A Study on the Two Peters, Chapter 1

 

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Chapter 1

1 Peter 1:1

 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

In this first verse, Peter tells the readers who he is. He is an apostle of Jesus Christ. What is an apostle? An apostle is a person who had a special and very personal encounter with Jesus. A good definition of an apostle is: one who is sent on a mission by the Lord. Apostles have special power and speak with an authority given by God. I believe that there are apostles in the churches today; men and women who are ordained by God to fill this office in our local assemblies. We know that the disciples were witnesses of the resurrected Christ and were called apostles. Paul also had a personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Some say that Paul was the greatest of the apostles, for he surely had a special mission from the Lord, to preach salvation to the Gentiles.

Peter’s life of following Jesus must have been glorious. To think that he was witness to the miracles that Jesus preformed; the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, feeding the thousands of people with five loaves and two fishes, all these things Peter saw with his own eyes. Peter has his own victories and failures, such as walking on the water to go to Jesus then sinking and crying out to Jesus for help. This was a failure, but victory was still his as he walked back to the ship with Jesus. Then there was the outpour-ing of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost; is it any wonder that Peter became one of the foundation stones upon which the church was built? Peter, I am sure, was determined to overcome his failure and to rise above his denial of Jesus. This he did with trust and faith in Jesus.

Luke 22:31-34

31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

Here in Luke 22, Jesus instructs Peter, after he is converted, to strengthen the brethren. To me this part of the verse, “when thou are converted,” is speaking of Peter after his denial of Christ three times then going out and bitterly praying and repenting of his failure before God.

John 21:15-17

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

In John 21, Jesus asks three times “lovest thou me.” Peter replies, “Lord you know that I love you.” The first time Jesus said “feed my lambs,” the second and third times Jesus said “feed my sheep.” This was a message of what Peter was to do. After Peter repented of his failures, his life was changed.

He then came back and pulled the other disciples together to encourage them, to be the leaders that Jesus intended for them to be. The apostles were the messengers of the gospel, the founders of the Christian Church. They were sent and anointed of God. God used them to spread the word of God with signs following. They were filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. They worked miracles through faith in God.

John 14:12-14

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.

13 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.

The Word tells us in John 14, that Jesus said that “He that believeth on me,” shall do great works, greater even than Jesus did. That we, as the born-again children of God, can ask in the name of Jesus for God to move, to heal, work miracles, to have His will in hearts and lives, and according to the Word of God that Jesus will do it all for the glory of God and His kingdom.

This is what Jesus taught His disciples and all of the apostles. This same message transitions from the time of Christ through the ages to this present day. The message is just as power-ful now as then, the meaning, the same. We have the right to ask of Christ, believing, standing on our most holy faith, and Jesus is bound by His holy word to meet the need, as long as it brings glory and honor to God the Father. Did you know that the only unfinished book in the Bible is the book of Acts? Because the acts of the Apostles, all true Christian believers, and the acts of the church are still going on around the world. Just as the church and true believers in Christ were persecuted in the beginning so are they being persecuted and martyred today.

Encyclopedia of Christian Martyrs states:

"Persecution of Christians is more wide spread in this century than it was in the time of the Roman Empire, and the church cannot ignore the problem. More than an estimated 160,000 believers were martyred in 1996 alone.”

An example of this is Graham Staines and his sons who were burned to death by Hindu extremists in 1999.

Peter knew what manner of death he would face. Jesus told him. Jesus also told him to strengthen the brethren, to preach the word, to lead men and women to the foot of the cross where they would find their heart’s desire: peace in their troubled souls, peace in the time of trouble, peace when the storms of life are raging, peace, perfect peace in Jesus. Who was Peter? He was a steadfast rock, unshakeable, unmovable in Christ Jesus. He was the glue that helped hold the new-found church together. He was the voice of reason, when there was none. He was the voice of rebuke when needed, the voice of hope and encouragement, he was the rock.

