James; Tested Faith

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posted on Jul, 16 2012 @ 04:06 PM
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Having begun the New Testament letter of James in the middle, I’m now continuing the series by moving on to the beginning.
This opening portion (ch1 vv1-12) is a sequence of three different themes- Faith, Wisdom, and Wealth.
At least they look like different themes, and the connection between them isn’t immediately obvious, but we may be able to find reasons why they’ve been arranged in this way.

The fact that James opens his letter with a discussion of Faith(vv2-4) shows how central it is to his teaching, despite his reputation for criticising Faith-dependence.
His first point is that Faith will meet various “trials”. The word is frequently translated as “temptations”, elsewhere in the New Testament, but the basic meaning is that something is being tested.
We should respond to these trials with joy (another word which might clash with his reputation), because of the benefits we can expect from them

The immediate effect is that the testing of their Faith produces(KATERGAZETAI) “steadfastness”, the ability to endure.
In other words, the successfully tested Faith becomes stronger, and better able to meet the next test.
(That word KATERGAZETAI is based on the word “work” (ERGON), and the root meaning is “to accomplish, to achieve, to do that from which something results”.)

Then steadfastness should be allowed to have its “full effect”( ERGON TELEAION)- more literally, its “complete or perfect work”.
When this happens, they may then be “perfect”, in the sense of having all desirable qualities, being “complete” and “lacking in nothing”.
(As Jesus meant when he told his followers to be “perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”-Matthew ch5 v48).
That is why the testing of their Faith should be a reason for joy.

The next theme is Wisdom (vv5-8).
The believer who doesn’t have Wisdom is urged to ask God for it.
There’s no need to be diffident about approaching him, because he gives generously and “without reproach”.
The thought of seeking Wisdom from God is deeply rooted in the Old Testament, including Wisdom’s invitation at the beginning of Proverbs;
“For the Lord gives Wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”- Proverbs ch2 v6
At the same time, this request must be made with Faith, in the sense of having confidence and certainty.
Anyone who allows his mind to be divided between belief and unbelief will find himself “like a wave tossed by the wind”, restlessly switching between the two states and never settling in a state of full confidence.
If he cannot ask in Faith, he will receive nothing from God.

In James’ ordinary teaching, this discussion of Wisdom could have been a mini-lecture in its own right. But why is it here, as the sequel to the remarks on Faith? What’s the connection between them?

The most obvious possible connection is that thought of “lacking nothing” from v4.
Then he brings up Wisdom as one of the qualities which might be missing.
In that case, though, “ask for it from God” is a little inconsistent with the previous conclusion, that steadfastness will bring you everything you need.

Another possible connection is that Wisdom is one of the results of steadfast Faith, since unwavering Faith, as already mentioned, is the key to securing Wisdom from God.

Finally, there’s the possibility that Wisdom is offered as the means by which Faith is kept steadfast.
It is Wisdom that strengthens us, when we’re facing the test, and that’s the reason why we need to ask for it.
Which would mean, since God is our source of Wisdom, that God himself, in the last resort, strengthens us for the test and therefore maintains our Faith.

Then James moves on to the theme of wealth (vv9-11).
The implied starting point is the unspoken assumption that “The rich man boasts in his exaltation”, which James counters in two ways.

On the one hand, not the rich man, but the lowly man, should be boasting in his exaltation, having better reason to expect it.
In the words of the Magnificat;
“He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly”- Luke ch1 v52
The “lowly” man is also called a “brother”. So there’s room for debate about whether James feels brotherhood with poor people as such, or whether he means “fellow-believer”, expecting fellow-believers to be found largely amongst the lowly.

On the other hand, not exaltation, but humiliation (“becoming lowly”), is what the rich man should be boasting in, because that’s the more likely event. He will fade away like grass under the sun.
“Blessed are you poor…
But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation”- Luke ch6 v20,v24.

Once again, this theme could have been a mini-lecture in its own right.
It is the first entry in a series of reflections, in this letter, on the subject of wealth and poverty.
But what’s the reason for placing it in this context?

Perhaps the most obvious possible connection is that thought of “receiving from God” in v8.
The brethren receive Wisdom from God, the rich man believes he receives wealth from God, but Wisdom is the much more valuable and appropriate gift.

Another possible connection is that Wisdom is the reason for the difference between the two attitudes.
If the lowly man is a “brother”, he will have received Wisdom from God, giving him the knowledge which enables him to boast in his exaltation.
Not having that understanding, the rich man will be absorbed in his wealth.

