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.

634 - Les Feldick Bible Study - Lesson 3 Part 2 Book 53 - The Legalist Viewpoint of James - Part 2

634: The Legalist Viewpoint of James – Part 2 – Lesson 3 Part 2 Book 53

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 53

The Legalist Viewpoint of James – Part 2

James 1:24 – 3:6

We’re just an informal Bible study. I don’t try to pick arguments or attack anybody, we’re just going to simply teach The Book verse-by-verse and let the chips fall where they may. You don’t always have to agree with me. I don’t expect that. There can be points of disagreement as long as we don’t disagree on the basics and the fundamentals. In other words, the Deity of Christ, His finished work and atoning blood for our salvation, and so forth. But, I don’t mind if someone disagrees on some technicality here and there.

Okay, let’s get back to where we left off in the little epistle of James and we still have one verse left in chapter one but it doesn’t make that much difference because the chapters weren’t in the original anyway. All right, the last verse of James chapter 1, which is verse 27, and I might as well read verse 26 with it:

James 1:26

“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” And remember I pointed out their religion is what mankind can ‘do’ and the next verse points it up.

James 1:27

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” What’s missing? What keeps us as believers on the straight and narrow? Well, not our own energy, I’ll guarantee you, but Who? The Spirit! See? The Holy Spirit. That’s almost absent here in the Book of James. I have to say ‘almost’ because I think we’re going to run across one verse in here someplace where the Spirit is alluded to, but it’s not that constant driving home of the fact that it’s the Spirit, now, that controls you and I in this Age of Grace as Paul tells us – and not the Law.

People encourage me to keep repeating and I appreciate that because I know it’s the only way folks can get these things straight. Come back with me again to Romans because, in order to understand what I’m saying concerning these little Jewish epistles, it is important to make the comparisons. Just compare with me how that James and Peter and John are not refuting Paul. They’re not condemning him – it’s just like he isn’t there. It’s just like they had nothing to do with him. Remember we’re comparing with what James says which is, listen, if you’ve got true pure religion, then get out there and go to work. Visit the fatherless, the widows and the orphans and ‘do’ these things. Do them. Do them. Do them. But look what Paul says.

Romans 7:5a

“For when we were in the flesh, (before we were saved) the motions (or the acts) of sins, which were by the law,…” What does that mean? Those things that we did contrary to the Law. In other words, the Law said, “Thou shalt not gossip.” But we spoke evil of somebody. So what were we? Guilty. The Law said, “Thou shalt not steal.” But we took advantage of a situation. And we stole. We were actively in opposition with what the Law taught. Now finishing the verse.

Romans 7:5b

“…which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” In other words, that’s why the lost person just continues to pile up his debt load that will face him at the Great White Throne Judgment. Can’t be any other way. Now for the flipside in the next verse.

Romans 7:6a

“But (on this side of the cross. On this side of our salvation experience) now we are delivered from the law, (now you can’t make it any plainer than that. We’re delivered from the Law) that being dead wherein we were held;…” In other words, when we died the death with Christ, that death separated us from the control of the Law, so our identification in death at the cross, has now set us free. Now finishing the verse.

Romans 7:6b

“…that we should serve in newness of (what?) spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Law). What’s the spirit? The Holy Spirit. The indwelling, and that instead of trying to keep the Law through our own efforts, now we’ve been severed from the Law, we’re dead to it and now we “serve in the newness of the spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” See the difference. All right, let’s look at a couple more in II Corinthians, chapter 3. And let’s start at verse 3. As you know, I don’t like to just jump on one verse, you’ve got to sort of let it flow. Paul is now writing to these Gentile believers in Corinth – there may have been a few Jews in the congregation but it’s primarily Gentile, and he says:

II Corinthians 3:3a

“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the (what?) Spirit of the living God;…” What’s he saying? You and I, as we move about in that unsaved world, they see Christ in us and they read us like a typewritten page. That’s what we are. We’re living epistles. And that’s how we have to behave ourselves. All right, so read it again, “That you are the epistle of Christ ministered by us.” In other words, Paul was the one responsible for bringing them to this salvation experience. “Written not with ink (as his epistles are) but with the Spirit of the Living God.” Now finish the verse.

II Corinthians 3:3b

“…not in tables of stone, (now what’s that a reference to? The Ten Commandments. This isn’t like those Ten Commandments written up there on the Mount Sinai in stone.) but in fleshy tables of the heart.” That’s the response that salvation is supposed to bring to the believer.

II Corinthians 3:4

“And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward.” This is because of what God has accomplished in us. That we now have a relationship with God Himself. Now verse 5.

II Corinthians 3:5

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; (why? Next part) but our sufficiency is of God;” Does James say that? No. James says go out and visit the fatherless, and the widows and the orphans. Pick yourself up by your own bootstraps and go do it. But Paul says, you can’t. You can’t – because you need the Spirit’s unction. The Spirit’s driving us. Now verse 6.

II Corinthians 4:6

“Who also (that is God up in verse 5) hath made us able ministers of the new testament; (this whole new relationship because of the cross) not of the letter, (now there again, remember, what’s Paul referring to? The Law) but of the spirit:…” You see that big comparison? James is speaking of the letter without the Spirit; Paul says you can’t do it by the letter without the Spirit. Now I really like this next part of the verse. And you know I’m always amazed, even in my classes in Oklahoma. I think I’ve been in McAlester, how long? Thirty years? Twenty years! Twenty years, I think we started in McAlester in 1980 and yet a while back I was pointing this out and people were just flabbergasted. They just can’t comprehend that this is what the Bible says.

