The General Epistle of James (Part 11)

Chapter 2 vs. 1-7. A. James here rebukes the sin of having respect of persons in the church. 1. Solomon said that respect of persons sets one up to commit sin. PRO 28:21. 2. James makes clear that respect of persons is sin against the second great commandment. JAM 2:8-9. B. As noted earlier, the word “assembly” (v. 2) translates the Greek word “sunagogue” which is the basis of the word “synagogue.” 1. This is the only clear occurrence of “sunagogue” in a Christian context. 2. As the Christian system transitioned out of its historic Jewish roots, the term “synagogue” fell into disfavor. 3. The last uses of “synagogue” in Scripture are in a decidedly unflattering context. REV 2:9; 3:9. C. The issue at hand here was the showing of partiality to the materially rich. They were judging according to the outward appearance, contrary to JOH 7:24; 2CO 10:7. 1. Preferred seating in the assembly was given to the rich in contempt of poorer saints. 2. One might wonder if the influence of the sect of the Pharisees in the church (ACT 15:5) was affecting their thinking. MAT 23:5-7. a. This is hardly a uniquely Jewish problem. b. How many churches throughout history have abandoned principle to court or maintain the favor of the wealthy? c. How many churches throughout history have fallen into the trap of thinking that gain is godliness? 1TI 6:5. 3. This partiality was entirely contrary to the nature of Christian brotherhood. MAT 23:8. 4. This partiality is contrary to the character of God Who has no respect of persons. ROM 2:11. 5. This partiality may well have been contributing to the envy and strife among them. JAM 3:16-17. 6. Partiality in judgment is not to be afforded the rich or the poor. LEV 19:15. D. It should be remembered. GAL 2:9-10. 1. They may be materially poor but spiritually rich. JAM 2:5. 2. The gospel is tailored for the poor. MAT 11:5; 1CO 1:26; MAR 12:37. 3. Riches can be a great barrier to entering the kingdom of God. MAR 10:23-27. 4. Desperate pursuit of riches can be a cause for losing the kingdom of God's benefits. 1TI 6:9. 5. Poverty in the church may indicate hard times, lack of training, opportunity, business sense or effort. 6. But poverty in the church does NOT necessarily indicate a lack of genuine faith! HEB 10:34; 11:37. a. This flatly opposes the “word-faith,” “name-it-and-claim-it” belief system. b. Jesus did not die “to get your stuff back.” 7. Material abundance is no proof of the great faith of an individual or a church. REV 2:9 c/w 3:17; PRO 13:7. 8. The true riches are not material. LUK 16:11; PRO 8:18-19; HEB 11:26. E. Some wrongly had “...the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (v. 1). 1. Mind that this shows that we are to be cautious as to HOW we have our faith. 2. The faith that we have is the faith of our Lord Jesus. It is of the Lord Jesus in that He is the is evident that God's church may have poor brethren in it, whom James had earlier decreed James 8-24-14 Page 26 author and object of it. HEB 12:2; ACT 20:21. 3. Jesus is the Lord of glory. a. James here equates Christ with Jehovah. PSA 24:7-10. b. The glory of the rich is nothing compared to the glory of the Lord Jesus. c. Had they been more focused on Jesus' glory, they would not have been so affected by material wealth. d. James would have agreed with Paul's prayer for Ephesus. EPH 1:17-18. F. James charged their partiality and judgment of persons to evil thoughts. v. 4. 1. To think thoughts of respect of persons is to think evil thoughts. 2. We are to judge without respect of persons. PRO 24:23-25. 3. Thoughts breed actions. PRO 23:7; MAT 12:34-35. G. James also charged them with despising the poor. v. 6. 1. What they were doing was not only bad manners, it was sin. PRO 14:20-21. 2. Despite of brethren is despite of God. 1TH 4:8. 3. Would John the Baptist have been made to stand through the whole service? MAT 11:8; 3:4. 4. Would Jesus Christ have been despised among them because He was poor while on earth? 2CO 8:9; LUK 9:57-58. H. James declares those rich in faith though poor in substance as “...heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him” (v. 5). 1. Those who love the Lord also shall receive the crown of life. JAM 1:12. 2. They are now in the local church which is God's kingdom. LUK 22:29-30. 3. They shall inhabit the world to come. MAT 25:34. 4. All of God's plan and work of salvation work together to bring such to glory. ROM 8:28-31. 5. Those who love the Lord are heirs of a crown and a kingdom. We reign and shall reign with Him. ROM 5:17, 21; 2TI 2:12; REV 22:5. I. Those who love the Lord are in stark contrast to the oppressive rich. vs. 6-7. 1. The rich oppress men and drag them into courts. ISA 3:14-15. 2. The rich blaspheme the name of Christ by which we are called. ACT 11:26; PSA 73:7-12. a. If such a rich man had come into their assembly as a visitor, they were foolish for overlooking this. b. If such a rich man was a member of their assembly, his oppressive tactics were cause for the name of God to be blasphemed. EZE 36:21-22; ROM 2:24. 3. (PRO 14:31) He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor. 4. (PRO 28:6) Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich. J. James' rebuke is sorely needed in this day of the gospel of wealth. 1. Prosperity-gospel preachers are a dime a dozen, commonly attributing material wealth to great faith and poverty to little faith or no faith. 2. PRO 21:21 says, “he that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour” but the NIV corrupts this to say that one “finds life, prosperity, and wealth.” 3. 1TI 6:6 says, “...godliness with contentment is great gain.” but the NASV corrupts this to say, “...godliness is actually a means of great gain, when accompanied with contentment.” This makes godliness a means of gain rather than the gain itself. 4. Contrast what Satan offered Christ in the temptation with what Jesus countered. James 8-24-14 Page 27 LUK 4:1-13. a. Satan offered Christ instant gratification of need, the miraculous, the world, power, glory, and the spectacular. These are the essence of the prosperity-gospel! b. Satan offered Christ the crown without the cross. c. Christ countered with the word of God, worship, service and trust. d. Christ refused Satan's offer and went to the cross.
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