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He Gives U More Grace

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

     Thank you for listening to this Words of Life broadcast.  The title for the lesson is: “He Gives Us More Grace.”  And our main text is James chapter 4 verses 1 through 6.  We will get to that in the body of our lesson.

     Another evidence of genuine saving faith, which is a common thread and theme of this epistle of James, another evidence of genuine saving faith of taming the tongue, of godly wisdom is how we get along with one another in the church.  It’s rather likely that in many congregations, especially of some size, there are true believers and there are counterfeits.  That is as wheat and weeds, they often look alike on the outside but are not the same inwardly.  Their attitudes, their words, their actions expose their true hearts.

     Note again James’ words of those who live-out a pattern of godly wisdom as described in the preceding verses of James chapter 3 verses 17 and 18 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

     Yet, in stark contrast to all of that, James writes to Jewish Christians with strong warnings and exhortations.  James chapter 4 verses 1 and 2 says in part “What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don’t get it.  You kill and covet but you cannot have what you want.  You quarrel and fight…”  This is certainly strong language directed at brethren!  It is possible that carnal, immature or new Christians are being warned here.  The early church had these type quarrels and conflicts, as we do today, sadly.

     For example, consider the words of the apostle Paul to the Corinthian church in First Corinthians chapter 1 verses 11 and 12 “My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul;’ another, ‘I follow Apollos;’ another, ‘I follow Cephas,’ still another, ‘I follow Christ.’”

     Today there are sometimes church members who become ‘preacher followers’ rather than ‘Christ followers.’ 

     Consider also from First Corinthians chapter 3 and verses 1 through 3 “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly, mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?’

     What’s Paul’s point?  Christians should act like sons and daughters of God.  Not act like worldly men driven by the flesh.  However, Jesus did caution in Matthew chapter 13 and verses 37 through 38 that says in part “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom.  The weeds are the sons of the evil one.”  That is, counterfeits abound.  In the early church, in the middle ages of the church, and today in the twenty-first century church.

     Of course, we cannot accurately know the hearts of men, as to whether they are immature Christians or counterfeits.  We must adhere to the words of Jesus in this ‘Parable of the weeds.’  Matthew chapter 13 verses 28 through 30 that says in part “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling up the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest.  At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

    So, we leave final judgment to Jesus, however, in the meantime we must strive to conduct ourselves as sons of the kingdom, taming our tongues and exercising godly wisdom, which are evidence of genuine saving faith.

     Let’s look more closely at our text.  The original Greek language gives us insight.  According to Greek scholars in verse 1 “fights” refers to battling and “quarrels” refers to prolonged, serious disputing.  So, both terms are used here comparatively of violent personal confrontations as in a war of words and actions.  James even includes in verse 2, ‘you kill and covet’ either all mentally or in the extreme actually.

     So, obviously James is not referring here to some small squabble but instead serious combative relationships that can erupt in the church or between churches.  Often this kind of reckless rancor can spread like a deadly cancer.

     Consider this illustration:  In 2006, Australian scientists discovered the cause of a mysterious disease that had killed thousands of creatures named ‘Tasmanian Devils’ on the island of Tasmania.  Researchers discovered a rare, fatal cancer.  They named it “Devil Facial tumor Disease” or DFTD.  The disease began in the mouth of a single sick Tasmanian devil.  This ferocious little animal spread DFTD by biting its fellow creatures when battling for food.  These ‘devils’ actually jaw-wrestle and bite each other usually in the face and around the mouth, and bits of a cancerous tumor were transmitted to other ‘devils.’  Over the course of years of biting and fighting infected ‘devils’ continued to inflict deadly wounds with their mouths to one another.

     So, what’s the point?  Constant fights and quarrels with biting words can infect congregations of God’s people.  Devilish behavior, wounding one another should not be!  Instead, we should strive to be “peacemakers who sow in peace, raise a harvest of righteousness.”

     Jesus made it clear how we are to trust one another as God’s people.  John chapter 13 verses 34 through 35 “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  So, how is this love new?  The answer: as Jesus said in verse 34 “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  That is sacrificially even to putting others ahead of ourselves, not being self-centered and selfish.

