Sunday, February 5, 2023
Lesson Text: James 1:1-8, 12-18; Time of Action: about 45 A.D.; Place of Action: Jerusalem
Golden Text: “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” (James 1:12).
I. INTRODUCTION. No one likes trials and temptations. We would rather live happy and peaceful lives without a care in the world. Yet, if we did that, we would miss one of the greatest opportunities for spiritual growth and blessing. This week’s lesson introduces us to the truth that there is a purpose in the trials we face. That purpose is to make us strong in our faith. But it is not easy for anyone to go through long periods of trials and temptations. In the text this week, James teaches us that good can come out of such difficult times for the faithful believer.
II. THE LESSON BACKGROUND. Most Bible scholars agree that the writer of the book of James was Jesus’ half brother (see Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:19). Mary’s younger children didn’t believe in Jesus during His earthly life (see John 7:5), but they joined Jesus’ followers after His resurrection (see Acts 1:14). It’s very possible that James was converted by the risen LORD (see I Corinthians 15:7). He also became the leader of the Jerusalem church (see Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12). James wrote to the “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (see James 1:1). This refers to Christian Jews. After the death of Stephen (see Acts 7:58-8:1-3), the persecution of believing Jews increased and believers in Jerusalem were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Since these early believers in Jesus Christ didn’t have the support of established churches, James wrote to them as a concerned leader, to encourage them in their faith during those difficult times.
III. FACING TRIALS WITH WISDOM (James 1:1-4)
A. James’ introduction (James 1:1). Our first verse says “James, a servant of God and of the LORD Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” This epistle begins with the name of its writer. Four men named “James” are found in the New Testament. Most bible scholars believe the writer of this epistle or letter was “James” the half brother of Jesus (see Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:19). In this letter, “James” called himself “a servant.” The word in Greek means “a slave” or “bondservant” which identifies someone who was purchased and owned by a master or lord. As “a servant of God and of the LORD Jesus Christ,” James recognized that he was bound to God’s service and that God owned him. The humbleness of “James” is seen in the fact that he didn’t identify himself as Jesus’ half brother; instead, he said he was Jesus’ slave. Although “James” was the leader of the Jerusalem church (see Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12), he still humbly refers to himself as just a “servant.” This should remind us that those who sit in the highest offices in the church of “Jesus Christ” are still only “servants.” Therefore, they should not act like masters, but as ministers which means “servants.” In naming “God” and “the LORD Jesus Christ” separately, “James” wasn’t denying the deity of “Jesus;” instead he indicated the equality of the Father and the Son by affirming that he was a “servant” to both of them. “James” professes to be “a servant of God and of the LORD Jesus Christ” to teach us that all our service should be done to the Son as well as to the Father. We cannot serve the Father unless we are also “servants” of the Son. The Gospel of John declares that “all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (see John 5:23). Next, James identified those to whom he was writing: “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” The reference to “the twelve tribes” most likely means that he wrote to a Jewish audience. “James” wrote to Jews who were “scattered abroad.” This refers to Jews dispersed or scattered throughout the Roman Empire (see Acts 8:1) and were suffering for their Christian faith. So it appears that “James” was writing to Jewish Christians in particular. Note: Since we know that the “twelve tribes” of Israel didn’t exist in the same way in the days of the early church as they did in the time of Moses, there are two major views concerning what James meant by this particular designation for his readers. First, some think, as I do, that James was addressing Jewish Christians throughout the Gentile world. During the centuries after the Babylonian Captivity, and before the coming of Jesus, Jews had been scattered over a wide area. This is often referred to as the Dispersion or Diaspora. Many hold this view due to the fact that the book of James has a definite Jewish flavor. A second view is that James was simply writing to all believers throughout the Roman Empire, both Jews and Gentiles. This view is held by some because Old Testament terminology (basically Jewish terminology) is frequently applied to Christians in the New Testament (see Romans 2:28; Galatians 3:29; I Peter 2:9). There really is no disagreement here. Although his letter may have been directed to scattered Jewish Christians, it was meant to be read by both Jews and Gentiles. “James” continued his introduction with the word “greeting.” The Greek verb from which this salutation comes means “to be joyful” or “rejoice.” With this salutation, “James” may have been preparing his readers for the instructions he was about to give concerning joy in trials.
