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October 5, 2021 4:00 am
All heard the expression, practice what you preach, it's a familiar way of saying our words should match our actions.
We should be living in a way that demonstrates the reality of our faith, but how we prioritize holiness while we serve in an unbelieving world today on Truth for Life.
Alister Ben concludes a message titled religion in James chapter 1 verse 27. If we are the children of God our father and we ought to look in some measure. At least increasingly like our father, we ought to bear the family resemblances you see what we have here is what God has begun at least two nudges in the direction I was 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 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.
They are the epitome if you like of do-gooders when Wilberforce was converted 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 a culture and in a community, and here we are 200 years on from the historic parliamentary vote that classic vote ban the transportation of slaves by British subjects and if you read Wilberforce and if you read of Newton. You will have 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 in 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 have stood before and have read. I haven't written in front of me here in my own scribble and I want to read it to you because it is so profoundly moving. This is what you'll find on the statute in Westminster Abbey 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 eminent as he was in every department of public labor and a leader in every work of charity, whether to relieve the temporal or the spiritual wants of his fellow man. His name will ever be specially identified with those exertions which, by the blessing of God removed from England, the guilt of the African slave trade and prepare the way for the abolition of slavery in every colony of the Empire in the prosecution of those objects. He rely not in vain on God. But in the process he was called to endure great obloquy, and great opposition he outlived however all enmity and in the evening of his days withdrew from public life and public observation to the bosom of his family.
Yet he died, not unnoticed or forgotten by his country, the peers and commons of England with the Lord Chancellor and the speaker at their head in solemn procession from their respective houses carried him to his fitting place among the mighty dad around here to repose till through the merits of Jesus Christ his only Redeemer and Savior, which in his life and his writings he had desired to glorify, he shall rise in the resurrection of the just 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 of God know what Wilberforce did in the 18 century. Spurgeon did in the 19th century.
Spurgeon on one occasion of their at their evening prayer meeting on a Monday all of a sudden breaks into the events and he says to his congregation. We are a large church and should be doing more for the Lord in this great city.
I want us to ask God to send us some new work and so all the people then in the remainder of the prayer time said oh God send us some new work in the new work that God sent them was the establishing of what became the Stockwell orphanage in Spurgeon's impact among the fatherless children of London and what Spurgeon did in the 19th century. Moody did in the 20th century and if you read the word and the writings of RA Torrey and what Moody did, then you will know that he combined good news and good deeds and it is imperative that the two are held together for whenever the good deeds are disengaged from the good news whenever the impact of a life is torn away from the compelling transforming power of the gospel, and it eventually degenerates into pure moralism and nothingness. Social involvement dare not take the place of the gospel and I leave the remainder of this to you if you take a concordance and look through it. You can go into the Old Testament and you're going to than you and see that the Bible is replete with references to this you have it in acts chapter 6 don't you where they had in the Jerusalem church already put together Meals on Wheels, whether they were on wheels or not. I don't know, but they had a roster for the widows in Jerusalem didn't and that's why the friction of marriage because people began to say. I'm not sure that our group is getting getting the maximum user come a little late or IVI guarding your heart or whatever might be in the apostles and were going to do about all this Meals on Wheels business and then is it will let's get seven guys who really know what they're doing. The blood of the God in their hearts and have got a good head on their shoulders and will give them the responsibility of this, it would be right for guys to leave their preaching and teaching the Bible to to serve tables near that wonderful division of labor. Then very important that the apostles are not saying when the right for us to serve tables is always right for every one of us to serve tables what they said is it would not be right for us to leave the preaching of the word to serve tables. They knew what their job was heretofore since academically the pastoral epistles you will find the Paul is implementing the exact same program amongst the Gentile churches in first Timothy five and if you read secular history review CBS.
He will tell you that by 8250. The church in Rome was reportedly supporting 1500 destitute men and women, children and children on a daily basis and you don't want to hear again from me about the place I grew up in Glasgow was formed by Dwight L. Moody, and that it was customary for us both to feed the people from the streets five or 600 often before ever regard to any praise or worship on the Lord's day morning they came came in in in dire condition office Saturday night. In the early hours of Sunday morning to be given tea and food to be the Scriptures open to to be provided for why because they were homeless because they were helpless because they were impoverished because they were without God and without hope in the world but don't forget the person on skid row is no more without God and without hope in the world than the affluent suburbanite on the east side of Cleveland.
