Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Mining the Scriptures: James 1:17-18

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As James indicated in the previous verses, we deceive ourselves if we blame God for the evil that exists among us. Because of who He is, God is capable only of good. He is eminently righteous. He gives us every good and perfect gift. The designation James uses here, the “Father of lights”, is found only here. Light is often contrasted with darkness in scripture, as an illustration of good versus evil. God authors only that which is luminescent — only good. “…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

An example of His goodness is His determination in man’s redemption. It was God’s will to bring about reconciliation with man. This is accomplished through the “word of truth.” As Paul wrote, the gospel is the “…power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

The benefits of His grace make Christians “a kind of firstfruits.” As Paul wrote, “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12). God is worthy of praise alone!

Mining the Scriptures: James 1:9-11

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A contrast is here made by James between the poor Christian and the rich Christian.

Paul instructs the poor man to glory in his exaltation. In this there is the recognition that God is pleased when we have reason to rejoice and enjoy our lives. The life of the destitute is hard, with little relief. It is good and proper for him to enjoy any morsel of happiness or honor that he will receive. (A good lesson for us is to seek out the poor — in circumstance or spirit — and honor them. It will be a great encouragement to them).

In contrast, the rich man is to glory in his humiliation. In this there is the recognition that honor on earth is of no value with regard to the eternal standing of any man. The life of the rich man is full of accolades and ease. While the praise may be well earned, for a man to trust in such flattery, or believe there to be lasting value in riches, is dangerous and foolish. (A good lesson for us is to remember that any praise we receive for our earthly standing or secular accomplishments has little value. We must not place our trust in uncertain riches).

Let us all pursue an eternal reward, rather than riches that fade!

Mining the Scriptures: James 1:5-8

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James here explains that wisdom is obtained through prayer. Therefore, a distinction must be made between mere knowledge, derived through study, and wisdom, which can be expressed as the proper application of that knowledge. The world is full of men and women who have knowledge, and yet lack the perspective and ability to use it properly.

Wisdom is also gained through experience and maturity, but here we are given the promise that a petition to God will be effective in garnering this gift directly from Him.

But, we must act in faith. When we petition God, we are placing our trust in His willingness and ability to grant our petitions. Doubting casts aspersion upon either His integrity or sovereignty. Neither is acceptable to God.

God answers prayer. But, he only answers the prayer that is offered effectively, and by the righteous (cf. James 5:16). Otherwise, “let not that man suppose he will receive anything from the Lord.”

Do you want wisdom? Ask God, without doubting, and you will receive the bounty you desire.

Mining The Scriptures: James 1:1-4

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James 1:1-4

The epistle of James is a general epistle, in the sense that it was written to a broad group rather than a specific individual or church. It was written to the “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” indicating Jewish Christians throughout the world. Though the introductory paragraph does not specify Jewish Christians, the contents of the letter show that his intended audience is believers in Christ.

James’ letter is eminently practical, and his first admonition in verses 2-4 certainly deserves this designation.

The trials of life are tests, and if we pass the tests, we benefit greatly as a result. When the text says that tribulation produces patience, it acknowledges the fact that we learn as we endure. We grow stronger, we are tempered and we mature. As such, when we come out the other side, it can be said of us that we are “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

While tribulation is not pleasant, such testing is nevertheless cause for joy. It is because of the spiritual growth we experience. And, even more so because it shows our Lord that we are worthy to join with Him in suffering and future glory.

Mining The Scriptures: James 1:13-16

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James 1:13-16

Quite often people blame God for things He has not done. This is certainly so in the realm of temptation. As our text indicates, when we are tempted, it is not God’s fault.

God is perfect. Perfect in His righteousness and perfect in His love for man. As such, it is impossible for Him to contribute to the sin of man.

When a man sins he alone is at fault. Though there may be causal factors, (e.g. the enticements placed before him by Satan and his minions), the fault is his.

As the text states, a man sins when he is “drawn away by his own desires.”

When we sin, we can not say that we are not responsible. It is not God’s fault, and the devil did not “make us do it.” It is not the fault of our mother or our father (cf. Ezekiel 18:20).

It is our own fault, and the consequences are dire: “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (vs. 15).