Oh, the creaking of the gate…sounds as if I have visitors. How good of you to visit once again as we continue delving into the Epistle of James.
Let’s just briefly refresh our memories of what we have talked about thus far: James, Jesus’ half brother has written this letter to the Jewish Christians that were scattered abroad throughout the world. He considers himself a servant of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ. (v. 1)
From verses 2-8, James makes it clear that we should not consider nor respond to trials, temptations, testings, negatively, as God has allowed them for our good and they will result in good spiritual fruit. We will, if we have the proper response come to that place where we will be “entire”, that is, have a mature and complete spiritual walk, (v. 4). Our response, should we find ourselves not knowing what to do, is to ask God, and if we ask in faith, He is more than delighted to answer us. Faith, being the key to petitioning God for wisdom. James concludes this portion on the purpose of trials by telling us that the man that endures this time of trial, this time of testing will ultimately receive the “crown of life”. This “crown” is His promise to all those who do endure. Enduring, going through the trial/testing is evidence of our love for God.
When last we met, we learned that there was a difference between the testings or temptation that God allows for His good for us, and those which emanate from our own lusts; our own desires. We talked about how our own desires are truly at enmity with God’s desires for us. Our desires have a negative connotation in that they spring inherently, because we are of Adam’s race. These temptations, once consummated bring sin and sin, death. Eternal death. And, in closing when last we met, we talked about how we might make the transition from Eternal Death to Eternal Life by accepting God’s gift to us by faith, through Jesus Christ, God the Son. (See post dated January 14 if you are joining us for the first time.)
As we open our Bibles today to James 1:16-18, we will consider God’s purpose in all of this. You may be asking, “Why is this so important?” Well, it is important TO GOD! In verse 18a, it says, “Of His own will begat He us…” His OWN will…
“Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” – KJV
Remember, this letter is addressed to “brethren”, v. 1, that is, Jewish believers in the salvation procured for them by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross at Mt. Calvary.
James starts off this portion with a warning to his “beloved brethren to “not err”. With further study, you will find that this literally means that they should ‘not be deceived’; they should not ‘wander, go astray, or be out of the way’ God has for them. [“Be not deceived” is used elsewhere in the New Testament with the same Greek word, for those of you who might be interested in ‘digging a little more’: I Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 6:7.]
“Every good gift, every perfect gift”, that is both the gift and the act of giving is from God. It all comes from Him. It is of His will that we received anything at all, that is good. Let us be careful to not take the credit for what God does. Our place is to point to Him, for He is the Provider for all that we have.
“perfect” – 5046 – complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); of full age.
“Father of” – 3962 – parent
“…lights” – 5457 – To shine or make manifest , especially by rays; luminous (in the widest application) ; fire; light.
“variableness” – 3883 – not fickle
“shadow” – 644 – no obscuration
“turning – 5157 – revolution; turn
From these Greek definitions of the Scripture words, we have the distinct conclusion that God, is the parent and Giver of every good and complete gift that he gives us to complete us in every phase of our living, whether it be in our livelihood, our prosperity both physically and spiritually, emotionally, mentally and also, our moral fiber, just to name some of the areas He distributes His goodness to us. From this verse we also see that Father God is not a fickle God, not one that changes His Mind, but is resolute, unlike mankind. What a great security to know that our God is immutable, He never changes.
So now we come to the question for the day, What’s God Have in Mind? Verse 18, gives us this answer.
God had a purpose when we who are called by His Name were born again; saved. He “begat” us with “truth”. The Truth is His Word, and it is by His Word, that is 100% without error, that we came to know of His Way of salvation…through Jesus Christ.
We have just celebrated Christmas, the celebration of the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. See the following account from the Gospel of John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God , and the Word was God.” – John 1:1. Jesus Christ is the “Word” that is being spoken of here.
“The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that wasmade. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:2-4.
“…as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13
Here’s Christmas: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.) full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14.
Begat: Begotten…What is on God’s mind? Verse 18 of James 1 tells us why: “that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”
The “we” in verse 18 is in reference to the Jewish believers. They were the guarantee of a fuller harvest.
And, how then, does that apply to us? We, who are saved believers of Jesus Christ, are part of the guarantee given to the Jews…part of the fuller harvest. Today we are to be used, just as the early Jewish believers were used, for a fuller harvest. In order for us to be useful to God’s purpose for His Name’s sake, we must go through those trials, testings, we learned about in verses 3-4. As we grow in our living Beyond the Strait Gate, according to His Word, we are accomplishing His good will for our lives.
Knowing that God knows what He is doing, and that His way is Perfect, let us be glad and thankful that He loves us enough to make us all that He would have us to be. Let us embrace God’s method of teaching us endurance with JOY; seeing the trial as a good gift; a perfect gift.