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June 7, 2021 2:00 am
Was he remain standing in honor of God's word as we read it together tonight if you would turn with me to James chapter 4B. In verses 13 through chapter 5 verse 11 James 413 through 511. As we consider tonight our present lives in light of the coming day of judgment verses were about to read our either frightening or encouraging, depending on how we stand before God salutes see which side of this equation whereon James for the universe 13 come now, you who say today or tomorrow will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life for you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Instead you ought to say if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that, as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil so whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it for him it is sin come now you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted in your garments are moth-eaten gold and silver have corroded in their corrosion will be evidence against you, and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields which you Back by fraud are crying out against you and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts you've lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord see how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth being patient about it until it receives the early in the late rains. You also be patient, establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not grumble against one another brothers so that you may not be judged. Behold, the judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed to remain steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job and you have seen the purpose of the Lord how the Lord is compassionate and merciful spray Lord.
These verses are all about you being in control. In areas where we often think we are in control. Help us to yield to you willingly and joyfully knowing that your control of our lives is just and good Holy Spirit. Would you please do what only you can do in our minds and hearts tonight take these words on a page and make them bear fruit in our lives.
I pray this in Jesus name, amen.
You can have a seat. I have no idea if this is still the case or not but when I was in school as a child each classroom. Back in those days had an intercom mounted somewhere in the classroom on the wall.
It was connected to the administrative office of the school. It was usually some sort of unassuming speaker mounted near the ceiling there and announcements could be made over over the intercom teachers principles could communicate with each other all one day my sixth grade teacher had to step out of the classroom for something and before she left, she gave us very strict instructions about all were supposed to do and not do. And then she left will no sooner had she had. She shut the door behind them. One of the students who was sort of a self-appointed clown of the class got up from his desk and he started making people laugh. I with his antics. I remember what all he did, but within minutes of the teacher, leaving none of us were doing what we had been instructed to do.
We were laughing we were talking with our friends. We were just enjoying the freedom of having no teacher, no authority in the room laughter 15 minutes or so has the party had really begun to to climax there in our classroom we heard a dreadful sound.
The sound of a little to feedback coming through that intercom on the wall and suddenly we all realize that our teacher had been listening to us the whole time. Of course we – to our desks and we picked up our pencils and started writing vigorously in absolute silence, but the damage was done. When Mrs. Douglas returned to the room.
She was not happy nor was she fooled by the. The speed of our pencils in the silence in the room when she walked in she knew everything that had transpired while she was gone and she let us have it. We missed recess we got extra homework we had to put up with the grumpy teacher for the rest of the day.
It was awful. It certainly wasn't worth those 15 minutes of of pandemonium that we had indulged in, and it all could have been avoided if we had just remembered that the teacher is in charge and the teacher is listening in our text tonight. James writes about a future day of judgment. This day will be a time of reckoning for some as they receive the punishment for all the wrongs they've committed. This day will be a day of reward for manning as they receive the fruits of unmerited, divine grace, James draws our attention to that day in the future.
In order to remind us that how we live in the present matters a great deal, and as was the case with my sixth grade teacher.
God is in charge and God is listening. If that's true then I had better not act or think as if there is no God as if there is no sovereign who rules over me as if there is no future day of reckoning reward.
There is a God who was sovereign. There is a God who is just there is a God who is gracious and these realities ought to govern and temper my thoughts my behavior, my fears, my joints.
The point is this.
There is a future day of reckoning or reward for everyone. Therefore, I ought to acknowledge God and how I live my life today so there three paragraphs in our text tonight in each paragraph highlights in a specific way in which we ought to acknowledge God in our lives. In the first paragraph are called to acknowledge God's sovereignty by not presuming upon the future.
In the second paragraph we are called to acknowledge God's justice by not fearing our oppressors and then in the third paragraph are called to acknowledge God's grace by being patient and steadfast as we await that day of future reward so as to jump into the text tonight and and consider. First of all, the call to acknowledge God's sovereignty by not presuming upon the future. We see this in chapter 4, verses 13 through 17. James calls us to consider how we think about the future and how our planning for the future is really a barometer of how we think about God and how we think about eternity. Verse 13 says come now, you say today or tomorrow will go into such and such a town spend a year there trade and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. Now we need to make a distinction here of planning for the future is not what's being condemned.
The Bible addresses the importance of planning and and preparation the wisdom of counting the cost of planning ahead is not the problem that James is addressing the problem he's addressing is an attitude of presumption, presuming upon the future as if were somehow omniscient as if we know what next week or next month or next year will hold James as you even know what tomorrow will bring our knowledge doesn't extend even a second. Beyond the president and superintended it that it does is presumptuous. This is all very reminiscent of the story Jesus told to make a similar point Christ tells of a rich man who had such abundance that he needed more space to store it all, so he made plans to tear down the barn.
