Transcript based on a Bible Study 1 March 2003

James 2:1-13

Jon Bowles

(PLAY FROM START)

As brought out in a previous Bible Study, the book of James was written by the brother of Christ, and he was the Overseer of the church at Jerusalem. He had quite an important and influential position within the church there, and therefore from Jerusalem his power went out to other areas as well. Commentators will tell you that the book is disjointed. It's not, it's anything but disjointed, it actually aims at something. Notice James 1:5:

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5)

He introduces the concept of praying, i.e. going to God asking for help, asking for wisdom about whatever trial happens to be there. If you go down to James 5:13, you find the same kind of thing:

"Is any among you afflicted [in a trial]? let him pray [we have already been told to pray for wisdom through that trial]. Is any merry? let him sing psalms [I pointed out that psalms tend to be sobering in many cases]. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church...And the prayer of faith shall save the sick..."(James 5:13-15)

There again is prayer, and how we are to pray. It is "...the prayer of faith shall save the sick..." (James 5:15) It is not just any old prayer, it's "...the prayer of faith..." (James 5:15) It's interesting that in James 5:16 it says:

"...and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)

Again we are looking at prayer and clearly it has got to be a prayer of faith because that is what saves the sick. And also that we should be praying for one another that we may be healed and this effective fervent prayer is necessary, it's a prayer of faith. When we look at James in that light, it is leading into this end part of the book. It's talking about trials, and about asking God - in faith - for wisdom in dealing with trials.

We can see in chapter one that there is an overview of handling trials properly. Chapter two has key ingredients regarding faith, which is what we will be going into today. Chapter three talks largely to the ministry, and to all of us in the sense that we should be offering a prayer of faith, and discusses the use of the tongue. Chapter four deals with several keys to unanswered prayer. Chapter five has more aspects as an overview leading eventually into the focus at the end of chapter five.

There are two primary parts to chapter two. From verse 1 to about verse 13 it is talking about being a respecter of persons. Then from verse 14 to the end of the chapter, it's talking about faith and works.

I will break what I have to say within the Bible Study down into five points, because it allows me to give you some background. Because really before we go into chapter two we need to understand certain things about faith.

Faith IN Christ (PLAY FROM 05:40)

So let's have a look at certain scriptures regarding faith IN Christ. In the first two points I won't go into James much at all. Turn over to Acts 20:20.

"And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:20-21)

Now this is our faith towards Jesus Christ. It's our turning from our way towards God, and our faith towards Jesus Christ. That's the starting place. That is how the entire process of our life begins. So that they were actually testifying this to the Jews, and also to the Greeks - it was going out to the world. Over in Hebrews 11:6, this also backs up this concept and I want you to notice it is talking about the rudimentary things of faith:

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is , and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

So again, in actually approaching God in any way, shape, or form, we must first of all believe that He is, and He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. There is a certain degree of faith that we should have, this faith towards God. It does talk in James; "My brethren, be not many masters [or teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." (James 3:1) So the subject of teaching, the subject of what comes out of our mouth is important. In Hebrews 5:12 it says:

"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use [or habit] have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again [notice:] the foundation of repentance from dead works [we just read that back in Acts 20 about repentance towards God, so it's from dead works, towards God], and of faith toward God," (Hebrews 5:12-14,6:1)

It's faith toward Jesus Christ, but faith to God as well. Notice it says we are not going to lay these again. These are the things that you leave behind. This is the milk of the Word, it is the starting place. Hebrews 6:2:

"Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit." (Hebrews 6:2-3)

That is the starting place. The faith IN Christ, or faith towards Christ begins the process. I want you to notice in Galatians 2:16, and it needs to be read in the old King James Version as the New King James completely obliterates the meaning of this verse we are about to read, whereas the King James is quite clear:

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but [Strong's 3362 is better translated, 'if not', it's normally translated 'except'; as in John 6:44] by the faith of Jesus Christ [notice, you are justified then by the faith OF Jesus Christ], even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ..." (Galatians 2:16)

Now here is the difference between the two, and the modern translations completely obliterate this. In the original it is quite clear. The people who originally translated the King James had the penalty or the additional "encouragement" of having their heads chopped off, if they didn't actually get it right. Unfortunately, the modern translators don't quite have that encouragement. Here, it is translated correctly:

"...even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified [you can't be made righteous by your own works, by what you do, our righteousness is filthy rags, it's a self righteousness]. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid [is He administering sin? God forbid! Of course not]. For if I build again the things which I destroyed [Why? Because we go in faith to Christ, we turn towards Jesus Christ and we ask for His shed blood to cover our sins], I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live [so there is a life there]; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God [it is God's faith, it is Christ's faith that we then live in. We live with the belief of God in us, the very Spirit of God in us, producing a way of God through us], who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:16-20)

So not only did He love us and gave Himself for us, He also lives that life through us, through the very Spirit of God. So this passage that says; "...we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ..." (Galatians 2:16) That is so, so important. If we go back to James 2:1 just briefly and remind ourself, it says:

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory [that is what we are aiming towards, and it is the faith OF Christ in us, and it says you can't have that], with respect of persons." (James 2:1)

We will come on and examine why that is the case. You see, you can't hold one with the other - it is all part of the same subject matter. In James 1:6 it says:

"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed [You are in a trial so you go to God and ask for wisdom, but ask in faith without wavering at all, without any kind of deviation]. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:6-8)

Someone trying to go two different ways at the same time. This is exactly what is being said in James 2:1:

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ...[the belief of God] with respect of persons." (James 2:1)

You can't have the two - they are incompatible.You would going in two different directions at the same time. We cannot ask in faith, and have a respect of persons, because we are then being double minded, two-spirited. Turn to Matthew 8:23:

"And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!" (Matthew 8:23-27)

Faith OF Christ (PLAY FROM 17:19)

Here was the belief OF Christ. You see, they had little faith, but here was the faith OF Christ. How did He use it? He quelled the sea. He spoke and the sea calmed down. The very sea and the waves obeyed Him.

What are we looking at in James? We're looking at the fact that the prayer of faith will save the sick. If any are in trial, then you pray. If you want wisdom because of a trial, you pray, but you pray in faith, with the type of faith that Christ had. Notice in Matthew 14:28:

"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matthew 14:28-31)

So again you see that Peter with Christ's faith, was walking on the water. With his own faith, he didn't. That's the big difference. So when we are looking at the faith IN Christ, and the faith OF Christ, we need the kind of faith that Christ had. The kind of belief that Christ had, enabling Him to heal the sick. Notice over in Matthew 17:14:

"And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Matthew 17:14-21)

Now He was able to cast that demon out, but the disciples weren't able to do it. So again, we need this kind of faith that Christ had. It is Christ's faith. It comes from God. Why did He say that this kind doesn't go out but by prayer and fasting? Because it's coming from the very Spirit of God. It is God who is actually doing this. He is working the miracles and making this demon disappear.

It's interesting, when we come to that subject, a note came through to me, a few years ago now, and I will just read it to you. It says: "Sorry Jon, I've tried to put something right, and appear to have done it twice. Thought it would be better for you to see what I have done rather than try and explain it. Can you work a miracle for me and make it disappear?"

Now that cryptic message is written by somebody who was using a piece of my software - part of an accounts package. And that software they felt was not working properly, and they'd got something screwed up and had done something twice. So they sent it to me and asked me if I could just wave my magic wand and make it disappear. In fact, they already had the tools themselves to do it, so I didn't do anything. I phoned this lady up and said, "Look, what you need to do is go into this particular section of the software and do this, this, this and this, and then you can put it right." Which she did!

This is very much like we are. Often God will actually allow us to go and put certain things right ourselves and learn lessons in the process, because next time when she does what she had done here, she will know how to put it right herself. She will know how to go to the very sections within the software and put it right. If she can't - and because I've written the program, because I know what the words are and how that program actually sustains the reality that she's got on her screen - I can come on-line and can go into that piece of software and perhaps into the files, and do it at the file level, and change the software at a file level, and put the files back in balance.

Then it is almost like somebody waved a magic wand on the surface, on the interface that she is using. Something has actually happened that she has no control over. But because I've written the software, it's relatively straight forward. If it came to that, I could actually issue new words. I could write new software, I could change the very software itself and say that it operates in a totally different way. It could make something blue instead of red, or whatever. I have complete, total control over the reality that she has on her screen - most of the time anyway, because there are other pieces of software there also. In the main, that is the way it works.

Now Christ had complete control because His words were controlling that wind and sea. He was the One that originally designed it. He controls the very health that we've got. The physical world has been designed and put together by the Word of God, by the Living Word. It came from the Logos. It came from the One who became Jesus Christ.