As Peter begins this letter he addresses it to the strangers that were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Peter as he begins to write stresses that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ. This means he is called of the Lord and that he speaks for the Lord here on earth. As Peter speaks of strangers, he is not just speaking of displaced people from their homeland. Then as today, when we speak of ourselves as pilgrims and strangers, we are confessing that this world is not our home, that our home is in heaven where Jesus, our Lord, has prepared a place for us. We have become sojourners in this world. When we gave our hearts and lives to Jesus our savior, we became citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

John 14:1-3

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

The Word tells us that Jesus has a place prepared for us, that where He is there we might be also. We, as the blood-bought, redeemed children of God are the blessed Bride of Christ. To the true believer death is not the end of life, it is just the beginning of life. As one person related to me, death is just exhaling in this world to inhale in the presence of Jesus and God the Father, to live for-ever. Another example we use is to close our eyes in death here to open them in the presence of God. No one wants to die, but to the Christian there is no fear of death. To die is to go home.

1 Peter 1:2

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Verse two begins with: Elect according to the foreknowl-edge of God the Father. Who are these elect that Peter is speaking about? These elect, are those believers that, when the Spirit of the Lord dealt with their hearts and brought conviction, they repented of their sins and asked for forgiveness, that they might be saved. We have all heard people say, “when I decided to serve God;” the truth of the matter is God chose us, His Spirit came to us, made us to know that we were sinners, lost and undone. Then and only then did we make the decision to serve God or to walk away. I have heard many people say, “God chooses who will go to heaven and who will go to hell.” This statement is utterly false. God’s desire is that none should perish but that all should have everlasting life. God does not decide who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. We make that decision ourselves by our choices, by the way we choose to live and act and the things that we do. If we do not go to heaven, we cannot blame God. The responsibility lies squarely at our door. We can be lost and undone without God or, we can, by repenting and accepting Jesus as our savior, become the elect of God. (This is the elect that Peter was writing to, then and today.) As we read the words of Peter, they are just as important to us today as the day they were written. As born-again believers, we are the elect. As Peter was writing to encourage and uplift these fellow Christians, the message is just as important for us.

Another very important part of this verse deals with a message that the church as a whole will not teach or preach on today. That message is sanctification. What is sanctification?

Webster’s New World College Dictionary states:

"to make holy, to set apart as holy; consecrate, make free from sin; purity"

The scripture states “through sanctification of the Spirit,” after we are saved, there begins an active work of the Holy Ghost. This work of the Holy Ghost is progressive all throughout our Christian lives. Now I would like to bring out that sanctification works in two different ways in our lives. One. there is a biblical sanctification; this is where each and every one of us must line up our lives to what the Word says, on how we are to live, what we can do and what we can’t do. An example is thou shalt not bear false witness (or lie), thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain, thou shalt not covet, and these are examples of how we are to bring our lives in line with God’s Word. This is biblical sanctification. Then as we draw closer and closer to God, God begins to bring about a personal sanctification into our lives. This personal sanctification is just between you and God. It is where God talks to you, ask you to give up something or do something to see if you are willing to be obedient.

1 Samuel 15:22

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

In 1 Samuel 15:22, we see that to obey is better than sacrifice. We are tested of God to see if we will be obedient. I am convinced that there is a permissive will of God and then there is a perfect will of God for those who will be one hundred percent obedient and sold out for God. Most Christians live in the permis-sive will of God, but there are those who will sell out to God and be obedient in everything God wants them to do. How sanctified do you want to be?

God will let us draw just as close to Him as we want to be. The apostles, the Christian martyrs, the persecuted Christians are examples of those who, through Holy Ghost sanctification, stood the tests and trials of living for God. Are we that close to God? If the Lord tarries we may surly be put to the test. Come quickly Lord Jesus. Peter told these early Christians to be obedient.

Then Peter speaks of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Why? To the Jews the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice was all-important. Peter is saying something that the Christian Jews would readily understand. We who are Gentiles understand the blood as it is brought out in communion.

