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Religion (Part 2 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
October 4, 2021 4:00 am

Religion (Part 2 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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October 4, 2021 4:00 am

“You look like your dad!” Ever heard that? Certain traits often identify us as family members. Christians should resemble our heavenly Father as well. Hear how genuine compassion shows we belong to God’s family, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Never had anyone say to you, look just like your mother or your father. Well, it's not surprising that family members would share familiar traits or mannerisms.

And that's true for children of God as well. We ought to resemble our heavenly father. Today on Truth for Life Alastair Begg shares with us how one of the evidences of authentic faith is that we are growing in Christ likeness.

Here's Alastair never going to turn back again to James chapter 1 and verses 26 and 27 and I encourage you to turn their James chapter 1 verse 26 if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world wives are challenge for this evening will ask for God's help.

Now, as we turn to the Bible. Father we come just as much in need to do the work of thinking and to ask for the work of the spirit to be in our lives, illuminating the printed page to us and giving us clarity and an understanding of the truth of the Bible, so help us so that we don't get it wrong and help us so that we don't really listen to it but we believe it and obey it and conform is increasingly to the image of your son Jesus.

Help us to bear the family likeness in every proper way for Jesus sake on then James has not provided us here with comprehensive statement of the nature of pure and faultless religion. He is telling us what religion is. But he's not telling. Is everything that it is he is providing us with a test regarding the authenticity of our professed faith in Jesus and that task has three aspects to it.

The first being a controlled tongue.

The second being a compassionate heart and the third being a clean life. We spend all of our time this morning on the first, most uncomfortable talk on the pressing nature of what it means to have our tongues under the control of God the Holy Spirit.

And that was verse 26 we moved from there and I to verse 27 and to his emphasis on a compassionate heart. If we are the children of God our father, then we ought to look in some measure. At least increasingly like our father, we ought to bear the family resemblances and one of the things that said about God throughout the Bible and particularly in the Psalms is that he is a God who is particularly interested in those who are orphans, those who are themselves fatherless, and so for example, Psalms 68 in verse five, you need turn to it without. I just read it for you and makes this abundantly clear where the psalmist says God is a father to the fatherless, and the defender of widows. He is the God who sets the lonely in families. One of a picture of God. When people say well I'm not sure I know what God is like. Not sure that I I want to know God is able goddess as someone who is particularly interested in those who are fatherless, those who are lonely those who feel themselves to be left out and there are many people in our culture tonight and for whom father means very very little either because they lost their father at an early age, or because they have lived in a house where there is been an absentee father and to be able to introduce them to God, who is the father of the fatherless who is compassionate who abounds in love is a wonderful and compelling thing to do that in redeeming love of God as father is of course crystallized in the giving of his own son at Calvary for God so loved the world was so compassionate towards the world that he gave his only begotten son. Now James is simply working this principle out and making it clear that it follows that his children if they're going to bear the family likeness if were going to tell people that we belong to God is our father, then we are to be those who are marked by a genuine concern for those who in society are themselves helpless, helpless, and that of course is an immediate challenge is a challenge to which James is going to return in chapter 2 challenge that is represented in a congregation that is tempted to make much of those who fit the profile of their social economic framework to be able to welcome easily. Those who fit within the parameters of our accepted norms to find it difficult to reach out and be kind towards those who are unlike a congregation. Those who do not come in wearing gold rings and fine clothes by those who come in wearing shabby clothes and who are so distinctly uncomfortable in a gathering marked by such material prosperity.

James is going to drive this home in an unmistakable way. In chapter 2, but for now he simply introduces the theme and as I said this morning.

The three aspects that he raises in this test he comes back to every one of them in the unfolding letter which follows the concern that God's children are to show is a concern which is moved by the needs of others, and which reaches out to others without the prospect of anything in return. In other words, it fits in with what Jesus said about when you're getting a banquet. Remember you said and quite categorical terms is that if you're thinking of having a party at your house.

Don't invite the people over to your house whom you simply anticipate will enjoy it. On a normal basis and who will then in turn say well and thank you so much for a lovely evening.