B. A mindset of joy (James 1:2). This verse says “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” The expression “My brethren” emphasizes that James was writing to Christians who he was racially related to—Jewish Christians. Due to the Diaspora, they were facing severe trials; therefore James began his letter by teaching them the proper way to respond when difficult times come. He instructed his readers to “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” In other words they were to “count” or consider the experiences of trials joyfully. The words “all joy” means pure, unmixed “joy.” “James” knew that trials are not pleasant, but believers can rejoice that God uses trials to refine us. The phrase “when ye fall into divers temptations” should not be understood in the sense of falling into sin. The words “when ye fall” simply refer to what someone might encounter in life. The term “temptations” is sometimes used in the sense of solicitation to commit sin, as when Jesus was “tempted of the devil” (see Matthew 4:1). But here, and in other passages it is used to refer to trials or tests we experience because of our faith. Such troubles often arise because of our stand for Jesus Christ (see Acts 22:3-5; I Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; I Thessalonians 2:15). James’ readers were probably being persecuted for their faith. Whether we are facing physical persecution or not, all believers will have their faith tested in various ways. James referred to these “temptations” or trials as “divers” or different kinds. They included persecution (see James 2:6-7), poverty (see James 2:15-16), economic oppression (see James 5:4), and sickness (see James 5:14).
C. The value of steadfastness (James 3-4).
1. (vs. 3). This verse says “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” James next gave the reason believers should consider all their trials joyfully. He said “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” The word translated “knowing” means knowledge that comes from experience. It implies that James’ readers had already come to know this truth through past trials. The term “trying” speaks of putting someone to the test for the purpose of approving. The object of this testing is specifically the Christian’s “faith.” Real “faith” must be a sound believing of the great truths of Christianity, and a conviction to hold on to them in times of trouble. This “faith” which is spoken of here as being tried or tested by afflictions consists of believing in the power, the Word, and the promises of God, as well as constant faithfulness to the LORD Jesus. That being the case, “the trying of your faith” has the capability of producing spiritual growth. The word translated “patience” carries the idea of steadfastness or patient endurance. Through testing the believer develops the “patience” or endurance to remain under the trials and still praise God. Once we have encountered and overcome a trial, we are stronger because of the experience. Such spiritual development prepares us for future encounters with both Satan and the uncertainties of life which are sure to come. Trials and tribulations should not destroy us but develop us. Trials can be considered pure joy only when there is knowledge that they are designed by God for a purpose. Trials are tests of faith given to us in order to develop perseverance in us; and perseverance produces mature Christian character (see Romans 5:3). Therefore, our Christian faith will be mature and fully developed, free from many deficiencies.
2. (vs. 4). This verse says “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Here James cautioned his readers to “let patience have her perfect work.” The phrase “have her perfect work” means to let “patience” or endurance “have its full effect” or “reach its end.” We must “let patience” do its “perfect” or complete “work,” and do nothing to limit it. Even if one trial comes right after another and a host of them come upon us, we must still be patient or “let patience” continue until its “work” is “perfect” or complete. It is essential that we allow the development of “patience” or endurance to run its full course and produce God’s desired result in us. When we bear all the trials that God allows to come our way, and bear them for as long as He desires us to, and humbly rejoice in them, then “patience (will) have her perfect work.” James sees the goal of spiritual “patience” or endurance to be Christian maturity. But Christian or spiritual maturity develops over a long period of time. A steadfast spirit will keep the Christian from being defeated before he or she reaches the goal. James ends this verse stating “that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” The words “that ye may be perfect” refer to the process of becoming more like Christ, not to a state of moral flawlessness or without sin (see Philippians 3:12-14). When the work of being patient is “perfect” or complete, the Christian is also complete and “entire,” and does not need anything. The word “entire” indicates that we will be furnished with everything that’s necessary for our Christian race, and will enable us to persevere to the end of the trial(s) and pass the test of faith. Note: When trials come, believers should keep in mind the progression to spiritual maturity given in James 1:2-4. We should rejoice with pure joy as we consider our trials, for trials result in steadfast character, and steadfast character leads to spiritual maturity. In essence, James is saying that the progression to spiritual maturity begins with the trial that comes our way. Next we accept the trials as tests of our faith. Then in faith we persevere or demonstrate patience until the trial ends, which results in Christian or spiritual maturity.