1 Corinthians 11:23-30

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

To quote from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible:

They were elected also to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. They were designed by God’s decree to be sanctified by the spirit, and to be purified by the merit and blood of Christ. Here is a manifest allusion to the typical sprinkling of blood under the law, which language these Jewish converts understood very well. The blood of the sacrifices must not only be shed but sprinkled, to denote that the benefits designed thereby are applied and imputed to the offerers.

The Word speaks to us today and tells us there can be no remission of sin without the shedding of the blood, thus Jesus became the final sacrifice for our sins. There is forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.

Hebrews 9:22-28

22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

What we do with the blood of Jesus is up to us. To some the blood of Jesus means nothing, the gospel means nothing; there is no place for the gospel or for Jesus in their lives. However, to others the gospel is the Words of Life, the blood of Jesus that was shed to bring us back into communion with God. Jesus has become our savior and it’s all through the blood. Thank God, He loved us when we were unlovable, and redeemed us when we were unre-deemable through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.

As Peter closes the last few words of verse two, he speaks a blessing upon those to whom he is writing. He asks for grace and peace to be multiplied unto them through the riches of God’s love. There is a blessing that is sometimes used which I like. We used it in the church that I was saved in; the church body spoke it over anniversaries:

Numbers 6:24-26

24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:

25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

1 Peter 1:3-4

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

As Peter begins this third verse, he starts by giving praise and glory to God the Father, the Father of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. We know that a Messiah, or savior was promised to us after Adam and Eve fell in the garden. The mercy of God has always been to His creation. Sometimes it may not seem so when we look at God destroying the world by a flood or raining fire and brimstone down on the cities of the plains. However, in each case God granted mercy to those who deserved it. It is plain that the human race does not learn from past mistakes. We continue to provoke God by giving ourselves, as a whole, over to worldly pleasure, to sin. I know that there are those who do not accept the statement that God is merciful; they look at all the tragedies that take place in the world and blame God. In storms, sometimes thou-sands die, and they blame God. If God was a just God, He would not let this happen. The Word tells us that we are responsible for our soul’s condition.

God allows things to happen to Christians and sinners alike. The difference is that a child of God knows where they will spend eternity, in the presence of a loving God. No one really wants to die, but to a child of God we know that we are going to a better place, safe in the arms of God and His Dear Son. For you see we are not as one that hath no hope. Our faith and hope is in Christ. God hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection from the dead of His Dear Son.

Hebrews 6:18-19

18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

We read here that we can be assured, that we can anchor our souls both sure and steadfast through faith in God. For without hope, we would be of all men most miserable. Our faith springs forth hope, a hope that the world scene will get better; a hope that tomorrow will be better than today; a hope, a faith, a belief in God and His Son that we will live forever in the presence of God in a place that we call Heaven. We must keep that faith, that hope alive. The best way for the devil to win in this battle is for God’s people to give up and to have no hope. Whatever our future is, we must maintain our hope in God. It’s the only thing that makes life bear-able.

Verse four tells us what we are having faith and hope for an inheritance. What kind of inheritance? For a home that is prepared for us in Heaven.

John 14:1-4

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Jesus tells us in John 14:1-4 that He has gone to prepare a place for us, that He will come again and receive us unto Himself, that wherever He is there we will be also. This is the hope of the church; this is our hope. We are only waiting for Jesus to come back and get us. As one person said, “I am just waiting on my ride.” If thinking about our Lord’s return does not stir your heart, then you need to go back and do your first works over again.

We are so blessed; just think, there is a place, Heaven, that is reserved for us. Our heavenly home is undefiled, incorruptible, and it will last forever. Again, it is reserved for us; no one else can take it. It has our name on it; it is set apart just for you and me. When we take long trips, we call ahead and reserve a room, a place to stay. When we get to our destination, a room is ready and waiting for us to go in. It’s the same with Heaven. Jesus has prepared for us a place, and it is reserved, meaning no one can move in and call it theirs.

