It’s Camp Time

You will have to excuse my absence this past week, and plan on my absence this next week. This week I have been preparing to take our youth to Camp in N.C. We will be leaving this weekend, and we are praying for a productive trip. I will be preaching while we are there along with a missionary candidate. We are praying that God would do something radical while we are at camp. The theme of Camp this year is “Sowing the Seeds of the Gospel.”

Your prayers will be greatly appreciated while we are gone. I hope to give a full report of our trip upon our arrival home, as well as post the series of sermons as well.

Wisdom From Above

James 3:13-18

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
In verse 15 James solidifies his point. Whatever wisdom these people thought they had it was not wisdom from above. It was clearly not God-given skill for living righteously, because they were not living righteously. God was not the source of their wisdom. Thankfully, James did not leave us to speculate as to what the source actually was. Here we see that the sources of the false wisdom in these people’s lives, and in our own lives today, were earthly, natural, and demonic. The meaning of all three of these terms together is clear; the source of this wisdom is the opposite of God. These three terms are however, slightly more nuanced and deserve our attention.
First, James says that this fake wisdom is “earthly.” We do not have to go far to see what earthly wisdom looks like. This type of so-called wisdom is limited to what man can discover, and theorize by himself. There is no place for God in this false earthly wisdom. It is this kind of thinking that has led to non-Christian worldviews such as evolution, and atheism. For the Christian the final authority is God, through His revealed word. For the earthly thinker the final authority is himself, and he is responsible for deciding right from wrong all by himself. Unfortunately, this type of individualism has dominates the culture that we live in. It is for this reason that we must be very careful to understand what James is teaching and apply it to our lives (1:12-22).
Second, James says that this fake wisdom is “natural.” This is a reference to humans in their unregenerate state apart from the renewing work of the Spirit. Of the handful of occurrences of this word in the NT there are two that are very helpful in understanding what James is talking about here. In 2 Corinthians 1:12 Paul described the exact same thing that James did. In 2 Corinthians the same word is translated “fleshly” and it refers to that fake wisdom which is the polar opposite of “holiness,” “godly sincerity,” and the “grace of God.” The second cross reference that I think will be helpful to look at is found in Jude 19. In this passage Jude again describes the exact same thing as James. Here that same word is translated as “worldly.” What we see is that the result of this kind of “worldly” thinking is division, and this “worldly” thinking is “devoid of the Spirit.” On a side note I think that it would be helpful to take a moment to determine what devoid of the Spirit means. It has been the regular teaching of our Church, and the Bible, that the Spirit of God works through the Word of God to make a lasting change in our lives. By this we mean the chief tool that Spirit of God uses in the process of your sanctification is the Bible. Thus, if you want to avoid being “worldly-minded” and “devoid of the Spirit” in your thinking, then you must immerse yourself Scripture.
The third source that James gives for this fake wisdom is “demonic.” James saves the most serious for last. In saying that this fake wisdom is demonic James is clearly highlighting that this wisdom is in no way related to God. This type of wisdom is what Paul warned Timothy of in 1 Timothy 4:1 when he said, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…” Wisdom apart from God is nothing more than the foolishness of demons. This is an astonishing foolishness. It was these demons, led by Satan, who rebelled against God. They were so foolish that they left the direct presence of God’s glory in order to pursue their own glory. If we fall into this demonic wisdom we too will eventually find ourselves pursuing our own glory rather than God’s and in verse 16 we see the result of this.

New Blog- Dr. Daniel Ebert

I just wanted to throw out a brand new blog for your enjoyment. The “EbertBlog
A Place for Christ Centered Trinitarian Conversation
” is a blog by an old Prof of mine, Dr. Daniel Ebert. I am very excited that Dr. Ebert has entered the blog world, and will be sharing his little nuggets of wisdom electronically. I sat under Dr. Ebert for most of my major Bible classes while I was in college, and to say the least he has influenced my life greatly. Check out the new blog, you will enjoy it.

Beholding God’s Word II- Chris Pixley

This week’s podcast is, “Beholding God’s Word Part II.” This is a sermon preached by Chris Pixley here at GBCB. This audio sermon can also be accessed on the web by following the provided link above.


This sermon, along with various other audio resources, will be made available in their entirety without editing. The address for the podcast is: feeds.feedburner.com/CupOfCoffeeTalk.

For those of you who are not in the podcast world it is very simple and I would highly suggest it. First, go online and download a podcasting program. I would highly recommend downloading I-tunes. It is free, and you do not need a mp3 player, only your pc. Once you have downloaded the program of your choice find the “podcast” heading and go from there. Eventually all you will have to do is cut and paste the above address into the appropriate field.

For a more detailed description go here.


Enjoy!

Wisdom From Above


James 3:13-18Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

In verses 14 through 18 James plays out for his readers the principle that he established in verse 13. That is, you demonstrate your wisdom by how you live. Here in verse 14 we see very simply that if your behavior is destructive you should not claim to be wise. Here the destructive behavior is “bitter jealousy” and “selfish ambition.” James has just finished saying that wisdom is, at least in part, demonstrated by gentleness/humility. In fact the direct source of this gentleness/humility that James speaks of is wisdom itself. So, to have jealousy and selfish ambition is to demonstrate a profound lack of wisdom.

