James 3:17

 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.

We have seen the destructive results of faulty wisdom, and now James highlights for us the constructive results of wisdom from above.  Here in verse 17 James gives us a list of  things that characterize wisdom from above. When James refers to this wisdom as “wisdom from above” he is making two things clear.  First, this wisdom is real wisdom, in contrast to the false wisdom he has just described.  Second, this wisdom is from God.  This wisdom is God’s own wisdom which he has made available through His grace.  In Matthew 7:24 Jesus said that “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to the wise man…”  What is interesting is that when we look at the words that Jesus was talking about we see that he was talking about salvation.  In verse 14 he spoke of the “narrow gate” and in verse 23 we see him emphasizing the importance of a relationship with him.  There can be no wisdom from above apart from Christ.  In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1:24 Christ is called “the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  As we look at this list of traits that characterize godly wisdom it will be helpful to remember that the wise person will conform to the ultimate revelation of wisdom, Christ himself.

            In 2:14-26 we saw that true faith is identified by the quality of life that it produces.  The same is true with regards to wisdom.  Here we have a list of what wisdom results in.  The number one characteristic of godly wisdom is purity.  Purity is to be free from sin, innocent, and blameless.  This is an even stronger term than the word translated as “pure” in 1:27. This word, “pure,” comes from the Greek word for holy.  The problem is that no one can live up to this moral standard.  No one is pure; everyone has been stained by sin.  How do we attain this purity? 1 John 3:1-3 answers that question.  When our hope is fixed on Christ, who is pure and holy, we will be made pure through the forgiveness of our sins.  This hope is the first step in attaining wisdom from above; the result of this hope is purity.   The remaining seven characteristic on James’ list are all qualities that describe a life that is pure.  James uses organizes these remaining characteristics into three groups by using alliteration in the first and third group. 

            The first three terms peaceable, gentle, and reasonable all start with the same letter and have similar endings.  Really this is the opposite of what we saw in verses 15 and 16.  Again, James’ teaching reflects that of Christ.  In Matthew 5:9 Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”  This word translated as gentle conveys the idea of being ready to yield to others without consideration of what you think that your own rights are.  This means that it does not matter whose fault something was you are willing to help with the solution.  You will never point fingers.  It doesn’t matter who gets the credit for something.  This is a wise person. This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:10-11, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  On top of being peaceable and gentle the wise person is also reasonable.  This is not a hard concept to understand.  To be reasonable is to be willing to learn.  It is the ability to keep your mouth shut, even if you think you are right, long enough to know what someone else is saying.  To be reasonable is to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (1:19)  All three of these characteristics will promote unity in within the Church; which had proved to be elusive for James’ original readers.  In 2:1-13 we saw that their local church body was not unified, but rather divided by social class.  In chapter 4 we will see that they had all sorts of problems with unity.  In 5:1-6 we see, again, that the rich were taking advantage of the poor.  Unity was a serious problem, and the only cure was God-given wisdom.

I will highlight the last two groups of characteristics that describe a pure life tomorrow.

Earthly Wisdom

Unfortuneately I have not had the time to continue my posts on seekers; instead I have chosen to jump back into my study of James and pick up where we last left off.

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.

old-books1.jpgUngodly wisdom, which is another way of saying fake wisdom, will eventually lead to “jealousy” and “selfish ambition.” This will in turn lead to “disorder” and “every evil thing.” What is clear from this verse is that the result of this fake wisdom is just as ungodly as it the sources were. We have already talked about the “jealousy” and “selfish ambition” of this wisdom, and so I want to look at the result of these attitudes. This is what happens we are so self-absorbed, self-centered, and self-confident. The first thing that James says is that this self-centered wisdom will result in “disorder.” This word for disorder is an interesting word, and one that we should be familiar with already. We should be familiar with it because it has already come up several times. In 1:8 this same word was translated “unstable” and used to describe the double-minded man who did not trust God. In 3:8 the word is translated as “evil,” and it is used to describe the type of evil speech that our tongues are capable of producing apart from God’s grace. From James’ use of this word (ἀκαταστασία), it is easy to see that disorder does not characterize God’s people. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 14:33 the apostle Paul writes:

“For God is not a God of confusion (ἀκαταστασία) but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

We, as a part of the church, need to emulate our God and through his wisdom be a people of peace.

The second result of self-centered wisdom is what James terms “every evil thing.” James is being as blunt as you can possibly be. The result of ungodly wisdom is every evil thing. The word that is translated here as evil (φαῦλον) has the idea of being vile or worthless. Literally, this fake wisdom that James has been talking about is absolutely good for nothing. There are no good results of supposed wisdom that is apart from God. In fact, in John 5:29 we see this same word (φαῦλον) used. There we see that the evil deeds that result from ungodly wisdom will result in eternal judgment. If someone claims to have faith in Jesus Christ and claims to have wisdom from God, but is self-centered, earthly-minded, natural-minded, and demonic in thinking, their claim to salvation is just as fake as their wisdom. They are lying against the truth (v. 14).

Dr.’s Note

You will have to excuse my recent absence.  My wife had to spend some time in the hospital this weekend due to complications with the pregnancy.  All is well, and she is at home now.  The baby is strong, but mom is pretty sick. We are just over six weeks out from the due date, and counting the minutes. We would both appreciate your prayers.  And I trust you will excuse my absence.

