1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
James was the Lord's brother, son of Joseph a "just man" according to the law and Mary the blessed handmaiden of Yahweh. He was raised in a deeply spiritual household, likely attending the passover yearly at Jerusalem, and finally becoming an apostle (one sent forth) to the Hebrew Jerusalem ecclesia.
He was a man of great depth and capacity as his following epistles demonstrate. He possessed the skills necessary to guide the Jerusalem ecclesia which exceeded 5 000 members. A mighty undertaking!
He instructed the ecclesia with words of grace and wisdom, always earnest. He would be blunt and direct when necessary, gracious to the humble. Severe when appropriate. He would be forewarned of the impending divisions that would arise over the next 40 years. The parousia of The Lord among the Roman armies of Vespasian would bring a final end to the ecclesia's existence.
Notations based on an address by Bro Roger Lewis
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
What is there in secular culture to compare with the faith of Christ in its power to produce the pure exultation we mean by this? Joy results from the action of the superior faculties-veneration, benevolence, faith, hope, conscientiousness, acting with the collateral vibrations of gratified approbativeness, acquisitiveness, and all the other faculties which are good in their right relation, though so evil as ruling powers.
Human wisdom, shutting out God and His promises is cut off from the power and possibility of bringing these higher powers into full action. Veneration has no adequate leverage without God presented for worship; faith has no object apart from revelation believed; hope has nothing to stir it if confined to anticipations limited by mortal life and frailty.
In Christ, all these powers have their fullest scope; and the result is joy-a joy not only not dependent upon favourable human conditions, but that can act in the face of the worst conditions, because of the confidence of God working in all things and using the most calamitous circumstances sometimes to further His highest ends with us. Thus it is that Paul says:
"We glory in tribulation also."
James exhorts the brethren to-
"Count it all joy when they fall into divers trials, knowing that the trial of your faith worketh patience."
Human wisdom can show nothing like this. It has no cause to be joyful in tribulation, and, as a fact, is extremely the reverse.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Now, trial expresses the meaning better, as the Revised Version and most modern versions have it. "Count it all joy"-rejoice, be thankful when you are tried, "knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience." And this MUST happen, if we are to be accepted by God. He here goes immediately to the root of the purpose of our present mortal dispensation-the development of character by trial.
Patience is a very beautiful thing. It is intelligent self-control and self-discipline-doing what is right and not what we desire. It is the triumph of the wisdom of the spirit over the evil of the flesh. "Let patience have her perfect work," says James. Patience is character. It is the only true strength. Impatience is weakness, babyishness, immaturity-lack of strength. *
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Our eye had not seen
We were engrossed with the cares of the riches and the pleasures of this life. But now we have turned from these vanities to know the greatness of sonship to God, brotherhood to Christ, and heirship of the glory to be revealed. We strive to harmonise the life we live in the flesh with this faith of the Son of God. We seek to be followers of God, walking in love and purity as becometh saints, and in sobriety as those that have learnt the solemn judgments of God, which are far above, out of the sight of the foolish.
...Our privileges are greater than we at all times remember. Our position is more blessed than weak nature will suffer us to realise. We see through a glass darkly. We yearn for the day of seeing him face to face. We know that when he shall appear, we shall see him as he is.
...We have long pined in this gloomy wilderness, where the wolves howl and tempests roar with might-a dry and parched land, wherein there is no water. Our flesh longs; our soul panteth after thee, O God. When shall we come unto the courts of our God? We have no rest. We have no continuing city. We seek one to come-the city of our God, of which the Lord God and the Lamb are the light thereof. We are strangers and pilgrims as all the fathers were.
The Christadelphian, Jan 1873
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.
James tells us that God will give wisdom liberally-abundantly-to any who seek. This wisdom, of course, is the Spirit guidance in the way of life. We can profitably connect this promise with what he has just said about patience. He has counselled joy and patience in every problem and trial, because that is wisdom.
