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MoreBloodWine

October 14, 2020, 06:17:44 PM
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MoreBloodWine

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Hidden In Him

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MoreBloodWine

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Hidden In Him

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Hidden In Him

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MoreBloodWine

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Everything happens for a reason, even if it's rewriting old works ;-)
 

Hidden In Him

March 07, 2020, 07:12:18 PM
My wife dislikes the idea that I'm rewriting studies rather than writing new ones, but the Lord is now opening up Colossians to me like never before, and some work needs to be redone. Very excited about the new insight!  :)
 

Hidden In Him

February 29, 2020, 02:19:44 PM
...get back to making sure studies were ready to put on camera when the time comes.  :)

So how's life with you?  
 

Hidden In Him

February 29, 2020, 02:18:44 PM
I noticed you were still lurking around, LoL. Glad to see I'm not the only one happy about it.  :) Hard at work converting the garage into a recording studio & music room. Gonna be nice! The soundproofing is going to be work and money, but a lot of it is already purchased. In the meantime, I had to
 

MoreBloodWine

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Hidden In Him

February 28, 2020, 05:43:50 PM
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MoreBloodWine

November 02, 2019, 02:37:56 AM
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Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:21:06 PM
An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians.

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:20:49 PM
... of which I became a servant according to the administration of God having been given unto me, for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations but which has now been made manifest to His saints, to whom God wished to make known what
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:20:34 PM
... the abundance of the glory of this mystery is among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfected in Him.
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:19:58 PM
An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians.

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:19:21 PM
... of which I became a servant according to the administration of God having been given unto me, for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations but which has now been made manifest to His saints, to whom God wished to make known what
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 03:18:57 PM
... the abundance of the glory of this mystery is among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfected in Him.
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 02:57:00 PM
An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians!  :)

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 02:56:30 PM
... of which I became a servant according to the administration of God having been given unto me, for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations but which has now been made manifest to His saints, to whom God wished to make known what
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 02:55:42 PM
... the abundance of the glory of this mystery is among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfected in Him.
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 02:55:19 PM
... of which I became a servant according to the administration of God having been given unto me, for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations but which has now been made manifest to His saints, to whom God wished to make known what the abundan
 

Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 02:54:41 PM
An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians!  :)

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant according to the admin

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Author Topic: James 1:1-4, Part 1  (Read 1615 times)

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Hidden In Him

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James 1:1-4, Part 1
« on: March 22, 2016, 08:48:55 PM »
Master Endurance Like A Soldier Training For War, Part 1

     James was the earliest letter of the New Testament. The gospel had not yet even been proclaimed to the Gentiles. Therefore, this letter was sent exclusively by James, head of the church in Jerusalem, to Jewish believers dispersed throughout the ancient world as a result of the Gentile conquests of Israel. The reign of some of the Gentile rulers had been so anti-Semitic, oppressive, and merciless that it had caused many to disperse to other regions of the earth in search of safer places to live:
 
     James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, unto the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greeting.
     My brothers, esteem it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the proving of your faith builds up endurance. But let endurance have its perfected work, that you reach full potential and development, and not fall short in any circumstance. (James 1:1-4)


     What James was trying to build into his readers from the start here was a mentality that embraced hardships rather than run from them. It was the mentality of the marathon runner or the soldier training for service. You wanted your body to be pushed to its limits, because you knew it was the only way you would ever be able to perfect your endurance to withstand anything the Devil could throw at you.
     This was wise advice, because persecution was soon heading the church's way. The Lord Jesus Christ had Himself prophesied well before the writing of this letter that persecution was coming to the faithful (Matthew 5:10-12), and within another few years it would begin breaking out in Jerusalem against the church in earnest. The following events describe in Acts would take place just a few years after James wrote this letter:

     But about that time Herod the king put forth his hands to harm some of those from among the church. And He put James, the brother of John, to death with the sword. And having seen that this was acceptable to the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also… whom, having seized, he put in prison as well. (Acts 12:1-4a)

     This persecution against the church intensified to the point that many of the apostles of the Lord were eventually driven out of Jerusalem. As Paul would later declare to the Thessalonians:

     For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus, in that you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and are not acceptable to God and contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles so that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always. (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16)

     As we shall see, however, early Jewish believers already needed to be developing this kind of "more than conquerors" attitude in the face of trials, because many were already facing great tests of endurance at the hands of the rich and powerful in Israel. Some were already being subjecting them to the worst kinds of judicial, spiritual and financial abuse.


