May 2018  
SMTWTFS
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
     
Upcoming Events
MAY

29

TUE
Men's Bible Study
8:00 AM
Every Tuesday at the dowtown McDonalds, 7:00 a.m.
MAY

30

WED
Midweek Activities
6:00 PM
Preschool, Children, The Mission (Youth Worship) and Adult Bible Study, Weekly Worker's and Officers Meeting
Bible Search
James #4 - chapter 1, verse 19-27
The Book of James
Responding to the Word
James 1:19-27
 
Tonight we come to the third of a series of tests that James offers to his readers to help them evaluate the authenticity of their faith.  If something is real, it will pass the test.  So far, he’s challenged them to think about their response to suffering and trials and their willingness to accept responsibility for their response to temptation. 
 
The true child understands God is on the throne when suffering comes and faces it with a determined spirit and the child of God doesn’t blame God for their temptations. 
 
Tonight the test is about our response to the Word of God.  Your response to the Word of God will reveal the authenticity of your faith. 
 
James 1:19-27
 
One of the primary things we do here at the church, if not the primary thing is preach and teach the Word of God.  Every Sunday and Wednesday, month after month, year after year, we gather for instruction from the Bible.  And that is more important than any other single thing we do because our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word will shape and determine every thing else we do. 
 
The Psalmist said, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord," Psalm 119, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord."
In the same Psalm, the Psalmist expressed his deepest desire, "oh, let me not wonder from thy commandments." He expressed his deepest affection, "oh how I love thy law." He expressed his greatest happiness, "I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies as much as in all riches."
 
In other words, he found everything in the word of God. And that's why he says in verse 30, "I have chosen the way of truth." In fact, in verse 161 of that same Psalm he says, "My heart stands in awe of thy word."
 
The word is the heart and soul of our Christian experience. In it God speaks. In the same Psalm, the Psalmist again said, "I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right." Everything in it is true. And he summed it up with this commitment, "I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes always even to the end."
 
His commitment was to the word of God to hear it, to love it, to believe it, to apply it. The Godly are described in the familiar word of Psalm 1 as, "those who delight in the law of the Lord and in that law meditate day and night."
 
And frankly, a person's attitude toward and response to the word of God is at the very core of their Christianity. That's why we teach the Bible here. There's really nothing else to say.
 
And the text that I read to you a moment ago not only affirms why we do that, but affirms our salvation as we receive the Word. 
 
James underscores two major themes clear and helps us to understand what is important about them.
 
First of all, he talks about
 
1.  A Proper Reception of the Word
 
Notice in verse 21 the little phrase, "Receive the word." "Receive the word." In verses 19 to 21, he is talking about this reception of the word. And there are a number of things necessary if we will give God’s Word a proper reception.
 
You remember Jesus said in Mark 4:24, "Take heed what you hear." And in Luke 8:18, he said, "Take heed how you hear." It's not just what we here it's how we here it. Jesus pointed out in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13, that people hear the same word. The seed is the word of God but they have very differing responses to it.
 
And I would submit that it's not the “what” as much as the how. It is only the seed that falls on good ground that brings forth a crop.  It's the same truth, the same see in every scenario.  The “what” that is planted is the same. The “how” of it’s reception is different.
 
So how are we to receive the word?  James offers three answers to that question.  First, we are to receive the word with
 
- submission
 
Notice how verse 19 begins:  “so then”
 
He is connecting what’s about to be said with what he’s just spoken.  He has just spoken in verse 18 about “the word of truth”.  In fact, in verse 18 he says God birthed us through the Word of Truth.  We are born again, regenerated, raised up from the dead, given eternal life, saved, redeemed by the word of truth.
 
So then. . . In other words, you've already experienced the power of the word. You have already experienced in your conversion, in your salvation, the power of the word of God.  You have already experienced that because you were born of the truth.
 
Now because you already know that, I expect you to put it into action.  Just as you’ve received the word of truth for salvation, continue to receive the word of truth to guide your living.
 
And in particular, “be quick to hear.”
 
Now, I suppose if you just pulled this verse out of the section, uprooted it, you might conclude that this is some kind of generic statement about being a good listener. Listen to your kids. Listen to your wife. Listen to your friends and don't talk too much.
 
