Tag Archive | The Strait Gate; Eternal Life

Concerning God’s Elect and the Presidential Election

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.” KJV I Peter 4:10-11

WELCOME! The Strait Gate is the gate we must pass through in order to learn more of how it is we are to live as God’s elect; that is, those who profess to know Jesus Christ as Saviour, Redeemer and Lord of their lives. Those who responded to John 14:6 when Jesus clearly declared that the way to Heaven, the way to the Father, the way to Eternal Life with Him forever, is only through Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Jesus is that Strait Gate. All are welcome, but those who are called by His Name, those who have made a profession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His finished work on Calvary when He shed His precious blood for our sin that we might spend Eternity with Him, those whose lives must live up to the standard laid down in the Word of God…it is to you to whom this blog is addressed to today, in particular.

There’s much ado about the coming Presidential election; it floods our news media; the television commercials; the newspapers; the social networks; and eventually it will become so overwhelming, we will feel it to the point of nauseum. ENOUGH! our flesh cries out!

Let me say, right from the beginning of today’s post, I am no pundit concerning political matters, whatsoever; I am not politically minded…and yet, we are “in the world, but we are not to be a part of it.” I am not filled with wisdom about all the different issues and have it all ‘figured out’ as to who is the good guy, the best guy, the only guy that deserves my vote in November. I only say this, I have God’s Word, and it is from this perspective that I base this post today.

I have begun praying about this upcoming election and I hope that you, too, have it as one of the entries in your prayer journal. We need God’s wisdom and direction; God’s guidance and direction; and we need believers to get on their knees and pray, pray, pray…and when God has convicted you of His wisdom, to then, obey. God is not going to heal our land if we don’t. That is what is required of us and if we fear the Lord and the power of His might, we had better heed His word. He says it clearly in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – KJV Can it be any clearer than that, O Christian?

The only wisdom I can impart to you today is something that, no doubt, you already know; something you have heard before. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to state the obvious, lest we have forgotten, overlooked, disregarded, ignored, allowed the flesh to rule us and we have turned from worshiping God to worshiping mammon.
The WORD OF GOD is our standard!

It matters not which political party you identify with. What matters is what the candidates are saying and how what they say matches up to God’s Word.

Many veils have been thrown out there to confuse us and diffuse the clear vision we should be exercising based on God’s Word, especially when it concerns the economy and in particular ‘our’ money and the reported goals of the candidates campaigning.

We need to set our sights on God; God, ALONE! What is it He has promised in His Word to those who are His own? In His dissertation, commonly called, the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is speaking (Matthew 5-7) giving us His Wisdom on how we are to live as Christians. I draw our attention to that portion, therein, where Jesus tells us to not be filled with anxiety:

Matthew 6:25 and following:
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment?

And then in verses 32-34
“(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Exodus 20:13 says, “Thou shalt not kill.” “KILL” refers to “murder”. We are upstanding citizens…we wouldn’t think of murdering anyone! Well, good! Why then, would we stand behind a candidate that doesn’t believe in the sanctity of life? One that believes in abortion of a fetus…better said, one that believes in the killing of a baby in the womb? We are guilty, just as guilty, of breaking God’s law from Exodus 20:13, if we stand with one such as any candidate that would be in keeping with transgressing God’s Holy Word. God has told us in Exodus 34:7b, He will by NO MEANS “clear the guilty.”

I hope and pray that these few words will give us all pause to stop, pray, draw near unto God and His Spirit; to listen for His still small voice and heed His bidding as we consider how we will vote in November.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there by that find it.

Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil frit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:13-20, KJV


Passion Week: Is It Nothing to YOU? – Part 2, He Took My Place, And Yours, Too!

“Who His own Self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,…that we,…should live unto righteousness by Whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray;…”
I Peter 2:24-25a KJV

Today, commonly known as Good Friday on the Christian calendar may, for some, mark the nearing of the end of a period of sacrificial abstinence. For others, it may be a day off from school or perhaps a half day of work and the beginning of a weekend filled with Easter egg hunts, family gatherings with sumptuous meals to celebrate…Uh, WHAT EXACTLY ARE THEY CELEBRATING? Do they know? And, for others, it is the reminder of the tremendous sacrifice of God, who provided a way for sinners to be brought into oneness with Him through the Cross of Jesus, the Christ.