II Corinthians 4:6b-7a

“…for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones,…” What’s he talking about? The Ten Commandments. “Ministration of death?” That’s what it says. What does most of Christendom think the Ten Commandments are? Hey, that’s their highway to Heaven. I’ll keep the Commandments and I’ll make it. The Commandments are nothing but condemnation, they’re a ministration of death. That’s a tough pill to swallow for most people. But, The Word is true. All right, let’s continue on with verses 7 and 8:

II Corinthians 3:7-8

“But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8. How shall not the ministration of the sprit be rather glorious?”

Glorious! See? And that’s what we’ve been seeing in the book of Hebrews over the last year and a half, how that, yes, the Law was good in its own time and for Israel under the circumstances – but today, oh, the Law is nothing compared to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

All right, back to James again. Now we’ll go on into chapter 2, and verse 1, but we won’t stay here very long, because if I were to stay here, yeah, then I could tell Iris we’ll finish James before we leave because I could just go right straight down through, but I can’t do that. I’ve got to keep showing you where it is, compared to where it’s been. All right, verse 1.

James 2:1

“My brethren, (so who is James writing to? Jewish believers) have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” What was James’ concept of the faith of their Lord Jesus Christ? Let’s go back – Matthew, chapter 16. Now some of you know that almost from memory, we’ve used it so often. At least you should be able to tell me, what’s it’s going to be about? Peter’s confession of faith! Now this is all for sake of comparison. I want you to see now what James is talking about when he speaks of their Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 16 verse 13. Here they are at the end of the three years of His ministry. They are shortly going to be going up to Jerusalem and the crucifixion.

Matthew 16:13-14a

“When Jesus came into the coasts (or borders) of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (simple question isn’t it? Who am I?) 14. And they said,…” And every time I read this verse, I’m flabbergasted. I can’t help it. I am utterly flabbergasted to think that after three years of miracle, after miracle, after miracle – I mean real miracles, not the fake kind. The real ones. And what was their answer?

Matthew 15:14

“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: (my goodness, they all knew, what happened to John the Baptist; he got beheaded a long time ago) some, Elias; (Elijah lived a long time ago) and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” What in the world is the matter with these people? Unbelief! It’s just unbelievable such unbelief. All right, but Jesus in His compassion and His goodness, comes back in verse 15.

Matthew 15:15

“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” Now remember He’s talking to the Twelve, so I could without endangering the Scriptures, I could just say, “But who do you twelve men think I am?”

Matthew 16:16

“And Simon Peter (the spokesman) answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Notice there’s a period there at the end of that statement. Do you see any reference to His death, burial and resurrection that we must use for our profession of faith? Not a word. They don’t even know He’s going to die. Was Jesus satisfied? Absolutely. This is all they were supposed to know and believe that Jesus was Who He claimed to be, He was the Messiah of Israel in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.

All right, you go on into the book of Acts and Peter is going to be doing the same thing, but I’m not going to stop there or we’ll never get through James. So let’s come on back to James, and I just want you to see that when he speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ in verse 2, it was in regard to His Messiahship. They understood that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. But not a word about the finished work of the cross, not a word. All right, now then, to these religious Jews who had embraced Jesus as the Messiah, but who are still keeping the Law, James says, “Now let’s be practical.” If you’re going to be a good religious Jew, this is how you have to live.

James 2:2a

“For if there come unto your assembly…” (Synagogue). Now this is interesting. Here’s where sometimes I think even the translators have thrown us a curve. Do you know what the Greek word here for assembly really is? Synagogue! That’s what it should have been, the Greek is Synagogue. Not spelled exactly like we do, but it’s certainly close enough that this should have been translated “if any come into your synagogue.” They were Jews.- now reading on.

James 2:2-3

“For if there come unto your assembly (synagogue) a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; (wow, that gets pretty close to home, now doesn’t it?) 3. And ye have respect to him that has weareth the gay (or good) clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there or sit here under my footstool:” What are they doing? Well they’re favoring the man who’s wealthy and up and coming and they’re putting the poor fellow down. And what does James say? “Hey, that’s bad religion.” Now verse 4.

James 2:4

“Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts.” Now that’s a good place to stop. What do most of us think evil thoughts are always connected with? Immorality. That’s where we, most of us, just put evil thoughts. Hey, that’s just a small part of it. To think favorably about this well-to-do person and put the poor fellow down in the gutter, is just as evil as having immoral thoughts. It’s all evil. It’s all in the same bailiwick. All right, so James now says, “And you’ve become judges (or practitioners) of evil thoughts.” Now verse 5.

James 2:5a

“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith,…” Well now here’s where you can take a good tidbit from James and say, “Yeah.” All through Christian history, for the most part, what class of people have been Christians? The poor and the downtrodden. It’s only in the last hundred years where Christianity has enjoyed the wealth and the prosperity that you and I are acquainted with.

All the way up through the last 2,000 years it was the downtrodden, it was the persecuted, it was the hated who were the Christians of the world. And so James is saying the same thing. What did the Lord Himself say about poor people? “Hey, you’ll always have them with you.” That’s never going to change. The welfare system hasn’t changed it. Europe has tried it and what has it done? Bankrupted them. So you can’t remove the poor from the world situation, it’s always been that way and always will until the Lord comes. All right, so James says, you’re missing the point, poor people are really the gemstones of the operations of God because those are the kinds of people that he finds in faith. Now verse 6.