And that's a nice kind of way to be but that's not what this is talking about. The context here is all about the Word of Truth and when it says be quick to hear, it means be quick to hear IT.  Be eager to put yourself under the proclamation of the word of God. That's what it's talking about.
 
The word of God is the theme.   You see the word of God mentioned in verse 18. You see the word of God mentioned again in verse 21, "Receive the word." You see it mentioned in verse 22, "The word." You see it mentioned in verse 23, "The word." And it's referred to in verse 25 "As the perfect law the law of liberty." 
 
And the idea here is to take advantage of every opportunity you are given to increase your hearing of God's word.  Literally in the Greek, be quick to the hearing. Go to the lesson. Go to the sermon. Go to the class. Go to the exposition. Get where you can hear.
 
And this all flows together through the course of this chapter.  In verses 2-12, James talked about trials. Life is made up of trials. When the trials come they demand wisdom from God and the Word provides that wisdom.
 
Then starting in verse 13 down to verse 18 he talks about temptation. When temptations come, they demand knowledge of the word of God to be withstood. So whether you're talking about the trials of life or the temptations, we need the word of God which gives us the foundation on which we stand.
 
So James says, "Put yourself quickly under the hearing of the Word of God.  Every time you have the opportunity to get where you can hear the word of God, hurry to get there."
 
That's the heart that James is after, quick to hear.
 
That’s rather indicting, isn’t it?  See, I know why people come to church time and time again and why they don’t.  People come to church on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights and Sunday school and Bible studies because they love the Word of God.
And if they don’t come and they are able it’s because they don’t love the Word of God.  Those who understand the significance and impact of the Word of God on their life and desire it’s teaching and wisdom and counsel hurry to get here. 
 
James says, "Be quick to hear. Hear what it says."
 
But he immediately adds something else, "Slow to speak “
 
Again, we must keep that in context.  I don't think he's talking about a generic kind of quietness.  That's not the issue.
 
What he's saying is when it comes to the word, be in a hurry to hear it and slow down when it comes to teaching it.  Listen:  When it comes to teaching and learning the Word of God, we are involved in the most serious exercise on the face of the earth.  We must eagerly pursue every opportunity to hear it, but we must with great pain and preparation and readiness stand to speak it. 
 
People sometimes ask me if I get nervous before I preach. And to be honest, I've done this for a long time and to be honest, "No, I don't get nervous." It's not unfamiliar ground to me. I'm very much at home here.
 
But I will tell you there is another emotion constantly at play and that is that what I speak, I speak in a way that makes you eager to hear and receive it and that I accurately and adequately explain it. 
 
After all, we are handling the Word of God and James is implying a great responsibility on both ends of the spectrum, both in sharing and receiving it.
 
In fact, in chapter 3, James will hit this subject head on as he talks about the greater judgment that is placed upon those who teach the Word of God. 
 
We dare not approach this time with triviality.  That’s why it is such a burden to my heart that people don’t return on Sunday evenings or Wednesdays or don’t come to Sunday School.  It breaks my heart that young people would rather spend this time texting each other on their phones or be playing games while the Word of God is being taught. 
 
And sadly, tragically there are preachers all over the world who are irresponsible and are going to face severe judgment some day in the economy of God when they have to take a stand on the things that they have said that have polluted the revelation of God.
 
But equally unnerving are the countless numbers who claimed to be Christians who could care less about the the teaching of the Word of God. 
 
Be quick to hear.  Be slow to speak.  Then he adds a third instruction: 
 
“be slow to wrath”
 
That seems to be a rather random and unattached statement.  But again, we must keep it in context.
 
 
 
This is to be our response to the Word of Truth.  The word he uses for anger is a specific word.  It's not an outburst.  It's not losing your temper.  This is a deep seated resentment.  He says, "When it comes to the Word of Truth, be eager to hear it, be very intentional and studied when you speak it and don’t resent it when it speaks to you. 
 
And here is where we get to the submissiveness.  The idea is hearing the word of God and not offering any resistance to it.  It is not uncommon for people to not only resist the Word of God, but be hostile to it.  In fact, they not resist the the Word, they resist the deliverer of the Word of God. 
 
