We’re already a week away from the Retreat! Hopefully the Lord has been working the things He showed you deeper into your heart and it has all been bearing fruit. To stoke your memories, here’s some pictures from the weekend (courtesy of Emma Witman). See the gallery below for all of them, and a few will appear in the sidebar as well. Enjoy!
It’s because there’s a blizzard. Believe it or not, we have some of the movies from the Glammy’s up for you to view and reminisce over. We put up a few that won awards, minus some that we did’t have permission to post the music online.
Click on this link to see them… click here.
Zach’s teachings from this weekend are now up for you to download. Just click on “Teaching” at the top of the page, and download away.
If you enjoyed Zach Adam’s teaching this weekend (we’ll be posting the messages for you to download soon), you might be interested in checking out his website: http://www.zachadams.org/
He’s doing a whole series of teachings on each book of the Bible called “The 66.” We think it’s a great idea. Let us know what you think…
If you are on Facebook, could you spread this around to your friends who are joining us this weekend for the retreat? Here’s a thought to think and pray over before we get on those buses and get off in the Poconos:
God is so good, that it is in His nature to always want to bless His creatures. Now many things get in the way of our being blessed, especially our sin, but still, we can say that the Bible teaches that it is in God’s heart to bless us. So in thinking about this weekend, it occurred to me that there are three kinds of joy God may choose to bless you with as we’re away together.
First, there is the joy of friends and good times. Think snow tubing, bonfires, hot cocoa in cold weather, a big football game, singing worship, a great speaker, and things like that. It is almost certain that everyone who comes with us will experience this kind of joy. God is just that good. (And isn’t it interesting that these things are usually all the average teenager is looking for out of life?)
Second, there is the joy of actually meeting and growing closer to the living God. Isn’t it amazing that the God who made everything wants to meet with you? He wants to reveal Himself to you. And it is very likely that most of us, hopefully the vast majority of us will experience this joy. In fact, God is so good, that almost all you have to do is show up and want Him and you will find Him. We are praying for works of eternal significance to be done in your souls this weekend. It’s why everyone over 18 will be there with you.
But there is one more kind of joy you might experience this weekend. It will include the first two. You will have great times, and you will grow closer to the Lord. But some of us will also experience the joy of having God work through you to bless others. In other words, some of us will allow God to lead us and use us in such a way that we not only know Him more, but we also have Him use us to draw others closer to Him as well. This will look like a hundred little things–encouraging a friend, finding people who don’t know anyone and getting them in your group, helping others focus during the studies, striking up spiritual conversation in the rooms at night and walking around during the day, forming a new friendship with someone who needs it…
The key, I think, is willingness. How much blessing am I willing to allow God to lead me into? We can always stop at “small” blessings. Or, we can trust the Lord to know where the deepest, truest joy is to be found.
So, we invite you to join us this weekend and experience everything God has for you. Come be blessed by friends and good times. Come have Him minister to your soul. And if the Lord calls you to it, we invite you to join us in joining Him in the work He’ll be doing while we’re there. Be happy. Be close. Be used.
See you tomorrow!
James 3:1-12 :: 1.19.11
The Little Key to Christian Maturity
1. Maturity = Tongue Control (v.1-5)
v. 1 the warning against becoming a teacher:
because: 1. you will receive a greater judgment
2. you will be using your tongue the most, and so have the most opportunity for sin (v.2a)
v.2b The “perfect” person does not stumble in what they say.
So: 1. since everyone does, only those in heaven can be called “perfect/complete” in this area.
2. so the measure of our maturity is how far we’ve come in controlling our tongue.
v.2c 3. and, controlling your tongue is the method for controlling your whole life!
(this is what James means by “able also to bridle the whole body”)
v.3 ex. 1: bits control horses vs. inner forces → control
v.4 ex. 2: rudders steer ships vs. outer forces → direction
v.5 ex. 3: match fires start forest fires an active force → destruction
v.3&4 the horse & the ship: rider → bit → horse
pilot → rudder → ship person → tongue → body (life)
the point of v. 1-5: the tongue controls things.
2. Truths About the Tongue (v.6-8) the Tongue is…
1. a fire (v.6)
2. a world of iniquity (v.6) … or “the world of iniquity”
3. defiles your whole body (or “life”)
4. sets “nature” on fire… (the “wheel of birth” – your whole life)
5. gets its fire from hell
6. not able to be tamed by human power (v.8)
7. an unruly evil (same as 1:8 “unstable”)
8. full of deadly poison (like a serpent…)
in a sentence: The power of Satan energizes the tongue to channel the deadly poison in the evil word with a power too great for humans to tame in a way that sets your whole life on fire.