And if the right attitude on poverty is the effect of Wisdom, it must also be a litmus test for the presence of Wisdom (and the presence of Faith, since they go together).
Later in the letter, “true religion” can be detected through the treatment of other people’s wealth and poverty.
So perhaps this theme is anticipating that thought, and finding a similar litmus test in a man’s attitude towards his own wealth or poverty.

After this, we come to v12, which I’m including in the discussion because I regard it as the postponed climax(after the insertion of the two mini-lectures) of the first theme, the testing of Faith.
We are told two things about the crown of life.
On the one hand, it’s received by the man who successfully endures the test.
On the other hand, it is promised to, and presumably received by, those who love God.
The only way to reconcile those two statements is to link the two qualities together;
Only a man who loves God will be able to stand firm under pressure.

I’m inclined to think that these themes were part of James’ teaching before they were brought into this letter (I came to the same conclusion about the different parts of the “use of the tongue” segment in ch3).
That would explain why the connections between them are so loose; the connections are secondary.
If so, then the way they’ve been brought into this letter has given them a further level of meaning.

In effect, these three strands have been twisted together into a discussion on Faith, which covers;
1) The need for Faith to be maintained, under the pressure of temptation.
2) The importance of Faith in obtaining Wisdom, and perhaps the importance of Wisdom in maintaining Faith.
3) How the maintenance of Faith can be demonstrated, in the believer’s treatment of worldly wealth.
Finally we see the triumphant conclusion of this discussion, in the reception of the crown of life.




posted on Jul, 16 2012 @ 04:23 PM
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It's awesome you're going through James like this. Perhaps link the other threads at the top for others who are unfamiliar with the previous ones?



posted on Jul, 16 2012 @ 04:25 PM
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reply to post by NOTurTypical
 

Yes, perhaps I can add those in a supplementary post.
I might end up doing an extra thread to show all the links, as I did with Revelation.



posted on Jul, 16 2012 @ 04:35 PM
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The previous two threads in what is gradually developing into a series were both dealing with James ch3.

James;The use of the tongue
James; Wisdom from above


edit on 16-7-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 16 2012 @ 04:37 PM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
reply to post by NOTurTypical
 

Yes, perhaps I can add those in a supplementary post.
I might end up doing an extra thread to show all the links, as I did with Revelation.



That's cool. Im doing a pretty in-depth study of Revelation as we speak.



posted on Jul, 16 2012 @ 06:08 PM
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Interesting comparison;
In v12, James tells us that a man who keeps himself steadfast under testing/temptation will receive "the crown of life".
In 1 Corinthians ch9 vv24-27, Paul tells his readers how he exercises self-control and subdues the body, like an athlete. He does this because he wants to win a victory wreath, an imperishable version of the wreath which athetes won at the Olympics.
But both passages are using the same word (STEPHANOS- crown) for the objective that this self-control is aiming at.



edit on 16-7-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 16 2012 @ 07:48 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


Really great stuff. I read it all and loved it. Especially this part:



Finally, there’s the possibility that Wisdom is offered as the means by which Faith is kept steadfast. It is Wisdom that strengthens us, when we’re facing the test, and that’s the reason why we need to ask for it. Which would mean, since God is our source of Wisdom, that God himself, in the last resort, strengthens us for the test and therefore maintains our Faith.


One thing that I realized in the last few years: God develops our faith. Faith is not something we develop on our own. God is the one doing the work in us. If faith is found, God takes that faith and builds on it with the circumstances of our lives. We often forget a simple truth. God sees us through a mirror of himself. While he sees himself, fully known, he also sees us fully. We see ourselves and him dimly.

There is a good example of this. Look at yourself in a mirror. You see the image. The image is not you. It's a reflection of you. Genesis 1:27 states that God created us INSIDE his image of reality. We are also his image. In other words, we are God looking at Himself. This sounds a bit of a paradox until you realize that God has allowed us free will. We are not God, yet God is there with us each step.

The best way to see this clearly is to look at a lesser case of the same. Someone programmed the Sims game. Imagine the programmer being able to then take his own consciousness into each character. Not only does the programmer see his own thoughts, he also knows the thoughts of the character and sees all that he sees. Magnify this on a larger created image of the universe and we now see the greater case. God sees us and knows us like Himself. We cannot see the spirit that guides us, but know he is there. The veil over the temple keeps us from seeing the other side of the reflection. God sees both sides. Carefully read these two verses.