The wisdom God will give is the wisdom to understand these things and to manifest the joy and the patience to be spiritually developed. We see that the spiritual lesson here is the same as that which the book of Job is designed to teach us-joy, patience, and spiritual wisdom, lovingly bestowed by God who understands and controls everything. The process sometimes is very hard, but the result is beautiful. *
8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Such receive nothing from God. Only those receive whose eye is single-who seeketh with their whole heart. Those who face the great decision-the things of the world, the things of the flesh, the things that we desire OR the things of God-and having made the decision, faithfully hold to it, their course unshakably established. These alone are NOT double minded. These alone receive the wisdom. They are the only ones in whom God works, building them unto Himself in holiness and grief. *
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.
The natural conditions of men in which they find themselves-rich and poor. This aspect of life is incidental. The Truth and the Eternal Purpose is so great that it entirely eclipses all natural differences of condition. They are absolutely unimportant. The time is so short. Let the poor glory in His great exaltation and the limitless riches of infinity and eternity to which he is related, as a son of God.
And, let the rich glory in that he has been taught the emptiness of the present-the meaninglessness of position and possession in this life, and the wisdom and beauty of the humiliation that sees man as a perishing creature of dust for all his pomp and pride. Both have had their eyes opened to the true wisdom that shows them that present position in life means nothing. This life will be looked back on as but a brief flash of time, in which the only thing that mattered was the development of character. Therefore, our external circumstances do not justify either disappointment or glorying. *
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
What is the connection between loving the Lord and enduring temptation? Only those who love will be able to endure, because love is the only power that can overcome and control evil. Every effort-no matter how noble or how determined or how agonizing-will fail, if it is not based upon love. The crown is just for those who love the Lord with all their hearts. *
Bro Growcott - James 1
Sin and Sinful Impulses
The teaching of the Spirit, in its manifold utterances, through the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles, are in harmony, and if, at any time, they appear to be in conflict, the cause must be sought for in our own misapprehension or oversight.
Now the teaching of the Spirit on the subject of sin is very plain. James is very precise in his definition:
"Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."-(James 1:14.)
If we ask what is meant by sin, we are met by the direct answer:
"Sin is the transgression of the law."-(1 John 3:4.)
Hence, sin and disobedience being the same, they are used interchangeably.-(Rom. 5:12-19.) Desire is not in itself sin, if controlled by the enlightened judgment. For example: it is lawful to desire food when one is hungry, but it is unlawful to steal a loaf; or, if a hungry man went out with the purpose to steal, and was only prevented by lack of opportunity from carrying out his intention, he would be equally a sinner.
This meets the case cited by our correspondent:
"He that looketh on a woman to lust after her"
is a man who harbours and cultivates illegitimate desire, and is, therefore, a sinner merely minus opportunity. There is a great difference between him and the man who "keeps his body under."-(1 Cor. 9:27.) All men are subject to the warfare expressed in the words:
"The spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit."-(Gal. 5:17.)
The best, like Paul, "find a law in their members," which requires to be kept vigilantly subject to "the bounds prescribed by law," that is, to the commands of the Spirit. The man who, by the power of faith, "crucifying the affections and lusts," succeeds in obtaining the victory, is the man who "will obtain the incorruptible crown."-(1 Cor. 9:25; James 1:12; John 14; Rev. 2:26.)
Sowing to the spirit, he will reap life everlasting.-(Gal. 6:8.) The mere impulse to sin is not sin. Sin consists in giving way to impulse in thought or deed. The prophets were men of like passions with ourselves.-(James 5:10, 17.) Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are.-(Heb. 4:15.) There could be no victory if there were no impulse inclining in a forbidden direction.
The Christadelphian, Jan 1870.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
God, then, did not tempt Jesus; though His Spirit conducted Him thither to be tempted, and that, too, "by the devil," or the enemy...
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust [our Lord was proved by resisting the lusts of sin's flesh], and enticed [our Lord being a bearer of weak, emotional sin's flesh was subject to greater tribulation than any man].
Parleying with sin
The Apostle Paul says in connection with the memorial bread and wine, "Let a man examine himself." And here is one of the basic tests to examine ourselves by-one of the basic insights that teach us what we are and why we act as we do and what we must do about it.