February, the month of “LOVE”, cannot compare with the Greatest Love story given to us by God the Father, when He sent His Beloved Son to die on the cross in OUR PLACE! And, astoundingly, Isaiah 53:10 says, “…it pleased the LORD to bruise Him…” (that is, His Son, Jesus) to “make His soul an offering for sin…” Take that in for a minute! It PLEASED GOD, the Father, to bruise, Jesus, God the Son!!

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15:13

Jesus Christ, God the Son, gave us THE HIGHEST expression of love when He lay down His life for you and for me…ON PURPOSE!! He took OUR PLACE! He died on the cross in OUR PLACE!! Has it sunk in yet!? Jesus Christ, is the “Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world”, Rev. 13:8

Was the cross, the shedding of blood, the sacrifice really necessary? Why did Jesus willingly lay down His life for us? Was there another way…something else that could have been done to accomplish our attaining Heaven?

Let’s try to remove and peel apart the layers of all we have ever heard, ever been taught, ever imagined, ever surmised and discover for ourselves from God’s Word, the Holy Bible, to know God’s perspective concerning these questions.

We have already established from this post and previous archived posts that man is a sinner because of Adam’s sin. We are of Adam’s race and inherently, sinners. There’s nothing we can do to remove our sins: good deeds cannot make us righteous in the sight of a Holy God. He cannot look at sin and because of our sinful nature, we cannot enter into Heaven when it is our appointed time to die. We know from Old Testament Scriptures that men made sacrifices to God annually to be cleansed of their sins and sacrificed spotless, unblemished lambs. This they did year after year in hopes of pleasing a Holy God. God, made us for Himself but without a means of our being acceptable in His sight, we cannot abide with God in Eternity…our sin separates us from Him.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity (sin) of us all.” ~ Isaiah 55:6 KJV

God had HIS “PLAN” for us but only ONE, The Begotten of God: Jesus Christ, His Son, the unblemished Lamb of God could fulfill God’s purpose in bridging the path from our sinful state to His holy place. The Cross is that bridge. The Cross is that pathway to Heaven to be with God in Eternity, and Jesus, His Son, was the ONLY ONE that could fulfill His purpose for us. WE should have been crucified, but He died in our place. He Who had no sin…died for our sin. He took upon Himself, OUR SIN and hung them on the cross; the Cross, a shameful place to die! Yet, He loved us so much, that He willingly died in our place to give us a way, a means of being with God forever in Eternity…if we accept His way and His finished work on the Cross, by faith.

Why did God do it? Because of His Mercy! “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life.” ~ Titus 3:5-7 God, in His Mercy, gave us what we didn’t deserve.

Because Jesus’ dying on the Cross for us is a “finished” work, meaning nothing else need be added to it, to make it complete. We do not need to add to it by doing good deeds to achieve Heaven, we need just believe in Him and His finished work as being the means of Eternity with God forever when we die. We need to confess with our mouths and hearts by a faith that believes the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross redeems us from our sin, and we will receive His gift of righteousness, because now we are in Him and He in us; all of our sins have been forgiven because the death of Christ paid for these sins fully by Jesus’ finished work.

Romans 5:17-21 says,

17. “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

18. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

19. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

20. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

21. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I close with this question to you dear reader…WHAT IS IT TO YOU that Jesus died on the Cross for your sin and mine?

WHAT IS IT TO YOU that He took our place on the Cross?

The story doesn’t end here. Resurrection Day, some call it Easter Sunday, is yet to come. It is the day of celebrating Christ’s VICTORY over death and the cross! He lives! Jesus Himself said, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”

What will you do with Jesus? The way to life everlasting, Eternity with Jesus Christ, is open. Will you choose life or death? We only know we have this moment right now and are not guaranteed the next moment of breath. I encourage you to choose life and to do it now, if you have never considered the choice before. Now is your opportunity for the salvation of Jesus Christ!

Author’s Note:
I am so blessed to report, thus far in the short time of this blog’s publication, Beyond the Strait Gate has been read in 14 countries throughout the world. My prayer is for God’s Word to reach “the outer most parts of the world”. If the Lord would have you to be part of reaching beyond your own Jerusalem, please forward the link to this website to those you know; to those on your salvation prayer list; to those you want to encourage.

