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Author Topic: James 1:16-20  (Read 905 times)

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Hidden In Him

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James 1:16-20
« on: May 04, 2016, 06:10:03 PM »
The Growth Of Good And Evil Within Believers, Part 2

     All Jews were supposed to know the God of Israel and His laws. Thus, a natural assumption was that if they sinned against believers by subjecting them to trials and sufferings, they might hear chastisement if it came from the pages of scripture. But James was warning his readers that the desire to chastise those sinning against them would not be coming from God if it arose out of temptation. Rather, it would be coming from demon spirits who were hoping to entice them into retaliating against their oppressors out of bitterness and resentment, in the name of "ministering the word" to them:

     Let no one who becomes tempted [in response to trials] say, "I am becoming tempted from God," for God is untempted by evils and He tempts no one Himself. But each one becomes tempted through his own desire, being drawn away and allured. (James 1:13-14)

     If the believer opened himself up to this temptation, he would become a spiritual adulteress of sorts by allowing the seed of an evil, self-centered and demonically-encouraged desire to be birthed inside him. If he then allowed this evil desire to grow, it would eventually manifest itself in sin, and if he continued to nurture this sin until it reached its full maturity, he would bring about his own spiritual death. Anger, bitterness and resentment would eventually totally consume him, leaving the Holy Spirit no choice but to depart.

     Then, when the [sinful] desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when that sin is nurtured to full maturity, it brings death. (James 1:15)

     But as James would now explain, instead of implanting the seed of sinful desires within us, the Lord was planting the seed of His word within believers. If this seed were allowed to grow to full maturity, it would result in eternal life rather than spiritual death. To help the seed grow, the Holy Spirit was shining light and pouring rain down upon God's word "from above," to impart revelation to believers concerning it. For this reason, believers needed to listen to God's voice rather than give heed to seducing spirits: 

     Do not be led astray, my dear brothers, every good impartation and every perfect endowment is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no deviation, nor shadow of turning. Having wished, He brought us forth through the word of truth, for us to be a kind of first fruits of His creations. Therefore, my brothers, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not cultivate the righteousness of God. Wherefore… receive in meekness the implanted word, having the power to save your souls. (James 1:16-21)
     James was borrowing this analogy of "first fruits" from the parables of Jesus, especially the Parable of the Sower, where the word of truth was being sown into various kinds of soil. The good ground were those who were hearing the word, receiving it, growing in it, and yielding fruit:

     And He was teaching them many things in parables, and saying to them in His teaching, "Listen. Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it came to pass that, in sowing, some [seed] fell near the path, and the birds came and devoured it. And some fell on stony ground where it did not have much earth, and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun arose it was scorched, and because it did not have much root it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it did not yield fruit. Yet another [seed] fell into good ground and was yielding fruit, growing up and increasing, and bearing [fruit] in thirty, and sixty, and one hundred fold increments." And He said to them, "Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mark 4:2-9)

     Despite what is commonly taught, this parable is not about the superficial, watered down presentation of "the gospel" as it is understood today. Rather, it is a parable about the growth of ever-increasing revelation within believers regarding the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Jesus clearly used the word "mysteries" in the plural in both Matthew and Luke's account:

     And His disciples asked Him, saying, "What might this parable be about?" And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but unto the rest [I speak] in parables, so that in seeing they may not see, and in hearing they may not understand." (Luke 8:9-10)

     And having come to Him, His disciples said to Him, "Why do You speak in parables to them?" And having answered, He said to them, "Because to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given." (Matthew 13:10-11)

The Spiritually Deaf And Blind: A Fulfillment Of Isaiah's Prophecy 

     Why did Jesus not clearly explain His parables to the majority? Because He knew the teachings that lay behind His parables would have fallen on deaf ears. Most would not have received them. One of the "mysteries of the kingdom" was that those who would inherit positions of kingship in it would first have to endure great trials and sufferings (Daniel 7:25-27). By this means they would acquire true riches in becoming rich in the faith. Most Jews, however, were still equating the "righteous" with those who enjoyed material wealth and good fortune, making them completely blind to the truth.
     By Chapter 5, James would attest that there were many still operating under this mentality years later, for he will warn those heaping up treasure in the last days without being cognizant of the Lord's return that they were sowing to the flesh, and would reap corruption as a result in return:

     Go now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such a city and spend a year there, and do business and make money," you who know not what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? You are a vapor which appears for a little while and then disappears. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that"… Go now, [you] rich men, weep, howling over the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have become corroded and their rust shall serve as a testimony against you, and shall eat your flesh as fire. You hoarded up treasure in the last days. (James 4:13-15, 5:1-3)

     Yet because most Jews operated under this fleshly mentality, Jesus knew they would only argue with His teachings if He spelled things out for them plainly, so He spoke to them only in parables, hoping some would pray for revelation concerning what He said. Those who did could still receive the truth, "turn and be converted," and awaken from their fleshly mentality to understand the mysteries of the kingdom. But Jesus knew most would not, which is why Mark, Luke and Matthew all have the Lord quoting Isaiah 6:9 in teaching the Parable of the Sower:

     And having come to Him, His disciples said to Him, "Why do You speak in parables to them?" And having answered, He said to them, "Because to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whosoever has, unto him [more] shall be given, and he shall have an abundance. But whosoever does not have, even what [little] he has shall be taken away from him. Because of this, I speak unto them in parables, so that in seeing they do not see, and in hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'In hearing, you shall hear and yet not understand, and in seeing you shall see and yet not perceive.' For the heart of this people became insensitive, and they had trouble hearing with their ears, and they closed their eyes, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." (Matthew 13:10-16. See also Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10)

Growth In Revelation: Limited Only By The Believer

     As shall be seen, when reading the Parable of the Sower in context with the other parables Jesus spoke together with it, one driving point emerges: The amount of revelation the believer can receive concerning the mysteries of God is limited only by the believer himself. Because we are not only witnesses to the Lordship of Jesus Christ but vessels of His Holy Spirit, God's will was that nothing be hidden from us. Yet we must seek Him diligently.
     Starting with Jesus' explanation of the Parable of the Sower, as recorded in Mark:

     And He said to them… "The sower sows the word. And these are the seeds where the word is being sown by the pathway, and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word having been sown into them. And these are in like manner the seeds being sown upon the rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy, yet have no root in themselves but are temporary. Then, with affliction and persecution having arisen because of the word, immediately they are scandalized. And these are the seeds being sown among the thorns. These are the ones hearing the word, yet the anxieties of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in, choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And these are the seeds having been sown upon the good ground, such as hear the word and receive it, and bring forth fruit in thirty, and sixty, and one hundredfold increments." (Mark 4:14-20)

     Unfortunately, most were like the seed sown by the path, i.e. they were like hard, unreceptive ground. The birds of the air here represented demons, who were constantly seeking to hinder souls from hearing the truth and receiving revelation. This is why even today many encounter distractions when trying to read strong material, or when being witnessed to in public. It's no accident when the phone immediately starts ringing, "friends" pass by, or a dozen other potential distractions begin occurring.
     Unfortunately, many willfully allow themselves to be hindered from growing in revelation, such as is also the case with the next two groups. Some cannot endure the intense heat of persecution, whereas others allow the concerns of this life, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things to greatly limit the amount of attention they can devote to growing in the word, and as a result the word gets choked out. But the last seed fell on soil that produced thirty, sixty and one hundred fold. Thirty, sixty, and one hundred fold of what exactly? If the "seed" represented the word of God at the start of this parable, i.e. revelation concerning the mysteries of the kingdom, it only follows that the seed produced by the good soil represent the exact same thing: A thirty, sixty, and one hundredfold increase in revelation concerning the mysteries. God's will was that the saints minister to one another by growing in revelation to the place where they began planting seed into others as well, who likewise became new "ground" for the seed to grow within.
     But the Lord then begins adding several more parables to make His point even more obvious:

     And He was saying unto them, "Is a lamp brought that it may be put under bushel basket, or under a bed, and not that it may be placed on a lamp stand? For nothing is hidden which shall not be made manifest, nor is anything kept secret but that it should come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. (Mark 4:21-23)

     The lamp referred to here was Jesus, who described Himself as "the Light of the world" on more than one occasion. The point, then, was that true light had now entered the world so that the mysteries of the kingdom, which formerly had been kept hidden and secret, might now all be revealed in Christ.