So, when we want something to be changed, "Can you work a miracle for me, and make it disappear?" as this lady said, we need the faith OF Christ, not just the faith IN Christ. It is not us that does it. This prayer of faith that we are going to have to pray, it is not our prayer. It has got to come from the Spirit of God. I firmly believe that is why we ministers anoint. It is to remind us that the words coming out of our mouths as we lay our hands on somebody who is sick have got to come from that Spirit of God, so that the words are the prayer of faith. It is the faith OF Christ, not just the faith IN Christ. The faith IN Christ begins the process, but it is the faith OF Christ that will actually perform a miracle if necessary.

We Cannot Hold the Faith OF Christ with Respect of Persons (PLAY FROM 24:14)

In James 2:1 it says:

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (James 2:1)

He's talking about the type of faith that Christ had, this belief that Christ had. The kind of belief that actually would quell the seas. It allows us to walk in the Way of God, to completely transform our very minds, so that we become a new creature, a totally new creation of God. We are, in fact, being transformed into the sons of God, ready to be born of God at the resurrection.

"Don't have that faith of Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory..." Because that's what it's all about - this faith that is working within us - it's for glory, that you and I can be resurrected into glorious spirit beings, and you cannot have that with respect of persons. You can't have the two together. It doesn't make sense. I'll say this; it's not just respect of persons that prevents us having the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, but that does seem to be a specific problem to do with faith.

But there are so many other things. I remember one time talking to somebody who is in the Church who was actually going out on political rallies. They disagreed with some politician or something in the country that they happened to be living in. So, they went to a political rally and joined everybody else and supported the opposition of this particular politician. I am sorry, but in my book you cannot hold the faith of Jesus Christ with going on political rallies, trying to overturn some politicican. It is not compatible.

Another woman that I knew, who was in one of the Church organisations, was really deeply into fluoridation of water supplies. Now I disagree with fluoridation of water supplies. Maybe I would write to somebody and complain about it. But I would not become involved in the politics of it, which was what she did. She was involved in all the committees. She was part and parcel, a major mover in her area, within the politics of anti-fluoridation of water supplies. You see, you can't hold the faith of our Lord, Jesus Christ and be involved in the political structure, the local politics of this world.

There are all kinds of things you can put in there. I remember one woman I heard about who was a Worldwide Church member from Yugoslavia. She actually joined a guerilla army, took up arms and went out to fight. You cannot do that. You cannot hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with joining a guerilla army. It is just not compatible.

I remember another case, years and years ago now, of somebody within the Church being a paid up member of the National Front. You cannot do that, it is not possible, the two are incompatible.

Another; a minister over here in the UK who was heavily involved in parish councils. I'm sorry, that is not right. You cannot have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and be heavily involved in parish councils.

You can put in all kinds of other things as well. I mean all of us are really tempted. I detest what is going on with farming at the moment, but we cannot be part of this world and have that faith, that faith of Christ. You know, Countryside Alliance, Save the Pound, Freedom Party, Greenpeace, Abortion. We have something to say on many of these things, but you cannot be part of this world's society and hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. It says here in James 2:1:

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons." (James 2:1)

The two are incompatible. If we turn over to II Corinthians 4:11 it says:

"For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh [this is the faith of Jesus Christ being made manifest, being able to be seen in our flesh]. So then death worketh in us, but life in you [death is in us - the apostles - we are risking our necks in order to give you life]. We having the same spirit of faith [better translated: as he who wrote]...I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;" (II Corinthians 4:11-13)

Now that is cited from Psalm 116:10, and that particular citation was inspired by the One that was Jesus Christ. He is the Living Word. He is the God of the Old Testament that inspired those words to be written. Therefore, we having the same spirit of faith; we having this faith of Jesus Christ, because He said these words, we also behave in the same way. II Corinthians 4:14:

"Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you [we are all of one family, all part of the very family of God]. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Corinthians 4:14-18)

Now that is the exact opposite of what the world believes. That's why I say you can't go ahead and be a paid up member of the National Front and hold the faith of Jesus Christ, because you are trying to change the world now. This world that is seen is temporary. It is here for a while and then it is gone. We have got to understand that and we have the faith. But it's not our faith, it is the faith OF Christ.

In James 2:2 it says:

"For if there come unto your assembly [synagogue] a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges [with] evil thoughts?" (James 2:2-4)

What is actually happening there? Let's turn over to Jeremiah 17:5. Why would we do such a thing? Why would we give respect to somebody who is obviously wealthy, and despise somebody who is obviously poor?