The truth is presented. They don't want to hear the truth. They don't like the truth. And they don’t like anyone who tells them the truth.  And if it is not properly received and submitted to, there will instead, build a resentment.
 
Some people resent hearing something that's different than what they believe. Some people resent when they hear something that confronts them. They are hostile to the truth because they're convicted by it.
 
Some people come to a church like ours, hear me say something and decide they’ll never come back again. They are offended by the truth and they have a resentment about that truth.
 
In Galatians 4:16, Paul says, "Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? Does that make me an enemy because I told you the truth? It's the greatest thing I could ever do for you is tell you the truth."
So James says, "When it comes to the word take every occasion to hear it. Be very reluctant to stand in the place of the teacher and speak it and very, very slow to be resentful."
 
Why?
 
verse 20
 
The purpose of the teaching of the Word is to produce righteousness.  Righteousness is intended to make you right with God. 
 
So in a sentence, the purpose of teaching the word is to make you right with God. And that can't happen if you're fighting it or resenting it. 
 
For the teaching to accomplish its intending result, you must submit to it. 
 
All of us have this defense mechanism that goes off when we hear something that convicts us.  We resist it, even if we know its right.  But it is never helpful to be resentful toward the word of God. You don't want to fight back.
 
The true believer desires to hear the word, speak the word only when compelled to do so and prepared to do so, and never exhibit any hostility or resentment or rebellion against biblical truth or the one who teaches it.
 
So first of all, you receive the word with submission.
 
Second, we are to receive the word with
 
 
  • purity
 
verse 21
 
This is very basic.  Sin hinders the work of the word so get rid of the sin.  Before you're going to be able to take in the word and grow by it you're going to have to deal with sin because sin is a barrier.
 
The main verb in verse 21 is the word “receive.”
 
But there is a participle that modified the main verb and that participle is “lay aside”.  The “laying aside” defines how you receive.
 
So the main thing is receiving the word, but you can’t do the main thing without the “laying aside”. 
And the point is before the word can be received and produce the righteousness of God, which is what it wants to produce; sin has to be dealt with it.
 
Now, he uses a pretty graphic word to talk about laying aside. The word actually refers to taking off your clothes.  
 
In the culture of the day of James, you come home from a hard days labor in the hot sun by walking dusty or muddy dirt roads.  You are covered in the sweat and filth of your labor and when you get home you take off those filthy clothes.  That's the imagery here.
 
Lay aside all filthiness.  He follows the imagery by using the word for dirty clothes.  It’s the word for the  filth and scum that gets on the body when you're out in the dirt and you're working.
 
Eventually the word came to speak of moral evil and vice.  Hypocrites and others of his day used the word to refer to wax in your ears. 
 
And it may be that James picks up that imagery to speak of any dirt that accumulates and plugs up your ears so you can't hear the word. Throw it off. Get rid of the filth in your life.
 
And I will tell you, when I look at someone who has no particular appetite for the word of God, no particular longing to be where the word of God is taught, they’re in no big hurry to get under the sound of preaching and teaching and have no great passion to study Scripture, I conclude one of two things is true. 
 
Either they're not Christians and don't really know the Lord and therefore have no desire for the truth or two their ears are plugged. They have no interest in hearing and what plugs them is sin.
 
Then, if it weren’t enough to lay aside the filthiness, he adds this reference to the
 
“overflow of wickedness”.  “Superfluity of naughtiness” as the old KJV puts it. 
 
That phrase is interesting. By the way, notice in regard to the filthiness and the overflow of wickedness,, he uses the little word “all.”  All is very important. James instructs his hearers to get rid of all of it. 
 
Wickedness is a word for general evil. It includes not only the evil act but the evil intent, the evil thought, the evil heart.
And the overflow is speaking of any amount.  Anything that is still there, get rid of it.  Whatever evil still resides in our humanness. It's a cancer that has to be cut away. It's a wax that plugs our ears. It's a garment that's filthy. It has to be thrown off. The whole filthy, ugly, dirty mass of wicked, moral, vice and sin must be confessed, repented and removed. That's how you have to receive the word.
 