She had to build even bigger ones and then he could spend the rest of his days in luxury, eating and drinking and being married but then God says to him fool, this night, your soul will be required of you see his foolishness was not in his preparation and planning. It was in his presumption of what the future held. His foolishness was in his negligence of of more important things in his planning and scheming. He had forgotten that the intercom was turned on. He ignored the fact that God is in charge and God is listening now when finite human beings act as if they are infinite, or when creatures who don't even know what tomorrow will bring. Act as if there privy to what circumstances will be years from now. Not only is this presumptuous box is the epitome of arrogance.
You see, the tendency to presume upon the future comes from the heart that thinks far too highly of itself. It grows in a heart that takes upon itself. Responsibilities and abilities that only belong to God. Presumptuous planning is a subtle way of assuming sovereignty and James condemns that he says in verse 16, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil, it's evil because it takes God out of the equation. It it's practical atheism to ignore the brevity and unpredictability of life and act as if I have control over what only God controls is to say, I am the master of my fate I am the captain of my soul, which is just another way of saying God is not the master of my fate. God is not the captain of my soul.
It's an arrogance that presumes to take the center stage in the place of God.
So the warning here is not against making plans for the future is not against making a profit. The warning is against arrogant presumption acting and thinking as if we have control over that which is entirely and exclusively in God's courts, the correction to this sort of pride then is to acknowledge the sovereign Providence and governance of God over my life and it circumstances. Verse 15 instead, you want to say if the Lord wills, we will do this or that this really is the primary difference between the worldview of the Christian and the worldview of materialist. The materialist sees this world as a as a closed system with no outside influences what you see is what you get and nothing more. The Christian on the other hand acknowledges that this world is not a closed system. There is an unmoved mover outside of the material sphere who ultimately determines the course and outcome of all things, including the meticulous plans we create with our iPhones and spreadsheets. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16 nine.
Many of the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord, that will stand.
Proverbs 1921. I know Lord that the way of man is not in himself that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 1023 and so the biblical antidote to to this arrogant presumption that plagues mankind is to acknowledge the sovereignty of God by qualifying every plan every aspiration, every intention with a sincere recognition that anything can ever only happen if the Lord wills prefer to be ready for the future, we must first acknowledge God's sovereignty over the future. But secondly, we must acknowledge God's justice God's justice.
We see this in verse verses one through six of chapter 5 in this the second paragraph is really the bleakest of the three had extends no hope or pardon of grace that the weeping and howling of verse one are descriptions that in the New Testament are reserved for the dams for the reprobate comments and the significance of this in a moment but notice this paragraph is addressed to the rich. Now again, this could be misleading because it might make us think that James is condemning wealth. Scripture never condemns wealth per se.
In fact, there are plenty of examples of godly people who were materially wealthy.
Think of Joseph of Arimathea the man who donated his his tomb for the body of Jesus. He was identified as a rich man, Abraham, the quintessential patriarch was a very wealthy man.
So wealth isn't what's condemned, that's not the problem in this in this passage any more than planning for the future, was the problem in the first paragraph. Nope, it's the misuse of wealth that James is dealing with. It's the misuse of wealth that incurs future judgment to the question is what constitutes this misuse of wealth. Well first of all hoarding stuff constitutes a misuse of wealth. God gives wealth and he intends it to be used for good but the person in James's example here has simply stockpiled his wealth to the point that his riches are rotten his garments are moth-eaten, his precious metals even are corroded and it's this waste of wealth is going to be held up as evidence against the hoarder on judgment day there corrosion. James says will be evidence against you, and will eat your flesh like fire whatever wealth we possess has been given to us by God and God intends us to use it for good. But if we take that wealth and buried in the ground so to speak out of fear of losing it were demonstrating. I think an undue attachment to the stuff of this world were not viewing wealth through the eyes of eternity and that attitude that attachment to material things. I will be used as evidence against the stingy hoarding part on judgment day one theologian put it this way.
He said if if we possess corroded wealth is evidence that we have not used it for its intended purpose. The actual evidence of disuse will stand as a witness against the rich. But not only is there evidence against the materialist. There are also witnesses against this materialist verse four says that both the wages of the laborers who mowed the rich man's field and the cries of these harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord and they are bearing witness that the hoarder of verses two and three is also an oppressor of the poor and needy. Historians have confirmed that in first century Palestine. Just prior to A.D. 70. There was an increasing concentration of land that was owned by a very small group of wealthy elites as we often see today and in corporate America strove many small farmers out of business, forced them to to become indentured servants of these powerful and wealthy landowners. Farmers were forced to begin earning their living not by forming their own farms, but by hiring themselves out to to rich overlords in light of this industrial shift.