"Thus saith the [Eternal]; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the [Eternal]. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the [Eternal], and whose hope the [Eternal] is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:5-9)

In other words, we can be deceived by many things. Go back to James and the beginning of chapter 2 where it talks about somebody who is very wealthy and somebody who is very poor. Concerning needing this faith of Jesus Christ; through a trial we are asking for wisdom, and yet at the same time we are using our eyes, and we are trying to jack ourself up, by seeing somebody who is coming in who is very wealthy, and giving favour to him; and on the other hand somebody who is poor, and looking down on that individual. That is the human approach. It is the same kind of thing as somebody going out from Yugoslavia and joining a guerilla army, trying to do something humanly. It is interesting as well, that when you go on a bit further to James 5:1 it says:

"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered..." (James 5:1-3)

It is the same thing. As I say, there is a theme running right the way through James. As it says in Jeremiah 17:5:

"Thus saith the [Eternal]; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm...For he shall be like the heath in the desert..." (Jeremiah 17:5-6)

In other words, it will just be burned up. It will not be able to be sustained. Where is the sustenance coming from? It is from the very river of life. It is coming from the Spirit of God. You cannot have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, which came from the Spirit of God, with respect of persons because you are using your eyes. We use our eyes and we see two different people and we therefore give favouritism to one and look down on the other. Let's turn over to Isaiah 51:4:

"Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people [remember Christ was the light the world, it is the faith OF Christ that we are talking about]. My righteousness is near [not ours, but God's righteousness]; my salvation [my rescue] is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner [there is an inference here - it is not just people that happen to live on the earth, but it is also people that have their minds, their entire focus on earthly things]: but my salvation [rescue] shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation [rescue] from generation to generation." (Isaiah 51:4-8)

You see, we must get our minds focused in the right direction. Remember what Paul said; "...for the physcial things are temporary; but the spiritual things are eternal." (II Corinthians 4:18 paraphrased ) The problem is, as far as faith is concerned, our mind is focused on the physical. And if that is so, we will lack faith. But with prayer and fasting, as Christ said, we can have the faith OF Christ, this being whose Word and Breath upholds everything that is, and we'll look at things in a very different way.

But you cannot hold that with respect of persons. You cannot hold the two together because they are incompatible. You've got to see things through God's eyes. God does not look at things in a human way. Look at what is happening today, and who people put high regard on as far as the movie stars and pop idols are concerned, and it is just totally abhorrent to God. (Luke 16:15) It is utterly abhorrent. And yet people put so much stock on these things, and there is nothing there, it is totally empty. There is literally nothing there worth anything. At least you can look back on a life of somebody who perhaps wins a Victoria Cross and have exhibited enormous bravery, but what we are looking at today is anything but.

If we turn over to Psalm 91, which we read in the context of this problem that we have in the Church today, that people aren't being healed:

"A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee." (Psalm 91:7)

We need to look at this and realise that this is something that we really are going to need in the future. We are going to have to have the faith OF Christ that allows that kind of thing to happen. I want you to notice what it says in Psalm 91:1:

"He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall [live] under the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)

That is where the answer is. We get our minds off God, off His Ways - and prayer and fasting is really the only way of getting it back onto the spiritual side of life. We get things turned upside down. We start believing that the real things are the physical and the temporary things are the spiritual, which is what the world says. The world gives that impression. Yet it says in Isaiah; "...the earth is going to vanish away as smoke, [disappear], and those that dwell thereon..." (Isaiah 51:6 paraphrased) But it says here in verse one;

"He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall [live] under the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)

That is the way in which we will have the kind of faith that is necessary to be protected in the future. Isaiah 26:1:

"In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee..." (Isaiah 26:1-3)

In other words, whose mind is focused on You. His thought or his imagination, as my margin says. That basically is what we are looking at. So when we are reading in James chapter 2 about this problem where somebody comes into the Church with a gold ring and goodly apparel, and drives a Mercedes or a BMW or whatever - a Rolls Royce - and we have a different approach towards them because of what we see - we're told, No, we should not be doing that. We should not have that respect of persons. You can't hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with that type of approach. The two are incompatible.

