639 - Les Feldick Bible Study - Lesson 1 Part 3 Book 54 - James 3:7 - 5:20

639: James 3:7 – 5:20 – Lesson 1 Part 3 Book 54

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 54

James 3:7 – 5:20

All right, we’re going to continue right where we left off in the letter by James to the Hebrew believers – to the Twelve tribes scattered abroad. So we know that those had to be Jews of the dispersion. Now, we’ve got to remember, where did these Jews come from, and who are these people that these little epistles are addressed to.

James and Peter and John and Jude and, to a degree even, John’s Book of Revelation were written to the Jews that had been scattered. Like I said in the last part of the last program, we are now 2,000 years later since those books were written, and we have now come full circle back as it was when these epistles were written. As it was back then, so shall it be in the future with these Jewish believers getting ready to go into the Tribulation and looking for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, their Messiah. But for now, come back with me to Acts chapter 11 because this is probably the best way to understand why James, as well as the other three, addresses only the Jews? Why aren’t they including Gentiles?

Well, Acts 11:19 I think says it. Now you want to remember that Israel has been out there as a people scattered throughout the then known world ever since the Babylonian invasion in 606 BC. But then when Saul came on the scene and just persecuted unmercifully the Jewish church in Jerusalem, they had to scatter for their life.

Acts 8:1

“And Saul was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Now the Twelve didn’t leave because they were sure that the Messiah would be coming and they didn’t want to be out of town when it happened. Remember they had been promised they would reign and rule over the Twelve tribes of Israel during the Kingdom Age. So they didn’t scatter, but the rest of those Jewish believers scattered. Acts 11:19 makes it so clear that Gentiles were not involved in any of this. This is so simple. You don’t have to be a seminary graduate to understand this.

Acts 11:19

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen.(which took place in Jerusalem) traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch. (in other words, that whole eastern end of the Mediterranean) preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”

We’re talking about 10 years after the cross. That’s what the Book says – that these Jewish believers who were now scattered away from the home church in Jerusalem (which was headed up, of course, by Peter and the Twelve) are now being scattered throughout that end of the Roman Empire and they still have no consort with anybody but Jews.

Now come back to James and let’s stop with James chapter 1 verse 1, and this just says it all. Plain English.

James 1:1

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to (and I don’t think we do any harm by putting ‘writing’ rather than ‘to’) the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” Now isn’t that plain? Now these Jews, of course, gathered in little congregations of Synagogues and they knew nothing of Paul’s work of Grace. They’re still in Judaism. All they’ve understood is that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the Messiah and to a degree that He had risen from the dead and that He was still able to fulfill the covenant promises of the Kingdom. And so this is what they’re looking for.

So now back to James chapter 4 where we left off in our last lesson. Verse 12, and always watch the language like I’ve said before – how it’s so much like the language of the Four Gospel’s concerning Jesus and the Law and all the rest.

James 4:12a

“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy:…” In other words, God is going to fulfill two purposes. Now come back with me a few pages to Hebrews chapter 7 verse 25. This is just one example. And that’s all we’re going to use how that God is able to work both sides. Hebrews 7 verse 25, here’s the saving side:

Hebrews 7:25

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost (who? Those) that come unto God by him. (that is by Jesus Christ) seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”(that is those that have come to Christ)

All right, now let’s look at the other side of the coin. Not very pretty. Very seldom do you hear it anymore, and that’s Revelation 20. Here we have the Great White Throne Judgment for the lost. And these are the two concepts that James is putting in front of his people. They’re dealing with a God who is able to save but He’s also able to condemn them to their doom. Now how many times have you heard it? “How can a God of love send anybody to such an awful place?” Well, we know what the answer is. He did everything that needed to be done when He suffered the horrible death of the Cross. And that was for all mankind with no strings attached. All they have to do is believe it! And when they spurn that, then He has every right to say, “depart from me I never knew you” because He’s done all He can do. All right, so now then, in Revelation 20, you do have the ability and the wherewithal of God to destroy those who are lost. This is the end of everything. This is the final act of God on the human race that is lost.

Revelation 20:11-12a

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12. And I saw the dead, (now remember there are no believers involved in here. This is all the unbelieving from Cain to the end) small and great, stand before God; (the Righteous Judge) and the books (plural)were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life:…” When their name was not in the book of life, He then opens up the books, which included their works. That’s what Paul calls fruit unto death. They lived a life of sin and rebellion, which was a life of fruit unto death and here it comes.

Revelation 20:12b-13

“…and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” In other words, all the lost of the ages from wherever they are will come forth – and remember Jesus said in John chapter 5 that everybody that ever lived will be resurrected. Those who have been of faith – to a resurrection of life and the rest to a resurrection of condemnation. Well, this in Revelation 20 is the condemnation.

All right, and so they were judged every man individually. The billions of them. Now you know, this throws a curve at us doesn’t it? I mean, after all, we’re human. How in the world will God have time to bring every individual lost person before the bar of justice? Now we can’t comprehend it. But you’ve got to remember we’re not in ‘time’ here, we’re in ‘eternity.’ And when you get out of time and into eternity it’s a whole different ballgame. I read years and years ago (maybe science has changed it now, but I remember) one hypothesis that if a human being could go through a black-hole and down through a white-hole he could usurp a million years of time in ten minutes. Well, that’s beyond us, but it’s the same way here. God will judge the billions of the human race in what we would call a matter of minutes, and yet everyone is going to have a time before Him. Don’t ever doubt it because we’re not in time as we know it – but here, we’re in eternity. All right, now verse 14, and see what James means when he says that God is able to save and to destroy?

Revelation 20:14

“And death and hell (that is the compilation of all the lost of the ages) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Now people don’t want to hear about the Lake of Fire anymore. I can’t help it. It’s in the Book. Remember physical death was their first death and now spiritual death is their second death. Then verse 15 puts the cap on it.

Revelation 20:15

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” And don’t think for a minute that that’s an instant annihilation because, while you’re here in chapter 20, come back to verse 10. And it shows that it’s an ongoing thing, because the Lord Himself said, “it’ll be there for ever and ever for all eternity.” It’s not going to end. It’s going to be forever, just like our life is going to go on forever.

Revelation 20:10a

“And the devil that deceived them (that is at the end of the Kingdom economy now, when we’re ready to go into eternity) was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast(or the anti-Christ) and the false prophet are,…” These are the two evil men of the seven-year Tribulation period, and they were cast into the Lake of Fire at the beginning of the 1,000-year Kingdom Age. How long have they already been there? A thousand years. And they’re still there. They haven’t been annihilated. They haven’t been burned up. They’re still there.

Revelation 20:10b

“…and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Now this just epitomizes again the Grace of God – how that Christ and the work of the cross made it possible for every one of these people to miss that kind of an eternity. And that’s why a God of love can do it; they’ve spurned His love and they have rejected His offer of salvation. And so, yes, James says it again, verse 12 of chapter 4 of the Book of James.

James 4:12

“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”

There is one eternal God. And He alone is able to save and to destroy, so James says, “Who are you that you should judge another?” Now, like I told you in the last program, that doesn’t mean you don’t make discernment between the lifestyle of the lost person and a believer. We have that right. We have that ability according to Scripture. But we cannot judge who’s going to be in eternal doom, or who’s going to be in Heaven. You can’t look on the heart. None of us can – only God can do that. Okay, now, in verse 13, he shifts gears again and he goes into something totally different.

James 4:13

“Go to now ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:”

Now what does that tell you? First and foremost – before we get any further, come back with me to Matthew chapter 24 verse 37. Now remember the Lord Himself is not betraying the secret that time is going to be interrupted and that these people to whom He’s speaking will not see the Tribulation and the Second Coming. He doesn’t betray that. He could have. As God, He knew the day and the hour and all that. But, the scenario was just the same as I’ve been repeating now for the last several programs. The scenario was exactly the same for these Jewish people approaching the Tribulation and the Second Coming and the Kingdom as it will be for Jews in this present time, which we think is getting close – when they, too, will be facing the same thing. But the scenario is going to be the same. As it was then, so is it now.

Matthew 24:37-38

“But as the days of Noe (Noah) were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (in other words, when the Tribulation has run its course) 38. For as in the days that were before the flood (just like these days that these Jews that James is writing to are facing the Tribulation,) they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,” See? Life was going on. And then he comes down a little further to verse 40.

Matthew 24:40

“Then shall two be in the field;…” They were laboring, working and harvesting. All right, that’s sufficient, I think. Now come back to James again. This is the same scenario that, as the Tribulation is approaching and these Jewish believers are going to be coming under pressure, yet you have that element of either unbelievers or carnal believers (whatever the case James is dealing with), and all they’ve got on their minds is what? Material gain. Hey, they’re in business and they’re not too concerned about the spiritual. Well, it’s going to be the same way now as we’re approaching the end-time; the whole world is all wrapped up in materialism. They don’t think of the Spirit. All they’re thinking is how they can make money in the stock market or how they can do this and that and every other thing. Well, it’s the same way here – and so James says to be careful, you that say, “Today or tomorrow we’ll go and do such and such a thing and we’ll buy and sell and get gain.” See? That was the typical activity.