James 2:6a

“But ye have despised the poor….” Why? Because, they had bad religion. I can’t get over that. Because that’s exactly what we’re driving at here, religion just won’t cut it.

James 2:6

“But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?”

Now let me come back to my introduction of all this (the historical scenario again). Here these Jews have been scattered out of the area of Jerusalem and Judaea under Saul’s persecution and a lot of them have already been out there throughout the Roman Empire – ever since 606 BC when they went into the Babylonian captivity. This wasn’t recent. So some of these Jews that had become involved with these Jewish congregations up there in the land of Turkey, some of them have been out there long enough that they became successful businessmen and had become wealthy. And we know that the Jews have a knack for it. They have a talent. And so even though there are a lot of poor Jews down through history, there have been some wealthy ones.

And so, evidently, in these congregations there were, again, a mix of wealthy and intensely poor Jewish people. So he says, “Don’t the rich men oppress you?” Well, of course they do. They always have. And they always will. They take advantage. You know, I’ve got a real smart economic precept, or whatever you want to call it. You know why poor people stay poor? Because they always have to buy the cheapest, poorest product in order to afford it. Now when you buy the cheapest product in Wal-mart, how long is it going to last compared to the good one? About one-fourth as long. So how have they programmed it? The poor man has to buy, and buy, and buy and buy. The rich man can buy once and it’ll last a lifetime. That’s the difference. And it’s always been that way. So, the wealthy element takes advantage of the poor and once they get in there, it’s almost impossible to get out.

All right, read on, I mean this is practical. You can take a lot of this to heart. Verse 7.

James 2:7

“Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?”

What’s he talking about? You’ve got to remember history. I think a lot of people realize that I’m a history buff. Well, I could just read history twenty-four hours a day. Now at this point in time in the Roman Empire, the Roman political officials had no problem with the Jewish religion and the Temple worship. They had no problem with the Jews. In fact, I’ve put it on the program years back. I read one time that the Romans made sure that whenever these offerings for the Temple were being transported from one end of the Empire or the other, the Roman authorities guaranteed that every dollar as we would call it today, got to Jerusalem. They didn’t persecute the Jewish religion. They recognized it as an ancient religion and they embellished it really.

But, it was these Jews now who had withdrawn from the mainstream of Judaism and had embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah – they were outcast to the mainstream of Judaism. Now, what’s my best example? Saul of Tarsus. Perfect example. What was Saul? He was the typical practitioner of Judaism. Pharisee of the Pharisees. Wealthy. And what did he think of these Jews who had embraced Jesus of Nazareth? He wanted them put to death! Throw them in the dungeon. They’re nothing but the off-scouring of humanity. Well, that’s the mentality as you come into even these little epistles now – that the Roman Empire had no problem with the Judaism of the Temple worship but they consorted with those Jews to persecute these Jews who had come apart as believers in the Messiah. See that? And Saul is my perfect example of all this. Okay, we’ve got a little bit of time left. So verse 7 again.

James 2:7

“Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?” Well, what was that name? Jesus of Nazareth. They were followers of Jesus. Now verse 8.

James 2:8

“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:”

Now goodness sakes, who promoted that Golden Rule more than anybody else? Jesus did – in His earthly ministry. What did He tell, I think it was one of the rich young rulers that came to Him, and He said, “After you’ve given your all to the poor, then do unto others as you’d have them do unto you, which is the Law that fulfills all the rest of the Law.” And James is repeating it. See? See how legalistic all this is? And it’s right in perfect accord with the Jews who’d become followers of Jesus during His earthly ministry and in those early years of Acts.

633 - Les Feldick Bible Study - Lesson 3 Part 1 Book 53 - The Legalist Viewpoint of James

633: The Legalist Viewpoint of James – Lesson 3 Part 1 Book 53

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 53

The Legalist Viewpoint of James

James 1:24 – 3:6

I think, over the years, if I have opened a lot of people’s eyes to one concept of Bible study, it is that you should always determine first and foremost, “To whom is the Scripture that you’re reading addressed?” Is the Scripture you’re reading addressed to Israel? Or, is it addressed to the Gentile church, the Body of Christ we’re living in today, which was all written by the Apostle Paul?

The Apostle Paul wrote to us in the Church Age, and the other writers wrote to the Nation of Israel. And knowing that just solves a multitude of problems, and answers important questions on salvation, and how to get along in life, and the order in the local Church and so forth.

Now we’re in the letter of James and we’ll be going on in the days ahead to the other little Jewish epistles. James; I and II Peter; I, II and III John; Jude and Revelation. And those are all primarily written to the Jew.

Now, come back to James chapter 1 verse 1, just for a little review and to make the point that these little letters are not written to the Gentile church. When Paul wrote to the Gentile church, he would begin in some of his epistles, “Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ writing to you Gentiles.” But in these Jewish epistles we’ve got just the opposite. James says:

James 1:1

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

Now language can’t make it any plainer than that. Where were these twelve tribes that James is addressing? Turn to I Peter chapter 1, and you’ve got the same scenario, only now Peter gives us a geographical area.

I Peter 1:1

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers (in other words, the Jews of the dispersion, and where are they?) scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”

Now where are all those geographical areas? Well, in what we would today call the land of Turkey. The land of Turkey was where Paul labored the most, in Galatia and Ephesus on the western coast. And then you take those seven letters to churches in the Book of Revelation, they’re all in what today is the land of Turkey.