The Types Of Trails Early Jewish Christians Were Facing

     As already stated, persecution was certainly one of the trials James was warning believers they would have to be prepared to endure, as evidenced by how, when the apostle Peter likewise encouraged his readers to endure the "proving of their faith" that would come by being put to grief through "various trials," persecution was clearly among them:

     [Your] salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time, regarding which you exult, though now if necessary for a little while having been put to grief through various trials, so that the proving of your faith, much more precious than perishing gold, and proven by fire, may be found unto praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ… receiving the end 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 [that would take place] until the coming of Christ, and the glories [to follow] afterwards. (1 Peter 1:5b-7, 9-11)

     "Sufferings" here was a reference to the persecution of the saints described in Daniel, Chapter 7:

     Then I enquired carefully concerning the fourth beast... And he said, "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on the earth, which shall exceed all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and trample and destroy it… And [the little horn] shall speak words against the Most High, and wear out the saints of the Most High… and power shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. But the judgment has sat, and they shall remove his dominion to abolish it, and to destroy it utterly. And the kingdom and the power and the greatness of the kings that are under the whole heaven were given unto the saints of the Most High." (Daniel 7:19, 23, 25-27a)

     By the writing of Peter's letter, the Roman Empire was persecuting Christians and putting them to death, making it appear as if the Antichrist was on the verge of manifesting himself to fulfill all these prophesies. Thus, among the trials Peter was referred to, persecution was clearly one of them, and we can assume James was referring to this as well, given that he used the exact same terminology.
   
Financial Exploitation

     But there were others. Financial exploitation of the poor was also going on during New Testament times, as evidenced by the following statement in James Chapter 5, where he chastised the rich for the following:

     You hoarded up treasure in the last days. Behold, the pay of the workmen who harvested your fields is crying out, having been kept back by you, and the cries of those who reaped your fields have entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. (James 5:3-4)

     In other words, the rich were robbing laborers out of their wages, probably by making excuses that the harvest had not been profitable enough. The financial exploitation of the poor appears to have been common place for hundreds of years leading up to the time of Christ, for God warned the rich about this corrupt practice centuries before through the prophet Malachi:

     "I will draw near unto you in judgment, and I will be a swift witness... against those who swear falsely by My name, and those who keep back the hireling's wages, and those who oppress the widow and strike orphans with the fist, and turn away the legal case of the stranger, and do not fear Me," says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:5)

     Swearing falsely, i.e. in court, turning away the cases of strangers, and oppressing widows and orphans were all perversions of the legal system, which as we shall see next was yet another trial early Jewish believers were having to endure at the hands of the rich.
 
Judicial Oppression

     Because they were rich, the wealthy in Israel lent money to the poor, but often with the intention of oppressing and enslaving them. Those who could not pay their debts usually had to sell themselves or their children into slavery until the debt was paid, and so the rich were quick to drag them into court to force them to do so whenever they were late with their payments. While in court, if the debtor happened to be a believer in Jesus Christ, this too was brought up as yet another justification for why their children should be given to someone else:

     Do not the rich oppress you, and drag you into the courts? Do they not also blaspheme the good name by which you are called? (James 2:6-7)

     This practice of the rich oppressing and enslaving widows and orphans after the husbands divorced them or passed away also had a long history in Israel. During the time of Elisha, one of his fellow prophets passed away, and the man's wife pleaded with Elisha to keep the creditor from making her sons his slaves:

     And one of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, saying, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor has come to take my two sons to be his slaves." (2 Kings 4:1, LXX)

     By Nehemiah's time, the oppression of the poor was almost systematic. With children to feed, many families borrowed funds just to eat. Then, because they still owed money the next time, they had to pledge their homes, vineyards and fields to buy more food. Then, when they didn't have enough to pay taxes, with their property already pledged, they had no choice but to sell their children into slavery to survive:

     And the cry of the people and their wives was great against their brethren the Jews… And some said, "We have borrowed money for the king’s taxes - our fields, and our vineyards and houses are pledged… and, behold, we are [now] reducing our sons and our daughters to slavery, and some of our daughters are already enslaved. And there is no power in our hands, for our fields and our vineyards [already] belong to the nobles." (Nehemiah 5:1-5 LXX)

     For poor believers in New Testament times, the saddest part about being dragged into court and forced to sell their children into slavery as collateral was that they would no longer be able to continue raising them as Christians. Moreover, the rich often coveted their daughters, because once in their household, these wicked men could begin grooming them to potentially become their wives.
 
Spiritual Belittlement

     On top of being exploited, cheated and oppressed by the rich, poor believers were spiritually belittled by them as well. The rich were consistently given the best seats in the synagogues, and treated like religious superiors. The poor, meanwhile, were given the most demeaning seats in the synagogues, and treated like sinners who rightfully deserved disrespect. Tragically, this custom of practicing "respect of persons" carried over into Christian meetings as well, a fact James was none too pleased with:

     My brothers, do not uphold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, while practicing respect of persons. For if there comes into your synagogue a man wearing gold rings and fine apparel, but there may have also come in a poor man in dirty apparel, and you looked upon the one wearing the fine apparel and said to him, "You sit here comfortably," yet to the poor man you said, "You stand there," or "Sit under my footstool," have you not made distinctions amongst yourselves and become judges engaging in evil estimations? (James 2:1-4)

     This was essentially a demonic type of caste system similar to that used in India, where the rich were treated like moral and spiritual superiors. It was a wicked system that honored the most evil members of society as if they were the most righteous:

     Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do.  But do not adopt their works... for all their works they do to be seen by men, for they widen their phylacteries and enlarge their borders. They love the place of honor at the banquets, and the most important seats in the synagogues. They love the greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by men." (Matthew 23:1-3, 5-7)

     Thus, the wealthy in Judea were subjecting believers to a whole host of trials, from persecution and financial exploitation to judicial oppression to spiritual belittlement, with Satan deliberately using all these trials as a means to attack Christians. Those unable to endure such trials, who were enticed by demons into lashing out in anger against their oppressors, were then pointed to as proof that Christians were sinners who had no respect for the "righteous."


Satan's Objectives In Putting Believers Through Trials

     First of all, Satan hoped to cause weak believers to fall away from the faith entirely, as described in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:16-17). So also did he hope to cause them to appear "accursed of God," thereby making the gospel unappealing to the unsaved. But there was yet another objective Satan had in subjecting believers to trials, one already alluded to above: He hoped to tempt them into letting anger, bitterness and resentment grow within them until they finally gave place to the Devil in their hearts and lives, thereby discrediting the gospel through sin, and grieving the Holy Spirit.
     Paul revealed this strategy in Ephesians:

     Be angry, yet sin not. Let not the sun set on your provocation, nor give place to the Devil... Let no foul word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for edification when needful, that it may bestow grace upon the hearer. And do not grieve the Holy Spirt of God, by which you were sealed till the Day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and indignation, and wrath, and shouting, and slander be removed from you, together with all malice. (Ephesians 4:26-27, 29-31)

     Paul gave a similar teaching to the Thessalonians, reminding them that returning evil for evil would quench the Holy Spirit within them:

     See that none recompenses evil for evil unto anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all. Rejoice always, pray incessantly, [and] in everything give thanks… do not quench the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-19)

     This, then, is why James advised them to perfect endurance, and "esteem it all joy" whenever they fell into various trials. By continuing to manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit, they would not be overcome by evil, but defeat the Devil's plan to tempt them into giving him place in their hearts instead of God.