Thank you once again for visiting Beyond the Strait Gate. I look forward to your return, if the Lord tarries. And, if you have not yet done so, please do sign up to subscribe to be alerted of the next publication.

Gleanings from James 2:14-26, A Few More Thoughts on Faith and Works

I cannot help but to return to this same portion of Scripture from the last post, in that, I feel there’s still more to glean from these verses. I’ll not rehash what has already been said, since it has been just a few days since the last post, except to revist verse 14, the basis for this post: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

We already know to have made a profession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not enough. Just as a newborn babe has life, it is not enough just to have life. The newborn cannot continue to exist healthily without proper nutrition and the environmental protection and care necessary to maintain good health and growth…to become a healthy man. On a spiritual level, it is the same. To have responded to God’s invitation to Eternity, “life” with Him forever and ever, this spiritual life must be nurtured as well in order for it to come to a healthy, mature and vital existence as part of the Bride of Christ.

How does this spiritual maturity develop? This newborn faith must “feed” on the Word of God daily, and in the consistent feeding upon God’s Word, the Holy Bible, we begin to come to know God, Who He is, what His promises are, what it is He requires for our intimate walk with Him, that we may, as we grow, manifest His works of Righteousness. Our works of His Righteousness in us is what will be seen of others. Others could come to know the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “as” we manifest Him in our lives. And, what if we don’t? Well, it is simple. Just as the body will die of malnutrition, so will our faith die spiritually and God’s purpose for us will not be accomplished. We are, for all intents and purposes, a ‘dead branch’ on His Vine. We cannot “fake” good works. John 15:1-17 is a dissertation by Jesus, Himself, where He speaks of Himself as being the True Vine and we are “the branches”. In verse 5 of John 15, Jesus says, “I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Perhaps we need to take some personal inventory and see how our faith is doing?

James gives us two different examples of “faith and works” in action! In verse 21, James reminds us of Abraham’s faith from Genesis 22:9,12 where we read of Abraham offering to God, Isaac, his son, his long awaited ONLY son, upon an altar of sacrifice. The test was to see if Abraham loved God more than he loved his son. Abraham was responding in obedience to God’s command, to sacrifice Isaac. Putting ourselves in Abraham’s place, how would we have responded to do this very same thing with one of our own children? When first we began this study in James, we read these verses, “…count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; know this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4 Could WE count it all joy to be put to such a testing of faith? I don’t know, if I could or not. I do know this: the Lord has told me that He would not test me beyond that which I was able to be tested. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape; that ye may be able to bear it.” – I Corinthians 10:13.

God is faithful!! This is His nature! He is faithful to His Word, also. Look at what happens next in James 2:23 concerning Abraham and God. “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness and he was called the Friend of God.”

Abraham’s “faith” was on the line. It was being tested to see of what metal his faith was made. Would he obey God or would his faith waver; falter? As we read the Genesis account of Abraham’s faith, we see that God, Who is faithful, provided His own sacrifice for Abraham, after Abraham proved his faith. He had passed the test! He believed God’s promise to him of a son, and of a nation that would come through him. Thus, he obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son, knowing God. This is key, you see. Our faith is as strong as our knowing God, what He is like: merciful, loving and also just and how He works. This act of faith on Abraham’s part was his “works”. He put his faith into action. His faith was not dead.

James 2:24 gives us his “P.S.” on this illustration of faith and works when he says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only.”

The other illustration James gives is that of Rahab, the harlot. The harlot?! Can a harlot be useful to God’s purpose? Can a harlot enter the kingdom of God?

Rahab’s faith tank was perhaps of a lesser degree than Abraham’s. Yet her meager faith does not go without works. We cannot give the excuse that we need to grow more in God’s Word in order to have good works. James 2:25 says that Rahab was justified by her works when she received the messengers and had sent them out another way. You can read this Old Testament account for yourself in Joshua 2:1-24. Another example of how her “works” proved her faith…and not only proved her faith but it saved her life. Matthew Henry said this of Rahab: Rahab preferred God’s honor to “the preservation of her own country.”

Such faith, like that of Abraham and Rahab’s takes a decreasing of our own self-interests and an increasing of God’s interests. Are we willing to lay aside our will for His will; are we willing to deny our self-interests for His interests? John’s Gospel 3:30 says it plainly and clearly, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is one of the ways God works in our lives that our faith might increase.