Now the reason that so many of these Jews are being written to in that area of the world goes back to Christ’s earthly ministry – we find that those Jews had become believers that He was the Messiah – and of course were incorporated in what we call the Jerusalem Assembly there in early Acts. And then after Christ ascended back to glory, Peter and the Eleven keep on preaching to the Jews in the area of Jerusalem and Judaea; and that Jerusalem Assembly of Jewish believers grew and grew, to where it was probably several thousand. Because you know, it was probably three thousand on the Day of Pentecost alone.

And then just a few years later, in comes old Saul of Tarsus with his intense persecution – and so what happened to all those thousands of Jews in Jerusalem? They scattered for their lives. And, evidently, the biggest percentage of them went up into Asia Minor, or what is today Turkey. And so, these Jewish congregations that are now established up there in Asia Minor and Galatia and so forth, they have formed little congregations patterned after the Jerusalem church. Now there’s not one word, and I have to emphasize this without apology,there is not one word of Paul’s doctrines in these little Jewish epistles. There’s not a word regarding the Gentiles, there’s not a word regarding the Body of Christ. There’s not a word regarding the power of the Gospel in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for salvation. All their little congregations were all patterned for these Jews scattered out there and practicing their Messianic faith along with legalism. They’re still adherents of the Law, they’ll still go to the Temple whenever they get a chance. But, here they’ve been scattered because of the persecution arising around Stephen, and so forth.

Now the other point I like to make is as we did in those earlier programs introducing these epistles – they all thought the writers of Scriptures assumed that all of this was going to be winding up in a few years and the Lord would come and set up His Kingdom. Now don’t ever lose sight of that. All of these Jewish believers are looking for the soon coming of the Messiah and the Kingdom Age. But, before the Messiah could return what had to happen? The seven years of Tribulation. And the Tribulation was just as much a promise of suffering and turmoil and persecution as what we’re looking at today. All right, so if you’ll reflect back now, on one of the first programs where I introduced these letters, I made the point that these letters are written to Jews facing imminent trials and persecutions of the Tribulation, waiting for Christ to come.

But, Christ didn’t come and God set everything out in the future, and so I thought of it in a concept last night. Iris knows I didn’t sleep much last night, I guess because of this afternoon.But, I came to this concept that it was established that the Old Testament prophecies now were going to be interrupted and God is going to turn to the Gentile world through the Apostle Paul, and call out the Body of Christ, for now almost 2,000 years. We have come full circle. And that’s the way I’m going to present it.

From the time that God left off dealing with the Nation of Israel, sent them into dispersion, opened up the Age of Grace, and now after 2,000 years, we have come full circle and we are right back to almost the same scenario. Oh I know it’s different population-wise; whereas back then the world’s population was probably 500-600 million at the most. Today we’re over six billion. Back there, of course, they still fought with swords and spears and animals were their chief beasts of burden and today we’ve got all our technology. But, in the realm of geo-politics, in the realm of economics, in the realm of empires, in the realm of Israel’s position in the land (and now the prospect of the Tribulation coming in the near future), hey it’s almost deja vu all over again.

And so now these letters are so appropriate for Jews who will be saved during the Tribulation. And so the reason I’m doing all this introduction is there’s this constant reference to the Law, and this is getting them ready for Tribulation pressure. Get ready to suffer for your faith. Well, they were in that scenario back there in the Roman Empire and when the Tribulation hits, they’re going be under it again.

I hope you’re watching Western Europe. I’ve been telling my classes that for 30 years. That’s your revived Roman Empire and out of that revived Roman Empire is going to come all the events associated with the anti-Christ and the Tribulation and so forth. Now, I’ve got a gentleman, I’ve referred to him before – and Charles must spend hours in some big library, and he sends me clippings from newspapers from all over the world. He sent me one the other day that just almost made me hit the ceiling – because over the last couple of years, the European community has been expanding from ten, twelve, fourteen, fifteen countries (and last week another bunch was added to it), and I suppose a lot of people thought, well Les was wrong. He thought the first ten nations at the beginning of the revised Roman Empire and so forth was going to be the ten toes of Daniel, but it can’t be, because now they’re almost twenty.

This is what he read. He sent me an article out of the Financial Times in London and this big wheel in the European Community said, “Oh yeah, we’re growing in numbers but we’ll always rest on the Ten.” And isn’t that exactly what I’ve always said? I said, I don’t care how many nations go into the European Community, the original Ten are going to be like veto power in the United Nations. And so watch Western Europe as well as the Middle East.

So, we’ve come full circle and here Israel’s back in the land, and out of their dispersion, at least partly. The Roman Empire is reappearing. And the whole geo-political and economic and religious systems and everything are almost back to where we were. On a grander scale, of course; far more people are involved; but in generalities, it’s almost déjà vu. All right, now with that as another rehearsal of the introduction, James chapter 1 and let’s jump in at verse 22. Now watch the language. Oh, what a difference here, then, from Paul’s Epistles of Grace.

James 1:22

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

All right, now let’s go all the way back to Exodus chapter 19, because I want you to see how this hooks up so perfectly with everything which is Jewish, and the Nation of Israel back here. Let’s just begin with verse 7:

Exodus 19:7

“And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.” Now remember the scenario – Moses is up on the mountain, face-to-face with the Lord. In chapter 20, he’s going to get the Ten Commandments, but now the Lord has just been telling him how He’s going to deal with the Nation of Israel fresh out of slavery. Now verse 8. This is the verse I wanted you to see.

