christ, and raised [them] up with Him” (Eph. 2:1, 5–6). Yet the hour is still “coming” in the sense that the resurrection of their physical bodies is yet future (1 Cor. 15:35–54; Phil. 3:20–21).

This “already/not yet” sense of the phrase may be understood in another way. When Christ was present, He offered spiritual life to all who would heed His Word (6:37; Matt. 7:24–27). Yet the full expression of the new era He inaugurated would not come until the day of Pentecost (14:17). Both during Christ’s earthly ministry and in the fullness of the Spirit’s ministry after Pentecost, the spiritually dead who heard “the voice of the Son of God” would live.

Scripture frequently describes unbelievers as spiritually dead. To be spiritually dead is to be insensitive to the things of God and totally unable to respond to Him. Paul vividly described it as living “in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and [being] by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

Rejoice in the amazing grace of God for making you alive together with Christ.


Ask Yourself

Try to define the ways you’re experiencing the first rays of eternal life even while bound in this time and place. How would your life be different if you were still spiritually dead, removed from the grace of God?

~ John MacArthur ~

The Word of God

But the word of the Lord endured forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

—1 Peter 1:25


The prophet teaches us, not what the Word of God is in itself, but how we are to think of it. Since man has emptied himself of life, he must look for it outside of himself. And Peter tells us on the authority of the prophet, that God’s Word alone possesses the energy and efficacy to bestow upon us whatever is solid and eternal. For the prophet knew that our lives have no stability except in God, and except as he communicates it to us by his Word. Since man’s nature is in itself perishing, the Word himself invests it with eternal life, and restores it by a new creation.

~ John Calvin ~

 

We Work by Grace

By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

— (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Paul realized that the first part of this verse might be misunderstood. So he goes on to say, “Though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

This text does not say that Paul is obeying Christ out of gratitude for grace he had given in the past. It says that, at every moment, the future grace of God enabled Paul’s work.

Does it really say that? Doesn’t it just say that the grace of God worked with Paul? No, it says more. We have to come to terms with the words, “Though it was not I.” Paul wants to exalt the moment-by-moment grace of God in such a way that it is clear that he himself is not the decisive doer of this work.

Nevertheless, he is a doer of this work: “I worked harder than any of them.” He worked. But he said it was the grace of God “toward me.”

If we let all the parts of this verse stand, the end result is this: grace is the decisive doer in Paul’s work. Since Paul is also a doer of his work, the way grace becomes the decisive doer is by becoming the enabling power of Paul’s work.

I take this to mean that, as Paul faced each day’s ministry burden, he bowed his head and confessed that unless future grace was given for that day’s work, he would not be able to do it.

He recalled the words of Jesus, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). So he prayed for future grace for the day, and he trusted in the promise that it would come with power. “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Then he acted with all his might.

~ John Piper ~

 

The Prophets Words Commanded

If ye will not hearken to me to walk in my law, which I have set before you, to hearken to the words of my servants the prophets whom I sent unto you.

Jer. 26:4–5.

The prophet here sums up briefly the teaching which he was commanded to bring to the people. There is no doubt that he used many words whenever it was necessary; but here he holds a few words to be enough to state what he has been told. He declares that unless the Jews begin to listen and to follow the law, and unless they obey the prophets, the final destruction of the Temple and the city is at hand. This is the sum of what he teaches here. But we should note the details.

By the words unless you hear and walk in my law, God shows that his chief demand is for obedience. . . We see that the one and only specific rule for living devoutly, rightly, holily, and perfectly is to surrender ourselves to God’s piloting. This is his only command.

~ John Calvin ~

Differences in Houses

The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. . . . The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house; and it fell—and great was its fall.

Matthew 7:25, 27

With most tasks in life, it comes down to two choices: doing it the easy, convenient way, or choosing the difficult but rewarding way. In Jesus’ illustration, the foolish man chooses the easy way to build his house, but the wise man chooses the hard way. The former settles for a convenient section of sand in a desirable location, but the latter searches diligently for a rock foundation on which to build.

Why is the easy way so attractive? First, it is appealing to those in a hurry who want only to please themselves. Within the church, the foolish don’t care how their methods line up with God’s Word. They just want quick results—simple to see and easy to measure. Thus the foolish are satisfied with easy evangelism and cost-free discipleship.

Second, people prefer the easy way because they are superficial. Such ministry requires little planning and effort and not much concern for quality results. That house is all about instant gratification rather than the enduring reward found in plumbing the spiritual depths.

Jesus had another description of the superficial, foolish person as one “who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matt. 13:20–21). By contrast, the genuine believer counts the cost, builds the wise house, and then “work[s] out [his] salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

Ask Yourself

Think of an “easy way” you’ve taken in your life. What convinced you to do it? Think also of a time when you truly did things the “right way.” Examine the difference in results.

~ John MacArthur ~

 

He Will Teach Us of His Ways

He twill teach us of his ways. Here we have a third point. God is robbed of his right and honor when men usurp the power of teaching. For it belongs to God alone to teach his people. There were at that time priests and prophets. But Micah here reduces both to their proper place and shows that the right and the office of teaching belong to God alone. It is clear that God claims this work for himself, to prevent us from wavering and from being pulled around by different teachers; to keep us in simple obedience to his Word, so that he alone may rule over us. In a word, God is not God and head of the church, if he is not the chief and only teacher.

Now when the prophet says that God will teach us his ways, this must mean that he will show the nature of his ways; he means, “The perfect wisdom of the people is to know what pleases God and what his will is.” This is all I need to say.

~ John Calvin ~