8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Because James wrote "by inspiration of God," it does not follow that he knew all things. Even our beloved Master, on whom "the inspiration of God" rested measurelessly, was ignorant of the day and hour referred to in Mark 13:32.
The inspiration of God confers knowledge or power only to the extent intended by the Father. Hence, "the same spirit" wrought different gifts in the early believers.—(1 Cor. 12:4–11.) To one, it gave knowledge of tongues; to another, the power to interpret; to another the discerning of spirits, to another the gift of healing, to another prophecy, and so on, "all these wrought one and the self same spirit, dividing to every man severally as he willed."
The same law is seen in "nature." A thing is what it is by the decree or constitution of the Spirit that created everything else. A tree is a tree by the power that has made a fish a fish; the power is the same but the result is different, because the will of the first cause is different in one case from the other.
Now James did not know the times and the seasons. He was one of those to whom Jesus said (Acts 1:7), "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons" relative to the restoration of the kingdom again to Israel. He was in a position in which the knowledge that 1800 years had to pass away before the kingdom could arrive would have been unprofitable and discouraging. Hence the knowledge was concealed.
Yet, though this knowledge was concealed, he knew certain things in common with the other disciples which enabled him to speak truthfully of the coming of the Lord as an imminent event. Jesus had told them that that generation would not pass without witnessing the accomplishment of the things he foretold concerning impending judgment on Israel.—(Matt. 24:34.)
This judgment was indissolubly connected in their minds with his coming; first, because it was always so associated in the parables and discourses of Christ; second, because the "taking of the kingdom from the Pharisees" was the natural, and by them considered, the instant prelude to that giving of it to the disciples promised by Christ (Matt. 21:43; 19:27; Luke 22:29–30), and third, because that judgment was to be the work of Christ, to whom all power had been given, and who spoke of himself as a personal operator in the events related to the period, saying,
"I will give you a mouth and wisdom that all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."—(Luke 21:15.) "Why persecutest thou me."—(Acts 9:4.) How often would I have gathered your children."—(Matt. 23:37.) "The king sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers and burnt up their city."—(Matt. 22:7.)
The arrival of that judgment could not in their minds be dissociated from the coming of the Lord; nor in fact could it be so dissociated, for Christ, who by his arrest of Saul near Damascus showed himself an interested spectator and controller of events affecting himself, could not but have been specially related to the concluding scene of Jerusalem's destruction, and as Dr. Thomas suggested, was in all probability at the siege, directing its operations unseen.
There would thus be a coming, though not an appearing of Christ at that time; and to this coming James's statement refers, not that this was in his anticipation a different coming from the coming unto salvation, but that this was a coming to which he looked as involving, after the judgment on Israel, the saving of the saints.
No one knew the interval between the taking of the kingdom from the Pharisees and the giving it to the chosen generation. The interval had not been revealed. The times of Daniel had not been made plain by history accomplished. They were to all, as they were to Daniel, a sealed book.—(Dan. 12:8–9.)
Consequently there was a natural expectation on the part of the disciples that the two events would be simultaneous or rather immediately sequential, the breaking up of the kingdom of the Pharisees, and the establishment of the kingdom of the saints.
As Dr. Thomas expressed it, they were like men with two poles ahead of them in a line, one behind the other; they saw the first but not the second, which was covered by the first; and not knowing of the second as separated from the first, they spoke of the first in language applicable in our day to the second only.
The Christadelphian, June 1873
12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
IS THE TAKING OF AN OATH LAWFUL?
Christ distinctly prohibits swearing, (Matt. v, 34-37), and James repeats the injunction in an emphatic form.-(Jas. 5, 12.)
In both cases there is a reason given. Christ says "For whatsoever is more than these (yea and nay) cometh of evil;" James, "Lest ye fall into condemnation." From this, it is obvious that our duty in the matter has a deeper origin than the command.
Christ's words appeal to fact; a man who is prone to adjurations and imprecations is almost to a certainty a liar. Truth comes out in plain words. A man may speak the truth the other way, but he is liable to be beguiled into falsehood. The mere indulgence in a wrong form of speech, borrowed from an evil origin, has a tendency to breed the evil to which it owes its birth For this reason, Christ commands abstention from them.
Simplicity in speech will help the growth of candour. Nothing is more wholesome or dignified than the open "yes" or "no" of truth-speaking; the very practice will bring straightforwardness.
Oaths or diplomatic polish are equally fatal to honesty. Truth walks best on her own legs. But how about law courts? Here the case stands very differently The law, which takes nothing on credit, adjures the witness to speak the truth; the witness is passive and merely responds to the adjuration by token. Here it is not a question of individual practice, but of submission to the judicial ordinances of man. This we are commanded to yield.-(1 Pet. ii, 13.) Of course, it is possible human law may sometimes ask us to do what the divine law prohibits. In that case, there is but one alternative, viz., the one followed by Peter and the rest of the Apostles. (Acts iv, 19.); but in the matter in question, there is no conflict, as the witness does not swear, but merely submits to an adjuration.
