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James is a New Testament "prophet" who says that it's not good enough to simply believe the truth as though it is nothing more than propositional concepts with which we agree or disagree. There has to be a living of truth - belief must produce behaviour consistent with truth. This renewed emphasis on wisdom now focuses our attention on the place and authority of Word of God.

Session No. 3 WISDOM AND THE WORD Read James 1/19-27

[1] RECEIVE THE WORD OF GOD (vs.19-21)

a. We have new life through Word of God but that's only the beginning of our relationship to God's Word. Question: In what sense does God's Word have the power to save our souls?

b. The Word of God produces growth but that involves our co-operation in these attitudes....

*Ears open - Two ears + one mouth = listen twice as much as we speak!

*Mouth closed - i.e.Temper controlled. This is a call to a disciplined lifestyle. James will have a lot more to say about speech and the tongue in coming sessions.

c. James calls his readers to decisive action. A negative was needed to make way for positive

*Remove - divest yourself of every vestige of old life. Weed it out. Recall the parable of the sower and the impact of the weeds on growth. (Matthew 13)

*Receive - the Word that produces growth into godliness. It is not to be strangled by the weeds of old life

d. Principle of receiving God's Word not only applies to non-Christians as they welcome God's Word into their lives but also to be daily true of believers

e. This, then, is what it means to hear the Word - to have ears to hear what the Lord says

[2] RELATE THE WORD OF GOD (vs.22-25)

a. Hearing and receiving is one thing, obeying and doing the Word requires quite another quantum leap.

b. God's truth is never just for information but for transformation (Matt.7/24f; Matt.28/20)

c. As in v.16, we are again warned about the possibility of deception (fooling ourselves) concerning belief & behaviour.

d. Hearers = those who listen to words - be they lectures, sermons or whatever - without any commitment to do the Word.

e. James illustrates this principle by imagining two kinds of people

*One Glances - not really expecting to see anything different. It depicts a careless, casual attitude. This person glances into the Word, goes away and promptly forgets what he saw.

* One Gazes - suggesting a very careful study or examination. This person takes in the details as instructions to be obeyed.

g. This first person will always be superficial. He or she only ever hears (i.e. what they hear does not produce action and slowly they become hardened to truth.

h. The second person is blessed in doing (25) - not blessed in knowing. Read Matt.7/24-27 and John 13/17

[3] RE-PRODUCE THE WORD OF GOD (vs.26,27)

a. The Word received & related (hearing & doing) results in the Word (the truth of God's Word) being re-produced in our lives. Belief & behaviour should reflect the truth of God's Word - this is what true religion is all about. (v.27)

b. It's much more than orthodox creeds, words & theology - people should "see" the Word in us

*Disciplined Speech - the words we speak reveal what is in our hearts. Unbridled words = an unbridled heart (Mt.15/17-19).

*Compassionate Service - caring for others, especially the disadvantaged and marginalised (e.g. the widows and orphans). If such active care expresses the heart of God, how come we Christians talk so much and do so little, relatively speaking.

* Personal Holiness - unstained by world's standards. This concept links back to v.21 where we are urged to remove all evil from our lives.

CONCLUSION:

1. Here is a plea for a life of faith; a "faith life" that is scriptural, practical, disciplined and caring. What value is a claim to faith if that faith doesn't change the way we live?

2. However there is a balance required here. Some people are entirely focused on caring for the widows and orphans. Others are totally focused on personal holiness, each to the virtual exclusion of the other.

3. How about you and me? Can we do both?

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