Since wisdom is understanding the truth and applying it to our lives, then those who do not have wisdom will not have a proper view of themselves. The wise person understands that, because of the self-deceptive nature of sin, people are deceived into thinking higher of themselves than they should. It is from true wisdom, wisdom from God, that we understand our sinfulness and humiliation in light of God’s perfection. Those whose lives are based on ungodly, or false, wisdom will be motivated be self-centeredness, they will be jealous when good things happen to other people, they will look out for their own good, and seek to fulfill their own selfish ambitions. All because they do not have a proper understanding of who they are. This lack of humility is directly proportional to a lack of wisdom. This is the exact problem that the original readers of this letter were having. In 4:1-17 we see that a lack of wise humility had a very destructive result in this community. They fought (v. 1), spoke against one another (v. 11), they put their own ambition ahead of God’s will (v. 13), and all because they lacked the wisdom to see God at work. This goes right back 1:2-5. It was there that we saw that God was working in the midst of these people’s trials. We also learned that if they had faith that this was true but lacked the wisdom to see exactly how God was working, then they should have prayed for that wisdom. I think that we can deduce from chapter 4 that these people never did ask for that wisdom (vs3).
To those people who were acting this way James’ command was “do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.” Let me paraphrase James, “All of you who claim to be wise and understanding, but live self-centered lives, do not boast of your great wisdom. Because when you boast of your wisdom you are lying against the truth. You do not have wisdom.” James’ point is crystal clear. If wisdom is skill in living righteously, which it is, and you are not living righteously then you are not wise.

06-06-06 Has A Different Significance For Me


Much of todays news cycle includes something about today’s date. That’s right for those of you who may have forgotten, today is 06/06/06. The media is just so curious about this, and is trying to figure out what those silly Christians (they always find the “most silly” Christians to interview) are thinking. With this in mind, I want to talk about something totally different today.Today is 06/06 which means that it is anniversary of D-Day. On this date 1944 the Allied Forces took part in the largest amphibious operation in military history. The Allied Forces landed in Normandy on the Northern coast of France. This was possibly the most important battle in the whole war (see also the Battle of the Bulge).

What makes today particularly important to me is the fact that my Great Grandfather, A.W. Whidden, was there on that day. I do not know a lot about his experience there, he didn’t speak much of it. What I do know is that he was ready to make the ultimate temporal sacrifice for his country.The history of this battle is of great interest. Eisenhower, and the Allied leadership, had originally planned an earlier date for the invasion. The weather through a monkey wrench in those plans! Finally, on June 6th 1944 the weather permited (barely) an invasion. On the word of Eisenhower an armada of 3,000 landing craft, 2,500 other ships, and 500 naval vessels—escorts and bombardment ships—began to leave English ports. That night 822 aircraft, carrying parachutists or towing gliders, roared overhead to the Normandy landing zones. They were a fraction of the air armada of 13,000 aircraft that would support D-Day.

On this day alone over 2,000 men lost their lives in a heroic fashion. What is sad to me is that I am certain that many of these men were were not followers of Christ. It is with this thought that I encourage you to use this day to remember those who made it possible to live the life you live in this country, as well as to pray for the men who are currently serving this country.

In light of today’s political climate and the heroism of Eisenhower that we remember on this day, I think that “Ike’s” prayer from his inauguration speech is appropriate.

“Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in the Executive branch of Government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere.Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the people regardless of station, race or calling.

May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen.”

Wisdom From Above


James 3:13-18 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.In 13b we see how James tested wisdom. “Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.” Those who responded to James’ question would have quickly found themselves the object of James’ scrutiny. James did not assess their claim to wisdom on the basis of their IQ, but rather in practical terms. James’ command to us is to demonstrate our wisdom by what we do. We must give a practical proof of our wisdom from our life and our conduct. Our daily living is where our wisdom is played out. Wisdom then is concerned with how we live. I think that we can find a good example of how wisdom plays out in our lives by looking at how the word of God works in our life. In 1:21 we saw that it was through the Word of God that we are saved. In 1:22 we see that when we receive this word it will result in us be doers of the word. Like the word implanted by God in the heart of the believer , the wisdom from above gives birth to deeds, humility and a way of life that grows in understanding. James goes so far as to describe what these deeds are that typify wisdom. It is a life of good behavior with our deeds done in a spirit of gentleness. The good behavior is reference to godly behavior. It is God who is the ultimate judge of good because He is the ultimate standard of good. In order to test our wisdom we must test out actions to see if they conform to the image of God. The other quality that James mentions is gentleness. This is the very opposite of what we normally think about wisdom. Usually people who think of themselves as wise are arrogant about their self-proclaimed wisdom. But this should not be. The word translated here as gentleness could have just as easily been translated as meekness or humility. The Greek word has the idea of power under control. It is a word that was often used to describe a wild horse that was broken and made useful to its owner. If we are truly wise then we will understand our shortcomings and willingly submit to the sovereign control of God. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). As was just mentioned, James has earlier admonished believers, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility (prautēs) receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (1:21). Jesus, James’ half-brother, spoke about this same gentleness or humility. Gentleness or humility is to characterize everyone who is a part of God’s kingdom. In Matthew 5:5 Jesus said, “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus used this same word, gentleness, to describe Himself saying, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29).