Receive it with submission. Receive it with purity and thirdly, receive it with
 
  • humility
 
We are to receive the word of God with meekness.  One of the reasons many don't want to listen to the word of God is pride.  They don’t need it.  They’ve got life all figured out.  But to receive the word of truth requires a submissive, pure and humble spirit. 
 
Perhaps the greatest indicator of a humble attitude is having a teachable spirit.  It's that attitude that really wants to know really wants to submit. 
 
And notice we are receiving the implanted word. 
 
Now in our culture we’re pretty familiar with the language of implants.  I don't want to get into this too much, but suffice it to say, if you’ve got one, they’re probably making an implant for it these days. 
 
But James says man needs an implant.  If you are a Christian, you’ve already received one.  It is the implanted Word.  So when was it implanted?  It happened when we got saved.  We received the implanted Word. 
 
In fact, I not only got the word implanted, I got the author!  The resident author of Scripture lives in me. I have the word and I have the author of the word to help me understand the word 
 
And the tragedy of all tragedies is to have the word implanted and be indifferent to it. I never cease to be amazed at the fact that I can pick up my Bible and as I begin to read the Bible I have the confidence that the living spirit of God dwelling within me, is illuminating his own revelation. That's the implanted word.
 
The power of the word and the affect of the routed word is dependent on my receiving it. And what compels me to receive it?
 
It's able to save my soul or my life. It is the source of my salvation past, present and future. It is the source of my justification, sanctification, glorification.
 
It is the word that continually delivers me from sin, continually conforms me to the image of Jesus Christ, and assures me of my future.
 
. That's what he means. 1 Corinthians 1:18, "We are being saved by the power of God." And it's the word that does that. It's the word that sanctifies and nurtures and builds us up.
 
He's not talking about salvation here. He's talking to already saved believers and telling them the word has already been implanted and now if you will receive it, it'll continue on the path of salvation all the way to glorification.
 
The word has power to continually deliver us from sin and to deliver us into the very presence of God.
 
So the whole section there in verses 19 to 21, "Is a call to the Christian to a right reception of all the truth of God's word that you have to listen with a submissive heart. You have to listen with a pure heart and you must respond with a humble heart. 
 
That’s the proper reception of the word of God.  So, now that we've received it, how do we respond to it?
Next he tells us how to have
 
2.  A Proper Reaction to the Word of God
 
Verse 22
 
It's fine to receive it but in the end what really matters is doing it. It's important to hear but it's not enough to hear.  Again, we keep in context the subject of the passage.  We’re talking about the Word of Truth.  That Word is powerful enough to totally transform the whole person, but it must be obeyed. You not only have to take it in, you've got to put it back out again in your living.
 
And it’s not a complicated process.  But be “doers” of the Word.  See how simple it is?  Builders build and teachers teach and doers do. You should be known as a doer of the word because that's your life habit.
 
And to highlight the thought, he says be a doer rather than a hearer only.  The word for hearer is the ancient term for auditors.  And to properly understand the word “auditor” think in educational terms. 
Someone who audits a class shows up and listens but does none of the work necessary to make a grade. They just sit there and listen.
 
That sounds like a lot of Baptists I’ve known.  In fact, I would say that describes the bulk of Christianity.  When the numbers that attend worship services on Sunday are compared to those who actually apply what they’re hearing, it becomes apparent many are hearers and not doers.
 
There is to be a willingness, even an eagerness to apply the word of God so that you're not merely a hearer, but a doer.  And if that is not the case, James says you have deceived yourself. 
 
James is quite the wordsmith and I love his writing because of the very vivid word illustrations he uses.  To speak of this deception, he uses a mathematician’s term that means to make a miscalculation.  They added it all up, but they got it wrong.  They were self-deceived through bad reasoning. They believe they were oka, but the truth is they're not.
 
Then, to explain this truth of doing James uses a great analogy. 
 
verse 23
 
Follow his logic:  The idea is not just to receive, but to respond or react to it.  So he offers this little parable. If anyone is a hearer of the word as opposed to being a doer of the word, he's like a man looking at himself in a mirror.  That’s pretty easy to understand so far, right? 
 
And what he sees in the mirror is a reflection of his face.  Are you still with me?  He looks in the mirror and sees himself.  Nothing extraordinary so far.
 