James' figure is very striking. As soon as lust is embraced in the mind, conception of something begins. It is the beginning of bringing something to birth. Then, it grows within us-growing upon our own life blood for its development. And so sin comes to a birth. And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Finished, here, means mature or fully grown. The sin, to which we give birth, itself at last gives birth, and its offspring is death. This is the inevitable course of development. And it all comes from the first concession to lust. The beginning is the important thing.
Bro Growcott - James 1
The commandment of God, which is "holy, just and good," being so restrictive of the propensities, which in purely animal men display themselves with uncontrolled violence, makes them appear in their true colours. These turbulent propensities the apostle styles "sin in the flesh," of which it is full; hence, he also terms it "sinful flesh."
This is human nature; and the evil in it, made so apparent by the law of God, he personifies as "pre-eminently A SINNER," (Rom. 7:12, 13, 17, 18). This is the accuser, adversary, and calumniator of God, whose strong hold is the flesh. It is the devil and Satan within the human nature; so that "when a man is tempted, he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
If a man examine himself, he will perceive within him something at work, craving after things which the law of God forbids. The best of men are conscious of this enemy within them. It troubled the apostle so much that he exclaimed, "O, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death," (ver. 24) or this mortal body? He thanked God that the Lord Jesus Christ would do it; that is, as He had Himself been delivered from it, by God raising Him from the dead by His Spirit (Rom. 8:11).
Human nature, or "sinful flesh," has three principal channels through which it displays its waywardness against the law of God. These are expressed by "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." All that is in the world stands related to these points of our nature; and there is no temptation that can be devised, but what assails it in one, or more, of these three particulars.
The world without is the seducer, which finds in all animal men, unsubdued by the law and testimony of God, a sympathizing and friendly principle, ready at all times to eat of its forbidden fruit. This sinful nature we inherit. It is our misfortune, not our crime, that we possess it. We are only blameworthy when, being supplied with the power of subduing it, we permit it to reign over us.
This power resides in "the testimony of God" believed; so that we "are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (1 Peter 1-5). This testimony ought to dwell in us as it dwelt in the Lord Jesus; so that, as with the shield of faith, the fiery assaults of the world may be quenched (Ephes. 6:16) by a "thus it is written," and a "thus saith the Lord."
Elpis Israel 1.3.
'Some think the devil in the case was Christ's own inclinations; but this is untenable in view of the statement that "When the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season"Luke 4:13. It is also untenable in view of the harmony that existed between the mind of Christ and the will of the Father', John 8:29.
The Lord as a bearer of sin's flesh was burdened by its motions (propensities/ inclinations and incitements - the lusts of the flesh.
The rebellious thought to sin in his case originated from external agents. Peter the apostle is an example 'Get thee behind me satan'.
is styled 'sinful flesh' (Rom. 8:3), and Paul speaking of himself as sharing therein, says,
'In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.'—(Rom. 7:18.)
Sin in the flesh, then, is a very evil thing. It is that principle which works within us what is not good in thought and feeling; and these workings, the apostle styles 'the motions of sins'—ta patheemeta toon hamartioon—the physical and mental emotions which, when yielded to, work transgressions of the law of God.
So that when a man is tempted, he is not tempted of God, nor of such a monster as the Gentile Devil; but as the apostle says,
'Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it will bring forth sin; and sin, when it is perfected, bringeth forth death.'—(James 1:14, 15.)
This is the philosophy of temptation, so to speak. Man is made up of certain desires. He desires what he sees, hears, feels, tastes, and smells; in other words, he desires the gratification of his senses. There is nothing essentially evil in this. The evil lies in their inordinate gratification.
Now, between the ordinate or regular and inordinate or excessive, God has placed His law. He has said you may desire, but you may not inordinately desire; or if you do, you may not gratify that desire contrary to My law, under penalty of death.