How about you come back to our home now of four weeks from Saturday. Don't do that said Jesus instead invite over to your home. Those who would not normally have the opportunity to come into such a home who do not routinely enjoy those kind of meals and who will not themselves be able to invite you back because they have no place where they can invite you back to a gender sentence in a preposition that drives me nuts but it's done now. I hear I hear Winston Churchill's voice saying that is a preposition up with which I will not put Jesus was striking in its condemnation for those who got this wrong and that's why he said to the Pharisees of his day that he condemned them and he pointed them out as those in Mark chapter 12 as those who devour widows houses, and for a show make lengthy prayers. These were the individuals who gobbled up the houses of the widows and do the same time, ostensibly enjoyed making these lengthy prayers much like the Pharisee described in Luke's gospel who stands in praise. Remember at the side of the road in the company of the publican know what is James doing here when he identifies orphans and widows is he suggesting to us that orphans and widows are the only folks who are to be on the receiving end of the fatherly care of God expressed to his children. No, I don't think so and what he's doing here is he is identifying the epitome of human need. I don't mean by this that we ought not to take at face value. The emphasis on both orphans and widows, but that we would be wrong if we thought that all we had to do was to deal with orphans and widows so that you don't have to deal with anyone who is suffering from AIDS, you would have to deal with people who were paralyzed or whatever else it might be all you have to do is deal with orphans and widows.

If you do that, then you're in the clear with everything else that would be a very wooden way to interpret the Bible, wouldn't I think what he's emphasizing is here of the people in the time of James. A time that had no social structures that would organize for the care of the helpless and the poor. No social welfare programs in place. These were the people who epitomized what it was to be powerless.

What was to be without any kind of rights what it was to live without any status at all those orphans and widows who were no longer on the receiving end of the support of a husband, which, in the normal course of events would be the standard pattern now provides as James wonderful opportunity for the children of God to display one of the aspects of the family character, namely to look after or to visit or to care for orphans and widows in their distress, so this controlled tongue is to be set inside of the mouth, a mouth which is part of the head which is attached to the rest of the body which of the control tower level of the heart is to be one that is marked by compassion. Another word that is used here and if you have a King James version, you will remember this from growing up and memorizing this that it reads something along the lines of religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this to to visit the orphans and widows in their distress. The Greek word is translated both to look after or to care for her to visit and it is a word that appears not infrequently in the New Testament.

Actually, this phrase is carved in stone over the archway of the main entrance of the Royal infirmary in Edinburgh, Scotland, and when you walk in under that old main entrance you read the words from Matthew 25 the words of Jesus. I was sick and you visited me, I was sick and you visited me and the word that is there for you visited me is the word it picks To my which is the word that is translated here in James chapter 127 and you look after these orphans and widows. I remember that Jesus said that in Matthew 25 where in a very demanding little passage. He reminded those who were his followers that they had in the words of the king.

They had seen him in prison and they had visited him and he had seen him in distress and they had come to him and and so on. And of course the reply on the part of the disciples is to say, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you are thirsty and give you something to drink.

When did we see you as a stranger, and invite you in, or in needing clothes and clothe you ended we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you as I seem very big and there and when did we see you sick and in prison and go and look after you. I remember Jesus said whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Remember one occasion when I was an assistant in Charlotte Chapel way back 75 now 76 going in the course of the afternoon to visit a whole succession of elderly people. Some of them were in psychiatric hospitals, many of them were very impaired and often given the time I arrived in the afternoon, either as a result of the time of day, and/or as a result of their medication. They slept through my entire visit and I remember sitting and and reading the Bible and praying with them and holding the hands of elderly ladies under one evening driving to the Bible study with Terry prime. I said to him you know maybe I should drop some of the people from the list. I said why is that ISA will nothing actually happens when I go many situations they're not even compass mentors there not alert.

I'm not sure they hear me say no but do you know what you're doing when you call, as it is I'm visiting the old people said no you are ministering to the Lord Jesus. Inasmuch as you read the Bible and prayed with the elderly lady who never wakened out when you were there, you did it said the king unto me is a quite staggering thought is God is the father of the fatherless do remember this is a real test of your memory when we studied in Luke chapter 7 we came to that wonderful moment where Jesus stops the funeral procession of the widow of Nene's son and how he goes up and how the disciples must've wondered what Jesus is doing now a large crowd was with him and as he approached the time gate I'm quoting Luke seven now a dead person was being carried out. The only son of his mother and she was a widow as important as it turns out the only son of his mother and she was a widow and a large crowd from the town was with her, and when the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said don't cry. In other words, he had a heart of compassion, and then he went up and touch the coffin and those carrying it stood still and he said young man ICT you get up in the dead man sat up and began to talk. Then Luke says this was the thing that struck us when we studied it and looks as an Jesus gave him back to his mother.