James 4:14

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Like your breath on a 20 below zero day. You don’t know what that is down here in Oklahoma, but I do. Oh, my goodness, that breath will just disappear. Well, that’s life. Peter uses the example of a blade of grass that comes up in the morning, you clip it off in the afternoon. That’s the way life is, it’s temporary.

You know I read a book years and years ago that made it even more graphic. “Snow Flakes on the River.” And I love that. Can you just see big, huge snowflakes coming down on a large river? How long does it last? Puff! It’s gone. That’s life. Just like a snowflake on the river. Just like a blade of grass that’s sprung up and clipped off. Oh, even though some may live to 90-95-100 years old. I’ve had a few people in my classes that were 100 – 102. But you know what they tell me? It went just as fast as you and I think it has up to as old as we are. That extra 30-40 years goes just as fast as the rest of it. Bingo! It’s all gone! And compared to eternity, it’s nothing.

All right, so James is reminding his flock, don’t get so concerned about the material world because it’s just here today and gone tomorrow.

James 4:15

“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Now I think that’s appropriate. That’s what we can do today. Well, “If the Lord is willing” that’s what we’re going to do. So, that’s very appropriate. Remember I told you when we first started there were going to be tidbits here that you can apply today, just like you can go into the Four Gospel accounts and you can make application. But you’re not going to find the plan of salvation in the Book of James. It’s not in here.

James 4:16a

“But now ye rejoice in your boastings:…” Now I’m going to give the Jewish people credit – I’m not doing this critically. I think they are to be admired. They have a knack for being successful, don’t they? Absolutely! I think it’s part of their covenant relationship. They have a knack for being successful whether it’s in literature or art or music or medicine or in business – you name it, and Jewish people are successful. Well, evidently it was the same way here. Some of these Jews, in spite of the pressures from the Roman Empire and so forth, were materially successful. But it’s also a well-known fact that there is not a group of people on earth that are so philanthropically minded. I hope I got that word out right. They’re great philanthropists. They give, give, give. And so this is part and parcel I think of their makeup. And so verse 16 just hits it right on the head:

James 4:16

“But now ye rejoice in your boastings: (over their what? Their success. They are naturally successful people. But he says) all such rejoicing is evil.” Don’t rejoice in the things of the flesh; in the material. Now verse 17, and maybe this is why they are so prone to being philanthropic.

James 4:17

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is (what?) sin.”

And they were aware of that. And so they overcame some of their materialism with giving and hoping (I guess by that) to merit favor with God, or whatever.

All right, now, lest you think I’ve been pushing the envelop on this, look at the first verse of chapter 5. Now remember we’re back in about, probably, the 50’s AD. About fifteen or twenty years from now in, 70 AD, their Temple is going to be destroyed and Jerusalem and Israel are going to be scattered. But it hasn’t happened yet. And here they are. He says:

James 5:1

“Go to now, ye (what kind of men?) rich men, (See? These Jews, a lot of them, had wealth.) weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.” When? When the Tribulation would hit. When the Tribulation would hit and all of their wealth and materialism would be wiped out.

Now you know it’s coming. Not only just for Israel and the Jews but for the whole human race – the wrath of God is coming! Just like James could see it coming in their day, and that all their wealth and materialism would amount to nothing because it’s all going to be wiped away. Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve done this, but let’s go back to Jeremiah just for an example. And I do this to sober people because even we, as believers, are so prone to get wrapped up in all of the trappings of this world and our economy and everything that pertains to it, and we forget God’s wrath is coming. I’m not saying it’s going to be next year or the following, but we’re getting closer and closer. You know I’ve always referred to the cartoon of the old boy sitting in his cave door and over the door was ‘The End Is Near.’ But then he added ‘er.’ Which meant that everyday the end is nearer.

And that’s where we are. The end is getting nearer every day. All right, Jeremiah chapter 25 verse 30. Now this isn’t pleasant reading. This is horrifying but it’s coming; and James could see it coming in their day. They thought it was just over the horizon. And then God, as I’m going to show you in the next program, interrupted that time-span and gave us the Age of Grace for the past 2,000 years.

Jeremiah 25:30

“Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD (That’s Christ in the Old Testament) shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; (that is this old world.) he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.” Not just Israel. Every human being is going to come under this. Verse 31.

Jeremiah 25:31-32a

“A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, (not just Israel. All of them.) he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, (death) saith the LORD. 32. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation,…” Does that ring a bell? Yeah, we’re hearing about evil today like not since a long time ago.

Jeremiah 25:32b

“…and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts (or borders) of the earth.”

Now, we’re hearing more and more, the next most used acronym will be what? ‘WMD.’ You’re going to see it in every article that you read. WMD. What is it? Weapons of Mass Destruction. And the whole world is interested in them. Not just Iraq. Everybody wants weapons of mass destruction. All the nations of the world are clamoring for more military hardware. Well, what weapon of mass destruction causes tremendous wind? A nuclear explosion. Tremendous wind. And so I can just see all the nuclear forces of the world will come to bear in these final days of the Tribulation. So, “A great whirlwind shall be raised up from the borders of the earth.” Now, as a result of all of these ‘nukes’ being unloaded, first one after the other, look at verse 33.

Jeremiah 25:33

“And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; (there will be so many that nobody can bury them fast enough. There’ll be no funeral parlors capitalizing on all of this. But) they shall be dung upon the ground.”

That’s what’s coming. That’s why all the world is interested now in weapons of mass destruction. It’s going to come. The earth is going to be utterly annihilated through the wrath of God, but He’ll use a lot of these weapons of mass destruction.

638 - Les Feldick Bible Study - Lesson 1 Part 2 Book 54 - James Prepares His Flock - Part 2

638: James Prepares His Flock – Part 2 – Lesson 1 Part 2 Book 54

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 54

James Prepares His Flock – Part 2

James 3:7 – 5:20

Okay, let’s go back where we left off in the last lesson in James chapter 4. And, remember, James is written to the Twelve tribes scattered. (Acts 8:1) So it is primarily Jewish. Andthere’s no Church language in here. James doesn’t make one single reference to the blood of Christ, how that it was shed for the sins of mankind – or to Christ’s glorious resurrection, all of which we must believe for our salvation here in the Church Age. (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

Again, James is probably the earliest New Testament book written. Maybe Matthew preceded it but all of these little Jewish books, I think, were written early on before they had an understanding of the doctrines revealed later to Paul. So, we’re going to be comparing, as we finish the little book of James and go on into I Peter, how it is so completely different (not contradictory) from what Paul writes to us as Gentiles; compared to what James and Peter and John wrote to those Jewish believers coming out of Christ’s earthly ministry. So always keep that in mind. All right, so James chapter 4, remembering now that he’s writing to Jewish believers probably scattered in the area of what we call Turkey. And he says in verse 4:

James 4:4

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses,.…” My, does that sound familiar? You know I said, when we began the study of James and Peter and John, that you’re going to find a lot of likenesses with the Four Gospels and Jesus addressing the Jews in His earthly ministry. Well, here’s one of them. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus referred to with the Jews in their wickedness.

James 4:4b

“…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is (what?) the enemy of God.”

Now let’s see how, again, Paul puts it. We’re going to be comparing back and forth because I think that’s the best way to see the vast differences in what we call the doctrines of Paul for us as Gentiles believers – as over against what the writers in the little Jewish epistles are saying. Come back with me to Romans chapter 8 and we might as well start at verse 5.

Romans 8:5-7

“For they that are after the flesh (the Old Adam) do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit (in other words, they’ve become a believer and the Holy Spirit has now indwelt them, they mind) the things of the Spirit. (now here it comes) 6. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The carnally or fleshly minded, just like James says, is enmity against God. The two will not coexist. You cannot have the enemy’s attitude of the world as part and parcel of God. He’ll have nothing of it. You know I think way back when I taught the Book of Romans, probably in chapter 8, I gave a little illustration. If you’re living in a neighborhood of middle class people who have a half-way decent income and your neighbors are all in the same income level as you are and one of your neighbor’s kids comes and he approaches you and says, “Hey, I’d like to have a new bike. Would you buy one for me?” Well, what are you going to say? “Well, you’re not my kid! I don’t have to buy you a bicycle. Go ask your parents. You’re their responsibility, not mine.” Would that be out of the way? Of course not.

