Summary: A sermon on the fruits of being born again.
Take your Bibles now, and turn to James chapter 1—the Book of James. Now, you may know, and you should know, that we're preaching through the Book of James Sunday morning and Sunday evenings. And so, tonight we're going to be talking about welcoming the Word—how to receive the Word of God—how to read the Bible and get something out of it for your life. And, it’ll be very important that you be here tonight.
But, this morning I want us to look in James chapter 1, verses 19 and 20—James 1, verses 19 and 20: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19–20). I want to speak to you today on this subject: “Tune In, Tone Down, and Sweeten Up.” This is God’s plan for born-again Christians.
Now, I read verses 19 and 20, but verse 18 speaks of the new birth: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). And, verse 18 speaks of the wonderful new birth that I have experienced, and every true Christian has experienced, and I trust that you have experienced. We're hearing a lot today about the new birth. And, a lot of people are talking about being born again, however, who have not been born again. And, one of the ways that you can tell they have not been born again is there’s been no change whatsoever in the way they live.
Now, let me tell you something, friend: if you’ve had a new birth, there’s going to be some new behavior. Just write it down: “If any man be in Christ [Jesus], he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And, if your religion hasn't changed your life, you’d better change your religion, because you don’t have the Bible kind.
And so, in verse 18, James speaks of the new birth. And then, beginning in verse 19, he speaks of the new behavior.
Some men were standing around talking about different translations of the Bible, and some were talking about the Revised Standard Version, others talking about the King James Version, others talking about the New English Bible, others were talking about the Amplified Version. One man said, “I like my mother’s translation best.” And, they said, “Oh, we didn’t know that your mother was a scholar. How did she translate the Bible?” And, he said, “My mother translated the Bible into daily living.” Amen? That’s the translation I think we all need—to translate what we know into life.
And so, James talks about three very pertinent areas of our behavior. And, I want you to notice these three areas of instruction that James gives to us, because we have been born again. Look again in verse 19: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear,”—that is, “tune in”—“slow to speak,”—that is, “tone down,” and— “slow to wrath” (James 1:19)—that is, “sweeten up.”
I. Tune into What God is Saying
Now, let’s notice the first of these: “Be swift to hear”; tune in to what God is saying to you. Some people don't have their ears on. They have ears, but they don’t hear. Jesus spoke of those who had ears, but they hear not (Mark 8:18).
Now, the Bible says we are to “be swift to hear”—that is, be ready to receive the things that God has for us. Now, the Bible doesn’t teach that we're to hear everything there is to hear. There are some things we ought not to hear. Mark chapter 1 and verse 24 says, “Take heed what ye hear” (Mark 4:24). And, you don’t need to be listening to everything that comes along. You don’t have to listen to every scrap of gossip, let people use your ears for garbage cans. You don’t have to listen to every philosophy that comes along in all of these things. No, no, no, no. Jesus said, “Be careful what you hear.”
But, James says, “Be swift to hear” (James 1:19). And, what is James talking about? He is saying be swift to hear the impulses of the Spirit. Be swift to hear the Word of God. Hear what God is speaking to you. Are you ready to listen to God this morning? The problem with so many of us is that we’re not listening. It is not that God is not speaking. God is speaking. But, our problem is that we don’t listen.
A. God Speaks Through the Bible
I want to mention three ways this morning that God wants to speak to you. One way that God speaks is through the Scriptures, through the Bible. Do you know this book? Do you read this book? Do you study this book? Do you pray over this book? Do you love this book? If not, why not? You claim to be a Christian. This is God’s Word to you. You’re saying, “O God, speak to me.” Well, God will speak to you, if you will open this book and pray over it, and read it, and say, “O Lord, incline mine ear to Thy testimonies.” This Bible is the Word of God as much as though Jesus Christ Himself were standing here in the flesh speaking to you. This book is the Word of God. Do you know it? Do you hear it? Do you receive it? So many people read the Bible, and they get nothing from it, because they’re not listening what God is saying.