Friday, January 10, 2014
Scratching the Surface of James
Scratching the Surface of James
James isn't the quickest read in the Bible; because, like Proverbs, there are lots of really, really, really pregnant one-liners that evoke a Psalm 1like recognition then passion: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked...but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night."
Truly, there are verses requiring deep mining through long periods of prayer, reflection, and conversation with others who are praying and reflecting on 'em.
Yet, there is a powerful and humbly penitential theme that James pounds into anyone who really wants to get it/Him: professions of faith are only as good as practices of faith.
Succinctly, deeds prove creeds.
Walk proves the veracity of talk.
Summarily, behavior betrays belief and belief determines ultimate destiny: heaven or...
One of the most literally damning lies in too many of today's churches is it's impossible to know if someone really believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
That is a lie born in hell.
No one will find any confirmation for that in the book; though we can read books about the book that will claim that because there are darkly influenced or even demonically oppressed or possessed souls trying to rationalize away or tone/water down the truth to prevent people from the only truth - Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture - that sets people free for heaven to live abundantly in the meantime.
James is among the most categorically clear, compelling, and conclusive when it comes to the truth that we can know much more than less who is going to heaven and who is headed in another direction: "Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love Him...Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves...Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead...As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead."
James got it from Jesus: "If you love Me, you will obey Me...Love each other just as much as I have loved you...As you do it to/for them, you do it to/for Me."
Paul was blunt: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have no love, I'm a noisy gong or clanging cymbal."
Simply, believers behave like believers and non-believers are blowbags who talk the talk but don't walk the walk and make Him wanna barf.
Let's be unmistakable about this because souls hang in the balance.
We are not saying it's possible to work our way into heaven; but we are declaring the truth that people who are going to heaven are more than less visible to us as going to heaven because their deeds, walk, practices, and works give saving credibility to their creeds, talk, professions, and witnesses.
Now there's always someone who wants to trifle at this point: "But can you really know for sure who's going to heaven and who's not?"
That's God's business; or as Martha Young often told me, "You love 'em and let God judge 'em."
But we're not a faith based on two feet planted firmly in the ozone layer of reality!
We can see who more than less looks like they're going to heaven.
Luther: "Good works don't make a person good; but a good person does good works."
Calvin often noted the reality of showing the signs of salvation.
People who love Jesus by loving like Jesus are very persuasive about where they're headed; conversely,...
People who are loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, humble, and self-controlled are very persuasive about where they're headed; conversely,...
People who extend mercy and forgiveness are very persuasive about where they're headed; conversely,...
Unless I've missed something/Someone, the book is very clear - and the red letters never contradict this clarity - that some people are going to heaven and some people are going to...
Yes, that ultimate determination - Oh, let's say judgment because that's how the book puts it! - is God's.
It's also true that everybody shows hints of where they're gonna be in the end.
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!