Abstractly, there was no harm in picking up sticks on Saturday; but when God said 'Thou shalt do no manner of work on the seventh day,' this abstractly harmless thing became a high crime against heaven, and brought forth death to him who perfected the desire to gather on that day. Thus the divine law defines what is irregular, and therefore not to be done by those who would enjoy the favour of God.
The Christadelphian, Nov 1873
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
But man transgressed. He listened to the sophistry of flesh reasoning under the inspiration of its own instincts. He gave heed to this "the thinking of the flesh," or carnal mind, which "is enmity against God, is not subject to His law, neither indeed can be." The desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life, which pertain essentially to all living human, or ground, souls, were stirred up by what he saw and heard; and "he was drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
His lust having conceived, it brought forth sin in intention; and this being perfected in action, caused death to ensue. Every man, says the apostle, is tempted in this way. It is not God, nor the clerical devil that tempts man, but "his own lust," excited by what from without addresses itself to his five senses, which always respond approvingly to what is agreeable to them.
EUREKA - 'THE DIABOLOS'
Sin is pleasant to the flesh; because the deeds forbidden are natural to it. It is that "good" fruit which the animal man delights to eat. The flesh, the eyes, and life, have all their desires, or lusts, which, when gratified constitute the chiefest good that men under their dominion seek after. But, God has forbidden indulgence in these lusts. He says, "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world " (1 John 2:15-16).
And again, "the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4): and, "if ye live after the flesh ye shall die" (Rom. 8:13).
This language is unmistakeable. To indulge then in the lawless pleasures which "sinful flesh" terms "good," is to "bring forth sin" (James 1:15), or to bear fruit unto death; because "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:21-23). "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption" (Gal.6:7-8). All "the ills that flesh is heir to" make up the "evil," which has come upon man as the result of transgressing the law of God, which said to Adam, "thou shalt not eat thereof." The fruit of his eating was the gratification of his flesh in the lusts thereof, and the subjection of himself and posterity to the "evil" of eating of the cursed ground in sorrow all the days of their lives (Gen. 3:17-19).
All the posterity of Adam, when they attain the age of puberty, and their eyes are in the opening crisis, begin to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. Previous to that natural change, they are in their innocency. But, thenceforth, the world, as a serpent-entwined fruit tree, stands before the mind, enticing it to take and eat, and enjoy the good things it affords.
To speculate upon the lawfulness of compliance is partly to give consent.
There must be no reasoning upon the harmlessness of conforming to the world.
Its enticements without, and the sympathizing instincts of the flesh within, must be instantly suppressed; for, to hold a parley with its lusts, is dangerous. When one is seduced by "the deceitfulness of sin," "he is drawn away of his own lusts, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14,15); in other words, he plucks the forbidden fruit, and dies, if not forgiven.
Elpis Israel 1.2.
To think the evil thought is the conception of sin, which bring forth evil deeds unto death. Evil thoughts are actual transgression (Matt 15:18-20). The Lord was not defiled by evil thoughts.
15 Then when lust hath conceived [our Lord never embraced the thought of foolishness suggested by friends and adversaries or the suggestions of the tempter during the wilderness trial], it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens - AMP], with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
It comes from God to us, and then from us -- if we fulfil our proper part -- it radiates and diffuses in ever-widening circles. He teaches us not to do things for those who can reciprocate, but for those who cannot -- they will bless His name, and He will complete the chain by blessing us. Not that we do these things for reward, but it is the working out of the great law that as we sow, so shall we reap -- He that rolleth a stone, either good or ill, it will return to him, to bless or curse.
It is upon this law, in its highest form, that God's relation to us is based. He freely pours His blessings upon us, involving us in an obligation that we can never repay, but which is a lifelong incentive to effort, and a powerful stimulus to love. He does not say, "If you do this and that, then I will reward, or bless you." He says rather, "I have redeemed you, I have given you life and hope, I have made you sons and daughters, I HAVE LOVED YOU -- therefore do these things to give Me joy and to show your love and appreciation."
"God commendeth His love toward us in that -- while we were yet sinners -- Christ died for us."