Like Olympians, Believers Had To Finish The Race Of Faith

     But believers were to always remember that they were not fighting against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness, which meant their trials would never go away. They would have to prepare to endure them until the end, as Jesus taught more than once:

     They will deliver you to Sanhedrins, and scourge you in their synagogues… brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father the child, and children will rise up against [their] parents and put them to death. And you will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who endures until the end, this one shall be saved. (Matthew 10:17, 21-22)

     The expression "the proving of your faith" meant that continued faithfulness to God in the midst of such trials would prove the extent of their faith. Thus, believers would have to perfect their endurance, so that no matter what the Devil threw at them they could withstand it.
     The apostle Paul was a prime example of this:

     Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned... I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false believers, [and all this] amid labor and toil, often amid sleeplessness, amid hunger and thirst, amid fastings often, amid cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)

     This is why he told Timothy near the end of his life that he had finish the race, and because he had endured until the end, great reward was now waiting for him:

    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me in that Day. (2 Timothy 4:7-8a)

     Because most were tests of endurance, the Greek games were referred to as the "Agon," from which we get our English word "agony." Those who desired eternal honor and glory in the games thus had to embrace the agony of perfecting their endurance, or they would have no hope of victory.
     In Chapter 2 of Second Timothy, Paul made a similar point:

     Suffer hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one recruited as a soldier entangles himself with the affairs of life, in order that he may please the one having enlisted him. And also, if anyone competes, he is not crowned unless he has competed lawfully. More than anyone, the laboring farmer ought to partake of the fruits. (2 Timothy 2:3-6)

     The common theme here was that rewards went only to those who endured the hardships involved. This applied especially to marathon runners, since cheaters faced disqualification. The only way to keep from falling short in their attempt to complete a marathon was to perfect endurance. This was why James urged his readers to let endurance have its accomplished work:

     My brothers, esteem it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the proving of your faith builds up endurance. But let endurance have its perfected work, that you reach full potential and development, and not fall short in any circumstance. (James 1:2-4)


Mastering Endurance As A Soldier: The More Perfect Analogy

     But even better than Paul's athlete analogy was the analogy of the Christian being a spiritual soldier who had to endure the hardships of war. Quoting again from Paul's second letter to Timothy:

     Suffer hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one recruited as a soldier entangles himself with the affairs of life, in order that he may please the one having enlisted him. And also, if anyone competes, he is not crowned unless he has competed lawfully. More than anyone, the laboring farmer ought to partake of the fruits. (2 Timothy 2:3-6)

     Hardships were a part of life for the prophets of God who spoke in the name of the Lord. Had they not mastered endurance to face the battles that lay ahead of them, many would have fled from the field of battle rather than stand for the Lord, and for the truth. As the writer of Hebrews would state:

     … [some] were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated — the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:32-38)

     This is why, by the end of the letter, James will advise his readers to take Job and the prophets as their examples:

     Be long-suffering, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord... Take as an example of enduring hardships and long-suffering the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call blessed those who have endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and observed the end of the Lord, that the Lord is filled with great mercy and pity. (James 5:7, 10-11)

     In the context of the spiritual war, believers had even more to look forward to than simply mercy and pity from God. Their "light affliction," as Paul called it, would eventually earn for them a far more exceeding weight of glory in eternity, for much like soldiers attaining glory in battle, they would be remembered forever for having endured great hardships in their fight against the enemy of their souls (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
     As will be covered in Part 2, endurance will once again be needed in coming years, for the church of Jesus Christ in Muslim-controlled countries is already facing similar trials. And with the trials that are prophesied to begin occurring in the West soon as well, the ability to endure hardships may not just be crucial to spiritual victory over the forces of darkness. As we shall see, for many it may be crucial to their very spiritual survival.



« Last Edit: December 24, 2018, 06:33:10 PM by Hidden In Him »