Exodus 19:8

“And all the people (now remember this is the Nation of Israel) answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will (what’s the next word?) do.” Do you see that? What is it? Works! We’re not going to wait for salvation to be accomplished and take it as a free gift, we’ll work for it. Oh, “All that you’ve said, we’ll do.” See? And it’s repeated again in Deuteronomy. We won’t take time to look at that one, and so now back again to James. So watch this language now:

James 1:23-24

“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” Got the picture? And it’s sort of the same illustration that I give with regard to the Law. James is using the illustration that you come in from an afternoon of working in the yard and you’re sweaty and grimy and you look in the looking glass, or the mirror. You see everything that needs to be done to yourself, but you don’t do anything about it – you just go on out of the bathroom and you go out and do something else. Well, the mirror didn’t change a thing, did it?

Well, James says, this is the way it is if someone is supposed to be keeping the Law and doesn’t. It’s just like looking in a mirror and then not responding to it. Now I use the mirror concept this way. The Law, the Mosaic Law, the “thou shalt not’s” and “thou shalt’s” are like a mirror. And as we look into the mirror, the Law tells us everything that’s wrong with us. And that’s what confirms, then, when Paul says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” The Law shows that. But, just like James’ illustration of the mirror, so is my illustration of the mirror – you can look at the Law of Moses and study it until you’re blue in the face, but will it ever change you? NO! Because the Law has no redeeming power. All the Law could ever do was tell a person what’s wrong. That’s all.

And Paul makes that so plain in Romans chapter 3 – that the Law could do nothing but condemn the human race. All right, but now James isn’t using that concept. James is telling these Jewish believers that they are falling short at keeping the Law. And, my, what a difference, compared to what Paul says for us. All right, move on down, back to James 1 and verse 25.

James 1:25

“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” Well that’s works, see? James is not saying a word about grace, but rather that keeping of the Law. Now we’re going to see it more and more as we come on through. Verse 26.

James 1:26a

“If any man among you seem to be (what?) religious,…”

Now I think most of you and most of my audience from coast to coast and all over Oklahoma, know that I don’t have much time for religion. It’s not a good word. It’s never used in a good light except when James uses it here that as keepers of the Law, yes, they’re religious. Now Dwight just gave me a good definition – I get all kinds of help, you know! Dwight’s definition of religion is, “It’s all the different ways of going to hell.”

Well, you know, that’s about it, because most religion is doing exactly that. It’s just simply leading people the wrong direction. Something like this came up in one of the letters I received and, trying to keep their answer short (because I write in longhand), I wrote back to this individual – ‘Too many people are being pied-pipered.” I thought everybody that had been to grade school knew what that was. But the gentleman wrote back again and he said, “I don’t get what you’re driving at.” Well, I called him and I said, “Haven’t you ever heard the story? I think it took place in Europe if I’m not mistaken, where the Pied Piper played the pipes and what did he do? He led (I think it was rats, wasn’t it? Yeah.)…he led the rats all down into the river – just literally hypnotized them.”

That’s what most of religion is doing to people today. They’re ‘pied-pipering’ them. Oh, it sounds good. It appeals to the flesh. And they’re following them like a bunch of dumb rats. Sad, but so true. All right now, so James is using this legal approach – that if you’re going to look at that perfect law of liberty, let it have an affect on your life. But Paul teaches us that the Law has no power to change your life and so, here again, is where I can again, without apology, say James knows nothing of Paul’s teachings in this Age of Grace.And that’s why in my introductions I tried to make it clear that James is probably one of the first books written in our New Testament. Matthew might have beat him by a little bit but not much.

So James was evidently written before the Spirit even intends him to allude to anything that Paul teaches. You just can’t find it in here. I don’t care how hard you look. All right, but his writings are still Scripture, but just doesn’t apply to the Gentile Body of Christ as it’s all Jewish. Now, come back with me to II Timothy, chapter 3, and verse 16, because I don’t want people to get the idea, “Well Les, if it’s that far out, then why should we even look at it?” No, I’m not saying that. For this very reason, always remember this – that even though I may maintain that this isn’t written to us, that doesn’t mean it’s not profitable.

II Timothy 3:16a

“All scripture (from Genesis 1:1 to the last verse of Revelation) is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…” See, all scripture is profitable. So just because James isn’t addressed to us Gentiles under grace doesn’t mean you can’t profit from it. We’re going to pick out little tidbits here and there that are still apropos. Well, it’s the same way with the Four Gospels. The Four Gospels were Christ dealing with Israel, but yes, we can go into the Four Gospels and we can take some applications. We can feast on it. But it’s not going to have basic doctrines that Paul lays out and that’s where the difference comes in.

Now, while we’re on that inspiration of Scripture, I think I should take you on over to Peter’s little epistles. II Peter chapter 1 and here, of course, Peter agrees with the Apostle Paul one hundred percent. II Peter chapter 1. And in order to understand this series of verses, I have to come all the way back to verse 16. II Peter chapter 1, verse 16 where now the Apostle Peter writes.

II Peter 1:16a

“For we (speaking of himself and the Eleven) have not followed cunningly devised fables,…” Boy, does that sound familiar? See that’s what the scornful try to tell us, this is just a Book of fables and legends. But Peter says, no! “We haven’t followed cunningly devised fables,”

II Peter 1:16b

“…when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,…” What’s he talking about there again. The soon coming of Christ. Now watch for these. They were all looking for the Tribulation and the coming of Christ and the Kingdom within a matter of ten or twenty years – within their lifetime. I showed you that in the last taping. All right, now verse 17.