God does not ask us for great accomplishments. He is not an exacting Master -- He is a loving Father. What does a Father ask but love, and what else can we give Him? He asks us to love Him with our whole heart and mind and soul, and to let that love pervade and direct our every act and thought and word. That is all -- but that is everything.
Bro Growcott - Holy And Blameless In Love
There is nothing good from beneath, or within. All good is from God. "Do not err." Do not be deceived. In the flesh-in the natural mind-in what we think naturally, there is no good thing. It's all suffering. All good must come from without-from above-from learning what God has said. God stands waiting before our course.
We cannot pretend to measure God or even adequately compare Him to any mere human standard. The glory of the incorruptible so far transcends the glory of the corruptible that it is impossible to institute anything beyond the very faintest comparison (Rom. 1:23, Isa. 40:18). Still there are some comparisons that are directly expressed in the Scriptures, and some others that are involved.
First, with regard to the numberless variety of creatures that God made, it is said of man alone that he was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-7; 5:1; 9-6). This is confirmed by what is again recorded in the New Testament (1 Cor. 11:7; Acts 17:28-9).
Made like the angels at first with respect to form and faculty (but for the present 'a little lower' than they with regard to nature and function), we are destined at the last-subject to Christ's approval-to become their equals in nature, life, function, power and glory. Like the 'third heaven,' it is the stage in the process of ascension from the earthy to the heavenly, and from the natural to the spiritual (1 Cor. 15:46-9).
First, being 'born of flesh' (John 3:6), we are descendants of him of whom it is recorded that he 'was the Son of God' (Luke 3:38), and for which reason, as Paul says, 'We are also His offspring.' In this we have the raw material of God's purpose-God's image in living clay.
"Next to this, in being 'born of water' we become sons of God upon the still higher principle of being born again of the incorruptible seed, or the word of the kingdom of God sown in the heart (1 Pet. 2:23, Matt. 13:19). It is of this result that John says,
'Now are we the sons of God.'
This in due time (in the case of the faithful) will be followed by what Christ calls being 'born of the Spirit' (John 3:5-7) ... a man thence forward 'is Spirit' ... he has entered upon the last degree of qualification that introduces a man to eternal incorporation into the perfected immortal family of God (Rev. 21:7; Luke 20:36) ... Christ is both the example and the guarantee of its final attainment ... This accomplished, the likeness of the 'children of light' to the 'Father of Lights' may be accounted complete.
When the pure in heart see God (Matt. 5-8; Heb. 12:14), they will not look upon a mere shapeless concretion of power or aggregation of nature's forces, but upon the glorious, personal Archtype of the universe, of whose person Christ is already the 'express image,' the very impress of His substance, and the effulgence of His glory (Heb. 1:3, Revised Version).
The Christadelphian 1889, p. 104
18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Here is the same figure of conception and birth used for the other side of the picture. Here is the spiritual birth unto holiness and life. Of His Own will, He begat us. The Word sown in the heart begins the conception of the new man of righteousness within us. God Himself has begun all this within us for His Own holy purpose.
Bro Growcott - James 1
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
When others talk, listen. When others want to listen, talk. And don't just chatter. Really try to think something worth thinking, and say something worth saying.
You have the world's most marvellous computer right inside your own skull -- a brain: a multi-billion cell miracle: a gift from God. Don't let it rust, or rot with rubbish.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
To "slow to speak" James adds, "slow to wrath." This naturally follows. For among other things, anger is an assumption that we know everything. If we think it over, we will realize it is true. Anger is an assumption that we are in possession of all the facts and are qualified to judge.
"The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,"
he says in verse 20. What depth of meaning there is there! What countless evils have been committed under the cloak of what is called righteous indignation! Human anger is a presumptuous evil, and evil can only breed evil. It is never good.
Bro Growcott - James 1
The thought is the same as in Ecclesiastes 5:2 -
"God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore, let thy words be few."
God is above; we are beneath. God knows everything; we know nothing. Our purpose in life is to learn and to develop-to grow in knowledge and in godliness.