Then comes the lesson:  The person who is a hearer and not a doer is like somebody who looks in a mirror and sees himself.  But once he’s away from the mirror, he forgets what he looks like. 
 
Have you ever experienced that?  Have you ever gotten distracted while you were getting ready in the morning?  Maybe the phone rings in the middle of the preparation, and you get busy talking and forget what you’re doing and go out with your face half shaved or an earring in one ear and not the other. 
 
Or maybe you didn’t get to finish your makeup and then you get caught up in your day and don’t even think about what you look like.  You may wonder why everybody’s chuckling or pointing at you, but you’ve forgotten what you look like. 
 
James says, “That’s the person who is a hearer only.”  What does he mean by that?
 
verse 25
 
Now he’s talking about the Word of Truth, holy Scripture.  He reminds his hearers that this Law is not like all other laws.  This Law is the Perfect Law of Liberty.   It’s an errorless law and it’s a freeing law.
 
And the one who not only hears this Law and abides by it or remains in it or obeys it or applies it is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work is blessed.
 
By the way, the word “looks” in verse 25 is a different word than the word for look back in verse 24.
 
Here it means to stoop down and look very closely with precision and care. To look into the word of God carefully, precisely, closely implies a stooping intently with an eager effort to see the truth of God and then to apply it to your own face to see what you're really like.
 
This is in contrast to the man who glances in the mirror in a distracted way and forgets what he sees.  When you look long into God’s Word, you're going to remember what you saw and you're going to be able to apply it and you're going to be blessed.
 
Now without belaboring the point, the key to his analogy is in that phrase “looks into the perfect law of liberty”..
 
The mirror is the Scripture. It's the word of God. And when you look into the Word of God intently and intimately, you see not only the truth of God , you see yourself.  You see the beauty of the revelation of God and Christ and the spirit and the truth.  And you see your sinful ugliness and how desperately you need cleansing.  You see how much you need to change your clothes. 
 
The hearer only listens, takes a brief glance, walks away, forgets what he looks like, goes on his way and misses God's blessing. But the one who looks long and intently into the Scripture is going be able to apply the word of God to make that which is honoring to God a reality in their own living.
 
And this man will be blessed in what he does. God is so practical. Do you want to be blessed or
unblessed? I'd rather be blessed. Wouldn't you? I'd rather be happy. I'd rather make my way prosperous and have good success than make my way miserable and have failure.  If that’s what I want, then I have to look intently into the law, the word.
 
It’s not uncommon on any given Sunday for someone to tell me I preached a good sermon or how much they enjoyed it.  I always want to respond by saying, “So what are you going to do about it?”  In fact, some of the emptiest comments I ever hear are those kind of comments when they come from someone who doesn’t return for anything else through the week and give no service to God through His church.
 
In the end, that’s where the proof of our salvation is found. 
 
verses 26-27
 
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the very first, practical way you know you're doing the word is through your speech.  You want to know if you're a doer of the Word?  Listen to what you say. Listen to your conversation. Listen to your words. Listen to your jokes. Listen to your rhetoric's. Listen to your conversations to see what comes out of your mouth.
 
When you're an obedient believer and you're not just taking the word in but you're putting in back out, it'll show up in your speech.  Remember, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
 
 
Secondly, it'll show up in your relationship to others.
 
verse 27
 
If you want to know whether a person is a doer of the Word, listen to what they say and watch how they deal with people in need.
 
You'll always see and hear the love of Christ in a doer. You'll see and hear compassion. You'll see and hear kindness. You'll see and hear tenderness. You'll see and hear mercy. You'll see and hear grace.
 
And then lastly, at the end of verse 27, "Keep oneself unstained by the world."
 
If you’re a doer of the Word it’ll show up in the holy, Godly living.
Are you a doer? Pure speech, loving care, holy living. If the word is coming in and your hearing it right and you're actually doing it those three areas will demonstrate it.
 
What you say, what you do toward others, and how you live toward God. That is the belief that behaves. That's the right response to the word.
 
Receive the word with submission, purity, and humility and respond to it by being a doer of the word and it'll show up in your speech, your relationships, and your godliness and you will enjoy the blessing of God.
 
Let’s pray. 
 
 
Post a Comment