Well, you see, it’s the same way with God. The unbelieving world thinks that they can come and treat God like some Santa Claus and beg for whatever they need and expect Him to answer. But no He won’t! In fact, I think I’m on safe ground that God doesn’t hear the requesting prayers of the unbeliever. His ears are totally deaf to that. Now, for salvation, of course, He’s ready and willing to save to the uttermost.

But see, the unbelieving world has got the idea that they can just sort of tweak God’s nose like a Santa Claus and He’ll jump to their rescue. No He won’t. And never forget that. It isn’t until we become a child of God that God beseeches us to come into the throne room with our needs as well as our praise. All right, so reading on now in Romans, chapter 8:

Romans 8:8

“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” If they’ve never experienced God’s saving Grace and the indwelling Holy Spirit, they can’t please God. It’s impossible. They might as well quit trying. Of course, the world would get worse than it is, wouldn’t it? And it’s bad enough as it is. But, the unsaved world cannot please God. Now in verse 9, Paul is writing to the believers, and so there he says:

Romans 8:9

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (if not then he is God’s enemy). You’re not under the control of the Old Adam, but rather you’re in the Spirit, and of course here’s the delineating mark – does the Spirit of God dwell in you? Well, I think that makes it plain enough and, to a degree, James and Paul would agree in that area – that the unbelieving heart, following the desires of the flesh are nothing but enemies of God. Now back to James chapter 4 verse 5.

James 4:5

“Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” Now he’s not talking about the Holy Spirit – this is a small ‘s’ – and the human makeup is referred to as the human spirit. And so that’s what James is talking about – that the spirit that dwelleth in us, the human nature that we’re born with, “the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.”

Well, of course it does. Now let’s go back again to Romans chapter 7. I didn’t intend to do all this and I guess that’s why I trust the Lord to just give me the verses as we go along because I can work, and work, and work at home and it doesn’t fall together. But when I get up here, here it comes, and we see it all dovetail together.

Romans 7:7

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? (or sinful? Of course not.) God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: (the Mosaic Law) for I had not known lust, (he didn’t really understand that Old Adamic nature’s desire for lustful things. I had not known lust or that it was sinful) except the law (the Mosaic Law, one of the Ten Commandments) had said, (what?) Thou shalt not covet.’”

You cannot break one of the Ten Commandments with out coveting first. That’s always the triggering mechanism for breaking the Commandments is an attitude of coveting. And that’s why it is so preeminent in the life of the unbeliever as you’re seeing in these verses. What causes envying? Coveting. What causes adultery? Coveting. What causes stealing? Coveting. What causes gossip, false witness? Coveting. See, you can just go right down the line. All right, back to James chapter 4. Verse 5 again.

James 4:5-6

“Do ye think the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us (in other words, the Old Adam) lusteth to envy? 6. “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Well that’s all well and good, but that’s still not what Paul teaches for us. Now verse 7.

James 4:7

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Well, that’s appropriate up to a point. But you can’t do it in the flesh. The only way we can resist Satan is through the power of the Spirit that dwells within us. Do you see that? And James doesn’t mention that. See, this is all in the energy of the flesh. Now verse 8:

James 4:8a

“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you….” Let’s stop there a minute. How many of you know John’s Gospel chapter 3? What did Jesus say about the unbelieving individual? He never seeks God. But, let’s look at what Malachi says in the Old Testament. Go back to Malachi chapter 3 verse 7, and you’ll see this fits perfectly with what James is saying.

Malachi 3:7a

“Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them….” See, the Jews have always had these kinds of problems, as well as the rest of mankind. We’re not putting the finger on the Jews alone as being guilty but, as God’s covenant people, you would expect more from them. But they were just as guilty as the rest of the world.

Malachi 3:7b

“…Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts….” Well, you see the unto me was left on the backs of the Jewish people, that they were to make the first move and return to God. And if they would make a move to return to God, He, in turn, would (I guess you would say), meet them halfway. But now stop at John’s gospel a moment, chapter 3 starting at verse 19. Now here, I think, the Lord Himself, in His earthly ministry, is telling it like it really is.

John 3:19a

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world,.…” And of course, He was speaking of Himself. He was that light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world as we see in John 1:9. Now continuing the verse here.

John 3:19b-21

“…and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

So the point I want to make is that the unsaved person will never seek God. It’s just beyond him. God has to draw a person to Him, but James doesn’t express that. He tells them, “You put forth the effort, you draw nigh to God.”

James 4:8

“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

Okay, come back to Romans chapter 3 and again look at the vast difference in Paul’s language compared to what we have seen in James. Again, this not contradictory but rather a whole different scenario. Paul is speaking to the Body of Christ, and James is speaking to the believing element of the Nation of Israel. And the Nation of Israel and the Body of Christ are completely different – that’s the way God has separated them. For example, the believing element of the Nation of Israel had believed for their salvation that Jesus was the Son of God, (their Messiah); they had repented of their sins and had been baptized in water. (Matthew 16:16 and Acts 2:38) Whereas, Paul’s Gospel tells the Body of Christ that, for salvation, we must believe in our heart that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead. (I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10)

Romans chapter 3 verse 23, which I always call the first step on the road to salvation. We have to realize, first and foremost, that we’re sinners, and that we are undone, and that we have no reason for God to let us into His Heaven. None.

Romans 3:23-24

“For all have sinned, (every one of us. None of us have escaped the fall precipitated by Adam.) and come short of the glory of God; (now here it starts) Being justified freely (without any effort on our part) by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” See, you aren’t seeing James say anything like this.

Romans 3:25

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith (and faith is not works. Faith is simply trusting what God has said) in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” Now verse 26. My, the more I think about this verse, the more I love it.

Romans 3:26a

“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: (not mine, not yours, but rather His righteousness, and what does His righteousness bring about?) that he (God) might be (what?)just,…” What does that mean? Fair. Not cutting any corners. Not asking for bribes; only what is strictly fair and just.

Romans 3:26b

“…and the justifier of him which believeth.…” And in that justness he can justify the person that “tries to do better?” as James says? No. What person? The one who believes!!!

I was just sharing an analogy this morning with our guests from Colorado. Imagine you’re getting on a huge airliner (and Iris and I have been there). You finally find your seat and you sit down and buckle your seat belt. After about two minutes you unbuckle that seat belt, and you barrel all the way up front, find the pilot, and say, “Is this the plane that’s going to such and such a place?”

The pilot says, “Yes, you’re on the right plane, just go sit down and relax.” So you go back to your seat and buckle your seat belt and within five or ten minutes all of a sudden the sweat starts and you go back up to the front and ask again, “Are you sure I’m on the right plane? Is this really going where I want to go?” And again the pilot says, “Yes, just go and sit down and relax.”

Well, you see, that’s what people are constantly doing in the spiritual realm. They’re just trying to establish, am I on the right track? Am I really going to get into God’s Heaven? But you see, Paul makes it so concrete in I Corinthians 15:1-4, that when we trust what is called his Gospel, the Gospel that was given to him for us by the risen Lord, we can sit down and relax! And we don’t have to fret and fume.

Now that doesn’t mean we sit down and not work. Now don’t misunderstand me. We’re not saved to just sit and do nothing, but I’m talking about the assurance of salvation. Once we have trusted that finished work of the Cross, hey – that’s it! There’s nothing more you can do except believe it in your heart! Now that’s simple! But most of Christendom has taken the simple things and complicated it. Unfortunate, but true. You don’t try to do this, and try to do that. You rest in it. And then the Spirit as we saw in the first half-hour, will create in us that nature to do good works.

Back to James again – so the implication here in verse 8 to “Draw nigh to God” is just like He told Israel back in the Old Testament – “draw nigh to Me and then I’ll draw nigh to you.” But under Grace that’s not the situation. God has already extended salvation freely and all we have to do is believe it.

James 4:8b

“…Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; (it’s something that they had to do) and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” Now we’re purified by faith in this age of Grace!

James 4:9-10

“Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

Don’t lose sight of the fact that these men – James, Pete, and John – are writing to Jewish believers who had not believed for salvation Paul’s Gospel of Grace. Remember all these believers had only believed that Jesus was the Christ – their Messiah they had been waiting for. Now you go way back to Peter’s confession in Matthew 16. You remember what it was, when Peter declared, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” Period. You remember at the death of Lazarus, in John chapter 11, Jesus asked Martha, “Martha do you believe this?” And He had just made reference, of course, to His resurrection. And Martha’s answer was identical to Peter’s. And what’d she say? “Yes, Lord, I believe thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Period. Not a word about death, burial and resurrection. Not a word about the shed blood. They just simply believed that He was the Christ!