It is our inheritance as born-again children of God. In this life, we may inherit possessions but they will fade away or we die and leave them to someone else. However, in Heaven our inheritance does not fade away. It is eternal; it will last forever, just as we will live forever in the presence of God. What will our new home be like? We know very little about our heavenly home. But, what is there to know? Revelation tells us a little, but what does it matter? We will be with Jesus and isn’t that our goal, to be with the Lord?

1 Peter 1:5

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The fifth verse begins with “Who are kept by the power of God through faith.” The child of God, we know, is kept by God’s power, as long as we strive to serve God. God keeps us by His power. There are many today who believe in eternal security, that once you are saved, you cannot be lost, that God’s power keeps you secure. I am not one who believes this doctrine; I can find no such doctrine in the Word of God. However, many try to use this verse to prove their point of eternal security. If we take scriptures out of context, we can prove anything we want, but we must look at the whole picture and not pick and choose what we want ... 

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A Study on the Book of James (Chapter 1 Sample)

 

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Chapter 1

 

James 1:1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

 

James begins by telling us who he is, a servant (a slave) to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ. This James is a far cry from the man he was when Jesus was alive. As far as anyone knows, Jesus was not accepted by His brothers and sisters as the promised Messiah. Jesus made the statement that a prophet is without honor in His own house.

Matthew 13:57

And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. 

Mark 6:4 

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

John 7:5 

     For neither did his brethren believe in him

In the home where Jesus grew up, we see Joseph, Mary, Jesus, James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and some sisters who are not named. What a family it must have been! The Messiah, rejected by His own brothers and sisters. James was tied to the Jewish faith and customs. Even as head of the church in Jerusalem, he still held to the legalistic traditions and dietary customs of the Jews. What caused James to become a Christian? When Jesus died upon the cross and was placed into the tomb, He rose from the dead, alive again. Jesus then appeared to the twelve, and He was seen of some five hundred at one time. After these appearances, Jesus made a special appearance, and that was to His brother, James. From that day forward, James believed in Jesus as God’s only Son, the Redeemer of mankind. 

1 Corinthians 15:5-7 

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 

If you wonder why I am going over what I covered in the introduction, we sometimes miss vital information. This is too important to let slip away. As we continued into verse thirteen, we find Jesus’ mother, Mary, James and the rest of Jesus’ brothers assembled in the upper room with the disciples and others. 

Acts 1:13-14 

13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. 

Jesus appearing to James caused a complete turnaround in James’ life. It is also believed that James is responsible for his brothers coming to accept Jesus as the Lord of their lives. Little is known of their lives except for Judas, better known as Jude. This same Jude is the Jude who wrote the New Testament book of Jude.

We know because as Jude introduces himself, he gives claim to being the brother of James. We can see by looking at James how one person obeying the gospel can and does make a world of difference in the service of the Lord and in this evil world in which we live.

As we look at the times in which James lived (and even-tually became head of the Jerusalem church), we see that in the church’s infancy, most of the Christians were Jews. James, being a Jew, knew the laws of legalistic Judaism, even the dietary ones. This put James in the right place at the right time.

The church was in a time of transition. The Christian church was breaking free of Judaism with its legalistic way of life. As we see James, we know that he did not intend to leave his Jewish upbringing; and even as head of the church he was still very legalistic. We know that Paul had to persuade James that the Gentiles could be saved through the blood of Jesus. Paul also had to persuade the council in Jerusalem as well as James that these Gentiles could live for God by simply living according to the teaching of the gospel. The Gentiles could not serve God if all the legalistic Jewish traditions and the Law of Moses bound them. Their whole lifestyle, their way of living was as different from the Jews as night and day. Paul’s work was toward the Gentiles while James stayed with the Jerusalem church until his death.