Paul

Happy Anniversary

happy-anniversary.jpgToday is my parent’s anniversary.  I am sure that Dad has sung the “happy anniversary song” to my mom. But if not, here goes: “happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy anniversary, Hap—–py anniversary!” (insert tune of the William Tell Overture; that is the lone Ranger for all of you uncultured blog readers).

This song is, as you should know, Fred Flintstone’s song for William on their anniversary.  In fact, It was Fred and the “Happy Anniversary Quartet” that sung the song.

PLOT DESCRIPTION

Once again, Fred has forgotten to buy wedding anniversary present for Wilma. In his haste to find an appropriate gift at a cut-rate cost, Fred purchases a “bargain” Stoneway piano from a gent named 88 Fingers Louie. Unbeknownst to Fred, the piano has been stolen–which explains why the cops descend upon the Flintstone household just as Wilma is getting her gift. This is the episode in which the interminable ditty “Happy Anniversary” is sung (to the tune of “The William Tell Overture”) by a quartet of musical policemen. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Happy Anniversary Moma & Dad!

Why the Seekers aren’t lost (pt. III)

coffee-cup-beans.jpgAs we continue to look at what Scripture has to say about seekers I would like to take a look at Luke 11:10:

“For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”  

The first thing to note about this passage is that it the Lord Jesus is speaking on the issue of prayer.  To this there may be some of you who are wondering why I would even bring it up in our discussion.  I do so because I think that there is an important principle found in this verse that pertains to our subject.  Let me develop this thought as quickly as possible. 

In this passage Christ promises that the one who seeks something in prayer will find it.  On a similar note 1 John 5:14 says that if we ask

“according to His will, He hears us.” 

Again we see a similar passage in John 15:16.  

…that whatever you ask of the father in My name He may give to you.

These passages from John help us to understand Christ’s teaching that when we pray according to God’s will, to accomplish His will, or in other words in a God glorifying way it will be answered.  So the key to seeking and finding in prayer, and I would submit in seeking God as well, is glorifying God.  The question is where does the ability to glorify God come from?

 

This ability must come from God’s.  Think about it.  If we were to glorify God apart from grace would that not be merit earned?  If the chief goal of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and if man can do that apart from grace then what was the purpose of the cross.  I hope that this is not a difficult idea for you to understand, because it is the very essence of the Christian life.  Our lives are to glorify God.  We do this by redirecting God’s grace.  When are actions our consistent with Scripture and productive to the Kingdom we are simply functioning as a reflector. 

 Let me leave you with this passage.  What you will see here is that the seeker of God always finds God.  Unless we are willing to accept some type of justification by works system this seeking must be the product of the Holy Spirit.        

Psalm 9:10 

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,

 For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

110 MPH Fastball

I know that I am in the middle of posting on seekers, but I just could not help but post this article today instead. I had always thought that Nolan Ryan was the hardest thrower ever, with Bob Feller as a close second. This article presents a third candidate.

The baddest, fastest, fiercest fastball anybody ever saw came from the left arm of a man you’ve probablysteve_dalkowski-nbla-sized.jpg never heard of. His name is Steve Dalkowski. He is 5 feet 11, 67 years old and dealing with the effects of alcoholism in a Connecticut nursing home.“I pitched against Ted Williams when I was 18,” Dalkowski says now. “He came out, and he tells me he couldn’t see the ball. I tell him, ‘It went right under your nose.’ ”

Some swear his fastball reached 110 mph, maybe even 115. Earl Weaver, Pat Gillick and Bobby Cox are among many who still say nobody’s ever thrown faster. Dalkowski’s terrible control — he once lost a one-hitter 9-8 because he walked 17 — and an elbow injury kept him from ever throwing a big-league pitch.

I love to hear baseball stories like this. This is what separates baseball from other sports in America. There is no other sport with the history, and the lure, and the legend that baseball has.

HT: Chris

(I feel like Tim Ellsworth)

Why the Seekers aren’t Lost (pt. II)

In my last post I presented this thesis:

“…when the term seeker (or some form of the word) is used in Scripture it is with reference to a regenerate individual.

I began developing this thesis with Romans 3:11b. From the context of this passage, as well as the clear teaching of the passage my conclusion was that the natural man who is apart from the redeeming work of Christ cannot seek God.  I need to be careful with this topic. To say that unbelievers cannot seek God may be a threat to someone’s philosophy of ministry.  My intent is simply to put the Scripture before you, and let it speak for itself.  I do not want you to accept my system, but rather I want you to submit to what Scripture says.  So here are a few passages that use the term seeker (or some form of it). 

I Chron 16:10-14:   ”Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually. Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,   O seed of Israel His servant, Sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God;”

I Chron 28:9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.”

Ps 9:10 “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

Ps 10:4 “The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.'”

Ps 119:155 “Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes.”

Isa 65:1 “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name.”

Isa 65:10“Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks, And the valley of Achor a resting place for herds, For My people who seek Me.”

Acts 15:17 “So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name…”

Heb 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

There are obviously many more passages that deal with this subject but I think that this is enough to digest for now.  My plan is to cover three more aspects of this same topic:   

  1. Everyone who seeks God finds Him (Luke 10:11), thus seeking must be the result of the regenerating work of the Spirit. 
  2. There may be some who look like they are seeking God, but they are not (Mt 16:4).
  3. Jonathan Edwards perspective on seekers.