That's what Jesus was doing. He said this lady needs this boy this lady is a widow. I will give her son back to her and says Luke.

They were all filled with awe and praise God our great prophet has appeared among as they said God has come to help his people in the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside. Actually, in the King James version it reads what God has visited his people, and of course by now you know that that is the exact same no surprise when they saw this impact on the widow knowing that God is the father of the fatherless and has peculiar concerns for the widow. When Jesus says to the boy is your mom, and says to the mom, here is your boy the people says God showed up. God showed up because that's what God is like. Now you get the impact when the people of God out of a heart of compassion do what the Bible says in relationship to the needs of humanity to the needs of our culture, then in a graphic way men and women may stand back and say God has shown up, God has visited us visited us in the compassion of your interest in the needs of the helpless and hopeless and those who are around you.

Despite all of their outward signs being under control. You know to be helpless people. And when you go to them in their helplessness you do so baiting the compassion of Christ himself. You see, what we have here is what God has begun at least two nudges in the direction of as a church family and that is to remind us of the absolute necessity of keeping two things close together the genuine proclamation of the good news and that genuine participation in group D good news and good deeds emphasize not only by James but also by Paul when he writes to Titus, speaking of God. He says who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do good to purify for himself a people that are his very own and how will the purity of their life and the reality of their testimony become apparent in a society because they are eager to do good. They are the appeared to me if you like of do-gooders when Wilberforce was converted in his middle 20s while a student at Cambridge University. He wrote in his personal Journal God Almighty has set before me. Two great objects. The suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners, you should understand the reformation of manners not know about which which form to use for your salad but rather the transformative impact of the gospel in our culture and in a community in here we are 200 years on from the historic parliamentary vote, which was actually in March 1807 on 27 March 1807, 200 years ago now that classic vote band, the transportation of slaves by the subjects and if you read of Wilberforce and if you read of Newton. You will are found there that again you discover the juxtaposition of good news and good deeds. In many ways, God raised up, Newton, who was a slave trader. Ironically, converted him given the compassionate heart made it possible for them to write hymns and to preach the Bible to become. If you like a proponent of good news and to become one of the key influences in the life of William Wilberforce, who is epitomized by good deeds. When you think about it is God in the immensity of his plans and purposes from all of eternity causes the birth of these two little boy's one Newton and one Wilberforce the confluence of his redeeming purpose is to be found in this compassionate heart when Wilberforce was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1833, seven years were to elapse before they put an epitaph on a statue in the Abbey, which some of you will of stood before and have read to the memory of William Wilberforce born in Hall August 24, 1759, died in London July 29, 1833. For nearly half a century, a member of the House of Commons and for six parliaments during that period.

One of the two representatives for Yorkshire in an age and country fair trial in great and good men. He was among the foremost of those who fixed the character of their times because too high and various talents to warm benevolence and to universal candor. He added the abiding eloquence of the Christian life. Fantastic and a man of conviction man of great compassion. 200 years later, we are the beneficiaries of his willingness to combine a commitment to the good news that Jesus sets the captives free, and that the implications of that transforming power and culture cannot leave the least and the last on the left. Absent the fatherly care we reflect the compassionate heart of God as we care for the helpless and the hopeless Talisker bag with part two of a three-part message titled religion. The outcome of our mission of Truth for Life is to build up local churches today were excited to announce registration for the basics, 20, 22 conference is now open. This is a conference for pastors and church leaders.

Alister is hosting the conference in May 2022 in Cleveland Ohio. If you're in ministry can find out more and sign up and the long lines of building up the local church. We are currently recommending a book that is all about the local church and its title devoted to God's church core values for Christian Fellowship, the author of the book is Alister's friend, Sinclair Ferguson in the book Sinclair explains that belonging to a church involves much more than just showing up on Sunday. He challenges us not to ask ourselves how is church life, fitting into my plans, but how do I fold all the aspects of my life into the life of the church requester copy of devoted to God's church today, you'll find it in the mobile app you can requested by visiting us online at if you prefer you can call us at 888-588-7884 Bob Lapine thanks for joining us tomorrow will conclude today's message in our series in the book of James titled think that works. How can you serve in the world without becoming polluted by the world. Alister shares the answer tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by truth or lying where the Learning is for Living

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