If you notice over in John chapter 3, it comes straight after this section that talks about; "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Then in John 3:20 it says:

"For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest [made clear], that they are wrought in God." (John 3:20-21)

By coming to the light, and in repentance turning to God - that is the only way those deeds can be made manifest, that they can be wrought in God. He will then see that it was God, in fact, who does them. And this is why it talks about in James 1:23:

"For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James 1:23-25)

In what he does. This entire context is all one thought, all one thought pattern. These works have got to be works done in God. It has got to be God's power. It cannot be our own power. The faith is the belief of God. It is God's belief. It is how God looks at things. You can't hold the way God looks at things with respecting of persons. It is not possible. Again in this context, turn over to Luke 17:3:

"Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith [because to do that we need some faith, we need to be able to trust God that it's going to work out, as humanly speaking it doesn't work like that]. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you." (Luke 17:3-6)

I wonder, in looking at that, whether it is the very faith of God within that grain of mustard seed which is the actual thing that drives it, that actually does the miraculous part, that causes it to grow into a plant. The faith of God is inexorably bound into the creation. I am not saying definitely that is what this particular verse means, but I personally wonder whether in fact that is what Christ was implying. Luke 17:7:

"But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? [I don't think so]." (Luke 17:7-9)

Now this is all in the context of this section about increasing our faith and how that if you had the faith of a grain of mustard seed you would be able to say to a tree, "Up by the roots and into the ocean" and it would obey you. But you see, you don't do that. Why would I do that? To show how great I am, how much faith I have? That would be all incoming, it would be selfishness. That is not the way to do it.

God says "If you have a slave, do you say sit down and go ahead and do these miracles? You go ahead and have this wonderful life." Does He not say "You serve me first, and then you go and eat." You get the thing the right way round. Can you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and just have everything coming into the self? Can it all just be incoming? Can we use this faith for our own betterment in that regard? Or is it for God's purpose? Luke 17:10:

"So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke 17:10)

You see, this is very much a different approach. Our work is to do the will of Him who sent us. If you go back to James 1:1 again, it says here:

"James, a [slave] of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad..." (James 1:1)

A slave, a servant of God. That is what we are. So when we go to God asking for wisdom and we ask in faith, we must ask in the right way. We can't be double minded, we can't be going our way, and God's way at the same time. We can't, because a slave goes God's way in everything. Does He thank the slave that he went ahead and made His meal? Of course He doesn't. We don't even have slavery today, we don't even understand it. This respecting of persons, you cannot have that with the faith OF Christ, with the way that Christ was. James 2:4:

"Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges [with] evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are [convicted] of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law." (James 2:4-11)

Why did he say that? Why does he discuss killing? He almost dismisses adultery. He says, "Okay, you don't commit adultery." But what about if you kill? It is within this context of having the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons. Because, what we are doing in that context is in fact, killing.

Turn over to Deuteronomy 1:16, and let's notice a couple of scriptures here - as this is the mind of Christ who gave these laws to physical Israel. This mind that needs to be in us, this faith OF Christ:

"And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment [you cannot hold the faith OF our Lord Jesus Christ with respecting persons, it is not possible]; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it." (Deuteronomy 1:16-17)

Go over to Deuteronomy 10:14 where it says:

"Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the [Eternal's] thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the [Eternal] had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. For the [Eternal] your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:" (Deuteronomy 10:14-17)

This is the Way God is. Remember, this God was Jesus Christ. So having the faith OF Jesus Christ, we are to be the same way. We cannot hold it and have respect of persons, because that is not the way God is. Turn over to Mark 11:19 and notice:

"And when even was come, he went out of the city. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God." (Mark 11:19-22)

It says in my Bible, Have faith 'in' God. In fact, there is no word 'in' there in the original at all. My margin says, 'Have the faith of God.' It literally says, 'Have faith God' in Greek. Because they put the adjective after the noun, it should be 'Have God's faith', which is a better way of translating it. Mark 11:23

"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them [here is the prayer of faith]. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses [it goes straight into that section, so in the prayer of faith, you have got to be forgiving others]. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:23-26)

That is all one thought. So anything that you want, you ask, you believe, and you will receive - if you have the faith of Christ. But you cannot hold it and be unforgiving to somebody else. We can't have a problem between ourselves and somebody else. We cannot hold the faith of Christ with respect of persons.

I tell you this much, that one of the things with respect of persons with all of us, is that somebody may sin, and they sin against us. Do we from the heart forgive them, or do we hold a grudge? You see that would be a respecting of persons because - if repented of - God has forgiven them. God has put that sin behind Him. If we don't do that, we are judges with evil thoughts. We are respecting the person. We are looking at him humanly. We are not looking at it the way God looks at things. In Matthew 5:21 it says:

"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [or worthless], shall be in danger of the council [or the Sanhedrin]: but whosoever shall say, Thou [cursed] fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 25:21-22)