Genesis 1:27

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

1 Corinthians 13

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

You mentioned love for God. What happens when two people fall in love? Two become one and a new creation transcends the two. What happens when sperm and egg come together? A third creation is born from the two. Where is the baby when it develops? A veiled womb. What limitations does the baby have in darkness? What happens when the veil is lifted and the baby becomes a human on the earth? Is this the end?

The soul is paired with the spirit. When the two become one, we find love for God. What expresses from this union is the next stage on the tree of life. The veil is lifted from this reality and faith has produced the love of two becoming one. The earth is a womb.

The Father is the Spirit of God and the Mother is the Womb that takes care of and nourishes the child. Faith is the connecting point for love to do its work.

Now, for the best part: If the image in a mirror is not real, then neither are we if we are the image. What happens when we die from the image? We wake in the real spot we have been in all along--with God. Seeing God is waking from the image.



edit on 16-7-2012 by EnochWasRight because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 16 2012 @ 09:02 PM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
Interesting comparison;
In v12, James tells us that a man who keeps himself steadfast under testing/temptation will receive "the crown of life".
In 1 Corinthians ch9 vv24-27, Paul tells his readers how he exercises self-control and subdues the body, like an athlete. He does this because he wants to win a victory wreath, an imperishable version of the wreath which athetes won at the Olympics.
But both passages are using the same word (STEPHANOS- crown) for the objective that this self-control is aiming at.



edit on 16-7-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)


Again. Good stuff. If you reduce all of what is in the Bible to baptisms, there are five. Earth (Difficulties of endurance in the wilderness), Air (Knowledge, Language, Word, Information), Water (Baptism - immersion into reality), Fire (Trials, Flaming Sword, Refiner's Crucible) and Spirit (Crown). Not only are we charged with subduing the first four, but the vehicle we inhabit is made from and affected by all five.

The most important thing that I have learned to do over the last few years of study is to reduce all symbols to their root meaning. The temple is our body. We make the sacrifice with the beast (Carbon 6 protons, 6 electrons, 6 neutrons). Water cleanses the temple and puts out the fire. Read Matthew 3. Three of the baptisms are mentioned in this one chapter, along with the key to knowing who will endure the fire. Go to the link in my signature and read the article on water and spirit.


edit on 16-7-2012 by EnochWasRight because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 16 2012 @ 10:33 PM
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reply to post by EnochWasRight
 


Forgot the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Administered by Christ Himself.



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 12:35 AM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 





So there’s room for debate about whether James feels brotherhood with poor people as such, or whether he means “fellow-believer”, expecting fellow-believers to be found largely amongst the lowly.


Well, how many rich people do you see coming to Christ? They are not poor and desperate, living padded lives they want for no thing. Poor people on the other hand, are brokenhearted and lowly, humble and humiliated peoples, knowing they are pretty much powerless to effect anything in their own lives, they often reach out to a greater power who can give their meaningless lives some greater meaning and importance, some higher purpose than to just suck air and then die.

James often argues that faith alone is not enough and he is right, because the proof of your faith will manifest through your works. It's not salvation through works, it's salvation's manifestation through your works. Salvation will manifest itself, give an often physical sign of your faith, allowing you to go above and beyond doing things you would never have once done, even to the point of having the peace of mind to accept what manner of death martyrdom would bring.



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 10:47 AM
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Originally posted by NOTurTypical
reply to post by EnochWasRight
 


Forgot the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Administered by Christ Himself.



I don't know for sure, but it seems that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit. Wouldn't they be one in the same? It seems as though gaining the Holy Spirit of God would be the prize for overcoming. According to Revelation, the one who overcomes is then at the side of Christ with God as a ruler.



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 12:20 PM
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Originally posted by EnochWasRight

Originally posted by NOTurTypical
reply to post by EnochWasRight
 


Forgot the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Administered by Christ Himself.



I don't know for sure, but it seems that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit. Wouldn't they be one in the same? It seems as though gaining the Holy Spirit of God would be the prize for overcoming. According to Revelation, the one who overcomes is then at the side of Christ with God as a ruler.