     Jesus went on later to pray to his father regarding all believers in John chapter 17 and verse 21 that says in part “that all of them may be one…”  That is one in unity with Jesus and the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit, and our yielding to him.

     Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in First Corinthians chapter 1 and verse 10 “I appeal to you, brothers in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

     This does not mean compromise on the central gospel truths that are crystal clear in scripture.  However, on secondary, tertiary issues, surely, we in the church can discuss without cussing one another or worse.

     God knows we in the church do not need to behave like the world full of clicks, crassness and quacks!  There are some that insist on getting what they want, and when they don’t get what they want they quarrel and fight.  Usually they clearly exhibit their lack of spiritual maturity by their tone and lack of control.  Unjustified anger and hostility often seen on the streets, should never be in the church-house or amongst brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

     James then gives the remedy for those desiring something.  James chapter 4 verses 2 through 3 which says in part “You do not have, because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

     The language that James is using indicates he believes that many of the recipients of his letter are rather worldly Christians or not Christians at all.  Also, if their behavior is marred by fights, quarrels and coveting you would expect them not to be prayerful people.

     Prayerless people are usually smug in their own self-sufficiency and abilities.  They do not believe James chapter 1 verse 17 which says in part “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”  Instead, they think they can get by their own devices, and it simply does not occur to them to ask God.  This should not be for God’s people.

     If they do want to ‘try God’ perhaps as a last resort, they still will not receive because their motives are selfish.  We as maturing Christians should realize there are pleasure we could ask for, such as a needed vacation time, and then there are pleasures not in God’s will such as winning the lottery for carnal, immoral pleasures.

     Bob Russell, the past Senior Pastor of the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky in the United States tells the story of a father watching his small son, through the kitchen window, trying to lift a large stone out of his sandbox.  The boy couldn’t quite get enough leverage to lift the stone over the side of the sandbox.  Finally, he just gave up with his head in his hands.  ‘What’s wrong, son? Can’t you lift that rock out?’  ‘No,’ the boy answered, ‘I just can’t do it.’  The father said: ‘Have you used all the strength that’s available to you?’  ‘No, sir’ the boy replied.  ‘No, you haven’t son, you haven’t asked your father to help you.’”  What’s the point?

     Our Heavenly Father is always available, always willing to help us, yet in his way, his timing and in his will, not always our will or timing.  However, our heavenly Father always knows best.  But we need to ask.  We need to have faith in him and his ability to do the right thing.

     In 1962 a young 14-year-old boy wrote to then President John F. Kennedy requesting his autograph.  Within a few weeks the President’s personal secretary sent the boy JFK’s autograph.  That began a 33-year relationship of correspondence.      Impressed with the boy’s passion for presidential history, the president’s secretary sent the boy over the years thousands of documents and mementos of JFK.  Today, Robert White has the largest private collection of JFK memorabilia of over 50,000 items.  All you have to do is ask and our Father in Heaven desires to lavish his children with every good and perfect gift.  Not which is worldly and can cause us to stumble in sin or taint our witness.

     James chapter 4 and verse 4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”  Remember James is writing to Christians using strong language because undoubtedly, he knew some of them or heard about them from other brethren.  “Adulterous” here means not sexually but that they had among them spiritually unfaithful people.  People as today, who try to keep one foot in the church and one foot in the world, so to speak.  That is with divided allegiances.  That is not what God desires.  Jesus Christ does not desire lukewarm Christians.

     It’s interesting that according to scholars, scripture nowhere uses the terms “adulterer” of “adulteress” figuratively of Gentiles because only Israel had a covenant relationship with God to be unfaithful to, just as husbands and wives have the covenant relationship of marriage.  Gentiles could be spiritual fornicators but not adulterers, this was a terrible distinction reserved for Israel, the unfaithful wife of Yahweh!  This is yet another internal evidence that James was writing to Jewish Christians.  Some of which were near or already guilty of apostacy or falling away.

     “Friendship” is translated from the original Greek word that describes love with a strong emotional attachment.  Here it means holding a deep affection for the evil world system, and intimate longing for the things that the world can give to gratify the flesh.

     True Christians live in the world but are not of the world.  We remain kingdom subjects, our purpose and meaning are derived from God as revealed in his Word, not the world.  We are citizens of heaven even already now.  Waiting to go home through persevering faith.