II Peter 1:17-18

“For (Peter says) he (Jesus the Christ) received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, (and now remember this is on the Mount of Transfiguration, back there in Matthew) This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” That is the Mount of Transfiguration. Now verse 19 and, oh, I love this!

II Peter 1:19a

” We have also a more sure word of prophecy;…” (or truth)

How much more sure can you get than to see the Lord Jesus transfigured right in front of them? Shining brighter than the noonday sun! But Peter says, I’ve got something even better. Now this is something. Peter says, “We have a more sure” than even Christ’s transfiguration showing to those three – Peter, James and John – Who He really was.

II Peter 1:19b

“…whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, (that is the return of Christ!) and the day star arise in your hearts:” Now here it comes:

II Peter 1:20

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy (or speaking forth) of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” In other words, you can’t just take a verse and build a doctrine on it. You have to use the whole, from Genesis through Revelation. Now here’s the capstone.

II Peter 1:21

“For the prophecy (that is the Word of God) came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The writers of Scripture, all of them, from Moses who wrote the beginnings of it on up through David. The writers of the historical books. The prophets. The writers of the Gospels. Luke writing Acts, Paul’s epistles and now these by Peter, James and John again. All of it, and never forget that. Every word in this Book was brought about through the inspiration or the moving of these men’s minds by the Holy Spirit.

Now I don’t think that the Spirit dictated audibly to them. But, the Spirit so took over their minds that as they wrote (or in Paul’s case, most of the time he dictated to a secretary of sorts), their minds just simply flowed with the Word of God. And that’s what we have to understand, now coming back to James, that all Scripture, even these little legalistic epistles, they’re still profitable and we can glean from them. Now then, down to verse 26 again. James 1 verse 26. And Iris, bless her heart, asked me on the way up if I was going to finish James today? I don’t think so. All right verse 26:

James 1:26

“If any man among you seem to be religious, (now of course, that’s what legalism was. Judaism was a religion) and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is (what?) vain.” So, what were most, even Jew’s, religions? Vain, because they were guilty of all these things. Now, come back with me to Galatians chapter 1, and we’ll get Paul’s use of the word “religion.” Back to Galatians chapter 1. Galatians chapter 1, my we have to hurry, time’s gone, and we’ll have to drop in at verse 13, where he’s rehearsing in these verses his Damascus road experience. And his past.

Galatians 1:13

“For ye have heard of my conversation (manner of living) in times past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church (or assembly) of God, and wasted it:” So what was Paul? Religious! He had no qualms about murdering people, but he was religious.

632 - Les Feldick Bible Study - Lesson 2 Part 4 Book 53 - James 1:1-23 - Part 2

632: James 1:1-23 – Part 2 – Lesson 2 Part 4 Book 53

Through the Bible with Les Feldick

LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 53

James 1:1-23 – Part 2

Remember, the Apostle Paul gave us, in the Church Age today, the Scriptures for salvation, and Church doctrine, and how to live Godly lives, and don’t ever forget that. Now we’re going to go right back to the letter of James in just a moment, but before we do, I want to go back to the verse that we closed with in our last half-hour because I want it clearly established in everybody’s mind – who are these Jews, these Twelve Tribes scattered that James is writing to?

All right, here we’ve got them in Acts chapter 11 verse 19. And remember the last program we picked these Jews up in Christ’s earthly ministry. They moved on into the Jerusalem Church at the day of Pentecost and in the meantime, years are going by. This is about 7 or 8 years already after Pentecost, that we read here in Acts 11.

Acts 11:19

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen (which was started by Saul of Tarsus) travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”

Because, after all, they as yet had no commission to go to the Gentile world. Matthew 10:5-6 is still in effect at that time. Going to the Gentiles was left up to the Apostle Paul. Remember when Peter, James and John shook hands with Paul and Barnabas on that very deal? (Galatians 2:9)

All right, now then, we come back to the little letter of James, as well as Peter and John and Jude and Revelation – all those books are written primarily to these Jews that are in congregations scattered throughout that part of the Roman world. Now I made comment of it several months ago, at least, and maybe in the beginning of my introduction of James that archaeologists have found pieces of clay in areas far removed from Jerusalem that had not only the seven-candled candlestick, and I still think that’s a Menorah, but they have also found pieces of clay, not that large, in which was not only the Menorah, but also the sign of the fish, which was typical of the followers of Peter, and so forth. So archeology has even proved that we have these Jewish congregations who know nothing of Paul’s Gospel of Grace – they are out there believing only that Jesus was the Promised Messiah and He’s coming in short order.

Now I think I proved that with Scripture in those first programs, how that all of Scripture was looking forward to the coming of the Tribulation, the Second Coming and the Kingdom. And so that’s the situation with these Jewish congregations. All right, if the next thing on the calendar is the Tribulation for these people, what do they need? Encouragement! And that’s what these little epistles will all do. James and I Peter especially. And then John’s three little epistles, they’re all written to encourage these Jews in view of the coming horrors of the Tribulation. All right, verse 1 again:

James 1:1-2

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes, (Jews) which are scattered abroad, greeting. (now I hope I’ve proven where they came from) 2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers (testings is a better word than) temptations;” Well now, what’s the testing? The Tribulation. How in the world did these Jews take any joy in this coming Tribulation? Because of what’s to follow! What’s to follow? The King. The Kingdom! Remember, all of the Old Testament laid that out so clearly, that after the Tribulation would come the King and His Kingdom!