IV. THE MEANS OF OBTAINING WISDOM (James 1:5-8) In the previous verses, James instructed his readers to respond to trials wisely with joy and steadfastness (see James 1:2-4). Here in verses 5-8, he went on to discuss in more detail the believer’s spiritual resources when trials come. These resources are wisdom, prayer, and faith.
A. Asking (James 1:5). This verse says “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 had urged his readers to remain steadfast so that they might mature and not lack anything. Now he spoke of the resource of “wisdom” in which some of his readers were lacking. James wrote “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.” The word “wisdom” in Greek is “sophia” and it has a wide range of meanings. It generally refers to the practical use of knowledge which often refers to knowing and doing what pleases God. Such “wisdom” is inseparably connected to righteousness because it is moral discernment that enables a believer to face life and its trials with actions and decisions that are in line with God’s will. This is the type of “wisdom” James is referring to. James said that those who “lack wisdom, let him ask of God” for it. The LORD is the source of spiritual “wisdom” (see Daniel 2:20-21), and in fact He’s the source of every good thing (see James 1:17). “God” who is the source of “wisdom,” gives it to those who sincerely “ask” Him for it. Prayer is a requirement for suffering Christians (see Luke 18:1-3; Acts 12:5). Of course, we all pray for the removal of an affliction or trial, but even more so we should pray for “wisdom” to persevere with the trial. To be wise in trying times is a special gift of God, and we must seek Him for it. The believer should feel free to do this because “God giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.” We can be sure that when we ask God for “wisdom” He has it to give and He wants to give it to those who ask. James said “God giveth to all men” not excluding any who sincerely asks Him in faith. God also gives the “wisdom” we ask for “liberally” or generously. And, I’m sure that there have been times when most of us, if not all of us have felt unworthy to ask God for something maybe because we were ashamed of the predicament we may have gotten ourselves into. But James’ words that God “upbraideth not” should remove those concerns. The word “upbraideth” means “to rebuke” or “to scold.” When we ask God for “wisdom” in faith we don’t have to worry about Him rebuking or scolding us, because God won’t do that. When the believer asks God for “wisdom,” James said that “it shall be given him.” Let us follow the example of Solomon and ask God for “wisdom” (see I Kings 3:5-12; Proverbs 2:6), and like God did for Solomon, He will give it to us.
B. The requirement (James 1:6). This verse says “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” Here, James made it clear that there is one thing that’s necessary for us to do in our asking: he said “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” In other words, we must “ask” with a believing, steady mind. The words “nothing wavering” mean that the one asking for wisdom should not doubt God’s ability or will to answer. A believer who doubts is not steadfast. He or she is divided within themselves: “For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” The words “driven” and “tossed” describe the “waves of the sea” which are at the mercy of “the wind.” The “waves of the sea” move back and forth and up and down. In the same way, trying circumstances can cause a doubter to be “driven” to and fro in his or her opinions. A believer who doubts is not able to focus his or her full attention on God because they lack a firm foundation. In this verse, James is stressing the importance of “faith.” The believer has been “justified by faith” (see Romans 3:28; 5:1; Galatians 2:16; 3:24), and he or she must “live by faith” (see Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).
C. A warning (James 1:7-8).
1. (vs. 7).This verse says “For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the LORD.” The words “that man” refer to the one who doubts in the previous verse. James stated in very strong terms that the doubter should not “think that he shall receive any thing of the LORD.” In other words, he or she who doubts that God will give wisdom should not think that He will grant their prayer requests. Since people tend to deceive themselves, this verse is worded to combat any false hope that doubters might hold on to. The word “any thing” emphasizes that “the LORD” will not answer the prayers of doubters.
