Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 53
James 1:1-23 – Part 2
Remember, the Apostle Paul gave us, in the Church Age today, the Scriptures for salvation, and Church doctrine, and how to live Godly lives, and don’t ever forget that. Now we’re going to go right back to the letter of James in just a moment, but before we do, I want to go back to the verse that we closed with in our last half-hour because I want it clearly established in everybody’s mind – who are these Jews, these Twelve Tribes scattered that James is writing to?
All right, here we’ve got them in Acts chapter 11 verse 19. And remember the last program we picked these Jews up in Christ’s earthly ministry. They moved on into the Jerusalem Church at the day of Pentecost and in the meantime, years are going by. This is about 7 or 8 years already after Pentecost, that we read here in Acts 11.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen (which was started by Saul of Tarsus) travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”
Because, after all, they as yet had no commission to go to the Gentile world. Matthew 10:5-6 is still in effect at that time. Going to the Gentiles was left up to the Apostle Paul. Remember when Peter, James and John shook hands with Paul and Barnabas on that very deal? (Galatians 2:9)
All right, now then, we come back to the little letter of James, as well as Peter and John and Jude and Revelation – all those books are written primarily to these Jews that are in congregations scattered throughout that part of the Roman world. Now I made comment of it several months ago, at least, and maybe in the beginning of my introduction of James that archaeologists have found pieces of clay in areas far removed from Jerusalem that had not only the seven-candled candlestick, and I still think that’s a Menorah, but they have also found pieces of clay, not that large, in which was not only the Menorah, but also the sign of the fish, which was typical of the followers of Peter, and so forth. So archeology has even proved that we have these Jewish congregations who know nothing of Paul’s Gospel of Grace – they are out there believing only that Jesus was the Promised Messiah and He’s coming in short order.
Now I think I proved that with Scripture in those first programs, how that all of Scripture was looking forward to the coming of the Tribulation, the Second Coming and the Kingdom. And so that’s the situation with these Jewish congregations. All right, if the next thing on the calendar is the Tribulation for these people, what do they need? Encouragement! And that’s what these little epistles will all do. James and I Peter especially. And then John’s three little epistles, they’re all written to encourage these Jews in view of the coming horrors of the Tribulation. All right, verse 1 again:
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes, (Jews) which are scattered abroad, greeting. (now I hope I’ve proven where they came from) 2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers (testings is a better word than) temptations;” Well now, what’s the testing? The Tribulation. How in the world did these Jews take any joy in this coming Tribulation? Because of what’s to follow! What’s to follow? The King. The Kingdom! Remember, all of the Old Testament laid that out so clearly, that after the Tribulation would come the King and His Kingdom!
Let’s go back and let’s look at one of the first instances. Matthew chapter 19 verse 27. Now this is Christ still in His earthly ministry, but toward the end of it now. And Peter is going to ask a pertinent question. I mean, these guys are just as human as we are, remember?
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” Now Peter’s not talking about his Salvation; he knows he’s got that. So what’s he talking about? Reward. What are we going to get for having left our fishing and our families and all the good life on the Galilee? What’s the reward? All right, and Jesus doesn’t put him down. It was a valid question. All right, now here it comes.
“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,…” Regeneration. What’s that referring to? When this old world will be made back like it was in the beginning. It’s going to be regenerated. Now the best example I always give is your car battery. Leave your lights on. Get out there and it’s dead as a door nail. What do you do? Well, you put a charger or a jumper cable on it and we regenerate it – and that old battery which was dead is brought back to its original condition. That’s regeneration.
All right, so this is what the Lord is telling the disciples. That before the Son of man can sit in the throne of His glory, the earth is going to have to be regenerated. Now, in order to pick up what that regeneration is going to amount to, come back with me now to Acts chapter 3, and again, never forget, all these statements are concerning the coming Tribulation, and the return of Christ, and the setting up of His Kingdom. All right, in Acts chapter 3, it’s a follow up of the Pentecostal sermon in Acts chapter 2; and again Peter is appealing to the Nation of Israel to repent of having crucified their Messiah – and that, if they would, here was the promise.
“Repent ye therefore,…” Now remember, go back up to verse 12 so we establish to whom is Peter preaching?