The death of James is not recorded in the Bible. However, we do find a record of his death in The Complete Works of Josephus. Here we find that at the death of Festus, the high priest Ananus took upon himself to call a council of the Sanhedrin. He had James brought before it, accused James of breaking the law and condemned him to death. The high priest had James stoned. It is said that James was thrown from the gable of the temple and finally beaten to death with a club. Listed below is Josephus’s account of what happened to James. 

The Complete Works of Josephus tells us: 

And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judg-ing offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; 

Tradition says that James prayed for those who were casting stones at him, where upon one of them took a fuller’s club and beat James in the head till he died.The book of James was written to the members of the twelve tribes, which were scattered abroad. The people James wrote to were Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, who lived out-side of Israel. Remember on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached to the multitude. There were Jews there from different parts of the known world. Peter called these people brethren, as does James in his epistle.

Each time God brought judgement upon Israel, He scattered the people into foreign lands. There were Jewish com-munities in most of the large cities in the surrounding countries and throughout the then-known world. There were Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, and all the way up to Rome. There were Jews in Cappadocia, Pontus, Pamphylia, Antioch, Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus, Derbe and many more cities—even Babylon.

In the early days of the fledging church, most Christians were Jews, but not all, for God was beginning to bring the Gentiles into the church. The Jews on the other hand were rejecting the Gentile Christians because they did not abide by the Law of Moses or live by the Jewish customs and traditions. Just as today, there were divisions in the church. Some demanded that everyone had to live by Jewish customs and law. Others were leaving the Jewish religion and trying to live by the teachings of the gospel. There was confusion in the church, and some who were not qualified wanted to become leaders and teachers in the church.

The problem was spiritual immaturity in the church. To gain respect we must be what we profess to be. Our lives must show that we are mature enough to handle ourselves wisely, knowing what must be done. Therein lies the problem of the local churches. Not many were mature enough (or grounded enough) in the gospel message to lead the flock of God. There was a big difference between wanting to be a leader or teacher and being mature enough in wisdom and judgement to be that leader.

We know that whom the Lord calls, He also qualifies. There were times in my first pastorate that I questioned if God knew what He was doing when He called me to pastor a church. I had to trust him and spend time on my knees and in the Word. Today we continue to deal with spiritual immaturity in the church. Too often we associate maturity with age, and in the natural world this is usually the case. Yet, in the spiritual, this rule does not necessarily apply. Spiritual growth varies with each individual. A person can be older in years and be spiritually very immature; or younger in years but very mature in the spiritual realm with God. Spiritual growth has nothing to do with natural age. There must be a continual growing of the spiritual man or we fail God.

The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: NT states:

Spiritual maturity is one of the greatest needs in churches today. Too many churches are playpens for babies instead of workshops for adults. The members are not mature enough to eat the solid spiritual food that they need, so they have to be fed on milk (Heb.5:11-14). Just look at the problems James dealt with and you can see that each of them is characteristic of little children:

Impatience in difficulties – 1:1-4

Talking but not living the truth – 2:14ff

No control of the tongue – 3:1ff

Fighting and coveting – 4:1ff

Collecting material “toys” – 5:1ff

The purpose of the church is to reach the lost for Christ. To complete the task that is set before us, we must first learn some very important lessons.

We must learn how to get along together without in-fighting among ourselves. The battle, the fight, is not inside the church (or it should not be). The battle is outside of the church in the world where sin has complete control over hearts and lives. We must learn that to be a good leader, we must first learn how to be a good follower. One example is to look at Joshua. He was a great leader, but to get to that place he had to follow Moses for over forty years. The disciples became the great apostles, but to reach their calling they had to sit and learn at Jesus’ feet for three and one-half years. We cannot become spiritual giants overnight.