3. The Real Issue: The Heart (v.9-12)
A double-tongued person is a double-minded person. (see 1:8)
An unstable tongue (3:8) shows an unstable heart. (see 1:8)
A divided tongue is a divided heart.
Symptom: “blessing” God and “cursing” people
Cause: Two Sources (the “spring” v.11), wrong nature (the “tree” and the “spring” v.12) ( little bit of salt water makes the water salt water, not fresh!)
More About the Tongue: Other things James says about our speech:
1:13 you may “say” God is tempting you, but He’s not
1:19 let all be swift to hear and slow to speak
1:26 if you don’t bridle your tongue, your religion is useless
2:3 how you talk to people reveals good or evil thoughts
2:11 God is the Talking God: God’s written word is also God’s speech (also 2:23, 4:5-6)
2:12 speak and act likes those who’ll face a judgment
2:14 saying you have faith but you don’t have works is wrong
2:15 words without action can’t help people
4:11 speaking evil of each other is speaking evil of God’s word.
4:13 saying you’ll do something in the future shows you’re ignoring God
4:16 when you talk, acknowlegde God’s sovereignty over all of your life
5:9 don’t “grumble” against each other
5:12 speak the simple truth
An interesting trio — 3 ways James says speech can reveal spiritual sickness:
1. “saying” God is tempting you, when He’s not (1:13)
2. “saying” you have faith but you don’t have works (2:14)
3. “saying” today you’ll do this or that, when you don’t know (4:13)
A key teaching from Jesus: The tongue reveals the heart. (Luke 6:43-45, Mt 12:33-37, Mt 15:17-20)
Sum up: We need to have our inner selves changed and renewed, then we need to allow the Spirit of God to energize us to take control of our tongues, so that our whole lives can be under the control of the Spirit.
1. Do you want this? Do you want to have a life controlled by God’s Spirit?
2. Are you willing to allow Him to take over?
3. Will you commit to carrying out His commands for how you talk?
How works and faith figure into our salvation: A Picture
How Romans 3:28 and James 2:24 work together
A man stands before God to face his final judgment. He is told that he faces God’s wrath for being sinful and being a sinner. He is asked if he has evidence to show that the verdict is wrong. Can he show that he is righteous and not wicked? Can he prove he should be saved from God’s wrath? The man says, “I have good works to show that I am righteous, and should not face God’s wrath.” The books are searched. The man is not found in the Lamb’s book of life. The record of his life shows only many works that fall short of God’s glory. The verdict from the throne is: “That is not enough. You have a sin debt too great to pay with good works. And even those things you did were not good, because they were all tainted by sin (Is 64:6). So by displaying works tainted by sin, you have only added to your guilt. You will be judged according to your works. The verdict is: Guilty. You will not be saved from the wrath of God.” And Paul would stand up and say, “Yes! No one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law. A man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:20 & 28).
A second man stands before God to face his final judgment. He is told that he faces God’s wrath for being sinful and being a sinner. He is asked if he has evidence to show that the verdict is wrong. Can he show that he is righteous and not wicked? Can he prove he should be saved from God’s wrath? The man says, “I have faith.” He is asked to demonstrate that this faith is true. Can he show that he trusts Jesus Christ for salvation? The books are searched. The man is not found in the Lamb’s book of life. The record of his life shows that the man had no change of life, no repentance and no fruit to show true faith. Instead of any good works, the man only has tainted, evil works, just like the first man. The verdict from the throne is: “It is not enough to say you have faith. If you had believed in Christ, you would have experienced a new life within which would have caused you to do good works. Your faith would have come out in obvious ways. You would be able to show that you had truly trusted Christ as your only hope to escape God’s wrath. The verdict is: Guilty. You will not be saved from God’s wrath.” And James would stand up and say, “Yes! If a man says he has faith, but does not have works, can that kind of faith save him? No! This faith is dead and useless. If this man had works to show, it would have proved his faith was not alone, but was alive and real. He would have been justified and saved” (James 2:14, 17 & 24)
A third man stands before God to face his final judgment. He is told that he faces God’s wrath for being sinful and being a sinner. He is asked if he has evidence to show that the verdict is wrong. Can he show that he is righteous and not wicked? Can he prove he should be saved from God’s wrath? The man says, “I have faith.” He is asked to demonstrate that this faith is true. Can he show that he trusts Jesus Christ for salvation? The man says, “I am only a sinner and deserve judgment, but I trusted what Jesus did on my behalf. My only hope is that He is righteous, and that I belong to Him. But if my life must be examined, it will be found that I was a changed person after I was born again. The Spirit of Christ energized me so that, with the time I had left, He used me to do things that glorified God.” The books are searched. It is found that there are no evil works recorded for this man. They have all been wiped off the records. The only place the man is found recorded is in the Lamb’s book of life, where it is written that the man’s life began with the birth he experienced the day he believed in Jesus. From then on, only good works, done in faith, planned for him by God, are recorded. In his short life, he bore fruit that obviously came from a new life within. The verdict from the throne is: “Well done, good and faithful servant. The verdict is: Righteous. Because you are in Christ by faith, and He is righteous, you are saved from the wrath of God. And as you have served Me faithfully, receive rewards and enter into the eternal joy of My kingdom.”