Now that seems very, very strong, and yet you see it says the fool has no belief in God. The fool says in his heart, there is no God. (Psalm 14:1, and Psalm 53:1) They are almost identical, those two Psalms. If we are saying somebody is a fool, you are almost pointing the finger and saying, "You don't believe in God," because that is what a fool does. Giving the indication that he does not believe in God, it says, in effect you are assigning them to Gehenna fire. You are treating them in a worthless way. Matthew 5:23:

"Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." (Matthew 5:23-26)

That really is the teaching of Christ, and the faith of Christ in regard to respect of persons. As it says here in James 2:11:

"For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law." (James 2:11)

We kill one another spiritually, when we have respecting of persons. When we do not accept people's forgiveness when they have gone to God with repentance. All of these things come into it, as it says in James 4:11:

"Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law..." (James 4:11)

Why? Because that brother has repented. So often we can disregard that repentance. Oh, we want it ourself. We want favour from God ourself. We pray to God asking for wisdom in our trial, but we don't give favour to other people. How can we do that? How can we expect to have that favour, and yet we don't from the heart, forgive our brother. It comes very close to home - our wives, our husbands, our children, our mothers, our fathers or whoever. James 2:12:

"So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." (James 2:12)

Now this again goes back to James 1:23:

"For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James 1:23-25)

Now remember again, what is the context of that? "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and [overflowing of evil], and receive with meekness the engrafted [or implanted] word, which is able to save your souls [or beings]." (James 1:21) What is the context of that? It's that we go to God and ask Him for wisdom in a trial, and God then answers us with scripture. We need to receive that instruction and understand and put our lives back in order. We don't just kind of listen and then go away and forget it. James 2:12:

"So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment." (James 2:12-13)

Now if we go over to John 8:29, it says:

"And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." (John 8:29)

Christ had the Father with Him because He did obey Him. He had the faith OF God. Notice what it says in John 8:32:

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free [free from error and its consequences]. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the [slave] of sin. And the [slave] abideth not in the house for ever..." (John 8:32-35)

So in James we have come to the end basically of that first section within James chapter 2. I have been talking about faith to a large degree in that first section, because that is what it's about. It is about the faith OF our Lord Jesus Christ, and having it with something which is incompatible.

The Three Groups Addressed (PLAY FROM 1:04:10)

There are actually three groups being mentioned in James:

"Is any among you afflicted? let him pray [so that is one group]...Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord [there's another group, the ministry]: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick... Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed..." (James 5:13-16) There's the third group, which is all of us.

That first group, somebody in a trial is what is being talked about in James 1:5 which we read last time where it says:

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5)

That group - all of us who happen to be going through trials - it is wisdom that we are praying for. Those are the three groups within James. And if we are wanting our prayers to be heard, wanting to give those prayers of faith- the ministry being one of the groups- when it talks about the prayer of faith and it says:

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:" (James 5:14)

It is almost as if the prayer is anointing him with oil. There is very clear indication in other scriptures, which we will read when we get to that section, that it's a literal anointing with oil as well. The words coming out of that minister's mouth are reflecting the oil that needs to be in him. The words should in fact come from a heart that is Spirit-led. And if that is not the case, his prayer will not be effective. That is something that points straight back at me. I think; why hasn't this person been healed? Well, I need to look at myself in that way. But there is more to it than that because it says very plainly in James 5:16:

"Confess your faults one to another [the context there is healing, that we share the fact that we are sick and have difficulties], and pray one for another, that ye may be healed..." (James 5:16)

So every single one of us falls into that category. That we should be praying for one another. So this context where it is talking here in James 2 where it says; "...[hold] not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (James 2:1) It is a prayer of faith remember, that heals the sick. So when we pray for one another, it has got to be a prayer of faith. The idea that this is not a prayer of faith doesn't make sense, because it's the prayer of faith that heals the sick. So in James 2:1:

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ...with respect of persons." (James 2:1)

That is talking to every single one of us. We can't get on our knees before God and beseech God and get through if we at the same time, have grudges against one another, have problems between each other, look upon things in a human way, allow wealth to be influencing us, or whatever else, prestige or whatever. That is just not the way to be behaving.

Also, when in a trial - "If any of you lack wisdom..." (James 1:5) all these different trials that we go through, and we can't understand why, and we want to know why. And we lack wisdom, we ask God, but, we must ask in faith. But "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:8) You can't go two ways at once.

If we are not wholly going along God's way, trying where we can to walk in the ways of God, then we won't receive, because our prayers aren't going to get through. This is what the beginning part of James 2 really is all about.


Footnote:

Mr Bowles continues James 2 in a subsequent Bible Study.