Let’s go back and let’s look at one of the first instances. Matthew chapter 19 verse 27. Now this is Christ still in His earthly ministry, but toward the end of it now. And Peter is going to ask a pertinent question. I mean, these guys are just as human as we are, remember?

Matthew 19:27

“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” Now Peter’s not talking about his Salvation; he knows he’s got that. So what’s he talking about? Reward. What are we going to get for having left our fishing and our families and all the good life on the Galilee? What’s the reward? All right, and Jesus doesn’t put him down. It was a valid question. All right, now here it comes.

Matthew 19:28a

“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,…” Regeneration. What’s that referring to? When this old world will be made back like it was in the beginning. It’s going to be regenerated. Now the best example I always give is your car battery. Leave your lights on. Get out there and it’s dead as a door nail. What do you do? Well, you put a charger or a jumper cable on it and we regenerate it – and that old battery which was dead is brought back to its original condition. That’s regeneration.

All right, so this is what the Lord is telling the disciples. That before the Son of man can sit in the throne of His glory, the earth is going to have to be regenerated. Now, in order to pick up what that regeneration is going to amount to, come back with me now to Acts chapter 3, and again, never forget, all these statements are concerning the coming Tribulation, and the return of Christ, and the setting up of His Kingdom. All right, in Acts chapter 3, it’s a follow up of the Pentecostal sermon in Acts chapter 2; and again Peter is appealing to the Nation of Israel to repent of having crucified their Messiah – and that, if they would, here was the promise.

Acts 3:19a

“Repent ye therefore,…” Now remember, go back up to verse 12 so we establish to whom is Peter preaching?

Acts 3:12

“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel,…” Plain enough? Now come back to verse 19, and let’s read that verse.

Acts 3:19

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing (now that’s the Kingdom) shall come from the presence of the Lord;” Now lets read the next verse also. Because, if Israel will repent, look what happens.

Acts 3:20

“And he (God) shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:”

But in verse 21, we’re reminded that He couldn’t set up His Kingdom until the earth was regenerated. Now it’s a little different word but the same meaning.

Acts 3:21a

“Whom the heaven must receive…” That’s when He ascended and the Father said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” In other words, you’ll have completely subjected the unbelieving world under your foot. All right, here it is in a different language.

Acts 3:21b

“…until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” How much difference between restitution and regeneration? Almost nothing. Again, I’ll go back to my dead car battery. If it’s dead and I recharge it, what have I done? I that restituted it. I have made it back like it was in the beginning. All right, so Peter here again, even though he’s admonishing Israel to repent and experience salvation, yet the time of refreshing (the Kingdom) cannot come until everything has been regenerated or the restitution of all things, “which God had spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the ages began.”

Now if he’s talking about the prophets, I’ve got to take you back, don’t I? All right let’s go back to Psalms chapter 2. One of the simplest portions of Scripture showing this Kingdom that is coming. I’m still going to get a verse or two in James before we leave today. Remember, this is the prophecy that Jew and Gentile, in concert, would reject the anointed One. All right, then come down to verse 4.

Psalms 2:4

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.” That’s where I use that indeterminate period of time between Pentecost and what could have been the Tribulation. All right, the Lord will have them in derision – “Then,” there’s your time word. Do you see that?

Psalms 2:5

Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” That’s the Tribulation period of seven years. Now as soon as the Tribulation has run its course, then verse 6.

Psalms 2:6

“Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” Now there’s the order, or the agenda. The rejection and the derision that would come about in the nations of the world, or the “ways of perplexity” as Luke puts it. And then we come to wrath and vexation, or as Daniel lays it out, “those last seven years.” And then what? The Kingdom. That’s the process.

Back to James, so keep all this in your mind now. That these were Jewish believers that believed that the King and the Kingdom were at hand, but they were going to have to go through the seven years of Tribulation. All right, so this is the admonition – verse 2 again, Peter says:

James 1:2a

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” (or testings)

We have much the same attitude today. You and I, as believers, see this world going the direction that it’s going – and I had a letter the other day and the lady put it so perfectly. “Les,” she said, “the faster it gets worse by the minute, the closer we are to the Lord’s coming.” And that’s the way we look at it. Yes, it’s getting awful! But listen, for us, it’s just telling us the Lord’s at hand.

All right, so Peter is telling these Jews the same thing. Yes, things are going to be tough, it’s going to be awful, but just stop and think – at the other end of it, the King and the Kingdom! So, “…count it all joy when you fall into these diverse testings.” Now verse 3:

James 1:3-4

“Knowing this, that the trying (or the testing) of your faith worketh patience. 4. But let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Now always remember the word perfect in the New Testament, in the Greek, does not mean sinless perfection. It means spiritual maturity. When Paul says, “be ye perfect as I am perfect,”he’s merely speaking of a spiritual maturity. Well, the same way here, James is admonishing these Jews to grow into a spiritual maturity. Now verse 5.

James 1:5

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Now remember, here the language is going to be much the same as it was in the Four Gospels or as Peter may have preached in the early chapters of Acts. Almost comparable.

