Summary: When James comes to talk about the Word of God in our text, he leaves us in no doubt about what we need to do to put the wonder to work in our lives.
I invite you to turn with me today to the book of James.
While you’re finding your place let me give a few preliminary points (or thoughts) concerning this book and biblical hermeneutics in general. Every verse in the bible has three applications: historical, doctrinal, and spiritual. Historically, the oldest brother of Jesus wrote this book to Jewish Christians around 60 A.D. Doctrinally, I believe it addresses an audience, yet future, of Jewish believers during the tribulation period. Spiritually, it contains principles that apply to every believer in Christ. Our focus today will be on the spiritual application and specifically:
“The Wonder of God’s Word”
James 1:19-27 (Read)
Over the past weeks we have come to see that the Bible (God’s Word) is Authentic and Accurate. Today and next week, James will show us that it is Applicable (we can apply it in our lives). I love the apostle James! He’s an unapologetic, in-your-face kind of guy. His letter goes right to the point, telling us the truth whether we like it or not. And when James comes to talk about the Word of God in our text, he leaves us in no doubt about what we need to do to put that wonder to work in our lives.
[First of all—in order to experience the wonders of God’s Word, James says we must:]
I. Receive it! (v-21)
A. Notice that the word “engrafted” is in the past tense!
1. If you know Christ, the Word has already been put inside you!
2. But James says it is possible to have the Word in you in terms of salvation and yet not ‘receive’ it in the sense of benefiting from it.
a. The word “engrafted” pictures a seed being placed in the soil, or a scion in a stock, in order that it might grow.
b. For that seed or scion to grow however, the conditions must be right.
1) Many Christians go to church every Sunday and perhaps read their Bibles, but they’re not growing.
2) The reason is that they’re not hearing the Word in the sense of taking it into their lives and living it out (and the Word is not really heard until it is obeyed)!
B. James gives a number of conditions that will enable us to hear and receive the Word:
1. The first condition (v-19) is we must be “swift to hear.”
a. That is, we must prioritize the Word.
b. We’ve got to want it enough that we go to it FIRST!
1) We must respond to the Word the same way a mother who jumps out of bed to attend to her baby’s needs when she hears it cry. This is being “swift to hear!”
2. Second, we must be “slow to speak” (v-19).
a. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t quick to hear. Instead, we’re quick to talk and quick to offer our opinions.
1) It is important for us to notice, I think, that we have TWO ears and ONE mouth!
2) The significance is obvious: we should listen twice as much as we talk!
b. James is saying, ‘When you do speak, make sure what you say reflects what you’ve heard’—which is, of course, God’s Word and not your own!
c. In other words, don’t speak before you have heard from God, because you just might be wrong.
1) Make sure you’ve heard God’s viewpoint BEFORE you offer your thoughts.
2) Before it comes out of your mouth, make sure the Word has been engaged in your brain.
3. Third, we must be “slow to wrath” (v-19).
a. When God’s Word speaks to us, we can’t get mad if it’s not what we want to hear. Nor can we get mad if God is not doing things the way we want Him to do them!
b. Because our anger doesn’t make anything better (v-20).
1) Getting mad doesn’t change God’s Word or make Him move any faster or differently.
a) Our tantrums don’t impress Him! We must be ‘slow to wrath.’
4. Notice a fourth condition necessary to receive the Word (v 21)—purity of life.
a. In other words, don’t come to God’s Word with your old way of thinking and acting.
1) When we got saved, some of our old patterns of thinking and acting came with us because we won’t be perfect until we’re in heaven.
2) But James says there is no place for our old wickedness in God’s new program.
a) We can’t force the round peg of Christianity into the square hold of our old life. It just doesn’t fit!
b) Many believers today are trying to make God’s Word adjust to them rather than adjusting themselves to God’s Word!
c) This will never work!
[James says, ‘In order to RECEIVE God’s Word we must be ‘swift to hear,’ ‘slow to speak,’ ‘slow to wrath,’ and ‘pure in practice.’]