The Scotch form of oath is more open to objection. In this, the witness raises his right hand and repeats a form of words, beginning "I swear by Almighty God." This is so expressly against Christ's commandment that one doubts if any legal obligation can justify it. Doubtless it is a legal form: but one trembles under any circumstances to do so, exactly what Christ commanded not to be done. It is better to be on the safe side
The Ambassador May 1866. p127
Christ forbids oaths or swearing of any kind. James is equally emphatic and unqualified. ...This is to sweep away all the complicated and meaningless fabric that man has erected in a vain fig-leaf effort to deal with his own natural deceptiveness and untruthfulness.
All the oaths and adjurations that are meant to bolster truth only cheapen and weaken it. Disease cannot be destroyed by merely building a fence around it-it must be stamped out at the root. Jesus goes to the heart of the evil, and lays the simple, all-sufficient basis of rigid truth in every word that is uttered-no falsehood, no foolishness (Rev. 22:15; 1 Jn. 2:21; Eph. 5:4). "God hath no pleasure in fools."
Bro Growcott - The Fleeting Cross and the Eternal Crown
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the ecclesia; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
The 1st C ecclesias were operating under different conditions to us and therefore this particular event is unique and will not be repeated and cannot be repeated in the 21C. I don't believe in any Holy Spirit healing as an instrument of ecclesial elders service today - no medical healing by supernatural means can be demonstrated because God has not given us this ability.
1) Why did James indicate only the elders should be called for? - Logically the normal rank and file members were all equipped to pray, use oil, and lift up holy hands, it must have been less effective or even not effective and hence a special calling of elders was needed.
2) Did the elders have an ability which the other rank and file members did not possess? - Yes, many (not all !!) were given the Holy Spirit Gifts by direct contact from the Apostle's. 1 Cor 12:28-30 These Gifts were given for preaching and effective working in the ecclesia, as detailed in Mark 16:15-18 and by the Apostle Paul in his Corinthian letters.
3) Why was oil required and what kind of oil? - It must have been especially significant and vital to the process otherwise , James the Apostle would not mention this specific item. Do we have this special oil available in 21st C...if so, what kind of oil is used today and where is it purchased?
These and similar questions will help to see whether the parallels are in existence today. From what the scriptures reveal we can confidently understand that calling of elders avails very little today - rather the right principle is - each individual seeking the blessings of the Father when ever needed - the Apostle James is clear - Jam 5:16 (note - the principle of collective ecclesial prayer is efficacious and we do it whenever we meet together weekly, but this is another subject from that being discussed by James)
There is another other use of the Spirit power that also is unavailable to us today - It was also used to inflict disease on an erring member proof -1 Cor 5 describes the immoral brother who receives an ecclesial punishment according to Pauls counsel -2 Cor 2:6-8 also 1Cor 11:29-31 etc.
summary - The answer to the questions posed will reveal the truth of the matter how Yahweh helps us by his divine providence - and not by any eldership or special oil.
Bro Trevor Snow
As a matter of course, the sick person or his relatives would send for the healing members of the ecclesia, who, being channels of divine power, would pray to God to use them in the exercise of this precious gift, miraculously bestowed, for the relief of their suffering brethren. Has anyone now these gifts of healing, or of working miracles, or of tongues? Certainly not one of the most distinguished in our ecclesias has any such powers.
For unqualified and non-endowed persons to meet around the bed sick of some deluded believer expecting by their prayers and oil to produce the same effects as these ancient healers to the neglect of all reasonable means, is nothing more than a farce and a pitiable delusion. And while the prayer of faith is still a blessing and a duty, accompanied with perfect submission to the will of heaven, yet we have no right to 'tempt the Lord our God' by supposing He will work a miracle on our behalf as a 'test case,' to protect us from the effects of our ignorance and presumption.
The extraordinary stories told with such unction by faith-healers generally come within the category of medical cases; hardly ever where surgical operations are necessary. In medical cases nature frequently works her own cures, and in my own experience, and in that of many others, restoration to health has been wonderfully brought about, of which faith-healers would proudly boast, and regard as 'test cases' triumphantly proving their doctrine."
The Christadelphian, Dec 1888
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Among the works of sin, are the numerous diseases which transgression has brought upon the world. The Hebrews, the idiom of whose language is derived from the Mosaic narrative of the origin of things, referred disease to sin under the names of the devil and Satan. Hence, they inquired, "who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? "A woman" bowed together with a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years," is said to have been "bound of Satan" or the adversary, for that time; and her restoration to health is termed "loosing her from the bond" (Luke 13:10-17).
Paul also writes in the same idiom to the disciples at Corinth, commanding them to deliver the incestuous brother "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh;" that is, inflict disease upon him, that he may be brought to repentance, "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5).