Well, take the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8 – the same identical words. He says, “Yes, I believe that Jesus was the Christ.” And even old Saul of Tarsus said that right up front, before he had even heard the Gospel of Grace (because it hadn’t been yet been revealed even to him). After he comes out of that Damascus road experience there in Acts chapter 9, he’s got his sight back, he’s been fed, he’s been baptized, all according to the Jewish program. And now he goes to the Synagogue of the Jew and what does he proclaim? “That Jesus was the Christ!” That’s all. But you see, then, God moved him out of Damascus to the backside of the desert and revealed these doctrines of Grace that you and I enjoy today.

But, James is still on that same premise. They are still under the Law, they’re all Jews congregating and, as I pointed out in our introductory programs, they were looking for the Tribulation horrors to be coming in short order. Everything was in view, and we’ll come to that probably sometime yet before the afternoon is over in chapter 5. They were all looking for the Second Coming, but they knew that, before Christ returned, they’d have to go through the seven years of Tribulation. So all of these epistles, James and Peter and John and Jude and Revelation, really, are all preparing these Jewish believers for the pressures and the sorrows and the Tribulation that was just coming in front of them.

Then, you remember, I said that was all interrupted and I’ll show how when we get over there – that was all interrupted and now we’ve come full circle, 2,000 years later – and everything, even though it changes, is still the same. We now have the same scenario. We’re going to have Jewish believers going into and through the horrors of the Tribulation and these little epistles will be their road map. This is what’s going to give them comfort. And we’ll see especially when we get into Peter’s epistles, it’s that constant reminder to them -“you’re going to suffer – you’re going to go through pressure – but don’t despair, God is with you.”

As you read these little Jewish epistles, remember that, at that time (here in the 50’s and 60’s AD, before the Temple is destroyed in 70 AD), they thought the Tribulation was right out in front of them and then would come the 1,000-year Kingdom that is prophesied. But God intervened (interrupted), opened up the timeline for 2,000 years for us in this Age of Grace; but now here we are almost in the same place. Israel is back in the land. The Roman Empire is reappearing there in Western Europe and when my next newsletter comes out, read it, because that’s going to be my main article – how that Western Europe is so rapidly becoming the power that will usurp the world as we go into the Tribulation period of time. But, remember, the Age of Grace, the Body of Christ, will not have to go through this terrible time!

James 4:11a

“Speak not evil one of another, (he’s talking to congregations of Jewish believers who had professed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ) brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the (what?) law, and judgeth the law:…” What’s he talking about? Well, the Mosaic Law and Judaism as they were practicing it. And so they were not to speak evil of the law and judgeth the Law.

James 4:11b

“…but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.” Which, of course, they were to be – doers of the Law. But, if instead of that, they’re going to be judges of the law, then they’re on what? Thin ice! Even for those Jewish believers at that time. They were still under the control of the Mosaic System.

637 - Les Feldick Bible Study - Lesson 1 Part 1 Book 54 - James Prepares His Flock

637: James Prepares His Flock – Lesson 1 Part 1 Book 54

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 54

James Prepares His Flock

James 3:7 – 5:20

Let’s get right back into the Book of James, chapter, 3 and we ended with verse 6 the last time we were together, so let’s just go back and take a run at verse 7 by starting with verse 6.

James 3:6

“And the tongue (the physical tongue) is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; it is set on fire of hell.” The tongue is pretty much the beginning of a lot of wickedness, and James is emphasizing that. All right, in the next verse he speaks of everything in nature.

James 3:7

“For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:” Now you know what that tells you? I was just thinking about that on the way up here to our taping. I suppose Iris wonders why I’m so quiet, but I’m thinking, thinking, thinking. You know, I just thought of a little cliché in light of this very verse and I think it may come out of the evolutionists – that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” And isn’t that true?

Here we think, that in our modern era, this is the first time that people have been able to tame the wild animals and do all the various things. No. They’ve done it from time immemorial. And so, even James could write that, even at that time already, men were training all of these wild animals for their various circus acts or whatever you want to call it. See, men have always needed to be entertained. That’s what the Coliseums were for, to keep people entertained. So everything is tamed. Now verse 8:

James 3:8

“But the tongue can no man tame; (no one can tame the tongue) it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Now again, I’d better stop right here and remind all of us that James is writing first and foremost, not exclusively, but first and foremost, to Jewish believers, who I feel had been scattered out of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem congregation, by virtue of Saul of Tarsus’ persecution, as we see in Acts chapter 1. I don’t think these are part and parcel of Paul’s congregations whatsoever. I think these are strictly Jews. In fact, remember the last program? It wasn’t the church where these Jewish believers were meeting, it was a Synagogue. And so there’s no Church language in the letters of James and Peter and John – not a word. I went through it all again last night to make sure I was on solid ground when I say this. You cannot find one word of Church or what we call Church – the Age of Grace – language. In other words, there’s no reference to the Body of Christ. There’s no reference to the working and the controlling of the Holy Spirit – as over against the keeping of the Law – and it’s ‘legal.’ It’s like we’re seeing here. It’s not that the Spirit is going to control us, but that they have to go by what James is telling them. So, as you read these little Jewish epistles, remember there is no Grace-Age language in here. You also won’t find the plan of salvation in these Jewish epistles.

Now, just like I said about Hebrews – you can’t go through the Book of Hebrews and find the plan of salvation like you do in Romans or I Corinthians, because it’s just not in there. Because, evidently, these little epistles were written before Paul’s revelations had even become known, and I think that’s the reason for it. But, don’t forget, it’s still Spirit inspired. Of course it is! It’s the Word of God. It’s Scripture. And we can take profit from it, but you don’t come back to these little epistles to find doctrine for us today. It’s merely, like I said the last taping, a lot like Proverbs. See, Proverbs just gives us a lot of tidbits of good things, well that’s exactly what James is doing.

So, he says, “The tongue is on fire from hell.” It’s something that mankind cannot contain. Now, then, we move on into verse 9:

James 3:9a

“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men,….” Now that doesn’t sound like Christian living to me. But here we have in one verse the tongue that is capable of blessing God; but on the other hand, cursing men. Now Paul would never teach something like that. That’s anathema to us as believers, but here was a problem that evidently was common amongst these Jewish congregations.

Remember, for their salvation, they had to believe that Jesus was the Christ, and they’re still under the Law of Moses. They know nothing of Paul’s Gospel of Grace, or of faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord for salvation. And so, consequently, there are some things in here that almost seem contradictory, but they’re not. They’re not contradictory if you realize the circumstances in which James is dealing or writing. So, he says this to these Jewish people, I think, primarily, in the area of what’s today Turkey – Asia Minor – rather small Jewish congregations, no doubt, and this is one of their problems. They weren’t controlling the tongue. On the one hand, they could bless God, but on the other hand, they could curse fellow men. He said, these men that you’re cursing are just as much created after the likeness of God as anybody else.

Well, what’s he referring to? Genesis 1:26 where God said, “Let us make man in our image.” And that’s what James is alluding to – that even these people that they were bad-mouthing – they’re God’s creatures just as well as you are. And I think this is what we have to realize in light of our global situation today; regardless of who these people are, regardless of the religion they may be practicing, they’re still God’s created beings. And you see, that’s where we, in the Christian community, have a higher regard for life because we realize that mankind is the crowning act of creation. And that’s why mankind is in a special role in God’s eyes. Whether they’re lost or saved, in that regard, makes no difference, they’re still created beings from the Creator Himself. And so this is what James is alluding to.

James 3:9b

“…which are made after the similitude of God.” Whether you curse men, remember, they are still made after the similitude of God. Now verse 10.

James 3:10

“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” These people who were blessing God, but on the same hand, could proceed blessing and cursing, these things ought not to be. Granted – any of us know that much, that something’s wrong if you can curse and bless out of the same mouth. All right, read on in verse 11. Here he’s using a comparison from the physical world.

James 3:11-12

“Doth a fountain (a water fountain) send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (out of the same fountain? Impossible.) 12. Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” It’s impossible. So now the analogy he’s drawing is this – it’s just as ridiculous to try to bless God out of one side of your mouth and curse fellow man on the other.

James 3:13

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his (what?) works with meekness of wisdom.” Now you see, James is a legalist. And he’s going to come back to this idea of good works over and over and over. And it’s almost like a man’s attempt to please God – whereas Paul will just simply say that it’s not of works.

