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James #6 - chapter 2, verse 5-7
The Book of James
The Test of Impartial Love
James 2:5-7
Tonight we return to a study we began two weeks ago from James 2:1-13.  So far we’ve covered the first four verses as Pastor James guides us through a fourth test of the authenticity of our faith. 
In previous verses we’ve seen the tests of perseverance in suffering, blame in temptation and how we respond to God’s Word all reveal whether or not we are genuinely saved.  This fourth test is the test of impartial love. 
As I shared with you, James provides an excellent outline int his section.  He begins with the principle, then the example, then the inconsistency, then the violation and then the final appeal in the last two verses.
We saw last time the principle and the example.  The principle was given to address a problem in the church and that was treating people differently on the basis of their wealth and position in life.  It is a mark of true faith that you love everyone equally and without partiality. 
Practicing partiality and claiming to hold the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ is incompatible. You cannot practice partiality and be consistent with calling yourself a Christian.
And that is the principle.   Then to illustrate this  principle, James provides an example in verses 2-4.
Two folks come to church and one is favored because he’s dressed nice and shows signs of affluence and the othere is virtually ignored because he is poor. 
That is sinful behavior on the part of God’s people. 
You have become judges, he says, with evil thoughts.
Now in our verses tonight, he talks not only about a principle and an example, but thirdly, about
3. The Inconsistency
verses 5 to 7
In other words, to be partial to the rich and the status people and to turn your back on others who are below that level is inconsistent in light of two facts.  And they’re both right here in the text. 
First of all, we see
  • the divine choice of the poor
and number two, 
  • the blasphemy of the rich
When you side with the rich, you side with the blasphemers. When you go against the poor and the downcast, you go against the ones God has chosen. You are utterly inconsistent. You have reversed the whole picture.
Let's look at fact number one. This is most interesting, the divine choice of the poor
verse 5
So what poor is he talking about? Is it the poor in Spirit of the Sermon on the Mount?  I don’t think so.  This is talking about the poor in status and finances. 
Generally speaking, throughout God's redemptive history, God has chosen the poor of the world or more literally, those who are poor in the eyes of the world, the ones the world thinks are the poo.  We might call them the down and out. 
Now obviously that is not to the exclusion of the rich.  There are lots of example of people of means who served the Lord. 
But in general, the redeemed have been poor. God has a special affection and love for the poor. And time will not permit us to look at all the proof for that found in Scripture, but suffice it to say, discrimination against people because they're lower on the economic level or the educational ladder or in terms of what they own and possess and whatever is absolutely contrary to the nature of God.
Notice what James says regarding the poor. 
Verse 5
First He chose them,
  • to be rich in faith
They may never have the riches of the world their faith in Christ has brought them eternal riches, true riches.  All that any man or woman could ever hope for, He gives us through Jesus Christ.  Those who were poor in the physical realm become rich in the spiritual dimension.
Secondly, they are
  • heirs of the Kingdom
What is the Kingdom?  The Kingdom is the sphere of salvation with all that that includes, and all that that implies. Really these two phrases, "rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which He's promised to them that love Him," are saying the same thing. We become rich and how rich? We own the Kingdom, we possess the Kingdom. All that God has promised to those that love Him become ours.
The Kingdom is inseparably linked to salvation.  Calling someone to the Kingdom is calling someone to salvation. That's just very very basic.
So when he says you'll be heirs of the Kingdom, he means you will inherit everything that salvation can possibly bring to you, all the eternal reward, all the blessing in time as well will belong to you. The fullness of salvation, the richness of God's eternal blessing is promised to the poor who become rich in faith.
Notice what he says there also, "To them that love Him." So two things are said to be exercised here. One is faith and the other is love. Where a person puts faith in Christ and loves Him, he gives evidence of having received by inheritance the riches of the eternal Kingdom of God.
Now we need to keep in mind there aren't going to be any poor folk in heaven. There aren't going to be any outcasts in heaven.
There is so much bad theology floating around these days, if it weren’t so damaging, it would be funny. 
And I hear people say, "Well, you know, you're going to get rewards and if you goof your life up you're going to have just a small place in heaven. Whatever you're doing in this life is sending up building materials. And some of you are sending up fine brick and marble and some of you are sending up the most beautiful pillars and you're going to be living in this mansion in this fabulous place.
And some of you are sending up there cardboard and two-by-fours and you're going to be living in heavenly shanty town."
Now why, if God is no respecter of persons on earth would He be in Heaven?  There won't be any poor people and heaven hasn't got any slums.  Everybody's going to be living in the Father's house. We're all going to receive the same eternal life. We're all going to inherit totally the promised Kingdom in all its glorious fullness.
It will all be ours no matter how long we worked, how short we worked, we get the full same wages, we'll all be like Jesus Christ, those are all wonderful truths.