“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel,…” Plain enough? Now come back to verse 19, and let’s read that verse.
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing (now that’s the Kingdom) shall come from the presence of the Lord;” Now lets read the next verse also. Because, if Israel will repent, look what happens.
“And he (God) shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:”
But in verse 21, we’re reminded that He couldn’t set up His Kingdom until the earth was regenerated. Now it’s a little different word but the same meaning.
“Whom the heaven must receive…” That’s when He ascended and the Father said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” In other words, you’ll have completely subjected the unbelieving world under your foot. All right, here it is in a different language.
“…until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” How much difference between restitution and regeneration? Almost nothing. Again, I’ll go back to my dead car battery. If it’s dead and I recharge it, what have I done? I that restituted it. I have made it back like it was in the beginning. All right, so Peter here again, even though he’s admonishing Israel to repent and experience salvation, yet the time of refreshing (the Kingdom) cannot come until everything has been regenerated or the restitution of all things, “which God had spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the ages began.”
Now if he’s talking about the prophets, I’ve got to take you back, don’t I? All right let’s go back to Psalms chapter 2. One of the simplest portions of Scripture showing this Kingdom that is coming. I’m still going to get a verse or two in James before we leave today. Remember, this is the prophecy that Jew and Gentile, in concert, would reject the anointed One. All right, then come down to verse 4.
“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.” That’s where I use that indeterminate period of time between Pentecost and what could have been the Tribulation. All right, the Lord will have them in derision – “Then,” there’s your time word. Do you see that?
“Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” That’s the Tribulation period of seven years. Now as soon as the Tribulation has run its course, then verse 6.
“Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” Now there’s the order, or the agenda. The rejection and the derision that would come about in the nations of the world, or the “ways of perplexity” as Luke puts it. And then we come to wrath and vexation, or as Daniel lays it out, “those last seven years.” And then what? The Kingdom. That’s the process.
Back to James, so keep all this in your mind now. That these were Jewish believers that believed that the King and the Kingdom were at hand, but they were going to have to go through the seven years of Tribulation. All right, so this is the admonition – verse 2 again, Peter says:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” (or testings)
We have much the same attitude today. You and I, as believers, see this world going the direction that it’s going – and I had a letter the other day and the lady put it so perfectly. “Les,” she said, “the faster it gets worse by the minute, the closer we are to the Lord’s coming.” And that’s the way we look at it. Yes, it’s getting awful! But listen, for us, it’s just telling us the Lord’s at hand.
All right, so Peter is telling these Jews the same thing. Yes, things are going to be tough, it’s going to be awful, but just stop and think – at the other end of it, the King and the Kingdom! So, “…count it all joy when you fall into these diverse testings.” Now verse 3:
“Knowing this, that the trying (or the testing) of your faith worketh patience. 4. But let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Now always remember the word perfect in the New Testament, in the Greek, does not mean sinless perfection. It means spiritual maturity. When Paul says, “be ye perfect as I am perfect,”he’s merely speaking of a spiritual maturity. Well, the same way here, James is admonishing these Jews to grow into a spiritual maturity. Now verse 5.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Now remember, here the language is going to be much the same as it was in the Four Gospels or as Peter may have preached in the early chapters of Acts. Almost comparable.
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (that is, if his faith is weak.) 8. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
Now, for some reason or other, a verse is shooting through my mind so I guess that’s the Spirit’s nudging me to go back and look at it. Go back with me to John’s Gospel, chapter 14, and like I said, all these things are comparable now with the Four Gospels, not with what Paul writes. Jesus is speaking and He says in verse 12.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.’” Now look at verses 13 and 14:
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14. If ye shall ask any thing in my name I will do it.” Now we know that doesn’t work in this Age of Grace. There isn’t a person in this room that hasn’t prayed and it hasn’t happened. God didn’t do what we ask. He’s not duty bound to do it, because Paul doesn’t make that kind of a statement. Paul says, “Ask with thanksgiving,” and then it’s implied even though he doesn’t say it, whether God says yes, no, or maybe later, the answer of that request is the next verse. I’m talking about Philippians 4. And what’s the next verse?