Let us clearly perceive the apostle's point. "Be swift to hear, slow to speak." Realize your abysmal ignorance; realize the vastness of God's wisdom. Earnestly fill your time with the true learning that you may modify just a little the depth of your natural ignorance-that you may be of some use and pleasure to God. As we are naturally, we are absolutely of no use to Him.
The words of a man of God will be few, cautious and well weighed. He would always be examining himself, checking his own knowledge, very slow to form opinion, very slow to be dogmatic, seeking and crying for the wisdom of God with all his heart and soul, never trusting his own thoughts.
Bro Growcott - James 1
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Let us not just skip over this, because of its strange wording, or because we assume it refers to some excess of evil we have nothing to do with. Let us stop and try to find out what James really means, because it is clear his exhortation up to this point has been a general one to all, based upon the basic evil of all flesh.
Filthiness refers to everything that is defiling to holiness. We may not regard ourselves as filthy, but in our natural state, God does. Unless we are cleansed by His Word, we are filthy. James has just drawn a contrast between the motions of sin—the natural reactions of the flesh—all the filthiness of human evil, anger, and presumption (self will)—and the Divine good that is engrafted from above. He has shown that anger is foreign and defiling to the process of godly self-discipline and control.
Superfluity of naughtiness – when the Authorized Version was translated, naughtiness meant wickedness. Words gradually weaken with use. Superfluity seems to refer to a malignant growth, or a destructive fungus that will, if permitted to get a foothold, at last destroy all power to resist, and finally, life itself. Cancerous, or parasitic growth, of wickedness is the meaning here of superfluity of naughtiness.
"And," he continues, verse 21, "receive with meekness the engrafted word." The spiritual meekness contrasts with the natural anger, which he condemned. The engrafted Word is a beautiful contrast to the life sapping cancer of wickedness, against which he warns. Here also is something which once engrafted into the fleshly tables of the heart will grow and grow until it permeates and transforms the whole body. But this time the process is life-giving and beneficial, not destructive.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
The law of life and immortality
...a sinner having studied "the word of the kingdom," and come to the understanding of it, has a power within him, which did not exist there in his times of ignorance. Paul styles this power,
"the law of the spirit of the life in Christ Jesus;"
and says that
"it sets free from the law of sin and death."
If then, it sets free, it is "the law of liberty," as James expresses it. In another place, Paul styles this law, or power, "the gospel of Christ." His words are,
"I am not ashamed of the gospel of the Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one believing."
This is, then, the saving power, and there is no other. If a sinner would be saved by God, and no one else can save him, he must be saved by the gospel, by the truth, by the law of liberty, which are the same, for his power is there.
But this power can only save the believing. It has no power over the faithless. But before dismissing the subject, the Apostle tells us what gives the gospel of the Christ its saving efficacy. He says,
"it is the power of God for salvation to the believing, because God's state of being perfect on account of faith is revealed in it for faith: as it is written, The justified man shall live on account of faith."
Here then, is a state of being revealed in the gospel in which the believing are perfect. It is God's state of in-being perfection, as opposed to all states beyond its limits. In the English version, the state is styled "God's righteousness," "his righteousness," or "the righteousness of God." It is his system, styled by Paul, "the Faith of God," according to which he constitutes a sinner of understanding heart and divine disposition, a righteous person, or saint.
In order to do this, he places his absolutely holy and just image, his Son Jesus Christ, at the door of entrance into the state, or sheepfold; who proclaims,
"I am the door of the sheep; if any man enter in by me, he shall be saved."
But, he is not only the door of entrance, he is also in a certain sense,
"a great and perfect tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man." "Destroy this temple," said the Spirit, "and I will in three days raise it up;" but says John, "He spake of the temple of his body."
Here then, is "a building of God," a tent, tabernacle, or temple, "a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens." There is but one entrance into that house, and that is by the door. The area within that building is holy ground; and the jasper wall is holy. It is the true holy place, or place of holiness, perfectness, or righteousness. It is God's place of righteousness, "a heavenly in Christ Jesus," into which they who have "purified their hearts by faith" are invited to enter. But there is
"No admittance here for the unwashed."