We’d better keep comparing. All right, let’s go back to Ephesians because that’s when you can see it most graphically. Ephesians chapter 2 and drop down to verses 8 through 10 – these are all verses I imagine most of you know from memory. And I just want you to see the comparison. Now it’s not a contradiction. It isn’t like people say, “Well the Bible is just a whole set of contradictions.” No. It’s two sets of circumstances. James is writing from a totally different perspective than Paul is. James knows nothing of the Grace Age, and so it’s not contradictory. You just have to separate it. Look what Paul says here in Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:8

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Salvation is not something you earn, it’s something you take as a free gift. Now verse 9:

Ephesians 2:9-10a

“Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10. For we (now as believers) are his (God’s) workmanship,.…” God works a work in us that literally makes us, now, what we are to be as believers – whereas James almost leaves it in the ability of the individual. So verse 10 again:

Ephesians 2:10

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works. That ‘created’ did not happen until we were saved and enjoyed salvation – then God works a work in us that brings us, as a result of our salvation experience, to practice the good works, “…which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” And over and over throughout Paul’s writings you have that connotation – that works are a result of our salvation and not a part of it. Okay, back to James once again. Verse 13:

James 3:13

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation (or manner of living, a lifestyle) his works with meekness of wisdom.” Now maybe I’m getting overly picky, but I don’t think so. Do you see any reference here to the work of the Holy Spirit? He doesn’t say “Let the Holy Spirit accomplish this in you.” See, now Paul would say that.

Let me show you what I mean by comparison. Turn to Galatians chapter 5 verses 16 through 18, and we’ll probably use it again before we get out of James because this is just a whole different perspective than what James was talking about. Now remember what James just said. “Let him show out of a good manner of life, his works, with meekness of wisdom.” Not a word about the Spirit. Now look what Paul says here in Galatians.

Galatians 5:16-18

“This I say then, walk in the Spirit, (Holy Spirit. It’s capital ‘S’) and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17. For the flesh (that old sin nature) lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Now, James doesn’t use language like that. See the difference? But now Paul says, “If you’re led of the Spirit, you’re not under the Law, because the work of the Spirit has taken the place of the Law.” And then he shows the vast differences between the life of the flesh and the life of the Spirit in these verses. Well, we’ll probably be coming back to it yet a little later today, so we’ll come back to James. But I just like to show these comparisons. What a vast difference in the language in James, the legalist writing to legalistic Jewish congregations, compared to Paul, writing to us in this Age of Grace!

James 3:14

“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” I think the truth he’s really referring to here is how to live a godly life under the Law. The Law gave them all the instructions they needed to avoid these pitfalls.

James 3:15

“This wisdom (that is of bitter envying and strife) descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” See? This wisdom is fleshly, it’s sensual – it feeds on the natural part of man and it’s devilish.

James 3:16

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Isn’t it amazing how sin breeds sin. Families in the world, with all of their alcoholism and their immorality – well, what is the next generation? At least that much or more. And that’s the process – sin breeds more sin. And that’s what the Scripture is saying. Envying and strife will bring confusion and every evil work. Now verse 17, and we see the flipside.

James 3:17a

“But the wisdom that is from above.…” Now James doesn’t say, “The wisdom that comes from the leading of the Spirit” – he merely is showing that God is still in His place of power and influence. But, it’s in a whole different set of circumstances than what Paul gives us in this Age of Grace and the working of the Holy Spirit.

James 3:17

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” Well, that’s the two opposites. Either envying, strife, hatred and sensuality; or it can be peace, gentleness, mercy and good works.

James 3:18

“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

You want to remember – back when we were earlier in the book of James, I think it was, that he spoke of “religion.” And of course, that’s what his adherents were steeped in. They were steeped in the religion of Judaism and all these things, and he hasn’t departed from that. And, therefore, you see none of the language of this Age of Grace. All right, let’s just move on into chapter 4. The language doesn’t change much.

James 4:1-2a

“From whence come wars and fighting among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2. Ye lust,.…” Doesn’t sound very nice, does it? That’s the life of the person still under the Law. He can’t have victory because he’s not controlled by the Holy Spirit. He’s still trying to do all these good things in the energy of the flesh. So it’s a warfare in the members.

Now let’s go back again to Paul’s letters – let’s go back to Romans chapter 7 and see how Paul treats this very set of circumstances. The same set of circumstances, only Paul’s going to deal with it in a totally different way. Remember, now, James says “that these things are coming from the desires of the old nature that are warring in your members,” – and then verse 2 in James he goes on to remind them that they “lust or they covet.” All right, now then, Romans chapter 7 verses 21 through 24. Paul is now writing to us Gentiles under this Age of Grace:

Romans 7:21-22

“I find then a law, (not the Ten, but a fact of life) that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:” In other words, he knew that the Mosaic Law was perfect. Now verse 23.

Romans 7:23a

“But (here’s the verse I came here for) I see another law in my members, (and what’s the word?) warring.…” Just exactly what it means. Conflict. And where there’s conflict, there’s no peace. So here he is in conflict, the old nature trying to keep the Mosaic Law – but on the other hand, he had this law of the Spirit that is attempting to bring him into a life of peace.

Romans 7:23b-24a

“…against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24. O wretched man that I am!….” Oh, he said, “Wretched man that I am.”All right, now we’re going to go back to those verses we just saw in Galatians, and I told you I’d be back in a minute and here we are. Back to Galatians chapter 5, and now we’ve got the same picture. And here I guess is where I picked up the term ‘war’ here in this verse in Romans. For years and years I often wondered where I got it because the word in Galatians is lusteth. But I’ve always, for some reason or other, used the term ‘war,’ and I know it’s because it’s out of Romans 7.

Galatians 5:17

“For the flesh (the Old Adam, the old sin nature) lusteth (warreth) against the Spirit, (the new nature under the control of the Spirit) and the Spirit (warreth) against the flesh: (the Old Adam.) and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” In other words, you can’t just drift. It’s warfare. And warfare takes an expending of energy. And so it’s a daily fight to maintain the directing power of the Holy Spirit as over against the Old Adam. And then again, let me read what we just read a few moments ago in verse 18.

Galatians 5:18

“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” The Law has been crucified. It’s dead. It is no longer a controlling fact in our lives. The Spirit takes over. And then he shows in these following verses all of the things that pertain to the lusts of the flesh. And if anybody ever asks you, “How am I to judge the lifestyle of people?” Line them up with the Scripture. In fact, we again just talked about that the other night in one of my classes. When you go down the fruit and vegetable aisle in your supermarket, do you just grab the first head of lettuce that comes and say, “Well, I can’t judge?” Of course not. You go through that bin and pick out the very best, and if there were some bad ones, you’d leave them. That’s not judging, that’s just being discerning.

Well, you do the same thing with ungodly people. If they’re out there living in immorality and if they’re living in drunkenness and if they’re living in lasciviousness and all the things that are mentioned here – then you have every right in the world to discern – they’re not living godly lives. They’re living the flesh. All right, now you’ve come all the way through that horrible list of activities that is part and parcel of the ungodly person. They can’t be a believer and live like this. And then you come down to verse 22 and you see the discerning of the believer.

Now when you see a person who can practice these things and you see the fruit of it, then you have every right in the world, just by simple discernment. Now I grant you, you can’t judge who’s saved and lost. That goes beyond the human element. But, when you see a person’s lifestyle, you can pretty much line him up with the Scripture and determine what kind of a person he is. Now verse 22 of Galatians 5. And here’s the flipside again.

Galatians 5:22

“But the fruit of the Spirit (The result of the Holy Spirit coming into the life of a believer) is love, …” Look the opposite of love up in verse 21. “Envy.” Love and envy are as opposite as you can get.

Galatians 5:22b

“…joy, peace…” Well, there’s no peace in those actions in verses 19, 20 and 21. It’s anything but peace.

Galatians 5:22c-23

“…longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (trusting God and His Word). 23. Meekness. temperance: against such there is no law.” You can’t find any of that in verses 18, 19 and 20. It’s just two totally difference lifestyles. And then people say that you can’t judge? Well you’d better, or you don’t know the Word of God. And it’s up to us as believers to, if someone is living in that wicked lifestyle, show them the Book! You don’t have to say it in your own language, just show them the Word. “Hey, this is what you’re doing and this is going to be your end.” What does the last part of verse 21 say?

Galatians 5:21b

“…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

That’s what the Book says – not what Les Feldick says. So always be prepared to use the Scriptures. Let the Word of God speak for itself.

636 - Les Feldick Bible Study - Lesson 3 Part 4 Book 53 - James 1:24 - 3:6 - Part 2

636: James 1:24 – 3:6 – Part 2 – Lesson 3 Part 4 Book 53

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 53

James 1:24 – 3:6 – Part 2

And again, I always like to thank all of you in the studio audience for coming in and making all this possible, because Iris and I always have to say, “What would we do if we came up someday and nobody was here?” Well, we would turn around and go back home because people are used to seeing you here. For those of you out in our television audience, if you want to copy any of our material, you feel free to do so, provided you don’t try to make a profit from it. We know that time is short and we feel that it’s imperative that we get the Word of God out.

All right now let’s get back again in the book of James and we’ll keep moving on, little by little. We’ve been showing in the previous three programs that the best way to understand these little Jewish epistles is to compare them back with what Paul writes to us here in the Age of Grace, because all these little Jewish epistles are first and foremost written to Jews out in the dispersion – and as we pointed out in the first half-hour today most of these congregations were probably in what is today the land of Turkey (and there were others, of course, but predominately in Galatia and Asia Minor and so forth).