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” That’s our answer. But, Jesus doesn’t say that. Jesus says, “whatever you’ll ask, I’ll do it.” Well, naturally, He was looking in terms of the King and the Kingdom when everything would be spiritually perfect and then when you continue reading in John in verse 15 it again sends us right back to where it was at the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, Look at it.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” So that was still a situation under the Law. Remember Jesus never tells the Jews they are no longer under the Law, as he does through the Apostle Paul to us here in the Church Age. All right, now maybe that’ll help a little bit to understand James. He’s going to be talking in that same kind of language. All right, now back to James, and verse 9.
“Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10. But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.”
In light of the constant reference to wealthy people, especially in James’ little letter, I’m still of the opinion (and I expressed it on the program years ago) that I do not see the world going into a 1930’s depression where everybody was dirt poor. Not just in America. You want to remember the whole world went into a depression even before it got here. But, I have always been of the mindset, because of Scripture, that the world will be in a relative period of prosperity when the anti-Christ makes his appearance. And the reason I say that is because there are references for example to Sodom and Gomorrah at the height of their wickedness, what was the material status of Sodom? Oh, they had much! And they were so well-to-do that they were literally in luxury for their period of time. The same way before the horrors of the Flood. What was the economy just before the Flood? Same way. They built, they bought, they sold, they married, they gave in marriage. What does that tell you? It was a world of intense activity. And so, I’m still of the impression that as the world approaches the Tribulation it’s going to be a world that has an abundance of wealth and materialism, because that’s why James is reminding these Jewish believers not to let their wealth get in their way. So let’s read that verse again.
“But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”
Now whenever you see a tremendously wealthy individual that has been diagnosed with a cancer or some other debilitating disease – what do we common folk automatically think? Well, with all of his money, he’ll probably get the best surgeons and the best doctors and he’ll make it. But you know what? They often don’t. They die. And that’s what the Scripture says, their wealth is not going to guarantee their overcoming anything that can come their way. Now verse 12.
“Blessed (happy, joyful) is the man that endureth temptation: (testing) for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”Now I’m switching that word ‘temptation’ to ‘testing’ because I think it’s a better definition, “Blessed is the man that can endure testing for when he is tried or tested, he shall receive the crown of life.” It’s going to be one of the rewards for people who have had to suffer for their faith. “Which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
Now, let’s see again what Paul says about suffering. Come back with me to Romans chapter 8, and we’ll begin in verse 18. If you get a little depressed once in a while, just come back to this verse.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with (what?) the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Oh listen, maybe we’re going through hard times – maybe financial reverses. But listen, take heart. It’s nothing compared to the Glory that’s waiting for us. Now the Bible doesn’t do a lot of description of what eternity has in store. And I always tell people this is enough for me, because I know that my God knows how to make things beautiful. He knows how to make things scrumptious. And it’s going to be just that. It’s going to be beyond human description. And so we take heart that for us the glory that is awaiting us is far above and beyond any of the suffering that we may have to go through.
Back to James again, and remember he’s talking to Jews who were looking at the Tribulation of that day. But it can also apply, I think, to Jews who will be going into the Tribulation that is still ahead, and many of them will become believers, and they’re going to come under abject testing. Reading on now in chapter 1 verse 13.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, (I still like tested) I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” God isn’t in that business. He permits these things but He does not direct it.
“But every man is tempted, (or tested) when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15. Then when lust hath conceived,…” And where does that have to start? In the brain. That’s where all our thoughts originate and those thoughts in return have their effect on the operation of the flesh. All right, so when lust, or the thoughts of our mind, are conceived and they actually are turned into action –
“…it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Now verse 16:
“Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17. 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. 18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” That’s why he’s left these Jewish believers – that they can continue to be a testimony and a witness to those around them. Verse 19.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”
I always have to say, when you read these little epistles back here, it’s the practical part that we as Gentiles take out. You can’t pull doctrine out of this, but the practicality of it all, we certainly can. This can certainly be applicable even for us. And the same way with the Beatitudes and other things that are not doctrinally directed to us but they are applicable in their practicality. All right, verse 20.
“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21. Wherefore (it was just as imperative for believing Jews as it is for us today,) lay apart (aside) all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22. But be ye doers of the word,…” Now here’s the legalistic part of James. See how it comes through so plainly?
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23. 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:” Well, that’s the way James depicts a man who does not follow his faith with good works.