James 2:26 is the summary of this portion of Scripture on Faith and Works. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The works of our faith are the evidence and the spiritual life’s sustenance, which keeps faith alive and growing.

Thank you for once again stopping by Beyond the Strait Gate. I hope you will continue to visit and leave your thoughts, comments or questions. I will do my best to respond. If you have not yet subscribed to this blog, I encourage you to do so, that you may know of the publishing of the next post.

Gleanings from James 2:14-26, Faith and Works

The Apostle Paul begins this portion of James 2 with a question:
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

Having looked up some of the words from this question in Strong’s Concordance, please allow me to reiterate his question with my findings:

“What is the ‘profit’ (gain, advantage) if a man says he has ‘faith’ [Grk.: pistis’] (he is persuaded, and has credence; conviction of truth; reliance upon Christ), and doesn’t have ‘works’ (deeds; toil; effort; doings)? Can ‘faith’ (his credence) ‘save’ (deliver; protect; heal; preserve) him?

The Answer…to have made a profession of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with our lips, with our mouths, with words, is not enough.

Why is it not enough, you may be asking yourself? “Talk”, the saying goes, “is cheap.” From one of Victor Herbert’s operettas, The Gypsy Fortune Teller, a lilting aire rings out putting the thought behind this old saying to music, “If people said the things they mean, and mean the things they say…no hearts would ache, no hearts would break, and love were love alway…” Words are easily said, thoughtlessly said, emotionally said, and sometimes momentarily said. Words can uplift and encourage but also, without any action or “works” behind our words that our words may bear fruit, words evaporate instantly, as a vapor into the air, disappearing from the speaker, impacting the hearer and possibly doing more damage to the recipient, leaving them in a more devastated circumstance both emotionally and physically than before those words were said.

God hears every word we utter, and in fact, knows our words even before we speak, “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.” – Psalm 139:4 KJV

Verses 15 and 16 gives us an illustration of how when we give well-meaning words to others, it is simply NOT enough!

“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; nothwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?”

I think we can all relate…we see someone not as well off as we, ourselves, might be, and we might in the depths of our hearts ‘feel sorry’ for that person or their circumstance; we might tell them we will pray for them, we might express seemingly sympathetic words to “encourage” them…when in fact, perhaps the words only make us feel good about ourselves because we said “the right thing” or perhaps because we think someone will think well of us for having ‘said something nice’, but all those words, empty words, private thoughts about these unfortunates, are not any different than those mentioned in the Gospel of Luke’s account when a “certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way…saw him…passed by…and likewise a Levite…came and looked on him and passed by…”(Luke 10:30-32) These two men not only didn’t say anything, they didn’t do anything. NO WORKS!

We have a fine example of works in the verses that follow in this familiar parable of what is commonly known as The Good Samaritan. The Samaritan, “saw him, he had compassion on him.” Up to this point, only emotions are involved, but get ready…HERE COME THE WORKS! “And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, to set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” (Luke 10:33-35) We have a perfect illustration of the second Great commandment we have spoken of before, concerning loving our neighbor as ourselves. Samaritans, remember, were despised of the Jews because of their mixed Gentile blood and their different ways of worship (John 4:20-22). Despised or not, it did not prevent this Samaritan to not just have an emotional response to the injured man, but put that compassion into good works.

Faith MUST HAVE works, Paul says in verse 17, because a proclaimed faith that has no substance behind it, no works, is a dead faith.

What do we say we have faith in? A system? Our religion? Our family? Our church? God? The Bible? Our bank accounts? Our job? Our education? Our insurance policies? Something else?

The only kind of faith that counts for Eternity, is a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and His finished work on the cross of Calvary, when He shed His blood for the sin of the world.

It is not “works”, that is, good deeds, that seals our guarantee of Eternity with God when we leave this earth. No, not according to God’s Word, the Bible, in Ephesians 2:8-9. The Bible says we are saved by grace: His grace, His gift to us, His mercy, His loving us beyond our sinful nature, hating our sin but loving us and wanting us to be with Him in His Heaven where He lives, forever; for Eternity. Can we possibly fathom what Eternity is like?