And so, under the Law, James is not saying anything much different than what Jesus and the Twelve taught in the earthly ministry. And I’ve already had some people during break time today realizing that. There’s not that much difference between the Four Gospels and what you have back with James, Peter and John, and Jude, because they know nothing of Paul’s Gospel of Grace.

Now Peter, of course (by the time he gets to his second epistle, which was probably written several years after I Peter), now realizes there is something different in the works, and we use those verses often – II Peter chapter 3, verses 15 and 16 – where he says that the whole idea of Scripture is salvation, and that if they want salvation they have to go to the epistles of Paul because of the wisdom that had been given to him.

Well, that makes all the difference in the world – but back here in these earliest ones (James and I Peter), there is still no comprehension evidently of Paul’s doctrines of grace, or a Gospel of salvation based on the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah, the Christ.

All right, so back to James chapter 2 where we left off. We’re in verse 18. And James is dealing with this whole concept of faith plus works and we’re showing the comparison wherePaul says, “It’s faith plus nothing for salvation.” And then, as we pointed out in our last program, when we become a believer, the work concept enters in almost automatically by the power of the Holy Spirit. But back here James is still demanding that if you’re going to have faith, you have to show it with works.

James 2:18

“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.’”

Now we made the analogy in the previous program, of a Jew out there in the tabernacle enclaves – and if a person out on the outer perimeter would say, “I believe the Law, I know I’ve sinned, but I’m not going to take that lamb clear up to the tabernacle.” Well, he had all the faith in the world, but was he accepted? No, because he didn’t do the works that the Law demanded.

And then I gave you the opposite example: what if a man says, “Well my neighbor took a lamb up there, my neighbor got right with God, so I guess that’s what I’d better do.” So he grabs a lamb and he goes through all the process, but it’s without faith. He did it because he saw his neighbor do it – so is he accepted? No. And so it had to be the combination of a heart-faith, followed with the work that the Law demanded and that, of course, is where James is coming from. Now verse 20.

James 2:20

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” Well, under the Law it would be. But for us under Grace, faith is precipitating the work of the Holy Spirit and that’s where the difference comes in. All right, now verse 21. Here, James is going to come up with some valid arguments, and this is where people today get all confused. He’s going to use Abraham – but so does Paul:

James 2:21

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?”

Now let’s stop and think a minute. Was it at that time in Abraham’s life that he became a man of faith and a believer? At Isaac’s offering? Why heavens no – he’s been a believer for years. That came long after the fact, so that’s really no valid proof. But now we can go back to Romans chapter 4 and pick up Abraham’s faith, so far as saving faith is concerned, and when did it become a reality? When God spoke to him way back in Ur of the Chaldees. And he doesn’t have Isaac until years later. All right, Romans chapter 4, and this is, again, for sake of comparison. James is using the offering of Isaac as a works that was proving Abraham’s faith. Paul on the other hand is showing us that Abraham’s faith was intact before any works. Romans 4 verse 1.

Romans 4:1

“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?” In other words, Paul never made any excuse of the fact that he was a Jew’s Jew, Pharisee of the Pharisees. So, Abraham was the father in the flesh. All right now verse 2.

Romans 4:2-3a

“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; (brag) but not before God. 3. For what saith the scripture?…”

Now you remember we talked about Scripture in our first program this afternoon. Every word of this Book “…inspired by the Holy Spirit, holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Spirit.”

So, Genesis 1 to the last verse of Revelation is Scripture, it’s the Word of God. Now there may be places that seem contradictory, but they’re not contradictory; it’s just a change of modus operandi. God is dealing differently today under Grace than He did with Israel under the Law. It’s not a contradiction. And so we have to sift it out, as we’re doing with the difference between James written under the Law, and Paul’s writings of pure Grace.

All right, but here we find Abraham as the epitome of God’s saving someone by faith and faith alone, because that’s why Paul uses Abraham then as an example for us, even in this Age of Grace. Verse 3 again.

Romans 4:3

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, (and offered up his son Isaac? No, it doesn’t say that. Abraham believed God – period!) and it (his believing) was counted unto him for righteousness.” How much did Abraham do to become a believer? Believed it! God spoke it, Abraham believed it! And, oh, my goodness, that brings to mind another verse here in Romans. Let’s come back a little further in Romans, back to chapter 1. Romans chapter 1 verse 16. A verse that we use over and over and over. Most of you should just know it from memory. This is where Paul writes again to the Gentile believers, and says:

Romans 1:16a

“For I am not ashamed of (not ‘a gospel’ but rather) the gospel of Christ: for it (just like Abraham in chapter 4, that act of faith) is the power of God unto salvation to every one that(what?) believeth;…” Plus how much? Nothing! Believing it. But does that mean that someone makes a profession of faith, and is going to go on living like they always lived before? No way. When someone makes a profession of faith, they’d better be ready for the fact that God is going to work a change in their lifestyle.

And they are going to begin to work out that salvation that has begun with their faith. And so, yes, to that degree, we can agree with James – a believer that does not respond to his faith with acts accordingly. But it is not a mandated thing for salvation. Salvation is going to come by itself and it’s going to stand on faith and faith alone – but with the understanding that a changed life is going to follow. The believer is going to have a hunger for the Word. A believer is going to be only too anxious to share his faith. But, it’s not a mandatory thing for salvation. Now let’s turn to Romans chapter 3 and look at verses 24 through 26.

Romans 3:24-25a

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption (the process of buying us back) that is in Christ Jesus: 25. Whom (speaking of Christ) God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,…” Now again the Word has declared that it’s the blood that has made payment for our sin. Now continuing the verse.

Romans 3:25b-26

“…to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (now here’s the verse) 26. To declare, I say, at this time (that is on this side of the death, burial and resurrection now) his righteousness: (God never compromised His holiness and His righteousness when He set up the plan of salvation) that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Not the one who believes plus something else. And so the moment God sees that sinner confess his sin and cry out for salvation, God declares him just, by simply believing in that finished work of the cross. Well, we could go on, but we won’t take any more time. We’ve got to make a little headway in James, so now verse 22 of James chapter 2. Here we find James enlarging on his argument – and well he may – because James doesn’t understand Paul’s doctrine of grace as yet. James is still the legalist.

James 2:22

“Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works (or his works) was faith made perfect?” (or complete). I mean James just can’t get it out of his craw. That’s all there is to it. If you haven’t got works, you must not have faith, and you cannot have saving faith unless you’ve got the works. My, that flies in the face of what I teach. When we maintain that as soon as we’re condemned by the Law, and we know that we’re a lost sinner, we gain salvation by faith and faith alone in what Christ has already done. It’s finished.

You know, I told someone the other day, we’ve got a lot of kids watching our program; you’d be surprised. Most people think that since most of us are gray-headed, then my audience is also. Don’t you kid yourself, we’ve got a lot of 8, 10, 12, 14-year old kids watching. Well, one of them approached me one time at one of my seminars and he said, “Les, you’re always talking about the finished work of the cross.” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Well, it really wasn’t finished when Christ died, it wasn’t finished until He rose from the dead.” Boy, now that’s smart thinking isn’t it? Sure it is. These kids aren’t that dumb. I said, “You’re right!” But yet so far as the payment for sin and the suffering and all that, Jesus could say from the cross, It is finished.” But yet, you’re right – in order to bring it all to fruition, He had to be raised from the dead. And that of course, put the frosting on the cake.

So yeah, I get a kick out of these kids. Iris and I got a letter from a couple of kids just the other day, one twelve and one fourteen – so don’t cross them off. Don’t think that old Les is going clear over their heads. No we’re not. All right, back to James, and verse 23.

James 2:23

“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” So James is still coming back – and remember it’s Holy Spirit inspired – we’re not going to take anything away from that, because he’s approaching these Jews that are still under the Law and so everything for them has to fit, like it has to fit for us under grace. And so he’s still on that legalistic bent that Abraham had to have works to prove his faith.

James 2:24

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

Now, I have sometimes put forth an argument. I don’t know how valid it is, but at least it helps me a little bit – that this whole business of faith and works is looking at it first from God’s point of view. Did God have to see Abraham perform some work in order to see his faith? No. God sees the heart! But, for mankind to see the evidence of faith, what do we need? We need to see works. We can’t look on the heart. We can’t tell if a person is a believer or not, only God can do that. And so what we have to go by is, if this man professes to be saved and he follows that salvation with (as I think will come automatically) some kind of works, then the two are tied together.

And this is what James’ argument is, if a man doesn’t have works then he must not have faith. Well, anyway, let’s move on to verse 25. Now he’s going to use some examples from the Old Testament. And I can use them, too, to prove the other side.