And James and Paul would stand up together and say, “Amen!”
Well, church is on for tonight, so hopefully no one will be kept away by some snow in the front yard. And you probably didn’t sit in school today (unless your school is in your home!), so everyone should be fresh and ready to think hard about God’s word! Looking forward to seeing if anyone took up the “challenge” of working out Paul and James. Here’s the notes for tonight’s study:
James 2:14-26 :: 1.12.11
First, let’s remember the context of our passage for tonight. James is writing a letter to encourage Christians to press on towards maturity (see verse 1:4). So far in the letter he has said that this requires a few things:
- going through trials (1:2-11)
- enduring and overcoming temptation (1:12-21)
- hearing and doing the word (1:22-27)
proof of this part of maturity → tongue control, care for helpless, holiness
- impartiality to wealth (2:1-13)
- and…one way to look at tonight’s passage is see that James shows us that part of maturity in knowing that true faith produces works. (Not that only mature faith produces works, and immature faith doesn’t. This passage is more about a mature understanding about real and false faith.)
read section: 2:14-26 what is the main point of this passage?
It is to show what kind of faith: 1) can “save” (v.14), 2) is “alive” (v.17 & 26), 3) is “complete” (v.22), and 4) “justifies” (v.24)
Part 1 Question: If someone says they have faith, but don’t have any works, can that faith save him?
Example 1. (v.14-17) This faith is like saying nice things but not helping the poor.
It’s like the words that don’t actually do anything.
v. 17– partial answer: this kind of faith is dead.
(v. 18-20) An imaginary arguer: “Faith and works can be separated. Someone can have one or the other.”
James’ answer: no, true faith can be shown.
Example 2. (v.19) This faith is like the demons’ faith: some right understanding but no response.
v. 20 – partial answer: this kind of faith is useless. (it doesn’t work)
Example 3. (v.21-25) Abraham and Rahab show us a true faith.
Abraham’s faith was shown when he offered Isaac.
He was “justified” (= “saved”) with this work to demonstrate the genuineness of his faith
His faith met its “goal”, and the original sentence (from Gen 15) was “fulfilled” it was proved true…
v.24– faith which is “alone” can’t “justify” (“save”) as he says in v.17 & 20.
v. 24 illustration: “What good is it, if a man says he has a lifesaver but isn’t staying afloat? Can a lifesaver save him?” No, because something is wrong with that lifesaver. If he’s sinking, it’s not working. Or, maybe he really doesn’t have one at all—so a lifesaver can’t save him. Maybe he only has the candy!
Example 4. (v.26) The need for a union between Body and Spirit show us the need for both faith and works. You need both for life.
Answer: No, a person who claims to have faith and has nothing in their life to show this faith does not have any kind of faith that could save them. They have may have some correct ideas, but it is all dead and useless. So, that faith can not save them because it’s dead. And true faith can’t save them because they don’t have it.
Part 2 Question: Does James (2:24) disagree with Paul? See Romans 3:20-28.
Reason 1: James and Paul are writing about different subjects.
Paul was writing about the fact that all people are condemned, and they can’t work their way back to God
James was writing about people who already claimed to be saved and right with God.
Paul says that you get right with God by faith, and not by doing things.
James says, is you’re right with God, it will show now because your life will change.
Reason 2: Therefore, James and Paul are using words differently in these two verses.
Paul says “Justified” to mean the original verdict when you first are “saved” (Rom 4:1-5) this comes just by believing God, like Abraham (see Rom 4:1-5)
James says “Justified” to mean both that you are shown outwardly to be righteous, and to refer to the final verdict when you stand before the throne and are finally “saved.” this will prove itself by a changed life of obeying God, like Abraham. (James 2:21)
Paul says “faith” (Rom 3:28) meaning living, saving faith.
James says “faith” (2:24) and adds “alone,” meaning this sham faith that is “dead.”
see also 2:17 (“by itself” not “having works”
Reason 3: The rest of their writings show that James and Paul believe in the same kind of faith: One that works. or… A faith that powerfully changes your life and makes you live in new, God-pleasing ways.
Both James and Paul believe in an active, living faith that transforms a life and produces good works. Both James and Paul believe this faith will produce evidence that will show that it is real when you stand before Christ’s judgment seat.
