Summary: A message from James 3 on the relationship between wisdom and faith as it relates to an authentic relationship with God.
Foolproof – A Study of James January 28, 2007
CONDUCTING Faith – James 3:13-18
Recap: We’re in a series in James about having a foolproof faith. We’ve been learning that real faith can’t be fooled into embracing anything not of God while a fooled faith only knows how to be religious having no concept of righteousness. Today we’re going to talk about a faith that lives wisely.
Insert: While working on my sermon, my mind was diverted by the sound of Jay Leno’s voice. The news had changed over to late night and Jay was hosting his sketch, the Jay-Walking All-stars. This is when he goes on the street and asks people questions for which they’ve no answer b/c they’re absolutely clueless. I was humored that I was working on a message about wisdom while the TV was poking fun at the lack of it. Not only are people ignorant, but they relish the idea of living ignorantly.
Trans: You might ask, what do wisdom and faith have in common – everything! James addresses the issue of wisdom and faith as a means to prove our relationship w/ God.
I The TEST of Wisdom v. 13
A The QUESTION of Wisdom
Text: Who is wise and understanding among you? Who of you think you get it?
Trans: James begins w/ a two-fold question seeking to move beyond head knowledge to find out if one’s life reflects true spiritual transformation. He wants to know if we get what life is about so he uses two words synonymously for clarification purposes.
Note: What is wisdom? Wisdom is something many people seek but few possess. In its basic form, it is the basis for the activity of your life – it’s your philosophy of living.
Note: In comes in two forms. To the Greeks wisdom was nothing more than the study of theory and speculation – philosophy. It originated w/in man and was something to talk about, but not necessarily something to live. To the Jews, wisdom carried a deeper meaning. It was the application of truth and knowledge into every day life. It wasn’t something to be discussed; it was truth originating w/ God to be lived.
Note: In putting the two terms together, wise (sophos) and understanding (epistemon), James was clearly speaking of the Jewish concept of wisdom.
Insert: The Jewish concept of wisdom is significant as it runs counter-culture and against man’s natural propensities. Man has long taken great pride in his ability to reason. He relishes the notion that he can either comprehend God or explain Him away. But this isn’t what James had in mind he desires to focus on theology – not philosophy.
Verse: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Ps. 111:10
Note: Notice that wisdom begins w/ the study and knowledge of God and ends w/ living according to His precepts. Solomon continues. (See Pr. 2:1-15)
Verse: The fool has said in His heart there is no God. Ps. 14:1
Insert: No man considers himself to be a fool, but according to God, any one who denies God’s authority, personhood, and truth is a fool. Any one who chooses to live by his own philosophy rather than by revealed theology is a fool. It isn’t just the man who denies God’s existence, but also the man who believes in God but who lives as if God doesn’t exist by disregarding God’s truth and living according to the his own ingenuity/reason. How?
• By thinking we know better than God when faced w/ a life decision.
Note: If the Christian life is about knowing God, hearing His voice, and following Him, then to hear and ignore is just as foolish as not believing. We say we believe God is sovereign, but then we’re unwilling to follow His leading.
• By thinking we can have His blessings while living in disobedience.
Note: Do good parents bless disobedient? Not unless they want to foster an attitude of disobedience. Neither does God bless disobedience.
• By thinking we can slip one by Him when He’s not looking.
Note: God’s not on the other side of the world too busy to notice what we’re doing. He doesn’t sleep or slumber; it’s foolish to think He won’t notice.
• By thinking we can be religious enough to earn His mercy.
Note: How many think they can earn God’s forgiveness by their goodness? The last time I checked God’s sole provision for grace and mercy was the cross.
• By thinking we can have forgiveness and salvation w/out the cross.
Note: It’s simple. If I can have heaven and forgiveness by any other means than the cross of Christ, then why did Jesus die? B/c there is no other means.