James (Program #11) – A Life Not Fully According to and for God’s New Testament Economy (2)
The book of James has many wonderful expressions and utterances that many Christians love to quote. His exhortation on bridling an evil tongue for example, and on other various Christian virtues are the stuff of many good Sunday school lessons. In chapter 4, we have another admirable example of the practical Christian perfection that James espoused. He says in verse 13 “Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit; Whereas you do not know the matter of tomorrow, what your life will be; for you are a vapor, which appears for a little while and then disappears. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will both live and do this or that. “ Who could argue or take issue that such an expression “if the Lord wills”? But by comparison we must consider another angle, another perspective. It’s the perspective of the dominant New Testament writer, the apostle Paul, who did not exhort the believers simply to follow God’s will in an objective outward way, but rather to be those that live moment by moment under the influence and direction of the indwelling Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:14, “or as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.“
James (Program #10) – A Life Not Fully According to and for God’s New Testament Economy (1)
In Acts chapter 2, the apostle Peter spoke boldly to his Jewish kinsman, “be saved from this crooked generation.” Some time later, the apostle Paul reminded the Jewish believers that God had rescued them out of the present evil age. The context of both passages makes it clear that these strong words, “the crooked generation” and “the present evil age” both refer to the religious system that had become modern Judaism at the time when God was ushering the New Testament economy.
Peter and Paul made it very clear God was calling people out of that religious system. Yet in other New Testament passages, it is equally clear that the apostle James was not only comfortable receiving the Jews into the fellowship of believers, he was even willing to accommodate the major practices of Judaism into the church. Well what lessons can we glean from this confused situation today?
James (Program #9) – Practical Virtues of Christian Perfection (9)
Most Christians today view the Lord’s coming in an altogether objective way. In a way that has nothing to do with our spiritual condition or our spiritual growth. Their expectation is that one day the Lord will suddenly come and that His coming will have nothing to do with their maturity. It may be that the concepts many Christians hold regarding Lord’s coming back are actually causing Him to delay His coming.
James (Program #8) – Practical Virtues of Christian Perfection (8)
This is actually the 8th radio program we’ve done in the life study of James and is covering printed message number 10. We have seen a lot so far, life study of James is a little bit different than other life studies because James was not fully clear about God’s New Testament economy.
James (Program #7) – Practical Virtues of Christian Perfection (7)
The Apostle James was a man of tremendous Christian character and virtue. He was genuinely pious and godly, and he obviously possessed great human wisdom. His epistle was perhaps the most practical in the New Testament in terms of Christian perfection. But as we have seen repeatedly in this current life-study of the book of James, when we compared his writing with that of the other New Testament writers, it becomes quite clear that for all his virtue and piety, James lacked a clear view of God’s goal and God’s way. A goal and a way that Paul described as God’s economy. All we need to do is consider how each of these two important figures in the New Testament present the matter of wisdom. In James 1:5 he said, “But if any one of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and does not reproach, and it will be given to him“.
James (Program #6) – Practical Virtues of Christian Perfection (6)
One of the basic tenets of the Christian faith is the unequivocal belief that every word of the Bible is inspired by God. This essential truth comes from 2 Timothy 3:16, which literally says, “All scripture is God breathed“. Practically speaking what does this mean? Does it really mean that each word is God’s direct speaking? Well if that were the case, then we’d have to conclude that God was really speaking through Satan when Genesis quotes the serpent tempting Eve. Or how about Peter’s word in Matthew 16, which provoked the Lord Jesus to say to Peter, “get behind me Satan”. Surely every word is not God’s direct speaking, but every word is included in the canon of the biblical text according to God’s inspiration. And this inspiration is always linked to God’s purpose. If the Bible includes a passage it is there because God has desired it to be there, and there is a definite reason for it.
James (Program #5) – Practical Virtues of Christian Perfection (5)
We have pointed out in our first 4 radio programs on the life study of James that we need to have a balanced view of the epistle of James. On the one hand this Epistle is helpful in emphasizing on practical Christian perfection. On the other hand this Epistle serves as a warning that it is possible even for a very godly man as James not to be clear concerning God’s New Testament economy.
Today we are going to get a view from chapter 2 of the book of Acts that James was not clear about God’s economy.
James (Program #4) – Practical Virtues of Christian Perfection (4)
In chapter one of the Epistle of James, three major points are covered: the divine birth in verse 18, receiving the implanted word in verse 21, and the perfect law of freedom in verse 25. First God brought us forth he regenerated us by the word of truth. Hence the word of truth is the seed of life for our divine birth. After being regenerated by receiving this seed, we need to continue to receive the implanted word, which is able to save our soul in our daily life.
According to verse 18, the word of truth is for regeneration in our spirit. According to verse 21, we need the implanted word for the daily salvation of our soul. Moreover according to verses 25-27, we need the perfect law of freedom so that we may live a God-fearing life. A life that might be considered religious in a proper sense. Such a life corresponds to God’s heart, which is love, and to God’s nature, which is holiness.
James (Program #3) – Practical Virtues of Christian Perfection (3)
After studying the Apostle Paul’s writings and the life study messages on the writings of Paul, we will no doubt be influenced to receive the light concerning God’s economy and to be strongly for God’s economy. But there is the possibility that we may be careless in our behavior or that we may neglect the matter of practical Christian perfection. Therefore we need the balance provided by the book of James, which comes in the Scripture immediately after the fourteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul.
James (Program #2) – Practical Virtues of Christian Perfection (2)
Perhaps the most important contribution that the Epistle of James makes to the New Testament is in the area of practical Christian perfection. Some people may not understand the usage of the word “perfection” in this context. James actually uses it in verse 4 of chapter 1. Let me read beginning at verse 2 to give it its proper context, “Count it all joy, my brothers, whenever you fall into various trials, knowing that the proving of your faith works out endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work that you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.” What is it to let endurance have its perfect work that we may be perfect?