God, Who is Holy, Who cannot tolerate sin: the barrier that stands between our being with Him, before the foundation of the world was made, had already known what and how He would resolve the sin dilemma. He would provide Himself, a Lamb, without spot or blemish, in the Person of Jesus Christ, God the Son, to bear our sin for us, that when we died, we could have the assurance of Eternity with Him forever. The price that had to be paid for our sin was Jesus bearing our sin and dying and shedding His blood for us on the cross of Calvary.

Jesus died for all men yet not all will spend Eternity with Him. Why not? Are there works that we must do? No, remember I have already said that good works are a response to having faith, not achieving faith by doing good works.

What, then, is the kind of “faith” that is in agreement with saving faith; the faith that God agrees with? Is it a faith that merely agrees or assents to things I “say” I believe in? James 2:19 says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Well, this kind of faith is no better than what Satan and his devils believe in…they agree that God is; that he exists. Yet, we know that they are not going to spend Eternity in Heaven with God. So, this cannot be saving faith…a mere intellectual assent.

When the circumstances of life take a downward turn, whether through illness, or economic devastation, or natural calamities, or grief or pain…we may pray in faith, believing God can reverse or relieve our misfortunes, and if it is His will, He can, but these are not eternal matters. It is not a saving faith.

According to Acts 16:31a, Scripture puts it this way: “Believe (that is to trust) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” This faith is not temporal, nor intellectual, but one that relies solely on Jesus’ finished work on the cross of Calvary, and then means that “I” or “WE” are not trusting in anything we can do (works) to get to Heaven, but only on what Jesus has done. It is His “gift” to us. Like any gift, we have to receive it, or it is not ours. It may have our name on it, but until we take it for ourselves, make it our own, it is not ours.

If this is the first time you have considered this kind of faith, let me say, this is wonderful, because here and now, you have the opportunity to receive God’s gift of Eternal Life. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him….”

If Jesus is “knocking” at the “door of your heart”, asking you to let Him in and let Him take first place in your heart and life, you need to talk to God and tell Him you repent of your sin; you admit to Him, you are a sinner and there are no ‘works’ you can do yourself to make you acceptable to a Holy God; a God who cannot look on sin. Repent simply means to go full circle…and go from your ways of living your life to His way of living your life. If you tell Jesus you are accepting His taking your place on the cross for your sin, and turn from trusting in your own ways and allow Him to live in your heart ‘by faith’, THIS is saving faith. The only kind of faith that counts with God, according to His Word, the Bible.

The verses in James 2 that conclude this portion for today speak of works that that prove our faith. Once we are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we do His good will, the works that we do will be works according to His will.

Our “works” after we are saved, prove our faith: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26

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Gleanings from James: God’s Word, My Response

     I think words to be a marvelous thing!  Mere sounds of speech; letters put together resulting in a brief remark, if they be few; in a promise of love when used in a marriage ceremony; a promise to ‘pledge allegiance’ to your country as a citizen, a soldier; words can encourage, uplift the down-trodden, comfort the brokenhearted.  All these, just some of the positive ways to use words.  And, on the other hand, words can do the complete opposite when the words are quarrelsome words; slanderous words; deceitful and insincere words, sarcastic and crude words.

 How we choose our words, how we use our words, how we deliver them, also all are evidences of our heart, revealing whether or not they emanate from a heart motivated by God and His Word or from our own sinful inherent nature.  Without speaking, God, Who is Omniscient, does know our hearts and sees it all, Psalm 139 tells us as much,  but once those words come out of our hearts to the ears of others, then, they too know.

 It will be my goal today to close out chapter one of James, beginning with verses 19-27.   Perhaps before you leave today, you will take with you some thoughts from God’s Word to consider, to meditate on, that will bring you to a newer place in your journey Beyond the Strait Gate.  