James 1:6-8

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (that is, if his faith is weak.) 8. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Now, for some reason or other, a verse is shooting through my mind so I guess that’s the Spirit’s nudging me to go back and look at it. Go back with me to John’s Gospel, chapter 14, and like I said, all these things are comparable now with the Four Gospels, not with what Paul writes. Jesus is speaking and He says in verse 12.

John 14:12

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.’” Now look at verses 13 and 14:

John 14:13-14

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14. If ye shall ask any thing in my name I will do it.” Now we know that doesn’t work in this Age of Grace. There isn’t a person in this room that hasn’t prayed and it hasn’t happened. God didn’t do what we ask. He’s not duty bound to do it, because Paul doesn’t make that kind of a statement. Paul says, “Ask with thanksgiving,” and then it’s implied even though he doesn’t say it, whether God says yes, no, or maybe later, the answer of that request is the next verse. I’m talking about Philippians 4. And what’s the next verse?

Philippians 4:7

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” That’s our answer. But, Jesus doesn’t say that. Jesus says, “whatever you’ll ask, I’ll do it.” Well, naturally, He was looking in terms of the King and the Kingdom when everything would be spiritually perfect and then when you continue reading in John in verse 15 it again sends us right back to where it was at the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, Look at it.

John 14:15

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” So that was still a situation under the Law. Remember Jesus never tells the Jews they are no longer under the Law, as he does through the Apostle Paul to us here in the Church Age. All right, now maybe that’ll help a little bit to understand James. He’s going to be talking in that same kind of language. All right, now back to James, and verse 9.

James 1:9-10

“Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10. But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.”

In light of the constant reference to wealthy people, especially in James’ little letter, I’m still of the opinion (and I expressed it on the program years ago) that I do not see the world going into a 1930’s depression where everybody was dirt poor. Not just in America. You want to remember the whole world went into a depression even before it got here. But, I have always been of the mindset, because of Scripture, that the world will be in a relative period of prosperity when the anti-Christ makes his appearance. And the reason I say that is because there are references for example to Sodom and Gomorrah at the height of their wickedness, what was the material status of Sodom? Oh, they had much! And they were so well-to-do that they were literally in luxury for their period of time. The same way before the horrors of the Flood. What was the economy just before the Flood? Same way. They built, they bought, they sold, they married, they gave in marriage. What does that tell you? It was a world of intense activity. And so, I’m still of the impression that as the world approaches the Tribulation it’s going to be a world that has an abundance of wealth and materialism, because that’s why James is reminding these Jewish believers not to let their wealth get in their way. So let’s read that verse again.

James 1:10-11

“But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”

Now whenever you see a tremendously wealthy individual that has been diagnosed with a cancer or some other debilitating disease – what do we common folk automatically think? Well, with all of his money, he’ll probably get the best surgeons and the best doctors and he’ll make it. But you know what? They often don’t. They die. And that’s what the Scripture says, their wealth is not going to guarantee their overcoming anything that can come their way. Now verse 12.

James 1:12

“Blessed (happy, joyful) is the man that endureth temptation: (testing) for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”Now I’m switching that word ‘temptation’ to ‘testing’ because I think it’s a better definition, “Blessed is the man that can endure testing for when he is tried or tested, he shall receive the crown of life.” It’s going to be one of the rewards for people who have had to suffer for their faith. “Which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

Now, let’s see again what Paul says about suffering. Come back with me to Romans chapter 8, and we’ll begin in verse 18. If you get a little depressed once in a while, just come back to this verse.

Romans 8:18

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with (what?) the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Oh listen, maybe we’re going through hard times – maybe financial reverses. But listen, take heart. It’s nothing compared to the Glory that’s waiting for us. Now the Bible doesn’t do a lot of description of what eternity has in store. And I always tell people this is enough for me, because I know that my God knows how to make things beautiful. He knows how to make things scrumptious. And it’s going to be just that. It’s going to be beyond human description. And so we take heart that for us the glory that is awaiting us is far above and beyond any of the suffering that we may have to go through.

Back to James again, and remember he’s talking to Jews who were looking at the Tribulation of that day. But it can also apply, I think, to Jews who will be going into the Tribulation that is still ahead, and many of them will become believers, and they’re going to come under abject testing. Reading on now in chapter 1 verse 13.

James 1:13

“Let no man say when he is tempted, (I still like tested) I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” God isn’t in that business. He permits these things but He does not direct it.

James 1:14-15a

“But every man is tempted, (or tested) when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15. Then when lust hath conceived,…” And where does that have to start? In the brain. That’s where all our thoughts originate and those thoughts in return have their effect on the operation of the flesh. All right, so when lust, or the thoughts of our mind, are conceived and they actually are turned into action –

James 1:15b

“…it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Now verse 16:

James 1:16-18

“Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” That’s why he’s left these Jewish believers – that they can continue to be a testimony and a witness to those around them. Verse 19.

James 1:19

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”

I always have to say, when you read these little epistles back here, it’s the practical part that we as Gentiles take out. You can’t pull doctrine out of this, but the practicality of it all, we certainly can. This can certainly be applicable even for us. And the same way with the Beatitudes and other things that are not doctrinally directed to us but they are applicable in their practicality. All right, verse 20.

James 1:20-22a

“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21. Wherefore (it was just as imperative for believing Jews as it is for us today,) lay apart (aside) all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22. But be ye doers of the word,…” Now here’s the legalistic part of James. See how it comes through so plainly?

James 22-23

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:” Well, that’s the way James depicts a man who does not follow his faith with good works.