Thus he was "judged and chastened of the Lord, that he might not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). This had the desired effect; for he was overwhelmed with sorrow.
Wherefore, He exhorts the spiritually gifted men of the body (James 5:14), to forgive and comfort, or restore him to health, "lest Satan should get an advantage over them" by the offender being reduced to despair: "for", says the apostle, "we are not ignorant of his devices," or those of sin in the flesh (2 Cor. 2:6-11), which is very deceitful.
Others of the Corinthians were offenders in another way. They were very disorderly in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, eating and drinking condemnation to themselves. "For this cause," says he; that is, because they sinned thus, "many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep," or are dead.
Many other cases might be adduced from Scripture to show the connexion between sin and disease; but these are sufficient. If there were no moral evil in the world, there would be no physical evils. Sin and punishment are as cause and effect in the divine economy.
God does not willingly afflict, but is long suffering and kind. If men, however, will work sin, they must lay their account with "the wages of sin;" which is disease, famine, pestilence, the sword, misery and death. But, let the righteous rejoice, that the enemy will not always triumph in the earth. The Son of God was manifested to destroy him, and all his works; which, by the power and blessing of the Father, He will assuredly do.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Much estrangement, much bitterness, much coldness between brethren, is due to a failure to realise that others are fighting the same hard battle against the same diabolos as we are-struggling hard though they often appear to fail.
They know they fail and recognise and deplore their failure, and are striving to overcome. But these things are all too often locked up in our hearts. We are too isolated and reserved. We just cannot bring ourselves to the point of laying them out in the open. There is a barrier pride can't surmount.
And so we lose one of the greatest beauties of true fellowship. We judge and are judged according to the public outward manifestations of our mutual enemy the diabolos, rather than by the sincere and agonising secret inward efforts to overcome it.
How often we regret a word or action, and would so much like to blot it out and start over! But unless we SAY so, others will judge us by the fleshly action, and not by the spiritual regret, and so estrangement and misunderstanding grow.
We are engaged in a deadly war against the same great Enemy. In this struggle, let us keep our lines of communication open so we can support one another. Let us frankly admit we are having a hard time with our diabolos; perhaps we can help each other on to victory together-where alone we each would fail.
Bro Growcott - To Be Fleshly Minded is Death
Prayer has two main purposes: all else is secondary.
(1) Thanksgiving -- perpetual moment-to-moment thankfulness for everything: for to the eye of faith and love all is glorious, all is joyful.
(2) Seeking help to know right and think right and do right -- in every circumstance, every condition. Get these on track as a fixed way of life, and all else will flow in a mighty, irresistible stream of goodness.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
Why are we gathered here? Is it for enjoyment? No. The purpose of our life is not enjoyment, but accomplishment, development, growth, preparation. In the mercy of God, enjoyment is the result of godly activity, but it is not the purpose.
To be real and worthwhile, life must have a far deeper motive than enjoyment, or the satisfying of any desire. The motivating force in our lives must be the love of God, for its own sake alone.
Only this could make both Moses and Paul·-two men so different and yet so much alike-sincerely and unaffectedly willing to be blotted out of God's purpose if it would help their
True love is entirely selfless. It is far too large and irradiating to be conformed to self-interest. We are here to help and be helped. These addresses themselves are but a small part of the purpose of our gathering together. The real part is contact, fellowship, encouragement, mutual interest-better understanding, sympathy, drawing closer together.
God in His mercy has given us fellow-workers on the road to life. They are not perfect, as we ourselves are not perfect, but we are united in a striving for perfection, and earnest realization of the great beauty and desirability of perfection. That is the glorious bond that unites us here in one heart and spirit.
We are not here to congratulate one another because we fast twice in the week, and give tithes of all we possess, and are so much better than other men. This can creep into our attitude if we are not careful.
We are separated from other groups, not because we think we are better, but because we realize more clearly the dangers and weaknesses inherent in the flesh-our own flesh included-and are more concerned about them in the light of God's Word. We are not here to criticize and condemn others. We are here in recognition of our own weakness and need.
We are united in a glorious endeavor-the only worthwhile and satisfying endeavor in the whole earth-but the magnitude of its scope and gloriousness makes us keenly conscious of our utter natural unworthiness.
It is God's will that it should create this feeling within us. God is infinite and omnipotent. We are perishing creatures of such limited understanding and ability. This overwhelming sense of unworthiness should teach us kindness and compassion and mercy-a great hesitancy to
judge, knowing that with what measure we judge we shall be judged, and we all need such mercy ourselves.
Bro Growcott - Our call to holiness
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
His wishes for their peace were based on the fact that they were a community of men and women, walking in obedience to the apostolic commandments-built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets - men and women of pure hearts and pure lives-purity of thought, purity of action, purity of intention, purity of aspiration; a prevailing purity engendered by the knowledge of God, and faith in His glorious promises and love of the Lord Jesus as the centre of those promises.
The Christadelphian, Apr 1872