So what is James saying? He's saying, "How in the world can you look down on the poor when God has chosen the poor to be the eternally rich?"  But then comes the point that really stabs them.  It’s found in the first line of verse 6, but it really belongs with verse 5.
verse 6a
You have despised them. You are unbelievably unlike God.
The second issue here is
  • the blasphemy of the rich
verse 6b
He’s talking about civil court. And history will tell you that the rich have oppressed the poor.
Then he goes on to say, "Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which you are called?"
It’s not just a civil matter, they are defaming your faith.  It involved civil hostility and religious hostility.
He uses the word “oppressed” and that is the word tyrannize, and it probably refers to the Sadducees who were the most tyrannical of all. They were the ones who most offended the early church in its beginnings.
But in general the rich have oppressed the poor. We read about some of that in our reading of the Old Testament. So the rich man coming into the church in the illustration of verses 2 to 4 is a symbol of the rich who oppressed.
And the poor man is a symbol of the poor who were generally oppressed. The word "draw," it says draw you before judgment seat, literally is the word "drag."
And it means by force.  It’s the idea of dragging you into court to exploit you by some injustice.
And worse than that, they blasphemed the worthy name by which you're called. What is that worthy name? The worthy name of Jesus. They slandered Jesus. They slander the Lord Jesus Christ. Wealthy Christ-rejecting Jews, no doubt, in that community rejecting Jesus as their Messiah were blaspheming the name of Jesus, dragging these poor people in to courts, harassing them. This is the worthy name by which you're called.
In fact, that little phrase "by which you are called" speaks of personal relationship. This was, by the way, first done at their baptism. When those early believers were baptized they were first called by the name of Jesus. They took on, as it were, the name Christian, Christ's own, Christ's one, belonging to Christ.  As we saw this morning, that first occurred in Antioch. 
And so, James reminds them that they belong to Jesus Christ and they are not to practice partiality. For one thing, they ought not to look down on the poor because God chose the poor to be rich in eternal riches.
And they ought not to side with the rich because it's the rich who usually oppress the poor. And if you have an attitude of partiality, you line up with the enemy rather than the worthy name of the Lord Jesus.
Now, looking back all the way to the beginning of the chapter, these first seven verses, we can say because we are one with the Lord Jesus Christ who is the glory of God revealed, we cannot show partiality.
Two, because God has chosen the poor, we cannot show partiality.
Three, because God has called us by His name, we cannot show partiality.
In other words, everything is bound up with the purpose and the person of God in Christ. And if we're going to be like Christ and reveal His glory and feel as He feels and honor the name we bear, then we cannot be partial. The likeness of God must show in us in caring for the poor in our fellowship, the poor in our congregation and not being partial to the rich.
One writer says, "Money still does the talking far too loudly in Christian circles and where and when it does the glory of Christ departs."
In verse 8 James moves to the seriousness of this sin and we'll save that for next time. Let's bow together in prayer.
You’ve probably never heard of Toyoiko Kagawa, but he was a Christian evangelist born 125 years ago in Kobe, Japan.  He was deeply burdened for the poor Japanese people in the slums of Kobe and he spent the years of his life in those slums trying to love and reach those who were downcast and down trodden. He was a small man with a frail body and one of his lungs was diseased with tuberculosis.
On a visit to America the doctors told him that he couldn't live long.  He returned to the slums of Kobe saying, "If my life is short, it will be full." He moved into a room in the slums so the needy could get to him and there in the stench of those back streets Toyohiko Kagawa lived. Every day he preached in the streets to the poor people.
On one particular day he was preaching from John 3:16 about the love of God for unworthy sinners. It wasn't an easy place to preach the love of God.  A dismal rain began to fall and the crowd dispersed from the dank, dark street where he was.  All that was left was a rather rough crowd of men who stuck around to laugh and mock him. 
“What does this little man with his funny talk about God know? And what does anyone know about whether God loves us or not?" one man mocked. It seemed they had the right side of the argument for even as Toyohiko tried to answer them he coughed a hacking cough and spit up a significant amount of blood.  They laughed and said, "If God loves you why doesn't He do something for you?" The persistent little man lifted his arm, wiped the blood from his mouth with his sleeve and went on with the story of God's love.  His biographer wrote, "Gradually, in the cold street, their ruckus voices were stilled, for stealing in on their pagan minds was the realization that right before their eyes in that little sick man was the very proof of what he was saying. Toyohiko Kagawa was actually a demonstration of God's love."
We are not often called upon to express God’s love in such a dramatic way.  But in the everyday ways we show impartiality by caring for those in our fellowship who have need, and maybe those outside who have need, with no thought of anything but the value of their soul, we have the privilege of demonstrating the character and heart of God.  But that’s what authentic faith does.  Reaching out to others, impartiality demonstrates true salvation, the life of God at work in the soul of a man and woman.
Let’s pray
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