Same difference. Baptism of fire, Holy Ghost/ Holy Spirit. (Acts 2)



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 03:47 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 

The fact that James opens his letter with a discussion of Faith(vv2-4) shows how central it is to his teaching, despite his reputation for criticising Faith-dependence.
His first point is that Faith will meet various “trials”. The word is frequently translated as “temptations”, elsewhere in the New Testament, but the basic meaning is that something is being tested.
We should respond to these trials with joy (another word which might clash with his reputation), because of the benefits we can expect from them
"The word" you are referring to translated as trials can be found in the Book of Judith,

25 Moreover let us give thanks to the Lord our God, which trieth us, even as he did our fathers.

Judith 8
She is exhorting Israel to have faith in God and to wait on him for salvation, regardless of the situation that they were being overrun by an enemy gentile nation.
edit on 17-7-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 04:15 PM
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reply to post by jmdewey60
 

Thank you for that information.
There's another "trials" translation in Revelation ch3 v10, which is talking about persecution.
Even more interesting is a comparison of vv2-3 with 1 Peter ch1 vv6-7, where there is an exact coincidence of Greek phrases, though 1 Peter too is talking about persecution.
The coniciding phrases are PEIRASMOIS POIKILOIS ("various trials") and TO DOKIMION HUMIN TES PISTEOS ("the genuineness of your faith").



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 05:10 PM
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Originally posted by lonewolf19792000
Well, how many rich people do you see coming to Christ? They are not poor and desperate, living padded lives they want for no thing. Poor people on the other hand, are brokenhearted and lowly, humble and humiliated

Yes, indeed, I'm sure that's exactly what james was seeing. Wealthy people were staying with the established system of Judaism, while the Christian faith was being recruited among the poor.
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians, "not many of you are powerful".

That's why I would go for the second option I mentioned, not the first, in the interpretation of the phrase "lowly brother".
That is, I don't believe James is saying "Any man that is poor is my brother".
Instead he is saying "If a man is a Christian brother, there's a near certainty that he must be one of the poor".
(Not being a socialist myself, I don't approve of trying to import socialist ideas into the New Testament, because I think they're anachronistic)



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 06:13 PM
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Originally posted by EnochWasRight
One thing that I realized in the last few years: God develops our faith. Faith is not something we develop on our own. God is the one doing the work in us.

I think "God is doing the work" is an understanding which Protestant thinking tends to find in Paul's writings, and associate with his teaching about "Grace".
Martin Luther might have had a different opinion about James if he had realised that James was making the same point, though in less clear-cut language.



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 07:22 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 

I've already quoted on piece of convergence between this chapter and 1 Peter ch1.
Here's another.
1 Peter ch1 vv23-25 quotes the passage from Isaiah stating that
"All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers and the flower falls,
But the word of the Lord abides for ever",
and the writer adds that "you have been born anew" through this living word of God.

James seems to have the same passage in mind when he writes in vv10-11
"...like the flower of the grass he will fade away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls and its beauty perishes".
Then a few verses later, in v18, he makes a very similar statement about the effect of the Word;
"he brought us forth by the word of truth".



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 09:04 PM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI

Originally posted by lonewolf19792000
Well, how many rich people do you see coming to Christ? They are not poor and desperate, living padded lives they want for no thing. Poor people on the other hand, are brokenhearted and lowly, humble and humiliated

Yes, indeed, I'm sure that's exactly what james was seeing. Wealthy people were staying with the established system of Judaism, while the Christian faith was being recruited among the poor.
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians, "not many of you are powerful".

That's why I would go for the second option I mentioned, not the first, in the interpretation of the phrase "lowly brother".
That is, I don't believe James is saying "Any man that is poor is my brother".
Instead he is saying "If a man is a Christian brother, there's a near certainty that he must be one of the poor".
(Not being a socialist myself, I don't approve of trying to import socialist ideas into the New Testament, because I think they're anachronistic)


You don't have to be scraping the bottom of the barrel to be saved, just people with less money have a higher tendency to be open to Yeshua. A man that can afford to ride in a limosuine everyday and be part of the mile high club is less likely to be thinking about his soul, he's going to be thinking about the next time he can score money or a woman or conquer his next business to expand his empire.



posted on Jul, 17 2012 @ 09:30 PM
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reply to post by lonewolf19792000
 


It's not really that so much as it is they already have a god.. Mammon.



posted on Jul, 18 2012 @ 07:59 AM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI

Originally posted by EnochWasRight
One thing that I realized in the last few years: God develops our faith. Faith is not something we develop on our own. God is the one doing the work in us.

I think "God is doing the work" is an understanding which Protestant thinking tends to find in Paul's writings, and associate with his teaching about "Grace".
Martin Luther might have had a different opinion about James if he had realised that James was making the same point, though in less clear-cut language.


For me, it seems like there is a truth that ties this all together in this verse that we are God's handiwork and not our own:

Ephesians 2

6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

It is clear that God raises us up as children. It is a continual process over generations. Jesus said, "You must be born again." Read my article on water and spirit linked in my signature.

edit on 18-7-2012 by EnochWasRight because: (no reason given)



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