James 2:25

“Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” Now that’s James’ way of looking at it – that Rahab proved her faith by putting her own life on the line in hiding the spies. But I’m going to take you back to where James is taking you. Let’s go back to Joshua chapter 2 verse 9. And you know the story, how the Jewish spies have come into the home of Rahab the harlot, up on the wall around Jericho. Now remember, the citizens of Jericho were pagan idolaters. They knew nothing of Israel’s God, but look what she says:

Joshua 2:9-11

“And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10. For we (the people of Jericho) have (what?) heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did to the two Kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side of Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

They had heard all that. Well now, most of Jericho could care less about what they had heard, but what did it do to this gal? It prompted her to put her faith in the God of Israel. Not a word yet about her works. And so we can look at it that her salvation began the moment she believed in the God of Israel, on the basis of what she had heard. And then, of course, her works and her preparing the way for the Nation of Israel followed. But, you can follow this all the way up through Scripture how that faith opens the door to a life of works. And we will never deny that. Now coming back to James, and he’s going to make another analogy in verse 26.

James 2:26

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” In other words, he’s not talking about the Holy Spirit, he’s talking about the living part of a human being – that just as soon as a person dies and the soul and spirit leave, that person is dead. He can accomplish nothing. Well, he says, it’s the same way if you’re going to tell me that you can have faith and not works. Well remember, now, just the analogy that James is looking at works under the Law and it’s valid for these Jewish believers, but it is not the same as we under Grace can operate. All right, chapter 3.

James 3:1a

“My brethren,…” So again we understand that James is talking to fellow Jewish believers. They had believed the Gospel of the Kingdom as I pointed out in the last program; they had the same profession of faith that Peter did. “Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God.” Period. So he says:

James 3:1-2

“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, (or a mature man) and able also to bridle the whole body.” Now you know what he’s building up to, don’t you? The tongue! That’s what he’s going to deal with next.

James 3:3-4a

“Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm,…” Which, of course, is going to control the rudder, and the rudder is a small part of a ship. But that small little rudder can cause that ship to turn. The bit in the horses mouth can cause that horse to turn. This is his argument.

James 3:5

“Even so (we’re talking about the same thing – one little part of our physical body of flesh that has tremendous power) the tongue is a little member, (not much compared to the whole)and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”

You know what he’s talking about? Gossip. Oh you can ruin a life of integrity and honesty and uprightness with just a little bitty fire of gossip that just explodes. Now the politicians are getting great with what they call ‘spin.’ And what do they know? That if you can bring an accusation against someone, especially a good person (that’s the ones they usually pick on), the media just simply blares it out over the whole nation. And maybe three, four weeks later, we find out there wasn’t one word of truth to it. Does it heal all the damage? No. The damage is done. A life is ruined. And we see it over and over. All right, James is dealing with the same thing, and so here again, we can take a good lesson from this. We have to be careful that we don’t destroy a life with our tongue.

James 3:6

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” Now we’re speaking of a tongue that is being used deceitfully and in order to bring reproach upon someone. False accusations. Don’t misunderstand what he’s driving at, and where does it have its beginning? In hell itself.

And all you have to do is just stop and think – how much damage is done throughout the whole human experience by wicked tongues. It’s beyond our comprehension. And so the admonition here is that, for us even as believers in this Age of Grace, it’s still a danger; that we can bring reproach upon someone by passing on a false tidbit of something that has no truth. But the damage will be done.

635 - Les Feldick Bible Study - Lesson 3 Part 3 Book 53 - James 1:24 - 3:6

635: James 1:24 – 3:6 – Lesson 3 Part 3 Book 53

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 53

James 1:24 – 3:6

Let’s get into our study of James, and in the last program we were down to verse 9 of chapter 2. And remember that James is writing the legalistic point of view of law-keeping.And as we pointed out in the last program, not a word yet about being led of the Holy Spirit, but in his little epistle it’s only “know the Law and keep it, for these Jewish believers”All right now it just continues on, verse 9.

James 2:9a

“But if ye have respect to persons,…” In other words, he said earlier in the chapter, if you’re going to put the rich man in a place of preeminence and you’re going to put the poor downtrodden man over here, then you’re guilty of bad religion.

James 2:9b-10

“…ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law (the Ten) as transgressors. 10. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Well, you see the Lord said the same thing. And the Law got meticulous to the place that even if you lusted in your thoughts, the Lord Himself said, “that when you lust in your thoughts you’re breaking the commandment of ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery!’” And so the Law, as I’ve said over and over through the years, was severe. The Law was demanding. All right, getting back to the text. If you break one, you’re guilty of breaking them all.

James 2:11

“For he that (is the Law) said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” Not just part of it, all of it. My what a horrible state to be under, see? All right, now then verse 12.

James 2:12

“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.”

Now I pointed this out in our seminar the other night at Oklahoma City, in Romans chapter 2, again for the sake of comparison between James’ and Paul’s writings, and it’s not a contradiction. One is just as much the truth as the other, but one is more applicable to us than the other because it’s addressed to us in the Grace Age, the Church Age.

I told my group the other night, I wonder how many church members across America even know that this verse is in their Bible. Not many. Because if they did, they would look at Paul in a little different light instead of scornfully putting him down, ignoring him and having nothing to do with his epistles. But they’d better wake up because this is how this Age is going to judged. Not according to the Law of liberty, but according to this Scripture right here.

Romans 2:16

“In the day (Paul writes) when God (the Sovereign, Holy, Righteous God) shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, (He’s going to be the judge remember at the Great White Throne where all the lost will be gathered – and he will judge them) according to my gospel.” So the lost that have lived on this side of the cross, won’t be judged by the Law or religion. Every man woman and child that has lived on this side of this Age of Grace is going to be judged by Paul’s Gospel. Now you all know what Paul’s Gospel is, don’t you? But I’m sure there are some out there in television that probably don’t. And we’re going to look at it so that there can be no mistake. Paul’s Gospel of Salvation was given to him by the resurrected Lord, and is found in I Corinthians chapter 15, verses 1 through 4. It’s been a while since we’ve put it on the air. I guess it’s about time we did it again. I wasn’t intending to use this, this afternoon, but we just go as the Spirit leads. Here’s Paul’s Gospel, and this is the Gospel by which mankind is now going to be judged. Verse 1.

I Corinthians 15:1

“Moreover, brethren. (now remember Paul is writing to believers) I declare unto you (not a gospel, but) the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received. and wherein ye stand;” These Corinthians had already believed the truth of his Gospel. Now don’t forget, what were these Corinthians maybe a few months or years back? Pagans, idolaters, worshippers of the mythological gods and goddesses. But now, because they had believed Paul’s Gospel, Paul could call them brethren. All right, verse 2.

I Corinthians 15:2

“By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” He says, “It’s by this Gospel that you’re saved, if you keep in memory.” In other words, if you know what it is, and you’ve believed it.

I Corinthians 15:3a

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received,…” In other words, they had never heard it from anybody else. Paul alone was the apostle of the Gentiles. (Romans 11:13) Peter, James and John haven’t been to Corinth. Paul alone comes into this pagan city. And this is what he presented to them for salvation.

I Corinthians 15:3b-4

“…how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” Now folks, that’s Paul’s Gospel (that we must believe in our hearts for salvation) in this Age of Grace. It’s plain and simple. And that’s what you have to share with people around you.

You know, for those of you out in our television audience, I shared something with the studio class just before we started this afternoon. A lady out in Montana (and she’s going to be thrilled that I’m sharing it with my nationwide audience) had a young man come to her door selling ice cream – and while she was looking at the order list, I just happened to come on television. You know, that’s what the Scripture says about Ruth landing on the field of Boaz, “she happened.” Hey, with God nothing just “happens.” It’s what? Predetermined appointment with destiny.

So this young man who wasn’t even her routine driver came to the door and she brought him in and I had just come on. She catches us on Sky Angel. And she said, “Les, he was glued to that TV.” And so she said, “I noticed it and I just kept looking at his order book for the whole half-hour program. He did interrupt your teaching once by saying, “Who is this guy anyway?” She said, “Oh, that’s just a cattle rancher down in Oklahoma.” But by the time the half-hour was over I could tell that the Lord was dealing with him and as we were walking to the front door, the young man said, “I’ve always been scared to death of religion.” He said, “I won’t go with my wife to church because it scares me to death.” But he said, “This guy doesn’t scare me.” And so she said, “Well wouldn’t you like to have the joy and the salvation that he’s been talking about?” And he says, “Yeah.” And Les, she said, “I led him to the Lord right there in my front door! And sent him on his way rejoicing.”