Even Paul had to get away and be taught of the Lord. After Paul’s sight was restored, he preached Christ to the Jews in Damascus where he was rejected of them. Paul declares that he left Damascus and went into Arabia for three years

Galatians 1:17-18 

17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

 What Paul did in Arabia we can only guess. However, it stands to reason that the time was spent in prayer and study; and that he was under instruction by the Lord as to what he was to preach and teach and to whom he was to carry the Lord’s message of the gospel. We must learn patience with people if we are to reach them for Christ. We must always show forth the love of Christ. Always tell the truth to those we meet. Never lie to people. Never be two-faced. Always be what we profess to be.

James’ desire was to help the Jews that were scattered over the known world. As Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, thousands were saved. As they left Jerusalem and went back to their homes, they took the message of Christ with them, where they started local assemblies or churches.

It is to these Christians that James is writing. He desires to help them solve some of their problems in their service of the Lord. Remember that to be a good teacher, we must first be a good student. 

James 1:2 

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 

 

James begins by addressing the saints as brethren. This included both Jews and Gentiles. The nationality or origin of a person makes no difference to the Lord. The Lord looks at the soul of a person, not the land of their birth. Before Jesus came and began to establish the New Testament or New Covenant with man, God looked at national Israel as His sole people. The only hope the outsider or Gentile had was to be proselyted into the Jewish faith.

After the birth of Jesus, when He began His ministry, Jesus did not look at a man or woman’s nationality but at their soul, at their faith. We are all the sheep of God’s pastures. We are all called of God to salvation, to whosoever will. The decision is ours to make. As the body of Christ, as the church, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are a spiritual family.

James goes on to encourage the church, the body of believers, by telling them to “count it all joy” when they fall into temptations. Temptations do a work within us for our good. As crazy as it sounds, temptations will build our spiritual faith in God. We need a spiritual boost from time to time. Every battle that we fight and win encourages us to trust in Jesus more and more. Each victory helps us to stand on our faith in God.

The trials of life push us out of our comfort zone. Just like the eagle has to stir up her nest to make the young eagles leave it, so must God stir up our lives to cause us to step out in faith, to trust and believe. In this life, we will go through many kinds of trials and tests. We must remember that we are not alone. The Lord walks close by our sides. Tests are designed by the Lord to build us up in different areas of our spiritual lives.

You may ask in what areas. Some tests are to mature us, to instill wisdom and knowledge in us that we may be a help to those who are around us. It is hard to help someone going through a trial or test if we have not been through it ourselves. We read in verse four of this chapter: 

James 1:4 

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 

 

To be of any use to the Lord, we must, let me repeat it again, we must become spiritually mature. We must let every test, trial, and temptation become a steppingstone on our journey to perfection in Christ Jesus. The saved, born-again Christian is called by the spirit of God to become a member of God’s holy family. As part of this family, it becomes our job, our goal to reach the lost with the gospel. We cannot make people accept the Lord; all we can do is to give them the opportunity. It becomes their responsibility before God what they choose to do with the gospel message.

As Christians, we are to remember that we are a part of God’s scattered people, not God’s sheltered people. Each trial and temptation is for our benefit to make us stronger in the Lord. As long as we walk close to God and trust in Him, we can overcome everything this world can throw at us. We can have peace and joy in the face of trials because Jesus is with us. Always remember that you are not alone. For “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 

James 1:3-4 

3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 

 

As Christians, our lives are going to be watched by the world. You may think that nobody is watching and that nobody is listening to what you are saying. However, I can assure you that you are very much mistaken. People are judging your life every day. They watch you to see how you handle yourself in the everyday trials and troubles that come your way.

Too many times I have seen how people judge others. I worked with a man some years ago who claimed to be a good Christian. He talked much about going to church and told people how good he was. Then one day, some things happened at work that concerned him. He got extremely mad and used ungodly language. He carried on and on about the situation. While this was taking place, I had different ones come to me and say, “I thought he was a Christian.” All I could do was to say, “Well, he claims to be a Christian.” Their answers to me were, “Well, he does not act like it,” and there was not much I could say.

