Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do you eagerly wait for a stranger?

There is so much information and direction in the first two chapters of James! Yesterday I opened up my Bible and the first verse I looked at was James 2:12:

James 2:12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.

I thought it would be a good idea for us to take another look at two things: 1- What is the Law of Liberty and what is the other Law? 2- How is someone under the Law of Liberty suppose to speak and act?

First, we need to understand that God's Law (the Ten Commandments) is good and perfect:

Romans 7:12-13 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. 13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.

Here's how the ESV translates:

Romans 7:12-13 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

These verses are basically saying, “just because I don't obey God's Law doesn't mean The Law is bad. The Law is perfect and I am a wretched sinner.” It is when a person arrives at this humbled and broken conclusion about themselves that they are ready to receive The Truth. However, if they do not become humbled and broken before God and ask for His Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness; they are still under the law of sin and death:

Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

As long as you remain under the law of sin and death you will be condemned for all eternity on Judgment Day. Your striving and acts of goodness will amount to NOTHING, as a matter of fact the Word of God says they are less than nothing, they are as used tampons:

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

Do not buy in to the silliness that is being preached and taught that says, “we will all go to Heaven”.....”we will be given another chance after we die”. This preaching and teaching is from the pit of hell and many well meaning people have been deceived. If we can agree that God's Word trumps the wisdom of men, let's take a look at a few verses:

Hebrews 9:27-28 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Two things are crystal clear here: 1-Christ offered Himself once to bear the sins of MANY, NOT ALL; 2- He has already dealt with sin; He is not coming back to deal with it again, He is coming back to save those who eagerly wait for Him. Let me ask you a question, have you ever eagerly waited for the return of someone you didn't love? If a co-workers husband went on a 6 month business trip to Asia, would you ask them everyday, “is he home yet? I am so excited for him to get home, I miss him so much. Let me know the minute he gets back.” In all probability this wouldn't happen; you are probably not going to eagerly wait for the return of a co-worker's spouse because the level of love is not the same as your own spouse. The ultimate point is, Jesus is coming back for those that are eagerly waiting for Him, for those that love Him. He's not coming back for everyone.

Matthew 7:13-15 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

I don't know if the word “many” in the context of the Hebrews verse above and this one in Matthew are the same in the original language; but I know this: NEITHER VERSE SAYS ALL. Not all will be saved, and not all will be condemned. Isn't it interesting, however, that Jesus would follow these two verses up with, “BEWARE OF THE FALSE PROPHETS”. There is a massive movement in this country that is commonly called, “universalism”. Most universalist do not like the label and they will deny the label; yet much of their preaching and teaching indicates that is exactly what they are. A universalist believes, “at the end of it all we all wind up in Heaven”. They will even ask what they consider to be deep thinking questions like, “how can we know God's plan”; “who are you to judge”, “how do you know there isn't that opportunity in the moments after you die to have an opportunity to receive Christ, after all, the brain functions for 'x' amount of time after you are dead?”

This is how we know: THE WORD OF GOD! We do not serve a God of confusion, we serve a God of love and because He loves us He provided a Way and that way is made very clear in His Word. Again, The Word of God trumps the wisdom of man, no matter how loving or sincere the man may seem.

OK....That's the real deal on the law of sin and death. No Jesus, No Life. Know Jesus, Know Life.

Those that have repented and put their trust in Jesus alone as their Lord and Savior are not under the law of sin and death, but, instead, will be judged by the perfect law of liberty:

James 2:12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.

The Word of God makes it clear that when we have truly put our Faith in Jesus Christ we are a new creation, we are different. Jesus calls this being born-again. Born of the Spirit. As such, the Spirit convicts us AND enables us to say and do the things a follower of Christ would do. As we have talked about in the last week, James wrote about being a DOER, not just a HEARER. Inside of 2 short chapters James listed some of these “things” we should see manifesting themselves in our life if we truly belong to Christ:

Let's start with the “speaking” part:

We are to ask God for wisdom:
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

We are to restrain our tongue:
James 1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;

James 1:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.

Have nothing to do with filthy talk:
James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Ephesians 5:4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

Colossians 3:8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

Now the “doing” part:

Count it joy when we face trials:
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

Endure Temptations:
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Listen, rather than insisting on being heard:
James 1:19a So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak,

Do not be short and hot tempered:
James 1:19b , slow to wrath;

Have nothing to do with filthy behavior, Guard your heart and thoughts from evil desires, let the Word of God take root in you:
James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Show unselfish love and mercy toward the helpless and the hopeless:
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

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