2. (vs. 8). This verse says “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Here James continues to state why a doubter will not receive an answer to their prayers. He said “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” The doubter is called “double minded” which literally means “two-souled.” It is as if a person had two minds living in one body. The one is turned toward God while the other is turned toward the world. The one believes God, but the other does not (see James 4:8). The point here is that the one who is “double minded” is as “unstable” as a person with a split personality.
V. PERSEVERING IN TRIALS (James 1:12-15). Verses 9-11 are not part of our printed text, but in those verses, James turns again to wisdom. He describes the humble behavior of a Christian, both those who are rich as well as those who are poor, and directed them on what grounds they have to rejoice. Speaking about the poor or those who are of low degree, James said that they are to be looked upon as brethren, for he refers to them as “brothers” (see verse 9). Poverty does not destroy the relation among Christians. All who are brought low, and made humble by grace, may rejoice in the prospect that they will be exalted in heaven. Then James addressed those Christians who were rich, for good Christians may be rich in the world (see James 1:10). Grace and wealth can go together. Even Abraham, the father of the faithful “was very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold” (see Genesis 13:2). James’ point was that all Christians should rejoice, whether they are rich or poor. He also said that rich people have reason to be humble, “because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away” (see verse James 1:11). In other words, both they and their riches are passing away. As a flower fades in the heat of the scorching sun, James added “so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.” For this reason James declared that the rich believer should not rejoice so much in the goodness of God that makes him rich, as he does in the grace of God that makes and keeps him humble. All believers both rich and poor should rejoice in the trials and exercises that teach them to seek contentment in and from God, and not from any perishing enjoyments. The second part of our lesson begins with verse 12.
A. A crown of life (James 1:12). This verse says “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.” While many blessings are pronounced upon believers (see Matthew 5:13-12), certainly a great blessing comes to those who endure trials. James confirmed this when he said “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.” As previously noted, the word “temptation” here refers to “a test or trial.” Here, the term “Blessed” means “happy, spiritually prosperous, or favored by God” (see Luke 1:28). It speaks of an inner joy given by God. James continued to say why the one who endures trials is “blessed.” He said “for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life.” The phrase “when he is tried” refers to having been tested and approved. It speaks of someone who has come through the “trial” or test successfully and not someone who is in the midst of a “trial” or test. The reward for perseverance under “trial” is “the crown of life.” The term translated “crown” refers to a wreath made of olive leaves that was commonly used in the Greek athletic races of that day, given to the winner of a race. It would be the equivalent to a blue ribbon or gold medal today. This “crown of life” is not eternal life itself because we have that now by faith, not by suffering. Instead, it is the consummation or complete fullness of “life” in the LORD’s presence. In the last part of this verse, James says that “the crown of life” is the reward “which the LORD hath promised to them that love him.” While there may be several ways to measure our love for Christ, the LORD Jesus singled out obedience to His teachings as one way to declare our devotion to Him. In John 14:15 He said “if you love me, keep (obey) my commandments (teachings).” To be sure, there is also a correlation between loving Christ and “enduring” or persevering under trials or testing. Whoever loves Jesus will not rebel, complain, or become bitter during those times. Note: “Crowns” are what the LORD gives to believers for their service for Him on earth. These “crowns” or rewards will be given to church age saints at the judgment seat of Christ which will take place at the rapture of the church (see II Corinthians 5:8-10; Revelation 22:12). Believers earn rewards by faithfully serving the LORD as we serve others in this life (see Matthew 25:14-21; I Corinthians 3:8, 13-14; 4:2). These rewards are called “crowns” (see Revelation 3:10-11). The Bible lists five wonderful “crowns” which will be given to faithful believers as rewards. First, there’s the “crown of rejoicing” (see I Thessalonians 2:19) given to those who win others to Christ. It is also called the “soul winner’s crown” (see Proverbs 11:30; I Corinthians 9:19; James 5:20). Second is the “crown of righteousness” (see II Timothy 4:8; Matthew 24:45-47) which is given to those who live a clean life while looking for and loving the LORD’s return. Third, is the “crown of glory” (see I Peter 5:2-4) which is given to those who faithfully feed the flock of God through teaching and preaching God’s Word. Fourth, is the “incorruptible crown” (see I Corinthians 9:24-26) which is given to those who run a good race in the Christian life. The fifth reward is the “crown of life” (see James 1:12; Revelation 2:10) given to those who suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.