Our lives should be lived as if they are an open book without anything to hide. We need to live the way Jesus lived, to be open before others. We know the world is going to condemn us. We do not need to give them any ammunition to use against us. We are going to face enough trials without us causing more.

There are several different reasons why our faith is tried and tested. When our faith is put to the test, it is for our own good, our benefit. I know it is hard to see any good in trials and temptations, but I can assure you that God knows what He is doing. Trust Him.

One reason is that the trying of your faith teaches you patience. The only way to gain patience is by going through trials and temptations. So, if you are praying for God to give you more patience, then be prepared for trials and temptations to come your way.

Multiplied trials and tests are hard as we go through them. However, with every victory, our faith and patience grows. This learning process is sometimes grievous, but although we weep in the night, victory and joy comes in the morning. Patience is learning to wait upon the Lord. 

Isaiah 40:31 

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 

There is an old saying and I find it to be very true. It goes like this: “God is never early, but He is never late. He is always just in time.” I do not know who first said these words, but they are oh, so true. God always comes through just in time.

I remember part of the words to a song about Lazarus being dead. When Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus, he had been dead four days, the chorus to the song says, “. . . four days late but just in time.” The Lord will always come to your aid just in time. Never fear, only believe.

To live this Christian life we must learn to have patience. We must learn to wait. Never, ever think that we can fix our problems and trials; be assured that trying to fix them ourselves is a certain way to make them worse. To win the victory we must “Trust and obey for there is no other way.”

A second way that trials are good for us is because they help mature us spiritually. If you are unstable in your Christian life, you are not dependable to God. God is seeking men and women who will be willing to stand in the gap and make up the hedge regardless of the cost we must pay.

Our faith in God is the most important part of our Christian walk. We read in I Peter where Peter wrote, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” 

1 Peter 4:12-13 

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Brothers and sisters, trials are a part of the believer’s life. They mold and make us into what God desires for us to be. A mature Christian is an asset to God and His work here on earth. Immature Christians are impatient and rush ahead without using wisdom and understanding.

Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are distin-guishing traits of a mature child of God. They come by going through the trials of life. We can read all the books written on how to live an overcoming life, how to gain patience, how to have faith, but as good as some of them may be, the only way to have patience and build faith is by going through trials and temp-tations.

While I am talking about books, I recommend that you read books by Smith Wigglesworth such as Ever Increasing Faith and On the Power of Scripture. I have found Wigglesworth’s writings very inspirational in my life. Always remember that God will not put more on us than we are able to bear. In addition, with every temptation, God will make a way to escape

1 Corinthians 10:13 

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. 

The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: NT tells us: 

The only way the Lord can develop patience and character in our lives is through trials. Endurance cannot be attained by reading a book (even this one), listening to a sermon, or even praying a prayer. We must go through the diffi-culties of life, trust God, and obey Him. The result will be patience and character. Knowing this, we can face trials joyfully. We know what trials will do in us and for us, and we know that the end result will bring glory to God.

This fact explains why studying the Bible helps us grow in patience (Rom. 15:4). As we read about Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, and even our Lord, we realize that God has a purpose in trials. God fulfills His purpose as we trust Him. There is no substitute for an understanding mind. Satan can defeat the ignorant believer, but he cannot overcome the Christian who knows his Bible and understands the purposes of God. 

 

In verse four, James begins by saying to “let patience have her perfect work.” What is he really saying? He is saying that through patience we become perfect in the sight of Almighty God. Here we see that it is God’s desire that we be perfect before Him. Yes, I know some people say that no one can be perfect. However, I believe what the Bible says when it tells us to be perfect. What is perfect? 

Webster’s New World College Dictionary gives this definition: 

In a condition of complete excellence, as in skill or quantity; faultless; most excellent, sometimes used comparatively; “to create a more perfect union” 

 

I believe that God intends for us to live a perfect life in His sight. We do this by living an overcoming life before God. The problem most people have is that they do not know the differ-ence between temptation and sin. I know that I repeat this over and over; however, you need to get it settled in your mind. It is not a sin to be tempted; sin only comes in when we yield to the temptation. Most people believe that when they are tempted, they have already sinned, and this is not true. Sin only comes when we do what the devil has tempted us to do.