     And He was saying unto them, "Give attentiveness to what you hear. With whatever measure you use it shall be measured to you, and unto you that hear shall more be given. For whoever may have, to him shall [more] be given. But whoever does not have, from him shall be taken away even what [little] he has." (Mark 4:24-25)

     The context here was the Parable of the Sower, where the seed sown into hard, unreceptive ground, would be taken away by Satan. So the teaching was that they must not be content with receiving only a little revelation or they would place themselves in danger of producing nothing, which would be especially tragic given that all mysteries of the kingdom of God were now open to them if they only sought the Holy Spirit. How much was up to them. If they set the measurement high and were diligent to keep asking God for it, they would receive an abundance of revelation. If through faithlessness or laziness, however, they chose to set the measurement low, they would have themselves to blame for being unproductive and stunting their own spiritual growth.
     Jesus' next analogy made it crystal clear to His disciples that the responsibility was entirely theirs, not God's:

     And He was saying, "Thus is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed upon the earth, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and arise in length, [exactly] how he does not know.  For the earth brings forth fruit of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full wheat seed within the head of grain. And when the fruit delivers itself up, immediately he sends in the sickle, for the harvest has come." (Mark 4:26-29)

     In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus was the man casting seed upon the earth, and the earth represented the believer. Thus, the statement that "the earth brings forth fruit of itself" intimated that the responsibility for growing in revelation rested entirely with the believer. Once He had planted seed in the earth, the Lord of the harvest would then sleep day and night, waiting while the earth itself brought forth the fruit, until He deemed it time to put in the sickle and reap the harvest.
     What is especially interesting about this parable is that it insinuates the Lord is not looking for a harvest of believers so much as for a harvest of His word, i.e. revelation concerning the kingdom of Heaven, which will grow until it increases to such a level that the Lord finally decides it's time to send in the angels to reap.

The Full Extent To Which God Intended The Word To Grow

     The Lord was not done, however. The next parable would illustrate how much He intended for the word to grow. Here Jesus was prophesying that revelation within His growing church would eventually become so great that even the angels of God would be taught the mysteries of the kingdom through His people:

     And He was saying, "To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we compare it? It is as a grain of mustard seed, which, when it has been sown on the earth is less than all the seeds on the earth. Yet when it has been sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all the herbs, and produces great branches, such that the birds of Heaven are able to lodge beneath its shade." (Mark 4:30-32)


     The "grain of mustard seed" represented Christ, the Word of God Himself, the implication being that through His body, the church, the Word would eventually grow to such size that the angels of God would be able to "lodge beneath its shade," i.e. be ministered to. In the Parable of the Sower, the birds represented Satan and his angels, who came to steal the word away. Here, the birds represented the angels of God, who were charged with watching over the church as guardians. Because the spiritual gifts would be in operation in the churches, and therefore God Himself would be granting revelation through Divine utterance, the angels of God would be receiving revelation indirectly from their Creator through the church.
     This is what the apostle Paul was referring to in his letter to the Ephesians: 

     To me, less than the least of all the saints, was given this grace to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles, the incomprehensible riches of Christ, and to bring to light what the administration of this mystery is which has been hidden in God from [previous] ages, He having created us all, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known [even] unto principalities and authorities in the heavens through the church, in accordance with the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:8-11)