Well you see, she knew Paul’s Gospel, and you and I have opportunity after opportunity to just simply share this simple fact that Christ died for our sins – He paid the price. And He was literally dead. He was buried for three days and three nights to prove it. And then, through the power of the Sovereign Almighty God, He was raised from the dead, victorious.

And then Paul goes on in this same chapter to teach that, because of His resurrection now, we also can have new life. Well, that’s Paul’s Gospel and that’s the message that every human being is going to be judged on in this Age of Grace. Not whether they kept the Law. Not if they’ve been good, but rather, have they believed Paul’s Gospel?

Let’s come back to James. And so the comparison is, James is still telling his Jewish people here, they’re going to be judged by the Law of liberty. Oh, those early Jewish believers before Paul are going to be in glory, because they believed what was presented to them by Peter, the apostle of the Jews (Gal. 2:8-9) about 10 years before Paul’s Gospel came on the scene. At that time, those early Jewish believers had to believe that Jesus was their promised Messiah, the Son of God. They also had the works requirement of repentance and water baptism. (Acts 2:38) I trust you never try to mix them together, because they won’t mix. Law and Grace simply cannot mix. Too many try to add things to Paul’s Gospel that God did not put in there! Now can you see that beautiful difference between Law and Grace? Now verse 13 in James chapter 2.

James 2:13

“For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” That’s not very nice language is it? But you see, we trumpet the Grace of God. God is saving sinners for no other reason than the fact that He loved them and He gave Himself for them.

All right, now here we come to the big area of James that causes so many questions. And it shouldn’t, if you understand where James is coming from. He’s a legalist. He is still a practitioner of Judaism but he has recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises, and so he was part and parcel of those Jewish believers that Saul of Tarsus hated so. And persecuted – but he, as yet, knows nothing of Paul’s Gospel of Grace. If he did, it would be in here, but it’s not in here. Now verse 14.

James 2:14

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

Now, when you’re under a legalistic system, the answer would have to be what? No. Do you remember way back in Exodus, I made the point about when Israel was encamped around that tabernacle – now build a picture in your mind. The Twelve Tribes, four on every side of the tabernacle. Now with those several million Jews, that put some of them in the outer perimeters of the camp quite a ways away from the altar, didn’t it? And those of you who’ve been with me now, all these years, you remember I drew the analogy, what if one of those Jews way out there on the corner of the camp had broken the Law and he rummaged up a lamb, or brought one of his own, and he took the lamb all the way up to the tabernacle andpresented it to the priest as a burnt offering for his sin. Well, he came back to his tent justified because he had done what God had said to do.

And don’t ever forget, what does the Book of Hebrews say? “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission…” So this first Jew does it all – ‘A-okay.’ He recognized his sin. He did what the Law demanded. Took it up to the priest and his case was settled.

All right, so a couple of days later his neighbor does pretty much the same thing and he suddenly is driven with guilt for having broken the Law, but he stops to think what his neighbor did. And so he rationalized it and he said, “Now wait a minute. I know I’ve sinned. I don’t have to take that lamb all the way up to that altar like my neighbor did. God knows my heart. He knows I’m guilty. I’m confessing my sin, but I’m not going to take a lamb.” Now you remember way back then, what was my question? Was that man made right with God? No. No. Because he didn’t follow God’s instructions in doing what the Law said.

And so you always have to look at the big picture. And James is coming from that same point of view. How can a man under the Law possibly be right with God if he doesn’t fulfill the works that the Law demanded? I mean all of it!!

Okay, I can go one step further with that same analogy. Let’s say the third neighbor commits a sin on the outer perimeters. And he knows what the other two have done. But now he rationalizes and he says, well since my neighbor took a lamb up there I guess that’s what I’d better do. So he negotiates for a lamb and he takes the lamb up there, not because he’s convicted in his heart. Not because he is a man of faith, but he’s doing what his neighbor did. Was that man justified? No. No, because he didn’t do it by faith. He did it because his neighbor did it. Now am I making myself plain? Under the Law you did it all right or it was worth nothing and so you either did everything that was prescribed or they had no forgiveness.

All right, now James is making that same analogy and that’s where he’s right on for James.

James 2:14a

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?…” Just like the fellow that wouldn’t bring the lamb. Oh he knew that he was wrong, and he knew that God had to make restitution, or had to forgive him, but he wasn’t going to do the works that would be required, so could that man have forgiveness? No. Of course not, all right read on. Verse 15.

James 2:15-16

“If a brother or sister be naked, (or in need of clothing) and destitute of daily food, 16. And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled; (with my goodness, my attitude, my compassion) notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” Nothing! Doesn’t do any good to tell anybody how badly you feel for them, how sorry you are for them, and send them out into the cold without a coat. So what is James teaching? Common sense. Now you bring it into our own scenario as believers today – it’s the same thing. If you have a neighbor who has a need and you’re in a position to fill that need, what are you to do? Give him what he needs. I think we all realize that. And we don’t just simply say, “Well, I’ll pray for you and I hope God gives it to you.” No that’s not sufficient. All right, so here’s where you can make some application, that it’s the same scenario, even though we’re under grace, yet if there’s a neighbor who is in need and we have the wherewithal to help fill that need and we don’t do it, then we’re going to be held accountable. And so we’re to do it. We’re to do good works for all the right reasons, even in this Age of Grace. Now verse 17.

James 2:17

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Well, we can agree with that up to a point. But now I’m going to bring you back to Ephesians chapter 2 where Paul, I think, gives us our Grace Age answer to such a scenario. And let’s just start with verse 4. Now here’s the Pauline concept as over against James. James just simply says, “If I don’t see works, then you don’t have faith.” Paul says, “If you have faith, you’re going to have works.” We don’t have to worry about it. They’re going to come as naturally as sunshine follows the dark.

Ephesians 2:4-5

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together (or made us alive) with Christ. (by grace ye are saved;)” In other words, God has accomplished it of His own volition, when He sees our faith, of course. Now verse 6.

Ephesians 2:6-7

“And he hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places (or the heavenlies) in Christ Jesus: 7. That in the ages to come (for all eternity) he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Kindness and love and mercy and Grace – they all mean the same thing, see? Now verse 8:

Ephesians 2:8a

“For by grace (by God’s unmerited favor) are ye saved through faith;…” Not works. Faith! By believing it. No questions asked. Trusting it. All right, but God doesn’t stop there. The moment He saves us, God enters into our being whether we realize it or not, and He’s not going to slap you down. He’s not going to put you on an operating table. He’s not going to put you under some water. God, by His invisible powerful way of doing things, is going to enter into your life and your life is going to be changed without your having to really lift a finger. Why? Reading the verse again.

Ephesians 2:8-9

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: (because) it is the gift of God:” (you don’t work for it, it’s unmerited favor) 9. Not of works, (you don’t go visit the fatherless, and the widows to gain salvation) lest any man should boast.”

Now here’s the verse I was heading for. Takes me a while to get there, doesn’t it? Verse 10. For once we are saved, once we have entered in by our faith in Paul’s Gospel (that Christ died, was buried and rose from the dead), we’ve entered in by faith then:

Ephesians 2:10a

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,… “ Whose workmanship? God’s! God moves in and He works a work in our heart and life without our lifting a finger, so we are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,…”

Now I always have to emphasize that word ‘create.’ Who alone can create? God. So the moment God sees our saving faith, He begins to create in us that wherewithal to do what? Do the good works. And the believer is going to do good works. Now that doesn’t mean you all have to be missionaries. It doesn’t mean you all have to be Sunday School teachers, or deacons, or preachers or any of those things. No, no, no.

Our good works can be manifested thousands of ways and the Lord will direct you. You know, I’ll never forget a lady I had in my class up in Iowa. Oh, she was bemoaning, one night, that she had no gifts and she couldn’t do anything for the Lord. Good heavens, every Saturday night she had 50 college-age and high school kids in her living room waiting for me to teach. And I said, “You think you can’t do anything?” That was her gift. The kids just worshipped the ground she walked on. But, they sat there and they just soaked up the Word of God because of her. And it’s the same way with any one of you, you can practice a gift and the Lord will work in you without your even realizing it.

All right, so, “We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” There’s not a command here that says, “Get out and visit the fatherless and the widows, like James did.” Paul was telling us that when we become a true believer, and the Holy Spirit begins to work the work in our lives, you’re going to do good works. Now, some more than others, of course. But listen that’s the way it is. All right reading on, finish the verse:

Ephesians 2:10b

“…which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” In other words, He set the stage that we could walk a walk of good works because of what God has done for us. Not because of what we do for Him. It’s because of the out-working of what He has done for us.

Come back to James and let’s read verse 17 again:

James 2:17

“Even so (James says) faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

Well, I maintain it’s impossible to have faith without works. The two are going to go hand-in-glove. But James doesn’t teach that scenario because James is still under the legalism of the Law.