Good morning and a blessed Thursday morning to you.
James is such an intriguing figure in scripture. James was a brother of the Lord. We see that James was not initially a believer. In fact the Bible tells us in the 7th chapter of John that not even Jesus' brothers didn't believe in him. We also see in Mark the 3rd chapter that James would have been part of the family that would have gone out to restrain Jesus, when the people were saying that he had gone mad. Jesus didn't need any restraining.
James was not initially a believer, but James was transformed into a believer. And what transformed him? We read in 1 Corinthians the 15th chapter that it was a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus that transformed James. James saw the resurrected Christ and he was transformed from an unbeliever into a believer.
James, of course, is the author of the letter of James. And he gives us important exhortation. James 1:22
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
That word “hearers” there in the Greek was the term for auditor. You know if you audit a class, you listen to lectures. Maybe you enter into discussion, ask questions, but you don't do any work. You don't write the papers, or take the tests. You’re merely auditing the class.
James is telling us that we are not merely to be people who audit the Word, like being in a class where we audit. No! We are to be doers of the word. We are to listen to the Word. We are to receive that word, and then that is to move us into action.
23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.
We are called to look carefully into the Word, not casually. Because if we don't do the Word, well then, we'll forget what needs to be done.
Luther said, “God should appear and shine in the entire life and conduct of man, as in a mirror. And the Christian should have no higher and greater concern than so to live as not to dishonor God's name.”
19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.
See, that's putting the Word into action. But if we're honest, we can be tempted to do the exact opposite of that.
So that's the law then, that convicts us of our sin. We hear the exhortation to be a doer of the Word. So, where's the gospel in all of this? Where's the gospel… that Word of empowering grace for us?
In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
That talks about the transformation in our lives, from unbeliever to a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ; that he has borne our sin on the cross; that the tomb is empty; that transformation from unbeliever to believer. The reference here, that we would become “a kind of first fruits of his creatures”… well that's the understanding and the reference of the early Christians, that they were the first fruits of those who have been transformed from unbeliever into believer. And that scores would follow. What a glorious Word that is; that God comes and transforms us into believers. He transforms us into a people that live out who we are. You see, we are claimed in the waters of baptism. We are forgiven. We belong to God. Our eternal destiny is sure. God has washed us in his promises. God gives and sustains faith in us… faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He secures that eternal destiny. And now, as we live our days, he empowers us each and every day to be who we are. Will we struggle with that this side of heaven? Absolutely. That sinner in us doesn't fall away until heaven becomes a reality. But God is at work each and every day to make us more and more like Christ, forgiving us, raising us up, empowering us, transforming us to be like Christ… to be a doer of his Word.
Let's pray, Gracious Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for this time and your Word, for your Word is truth. We give you thanks for the call to not just be hearers of the Word, but to be doers of the Word. We thank you Lord for our forgiveness won at the cross. We thank you for your empowering gospel message, and that you are at work transforming us to be more and more like Christ. So thank you Lord for the heavenly home that has been secured for us. Thank you for washing us in your promises in the waters of baptism. And thank you Lord that as long as you give us breath this side of heaven, you are at work in our lives to make us doers of the Word. We glorify you, and we praise you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
May God bless you this week. Encourage someone.
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