     Lest anyone assume the angels already know all the mysteries of God, the scriptures do not teach this. The prophet Daniel recorded witnessing one angel asking another when and for how long the prophecies revealed to him concerning the Antichrist would take place. A second angel could only tell him it would be for "a time, times, and half a time," i.e. three and a half years, and that it would take place when the power of the holy people was finally broken. Yet when Daniel asked essentially the same questions, he was informed that these mysteries were still "sealed," meaning neither he nor the angels of God were permitted to know them yet:

     “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then... Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two [angels], one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. One of them said to the one clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” The one clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by Him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times, and half a time. When the power of the holy people has finally been broken, all these things will be fulfilled.” I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My Lord, when will the end of all this be?” He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand." (Daniel 12:1, 5-10)

     In referring to this passage, the apostle Peter likewise testified that the Spirit was now revealing to the churches prophecies which the angels themselves had long desired to understand:

     ...for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls, regarding which salvation the prophets, having prophesied of the grace predestined for you, undertook research and investigation, searching into the time and circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was disclosing when He testified beforehand of the sufferings [to take place] until the coming of Christ, and the glories [to follow] afterwards, to whom it was revealed that not to themselves but to you they were ministering these prophesies, which have now been conveyed unto you by those having preached the gospel to you through the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven, [prophecies] which angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:9-13)

Cultivating Righteousness: Just A Matter Of "Praying For Rain"

     Reader, even if you should think yourself not the least bit skilled, educated or gifted in interpreting the scriptures, just pray that the Holy Spirit grants you revelation concerning His word. This is all that is truly necessary. If you do so long enough, even should you have little or no ability to study the scriptures for yourself, He will lead you to streams where the living water runs pure, and confirm to your spirit that what you are hearing is true. With time, "to him who has, more will be given," and you will find the word of God opening up to you in personal study. But remember that the key is always to seek the Holy Spirit. Many are those who were extremely gifted mentally yet failed to seek the Author of scripture regarding what He meant, and ended up shipwrecked in the faith for "not holding fast to the Head," i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3, 18-19).
     So fulfill God's command to grow in the word by praying for impartations of sunlight and rain "from above" which cause the seed of the word to grow within you. This, again, is what James was teaching his readers, for this is exactly what the Holy Spirit was sent to do:

     Do not be led astray, my dear brothers, every good impartation and every perfect endowment is from above, coming down from the Father (i.e. Creator) of lights, with whom there is no deviation, nor shadow of turning. (James 1:16-17)

     When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth... (John 16:12-13a)

     As for you, the Anointing which you received from Him remains in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as the same Anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true and not a liar, even as He taught you, remain in Him. (1 John 2:27)

     The Lord can and will also use His servants to teach you, chosen "vessels" through whom the seed of the word is watered. Yet personal confirmation comes from God alone:

     What then is Apollos, and what is Paul, but servants through whom you believed, and to each as the Lord gave. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was producing the growth. So then neither the one planting nor the one watering is anything, but God, the One producing the growth. But the one planting and the one watering are one [in servanthood], and each will receive his own reward in accordance with his own labor. For we are [merely] servants working together for God. You are God's field, God's building. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

     HOWEVER, you must make yourself available to hear His voice, or you will never cultivate the seed of the word of God to any measurable degree:

     Having wished, He brought us forth through the word of truth for us to be a kind of first fruits of His creations. Therefore, my dear brothers, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not cultivate the righteousness of God. (James 1:18-20)

     Falling for Satan's deception in allowing yourself to become consumed with anger, strife and debate is one of the "desires for other things" that can choke out the growth of the word, similar to getting caught up in the anxieties of life. You become far too preoccupied mentally with other things to hear His voice. Instead, you must seek His righteousness by establishing one thing as your top priority in life: Growing in the word of God.

     No one is able to serve two lords, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will cleave to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money… Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "With what shall we be clothed?" For the nations seek after all these things, but your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:24, 31-33)

     Lastly, never forget that growth in genuine revelation is a slow process, much like how it takes wheat a long time to grow in the natural, all the more reason why we must devote ourselves daily to hearing God's voice.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2016, 04:11:29 PM by Hidden In Him »