B. No temptation from God (James 1:13). This verse says “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.” At this point in our text, the emphasis changes from trials to temptation. The word translated “tempted” can mean either a “test” or a “trial” or “hardship.” But here it seems to be used in the traditional sense of a temptation to commit sin. It’s possible that James’ readers may have claimed that their God-sent trials were causing them to sin instead of maturing them. If that was the case, they saw God as leading them into temptation. So James quickly silenced that idea when he said “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.” While it is true that temptations come upon us all, it is equally true that God does not send them. It is true that in His sovereignty and omniscience He allows them to occur, but He is not the source of them. Trials or troubles come from a variety of sources, including our own bad decisions. In the case of James’ readers, they were likely facing trials because they had accepted Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 10:32-34). The reason James gave for God not being the source of our temptations, was “for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” In other words, it contradicts God’s holy nature to think that He originates our temptations. God is holy and separate from sin so He cannot be moved to do evil. It is true that Jesus was “tempted,” but this was only possible because He had taken on a human nature. Since “God cannot be tempted,” He does not “tempt” anyone. He does put His saints to the test just as He did Abraham (see Genesis 22:1-2); but He never conspires to make us fail. He only seeks our good, not our failure. In stark contrast, temptations to commit sin come from Satan, whom the Bible describes as “the tempter” (see Matthew 4:3). James was adamant that we should not blame God for temptations or troubles.
C. Lust, sin and death (James 1:14-15).
1. (vs. 14). This verse says “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Of course, temptations also come from our own inner sinful nature. In response to James’ words concerning the source of temptations (see verse 13), his readers may have wondered, “Where then do temptation and sin come from?” If that was the case, James answered saying “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” In other words, temptation begins with our own “lust,” a passionate inner craving, a strong desire of any kind, whether good or bad. In modern English we usually think of “lust” as a desire to commit some immoral act. Yet any kind of desire, whether wrong in itself or it is satisfied in wrong ways, can lead us into sin, whether this craving is of “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life” (see I John 2:16). It is through our own desires that we are often “enticed” or “baited” away from God’s will by dangling something alluring before us. We begin to imagine the satisfaction we would get from doing wrong. The word “enticed” was originally used of catching fish using bait. Of course, what “entices” one person may not even be considered a temptation to another. Jesus emphasized that the desire to commit sin comes from within. He stressed this same truth when He said that evil actions originate in an evil heart (see Mark 7:20-23). The devil may play a part in temptation, but at this point James wanted to stress man’s part in choosing to sin. In short, we sin because we want to! Admitting our sins is not easy, but it opens the door to full forgiveness. Note: Temptation is an internal matter. External circumstances may influence our thinking, but our inner desires draw us away from God, and just as it is wrong to blame God for our sin, so it is wrong to blame Satan. Satan is always ready to lead us astray, and he does so by appealing to our inner desires. God gave man and woman free will, the ability to make their own choices. Satan cannot make us do anything; he can influence our decisions (see Genesis 3:1-6; Acts 10:38), but the choices are ours. Scripture gives an example of this in David’s life (see I Chronicles 21:1, 7-17). God held him accountable for his disobedience and He holds us accountable for ours as well
2. (vs. 15). This verse says “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Now James compared inner “lust” to the temptation of a harlot. He said “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.” When our wills stop submitting to God’s will and enter an adulterous union with “lust,” inevitably, “sin” is “conceived.” There may be an extended period of time when the sinful thought grows, but in time the union of our will and our “lust” gives birth to an act of “sin” (see James 4:1-4). But “sin’s” genealogy does not end there. Another generation follows as James said “and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Keeping on the analogy of conception and childbirth, when James said “when sin is finished” he means when it is full grown. “Sin,” the illicit fruit of “lust” and the human will grows up and bears or “bringeth forth death” as an offspring. If left unchecked or unaddressed, and unforgiven, “sin” will eventually bring “death” to the sinner. “Sin” should be dealt with as soon as we recognize it as such. If we don’t, it grows, matures, becomes a habit, dominates our life, and ends in “death.” Directly or indirectly, all “death,” whether physical or spiritual is the result of “sin” (see Genesis 2:17; 3:3; Romans 6:20-23). And it all begins with the inward enticement of human “lust” which draws us away from God’s will. Since we are all sinners (see Romans 3:23), we will all face physical “death” in this world (see Romans 5:12). But the “wages of sin” (see Romans 6:23) involves more than dying. Eventually, all those who have rejected Jesus Christ will suffer the “second death” (see Revelation 20:14-15), which is eternal separation from God in hell (see Matthew 25:41).