Then imagine a rich landlord who was hoarding his wealth rather than paying the wages of the laborers who were serving him that the wages they've already earned is not only wasting his wealth on luxurious self-indulgent living.
He's also robbing his workers of their paychecks, and he's even murdering them. James says in verse six because their very survival depends on the wages that are being withheld so the rich here in verses one through six are misusing their God-given wealth by hoarding more than they could possibly use in a lifetime and by refusing to pay a just wage to their own laborers, which leads to the laborers death that they're breaking the eighth commandment not to steal the breaking the sixth commandment not to murder there even breaking the first commandment not to worship the stuff of this life in the place of God in all of this is evidence all of these are witnesses that are crying out together to the judge of heaven, declaring this oppressive hoarder is guilty now.
If the first paragraph is calling us to acknowledge the sovereignty of God by avoiding arrogant presumption. What is this second paragraph calling us to do. As already mentioned, this second paragraph extends no hope of redemption to to the oppressors. It's just judgment is just condemnation is simply declares them guilty and promises divine judgment. Why that would James address the plight of unbelievers in a letter written explicitly to believers while think the answer lies in verse seven. Verse seven says, be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. That word therefore is a logical connecting word it. It ties what is about to be said logically to what James has just finished saying and it addresses the brothers that, as Christians specifically. So what James has just said in verses one through six of those godless unbelieving oppressors.
He actually said for the benefit of believers. So what is this benefit for believers.
John Calvin observed at least two benefits for believers. First, knowing the ultimate plight of these wicked oppressors keeps Christians from envying the wealth of the rich. When we realize that all that extra stuff.
The abundance of resources that so many haters of God, enjoy today is is going to be turned to dirt in the future, and will actually bear witness against them on judgment day. It makes the wicked man unenviable doesn't. Furthermore, knowing what will happen to wicked oppressors also encourages believers who are being oppressed by these wealthy unbelievers and encourages Christians to bear their suffering.
Well, because they know that God sees and God will judge. Remember God is in charge and he is listening. So this second paragraph I think is is a call for us to acknowledge the justice of God justice that will one day condemn those who, in this present age oppress in steel and murder.
We are to acknowledge that God is a just God who will not allow the wicked to sin with impunity. The last paragraph than of our text calls us to acknowledge God's grace. It exhorts suffering saints to stay the course because God is not only sovereign and just. He is also gracious and if he is gracious, then there is reward.
There is blessing for those who patiently wait for that grace noticed that there were four imperatives given to believers in verses seven through 11 first were commanded to be patient.
In verse seven, the patient, it might not seem like hardship will ever change.
But James tells us the Lord will come back one day and when he does, there will be blessing and reward for the faithful. Just like the farmer who must wait for months before tasting the fruit of his labors suffering saints who remain steadfast to the end will see the fruit of their faith.
So don't quit the faith don't stop looking for Christ's return. Simply because the wicked seem to have the upper hand. No.
Be patient, and the presence knowing that a future day of glory and grace is imminent. It's a lot easier to be patient when you know that the thing you're being patient for is to be really good.
I can still remember the excitement of being a young child on Christmas morning waking up early before my parents waiting with my sisters in the hallway for our parents to wake up so that we could open our presents. It's really amazing how polite and courteous little children can be in those moments because I know presents are are right around the corner at the anticipation of what was under the Christmas tree somehow made it easy to tolerate all the vices of my sisters and and you know vices than on any other day. I would've seemed impossible to overlook.
Of course I say that tongue-in-cheek.
I'm sure I had many more vices than they did. But the point is a joy that awaits us in the future, motivates patient steadfastness in the present knowing that there's a joy out there makes you able to persevere and be steadfast in the present. So James is commanding us to be patient because the Lord is coming back with reward with grace, but there's a second command given in verse eight, James says establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
This idea of establishing one heart is a recurring theme in the New Testament. It always refers to the pursuit of orthodoxy and ortho proxy of of having the right beliefs and right behavior.
This is how we establish our hearts that only are we to be patient and not quit as we await the return of the Lord were also to spend our time grounding ourselves more and more in true doctrine and in holiness of life we establish our hearts by learning to love God's truth and learning to obey God's will. Thirdly, he commands us in verse nine not to grumble against one another. Lest we incur judgment. James has commanded that Christians be patient in waiting for divine retribution on their oppressors, which implies that Christians are being oppressed. When that's the case when when Christians are being oppressed and persecuted is a very real temptation. Is it not for them to take out their frustration on the ones they love to grumble against each other. Even though each other aren't the problem. Part of patients that entails enduring with forbearance for one another. This admonition for Christians not to grumble against each other, reminds us that it's not only the wicked man who want to live with an eye toward judgment day, folks.