Assuming you have visited here before and have already been studying James with me (and if not, please read the previous blogs beginning with the first one, Gleanings from James, to catch yourself up), I begin with verse 19-21 of James 1:

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”  – KJV

Strong’s Concordance:

Wherefore” – 5620 – (insomuch) as, so that (then); therefore; to

     “swift” – 5036 – prompt; ready’

     “hear” – 191 – give audience to;

     “slow” – 1021 – dull

     “speak” – 2980 – tell; say; utter

     “wrath” – 3709 – violet passion; indignation; vengeance

   “worketh” 2716 – accomplish; perform

     “righteousness” – 1343 – justification

   “filthiness” – 4507 – filthiness (same)

    “superfluity” – 4050 – abundance

    “naughtiness” – 2549 – depravity, amlignity or trouble, evil; malice

    “meekness” – 4240 – mildness; humility

    “save” – 4982 – to deliver or protect; heal, preserve, be whole

    “engrafted” – 1721 – implanted

     “word”  – 3056 – utterance

     A long list, today, of Greek definitions, some being obvious, yet, I am one who needs to make sure just what it is that God’s Word is saying.  For instance, as we look at the word, ‘naughtiness’, we might think of a child who has stuck his hand in the cookie jar in disobedience to his mother’s warning to not have a cookie before having his dinner.  Yet, in the context of this verse, it is more than disobedience; it is ‘depravity’, evil, malice’.  Would we have attributed so strong a word to the child’s disobedience to his mother’s word?  Yet, it is not my opinion, but God’s Word that says this.  With these definitions before us, let us review the verses 19-21.

 Remembering that James is speaking to believers, those who are called by His Name, those who revere God and His word; His Word that supercedes all other words spoken, He says this:

    “Be swift to hear”…Listen up!  Pay attention!!  Be ready to respond (properly and in accordance with God’s Word).

               A believer’s speech, his every utterance in his interacting with others, should be “slow to wrath”, that is, ‘dull’, ‘without any violent passion, indignation or vengeance’.  

The fact that we are saved believers doesn’t make us super-human, nor sinless.  No.  And, we are not able to comply with God’s Word to us by our own volition, sheer self-will, determination, or any other human means.  No.  To be able to obey God’s Word, takes a surrender of our own will to His will, and then, arming ourselves with His Word, burying it in our hearts and minds so that if or when provoked to respond in a manner that contradicts how it is God says we should behave as His child, we may in His power, respond properly.  Oh yes, we have all sorts of excuses, reasonings, responses, why we cannot.  Well, we can!  God said we could!  His Word says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13.  He prefaces this verse with “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (vss.11-12)

 “OUCH”!  Did that sting?  Well, sometimes God’s Word, does sting us, but it is a good thing that it does.  It stings us when we understand, we recognize where we are in relationship to God’s “engrafted”, implanted, Word, or where we are not.  We see ourselves from His Word, as God sees us, and perhaps, it is not always a pretty picture, but the good news, is that this is not the end.  We can get it right.  We can clean up our act, so to speak.   This is where we get instruction from God’s Word in verse 21.  

God tells us to have a heart “transplant”,  have a meekness of spirit and heart, a humility, if you will; give up your own sinful nature, our own self-will response and obey Him.  Key, is that heart attitude: “meekness”.  Our goal is to please God; not ourselves; not others.  God’s Word tells us in verse 21 that when we respond properly and in accordance with God’s Word, it is then that we are able to “save our souls”; that is, heal our souls, preserve our souls, deliver our souls from sinning against God, and be whole.   

In the next few verses: 22-25, we have God’s commentary on our response to these first several verses: whether we hear and do His Word or respond adversely:

                “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth there, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”  – KJV

Strong’s Concordance:

 “doers” – 4163 – a performer

     “hearers” – 202 – hearer

     “deceiving” – 3884 – deludes; beguiles

     “forgetteth” – 1950- to lose out of mind; neglect

     “manner” – 3697 – what quality

     “looketh” – 3879 – to lean over so as to peer into; stoop down

     “continueth” – 3887 – be permanent; perseveres; abides; tarry

In these verses, God is telling us to not just give Him “ear service”.  Don’t just give Him a nodding assent to what He is saying.  It is not enough.  To agree, and do nothing with what we have heard is to not have heard at all.  Hearing and agreeing without action simply is a deluding of ourselves to ourselves.  Of what profit is that to our souls?  No, having heard what God’s Word is, understanding it, is having received our “marching orders” and requires a calling to action!  When we “practice what we preach”, take action on who we say we are, we do not delude ourselves, verse 22.  We will not progress nor grow in our Christian walk of faith otherwise.  

     To have had a meal prepared for us and have it set before us and we do not eat, is an illustration of what God’s Word is saying here.  The meal, unless eaten, is of no use to us.  Our sensory organs, seeing it, smelling it, do nothing for us, and will not benefit in our nourishment nor strengthening, without taking it, eating it, chewing it and digesting it, that it will benefit us when we need it.