Now as for being perfect in the sight of God, I can name at least four men in the Bible, besides Jesus, that were perfect. Adam and Eve were perfect before they fell to the devil’s lies and sinned. We find also in Genesis that Noah was perfect in his generation. In the book of Job, scripture states that Job was a perfect and upright man in the sight of the Lord. Enoch and Elijah were perfect because God took them into heaven without having died. The scriptures tell us that no sin can enter into heaven, so it must make sense that they had to be perfect in God’s sight. Just as these men were perfect, before God, we are expected to be perfect, also.

The scripture ends with this, “that ye may be perfect and entire wanting nothing.” Wanting nothing implies being complete or fully developed, not immature and not a novice. We also find Jesus telling us to be perfect. Therefore, if no one can be perfect as many proclaim, why does our Lord tell us to be perfect? 

Matthew 5:48 

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. 

Paul, as with James, weighs in and tells the Christians to be perfect in the sight of the Lord

2 Corinthians 13:11 

Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. 

Why do people, teachers and even ministers try to explain away the scriptures?

James also speaks of patience, meaning to wait calmly. You will find many things in this life that demand patience or waiting. Raised on a farm, when our crops were planted, all we could do was wait upon God to give the harvest. Patience is a virtue that every Christian should have and must have to please God. So, as we face trials and temptations, we are to do it joyfully and with patience, knowing that our Heavenly Father loves us, is perfecting us and getting us ready to join Him in heaven.

Praise God, the rapture is soon to take place. Jesus is coming after His Bride and we are going home to the place that has been prepared for us. As the Word says, where Jesus is, there we shall be also, forever with the Lord.

James 1:5-8 

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.

6 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.

8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways

 

In these four verses there is one main thought presented. But we need to take a close look at these verses individually, because in them, there is a wealth of information that we need to glean. Too many times, we seem to overlook important facts that can help us in understanding the full meaning of God’s Word. This fifth verse is such a verse. It begins: “If any of you lack wisdom.”

We must first ask, “What is wisdom?”

The answer can be confusing. We often think of wisdom and knowledge as being the same thing; however, I can assure you otherwise. Knowledge is the ability to take something apart, and wisdom is the ability to put it back together. This may seem funny, but all too often this is the case. It does not take wisdom to take something apart, because anyone can do that. Wisdom, however, is figuring out how to reassemble it so that it works.

Knowledge is learning about all manner of things. There are books full of knowledge. I had a cousin who read the encyclopedia at home; he enjoyed learning about the world and the things in it. As far as book learning, he was very knowledge-able. I have seen and known men with degrees hanging on their walls, smart men, their hearts full of knowledge. Yet, they had no idea how to put what they knew into practical application.

Wisdom is practical application, knowing how to take your knowledge and make it work for you. I worked with an engineer once who could draw up plans on paper, and when we took those plans, we could build it perfectly. However, although he could draw it, he could not build what he had drawn. Wisdom is far more than the intelligent acquisition of knowledge; it is putting into practice what we have learned.

James is giving the saints of his day and the saints of today some very important advice. If you lack wisdom, then go before God and ask for the wisdom that comes from above. God’s wis-dom helps as we go through the trials of life. A man or woman of God will use this wisdom to take the opportunity to learn from every trial they face. James tells us that if we will ask God for wisdom, God will give it to us liberally. What does the scripture say? “Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you, ask and it shall be given unto you.” To go along with this, the scriptures also teach that “ye have not because ye ask not.” 

Matthew 7:7-8 

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

James 4:2 

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 

Matthew 21:22 

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

To receive, we must believe what the Word teaches. Without believing there will be no receiving ... 

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