We Christians must give an account, so we do well to also live, particularly in our treatment of each other with an eye toward eternity. We need to live with an eye for the day when when the judge will come knocking on the door with justice in hand and and we do that in part by learning to walk in harmony with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ do not grumble against one another and then finally, verses 10, 11, command us in our acknowledging of God's grace to consider those who have gone before. First were to consider the prophets who remain steadfast and in the end were blessed. Think of Elijah who felt like the only faithful Israelite during his lifetime. Think of Isaiah, who had to preach to Jerusalem until there was nothing left standing. Think of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet who lamented the condition of the covenant community to his dying day. He's not lamenting now. He's full of unspeakable joy in the presence of Christ. Isaiah isn't feeling the futility of preaching to harden centers he's basking in the glory of heaven the glory that will only get greater and greater as the final day approaches. Elijah isn't feeling sorry for himself right now feeling like there is no one else who loves and worships the true God because he's gathered with the throng of faithful Christians surrounding the throne worshiping in the very presence of the living God. Right now, consider these men their suffering, but also the reward and take courage steadfast as you acknowledge the grace and goodness of God.
Verse 11 exhorts us then to consider Job another faithful servant who endured suffering and has now gone on to his reward. And isn't it interesting that Joe is held up as an example of suffering. Well, he certainly suffered deeply. No one can argue with that as deeply as any man ever has. But pictures very honest in its portrayal of Job's attitude through suffering. His his patients will hardly pristine. Job struggled and he questioned and he sometimes defined, but the flame of faith was never extinguished in his heart he wasn't a perfect example of patience in suffering, yet he endured because he ultimately clung to God. This ought to give us great motivation to be faithful. Sometimes we lose heart. Sometimes we grumble just like Job when we do should repent and return to a posture of resting in the Lord just like Job and so we remember Job not because he was great, but because the compassion and mercy of God made Job steadfast through the misery of life in a sinful world to consider those who have gone before us. Not just because misery loves company. It's that those who have suffered misery and yet remain faithful prove that God's promises are true blessings God said would come have come. The saints are enjoying the reward and if it held true for them. It will hold true for us. God is in charge and God is listening and watching not only so that he can punish the wicked, but also so that he can reward the righteous. Think about those who have suffered before you. Don't grumble against those who are suffering with you establish your heart in truth and faithfulness and be patient in the process.
All of all of these responses are the Christians way of acknowledging in the midst of suffering that God is gracious so don't lose heart. So three paragraphs 3 areas in which our acknowledgment of God in the present has huge ramifications on our eternal future. What significance does this have on a Monday morning. Well, it means it is you go back to work tomorrow elect to school tomorrow you want to first of all, consciously include God in your plans. If the Lord wills make a plan but hold loosely to that plan allow for divine contingencies.
Stop thinking and acting as if you are sovereign you are not God can overrule God can veto God can reverse things in your life, because he is God and you are not so acknowledge the sovereignty of God by frequently and deeply contemplating his providence in your life. It also means that you want to never ever in the wicked. They may have all the toys now. Those toys will testify against them on the last day. Why would you ever want to envy that if you struggle with attitudes of envy for what godless people have.
You have you forgotten or you have underestimated the justice of God, God will right every wrong so contemplate, think about God as judge and let those thoughts keep the sinfulness of sin and perspective acknowledge the justice of God finally requires that we acknowledge the grace of God in Christ God will reward the righteous church. The celebration is only just about to begin. You want to miss it. Yes life is hard now fighting sin is not easy resisting the devil is tiring, but the eternal weight of glory that awaits us is worth it.
So surround yourself with this great cloud of witnesses who were already enjoying the beginnings of their reward look to Christ, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, the shame, the hardship, lest you grow weary in your fight. Take courage by acknowledging the graciousness of God.
God is in charge and God is listening acknowledge him, so that when he returns. It will be a day of delight and not dread church. God is sovereign is just is also gracious, was pray God you are sovereign, we are not you are eternal and we are a vapor you are just we are unjust, but Lord you are also gracious and we are the recipients of that grace would you help us to live our lives fully acknowledging your sovereignty in your holy justice and your sweet grace.
Guard us from the sin of arrogant presumption. Guard us from fearing our oppressors and ground us in the grace that you have poured out our lives that we might be a people who patiently persevere in faith to the end for your glory. We pray, amen