God’s Word gives us the example of the delusion of hearing and not taking action in verses 23 and 24, and reveals the kind of a man the hearer may be.    What kind of a hearer are we?  A careless hearer of God’s Word, who hears and then goes on his way, forgetting God, or an earnest hearer, who looks into the “mirror of God’s Word” and acts upon what he sees?

More evidences that manifest the kind of a hearer we are are found in the concluding verses of James 1:26-27:

“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” – KJV

The “earnest hearer” will respond in three ways, according to this portion of Scripture:  

               1.  He will bridle his tongue: control it in every use of it.  Otherwise, this verse says, his “religion” is in in vain.  His religion is empty.  His religion is not pure.  His testimony is without value.  His good works, nothing.  He deceives his own self, if his tongue is not controlled.

2.  He will visit the orphans and widows IN their affliction.  Strong’s definition of  ‘affliction’ – 2347- is “anguish; burden; persecution; tribulation; trouble.”

3.  He will “keep himself unspotted from the world”.  They are to follow in Christ’s footsteps, and not be a part of the world’s system; the world’s ways of doing things, but to live according to His Word.  Christ suffered ridicule from those who rejected God’s ways.  

     This then, is what we are also called to do, if and when necessary.  We cannot live with one foot on Heaven and another on earth.  Remember what we learned in James 1:8:  “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Thank you for visiting Beyond the Strait Gate today.  If you care to leave a comment or have a question, please scroll down to where you can leave a comment.  I try to always respond to every comment.  If you would like to be alerted to my having responded to your comments, please check off the box below your comment saying you would like to be alerted via email, or just return back here, to view the responses.

Gleanings from James: What’s God Have in Mind?

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…

James 1:16-18:~

“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.  

Strong’s Concordance:       

                             “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.

New Beginnings…

Welcome to my new beginnings of Beyond the Strait Gate. 

This is my first blog ever!   It is my heart’s desire to share with you from time to time, gleanings from God’s Word and hopefully, thereby, encourage you, as He has encouraged me or shown me, His way for me, after having entered in through the Strait Gate.

What is this Strait Gate?  I thought I would begin by sharing what His Word has to say about the Strait Gate.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14

     “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” ~ KJV

Looking up a few words I found this: 

                 wide=spread out; expansive;                                              


                 narrow=in the Greek, it tells me there are groanings because of obstacles that keep us from easy access.

                 life=speaks of Eternal Life with Him

And then, in my Ryrie Study Bible Notes for Luke 13:24, “Strait” refers to Christ Himself. 

In the Luke 13:23-24 account, Jesus is being asked the question by a villager as He is going through the cities and villages, journeying toward Jerusalem…”Lord, are there few that be saved?”  And His answer in verse 24, “Strive to enter in at the Strait Gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”

The verses that follow, verses 25-26 refers to man’s logic and reasonings for entrance into Heaven.  They come down to “works”; man’s reasonings, we see, are not God’s way.  We know this because in verse 27, Jesus’ response is “Depart from Me…” 

To recap then…as we look back at our opening verse in Matthew 7:13-14:

       The way to Eternal Life with Jesus Christ…is through Him.  All other ways (gates, paths) are broader, which accommodates many, but His way is narrow.  There will be many obstacles that can cause me to stumble to get to Him and live in the manner that He would have me to live, but entrance to this way of life is only in Jesus Christ.

     The Bible makes this clear in John 14:6 where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” ~ KJV

    One of my favorite Christian authors is Oswald Chambers.  I have many of his writings and have, for years, used a devotional he wrote, My Utmost for His Highest.  In his July 7th writings, Chambers speaks of going beyond the Strait Gate; he speaks of how it is we are to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.

   First, Chambers reminds us that all noble things are difficult.  However, as difficult as the life is after we have entered through the “Gate”, it is a glorious life.  We do not faint nor cave in.  Instead, the difficulty, he says, rouses us up to overcome.  Now that we are on holy ground, we go on in this “marvelous salvation of Jesus Christ” and seek to be our “Utmost for His Highest”. 

   I hope that you will come back and spend some time again Beyond the Strait Gate and also, leave your comments.    Have a pleasant day as you live your day with Him and for Him.