Paul on works from faith: Gal 5:6, Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 2:11-3:2 & 3:8, Philippians 2:12-13
James saying faith is central: 1:3 (assumed), 1:6 (needed), 2:1 (assumed), 2:5 (chosen have it), 2:17 (present, but not alone), 2:22 (senior partner), 2:23 (what needed to be fulfilled)
After the study was over on Wednesday night, a brother in ninth grade came down and showed me a text from someone who had to leave the study early. It said something to the effect of: “Ask Brian: Doesn’t James 2:14 contradict the whole Bible?” Why was he wondering that? It’s because James 2:14 has these two questions in it: “What does it profit if someone says he has faith but doesn’t have works? Can faith save him?” I laughed and said, “tell him that’s next week’s study.” But what the question was getting at is something you all probably know already, that the Bible clearly teaches that the way someone gets saved is by faith–not by doing anything (or by “works” as James puts it). So, then why would James write something like, “Can faith save him?”
And if you keep reading, you realize that there’s another sentence that’s even harder to understand, in verse 24, where James says, “A man is not justified by works, and not by faith alone.” And if it wasn’t enough that this seems to contradict everything we might think the New Testament teaches about how someone is saved, then turn to Romans 3:28. Read this next to James 2:24 and see if it makes sense to you. Did Paul write the exact opposite thing James did?
What are we supposed to do with this? The first thing we should see is that it is so important for people who say they believe what they believe because it’s in the Bible to actually know and understand their Bible. It’s not about being super-smart, it’s about wanting to know God as well as you can, and it’s about understanding that the main way He has set up for you to know Him is that He’s left you a written document (aka, a book!). So if you know Him, then your love for Him will make you want to know Him more, which will make you want to find out everything you can about Him in the Bible. Not only that, we also should be able to give answers to people who might question us about these things. Do we believe a book that doesn’t even agree with itself?
So what should you do? Here’s a challenge. Between now and Wednesday night, see how much of this you can figure out on your own. Here’s some practical advice:
- First, read as much of the context (the words around the verses in question) of James 2:24 and Romans 3:28. So that would mean at least reading the whole chapter for each verse (all of Romans 3 and James 2), but really, it would mean reading at least everything in both letters up to the two verses, and then reading to the end of the section they’re in. So, you should read probably all of James, and then Romans 1-8 (or at least 1-5).
- For both letters, ask yourself these kinds of questions: What is the main point being made in this letter? How do the verses I’m confused about relate to the main point? Where do these verses fit into the argument the author is making?
- Notice the key words in the verses you’re looking at. In these verses, I think the key words would be justified, faith, and works. Do you find these words in the rest of the parts of the letters you read? How are they used and what do they seem to mean?
- Now look again at the two verses. You may want to write them out, one on top of the other. What similarites and differences do you notice in the wording?
You want to look for things that may show you how James and Paul aren’t actually disagreeing as much as it sounds like they are if you just read those two verses. Then come out this Wednesday night, and we’ll break down the whole section see how Paul and James really aren’t disagreeing at all.
So at the next study, not only will we get this incredible challenge about what true Christian faith really is, but we’ll also get a chance to learn how to resolve Bible difficulties like this one. Can’t wait…
It’s been a while, but we’re back in James tonight. Here’s the notes for the study:
James 2:1-13 :: 1.5.11
1. An example of lacking maturity: Showing favoritism (2:1-7)
This comes off 1:27…caring for orphans and widows
v.1 “partiality” = “receive the face” (see 2 Cor 5:16)
v.2 rich – “gold fingers” and “shining clothes”
poor – dirty clothes
v.3-4 the rich man given preferential treatment
“partiality” from same root as “doubting” in 1:6. i.e. discrimination indicates a divided heart
v.5 the reason: wrong perspective:
1. don’t really know God: God chose the poor for salvation… (1 Cor 1:26-29)
2. can’t think spiritually: the “poor of this world” are actually “rich in faith”
3. don’t think of eternity: the poor are actually “heirs of the kingdom”
Key: this (#3) is the same issue in getting through trials (see 1:12) thinking about the eternal rewards God promised to those who love Him
point: if we only think about this life, we’ll go wrong…
2. This favoritism breaks God’s royal law (2:8-13)
v.8 the “royal law” refers to v. 5 (the kingdom) and seems to mean: the whole OT law as
fulfilled and fully interpreted by Jesus.
v. 9-12 mature believers care about God’s will and not just keeping part.
We will be judged by conformity to God’s will… see Rom 14:8-12, 2 Cor 5:9-11, Jn 14:5
1.look at people the way God does: spiritually, eternally.
2. seek to please God in all things