     The apostle John wrote similar stern cautions in First John chapter 2 verses 15 through 17 “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world, the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does, comes not from the Father, but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

     It is those who chase after the evil attractions and pursuits of this world with habitual attachment that have become friends of the world system.  These have become spiritually unfaithful or perhaps were never converted to Christ as Savior and Lord in the first place.  Could a true believer be called “an enemy of God?”  or having “hatred toward God?”

     In the original Greek, “Kosmos” is translated “world.”  This term here does not refer to the physical earth but instead to the spiritual reality of a sin and Satan-directed, man centered system in this present age.  All of which is hostile to God and God’s people.  It refers to a godless moral system that changes at the whims of society’s majority.  The primary goals of the world system are self-fulfillment, self-indulgence, all that is self-serving; ejecting God.  Therefore, whoever wishes in this way, to become a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

     This amounts to a heart for the things of the things of the world, not for God whatever one may attempt to deny.  A lover of this world system is a serious matter.  Do you remember Demas in the New Testament?  Second Timothy chapter 4 verse 10 which says in part “for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me.”  Demas was an enemy of God.

     Whereas Christians are to follow Paul’s counsel to Titus in Titus chapter 2 versus 11 and 12 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

     In fact, all unbelievers are enemies of God!  Really?  Consider Romans chapter 5 versus 9 through 10 “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

     Thomas Linacre was king’s physician to Henry VII and Henry VIII of England.  Late in life the physician studied to be a priest and was given a copy of the gospels to read for the first time.  He lived during some of the darkest times of the church.  It was during the papacy of Alexander VI whose bribery, corruption, incest and murder plumbed the darkest depths in the annals of the Roman Catholic Church.  Reading the gospels for himself the physician, want to be a priest, was amazed and deeply troubled.  He summarized “either these are not the gospels, or we are not Christians.”

     So, the scriptures, honestly and diligently read, will reveal to us whether we are family or enemy of God. 

     James chapter 4 verse 5 “Or do you think scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?”  According to scholars this is a very difficult verse to understand.  The words after “scripture says” is not specificity found in the Old Testament, instead it is a composite of general Old Testament teaching.  “That the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely” according to commentator John MacArthur is best understood by “spirit” being the human spirit of an unbeliever who is bent on evil.  That this is the evidence of fallen human nature, and that those who continue to live according to worldly lusts give evidence that their professed faith is not genuine, not of God.  However, David Jeremiah, another fine commentator of scripture using the New King James text writes: “spirit refers to, which is all lower case, actually refers to the Holy Spirit, in the New King James version, who lives within all believers who jealously desire to possess those believers completely and control their lives.  The Spirit, capital S, does not want his place to be given to anyone or anyone else.”  So, we’ll just have to add this passage to our bucket list of questions for when we get to heaven, if we have any questions at all, having been glorified at that time.

     James chapter 4 and verse 6 “But he gives us more grace.  That is why scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.” Proverbs chapter 3 and verse 34.

     John MacArthur writes: “The only ray of hope in man’s spiritual darkness is the sovereign grace of God, which alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things.  That God gives ‘more grace’ shows that his grace will always be sufficient to cover the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan.  The Old Testament quote from Proverbs chapter 3 and verse 34 reveals who obtains God’s grace, the humble, not the proud enemies of God.”  Again, David Jeremiah, another fine expositor of scripture writes regarding James chapter 4 verse 6 “The consistent message of the New Testament is that God’s grace is available for his people’s deepest needs.  The same grace that brings a believer into fellowship with God can sustain that fellowship in spite of the pressures of the world.  The cure for conflict is the grace of God.  The good news is that God gives us even more grace when the pressure increases, especially to the humble.”

     Donald Grey Barnhouse writes “Love that reaches up is adoration.  Love that reaches across is affection.  Love that reaches down is grace.”

     Another quote from Roy B. Zuck, Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary wrote.

“Many Christians are shocked by sin. They should be staggered by God’s grace.”

     So very true.  So, dear listener, have you accepted God’s grace, personified in Christ Jesus?  Do so today.

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.




One Response to “He Gives U More Grace”

  1. Another good message. Thank you.



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Romans 14:8