Before this Holy Place is an altar to which faith approaches; and which was cleansed by atonement being made for it, before it was placed there. It is most holy; and whatsoever toucheth it becomes holy. Paul styles this altar, Jesus. It was cleansed, when the blood of its consecration was poured out from his side. All the worshippers who would enter the Holy Place must first come to this altar, that touching it they may be holy.
But, between the place of God'srighteousness and this altar, is a Laver or bath of water, styled by Paul το λουτρον παλιγγενεσιας the New-Birth Laver; and in another place, το λουτρον του ῾υδατος the Laver of the Water. The law of this arrangement is, that
"when they go into the holy place, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, that they die not."
Neither the altar nor the holy place could be approached without washing under penalty of death. The gospel of the arrangement is not less rigid than the law. Who are they that shall enter in by the door, and be saved? Hear the voice of the Great Shepherd's words:-
"He having believed the gospel and been baptized, shall be saved."
But, may we not strike out the words "and been baptized," as an interpolation? If you do, you must also remove the "New-Birth Laver" away from between the Holy Place and the Altar; and if you do that, you approach them both under penalty of death, without the possibility of touching either.
"He that believes not shall be condemned."
The unbelieving have nothing to do with altar, laver, or holy place; for these are institutions only for the enlightened of the word.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Mar 1857
26 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.
The Scriptures have much to say about our speech. The importance of its relation to the way of life or the way of death could hardly be over-emphasized. The Spirit through Solomon declared (Prov. 18:21):
"Life and death are in the power of the tongue."
By the medium of speech, Eve was persuaded to transgress the law of God. By the same medium, countless since have been deceived into the way of death. By it, too, many have been led into the way of Truth and Life.
And not only is our course directed by the influence of speech from without, but our own faithful or unfaithful use of this great power will determine our eternal destiny, for here is the key to a man's character and heart. Jesus said:
"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
If the Truth is uppermost in our hearts, it will be uppermost in our speech. We all know brethren and sisters of whom this is true, and we know brethren and sisters of whom it is not true. Here is one of the most searching tests as to whether we truly are "in the Faith." Of course, some talk a lot about the Truth who do not have the true spirit of the Truth -- talking is not everything -- but we can be sure that those whose conversation is always about other things are certainly not "in the Faith."
And it is not just the subject matter of our conversation that determines our heart -- it is the spirit and character. The Truth can be used in conversation as an instrument of abuse and antagonism to gratify pride and the perverse, evil reactions of the flesh within us. Solomon says:
"There is that speaketh like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise is health" (Prov. 12:18).
We know, of course, that the pure Spirit-Word is sharper and more piercing than any sword, but it must be wielded in meekness and wisdom and love to purge and purify, but not to condemn and destroy:
"If a man be overtaken in a fault, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Gal. 6:1).
And again (2 Tim. 2:24-25):
"The servant of the Lord MUST NOT STRIVE, but be gentle unto all men, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves."
"Speak evil of no man, but be gentle, showing ALL meekness unto ALL men" (Tit. 3:2).
The supreme importance of the proper control and use of the tongue is vividly illustrated by Jesus' solemn declaration:
"By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matt. 13:37).
And David says in Psalm 34:12-13:
"What man is he that desireth life? Keep thy tongue from evil and thy lips from speaking guile."
James' short epistle devotes a whole chapter to the power of the tongue -- to what a tremendous influence it wields, and how difficult it is to control. It is among those things of which Jesus says:
"With man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible."
In this matter, we must confess our helplessness, and earnestly seek God's help.
Bro Growcott - BYT 1.4.
27 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.
IF our "religion" does not move us powerfully to put away all selfishness, and create in us a great desire to "do good to all men' then it is not "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father" (James 1:27). Truly, our conception of what constitutes "doing good" must be enlightened and guided by spiritual wisdom and scriptural instruction; but the underlying motive force for all we do must be a zealous love for all, and a desire to help all, rooted in the love of God. Who points this out to us as the only possible Way of Life.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God