VI. PERFECT GIFTS FROM ABOVE (James 1:16-18)
A. Caution against deception (James 1:16). This verse says “Do not err, my beloved brethren.” At this point, James gives a warning to those he lovingly called “my beloved brethren.” His warning to his fellow believers was “Do not err.” This was a warning not to go astray in our thinking. The word translated “err” can mean “to wander away” or “be deceived.” Of course, there are many ways of being deceived. Some people are deceived by being enticed or lured away into thinking that God is the source of their temptations. But there are others who are deceived into thinking that the good gifts they receive came from some source other than God above. The LORD does not send temptation; He sends good gifts upon His children (see verse 17).
B. Gifts from above (James 1:17). This verse says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” The LORD does not send temptation; He sends “good gifts” upon His children. Therefore, James said “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Although some distinctions can be made between the words “good” and “perfect,” the idea here is that all blessings come from our heavenly Father. All “good and perfect” things that we receive can be traced back to God. On the other hand, evil is from the evil one (see John 8:44). James also describes God as “the Father of lights.” Concerning the material universe, God is the Creator of the heavenly “lights:” the sun, moon, and the stars. Spiritually speaking, God is the source of all knowledge, wisdom, and purity, all of which are depicted as “light” in Scripture. It is true that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (see I John 1:5). In addition, James said that the God we serve is the One “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Unlike the changing “shadows” cast by the sun, God is unchanging. Even though God has acted differently in different dispensations, His essential character remains unchanged.
C. Begotten by the Word (James 1:18). Our final verse says “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” In contrast to being born into death by sin (see verse 15), here James declares that “Of his (God’s) own will begat he us with the word of truth.” James was stressing the fact that we have been born anew from above through “the word of truth.” Peter referred to this when he declared “this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (see I Peter 1:25). The word “begat” indicates that God chose us. While it is true that we must respond to the call of God, He chose us before we chose Him (see Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:4; II Thessalonians 2:13). James likened himself and those early Christians to “a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” The “firstfruits” were the first crops harvested (see Exodus 23:16), an indication that many more would follow. Likewise, there were many more believers to come after those to whom James wrote. You and I are living witnesses to that!
VII. Conclusion. As Christians, we must not let afflictions and trials cause us to become unsteady and shaken. The person who is driven and tossed about by the wind, not exercising unwavering faith will not receive anything from the LORD. That kind of unstableness indicates a double-minded man who is unstable in all his ways. But with wisdom from God, we can endure even the most difficult of times. Trials, temptations, afflictions, and more are part of life here on earth. In the midst of all of these shine the promises of God. Nehemiah wrote, “For the joy of the LORD is your strength” (see Nehemiah 8:10), and the psalmist said, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (see Psalms 30:5). Our faith must be put into practice.
***The Sunday School Lesson; Union Gospel Press Curriculum***
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