Finally, we just say a word about the third area of the test.
A controlled tongue part to a compassionate heart and part three a clean life. Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless not only involves our controlled tongues in our interest in those who are so desperately in need, but also it demands that we keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. In other words, not only are we to be practically helpful, but we are to be personally holy, practically helpful in personally holy. We are to be identified with society and its need, but not in its sin. Again I say to you that social involvement dare not be at the expense of moral purity. Our friend John Dixon in his commentary which he so kindly sent to me with a letter he argues quite strongly the case for this final phrase here in verse 27 as being a reference nod.
He says to the pollutions of private immorality, but to the socioeconomic perversions of society and so he says that when James says not only should you have a controlled tongue and a compassionate heart but make sure that you don't get sucked into the polluted way that culture deals with socioeconomic questions. I want to say to think about this one sounds like an Australian theologian and number two he is a long and making this case he does make a good case, but I searched in vain throughout everywhere to see if there was another person in the entire universe who had ever suggested that the final phrase in verse 27 of James chapter 1 had anything to do with socioeconomic reversal. Maybe John's right and all the rest the wrong but I think in this instance were probably safer with the majority, which means that what James is urging opponents is spiritual watchfulness spiritual watchfulness his readers then and now are surrounded by all kinds of distracting, demoralizing and even dehumanizing influences. They and we walk around in a world that is actually opposed to the standards and purposes of God. They initial readers and we reading it tonight need to remind ourselves that the standards of our life in Jesus, our heavenly and are not those of the prevailing culture. The fact of the matter is that we are different we are different.
I know it's not uncommon for us to try and use as a sort of apologetic in a process as the people you know it is the same as you are, what we can say and that is we pull our trousers on the same way or we are.
We share the same supermarkets or whatever it might be, but the fact is we are not the same as they are were radically different from what they are and James and Peter and John and Paul every last one of them makes the point I could keep Eli only according but I won't give you this one. First Peter four and chapter 3 forces Peter to his his Christian readers you spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do whatever they choose to do. Living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry and they think it's strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they keep abuse on you widening. I think in the King James version.
The word is profligacy is always struck me as a fascinating word like obliquity from earlier immediately needed actually.
Incidentally, all the grays is simply an opposition or abuse is, but what he's pointing out is you are no longer will you once where you are radically different. You live in a world in the world back in James one.
Here is the word cause moss you live in a world, a world that is actually opposed to the Lordship of Jesus, and if you want to think about what he saying here to keep yourself from being polluted by the world what he's really saying is make sure you don't swallow everything that is at all's with the Lordship of Jesus in your life.
Because remember, if you're going to get down and dirty is aware in the culture. If you're going to invest yourself in that way, if you're going to make yourself vulnerable if you're going to open yourself up to so much that is there.
You want to make sure that you controlling your tongue, and while you being practically helpful. You're not neglecting to be personally holy. Some people have used the approach to practical help as a cover for their own personal immorality. Why is it that you're interested in going to the strip joints.
All of a sudden the man was asked all of these poor girls you know they need. They need all the help we can get you, you might just not be the person to go there and help them. You thought of having your wife for your grandmother do that assignment she be very very careful says James a long listing all messed up that out of a genuine desire, compassionate, hard to be helpful to the needs of others.
It doesn't become a smokescreen for our own personal immorality because the world dominated by Satan is opposed in spirit and in attitude to the things of God and there is a clear line of demarcation between the two will come to that in James chapter 4 when he says in verse four you adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God.
No he says I want you to be found without spot and the word is SP loss.
It's the same word that you get SP loss, at least in Ephesians where the bride of Christ is coming down and prepared for her husband and without spot or or wrinkle or blemish or any of those kind of things the same word that is used in second Peter chapter 3 when in relationship to the return of Jesus Christ. Peter urges his followers make sure that if you anticipate the return of Jesus Christ that you would be you will be found SP loss that you will be found without spot and is not surprising, then, that by the time Paul is writing to Timothy as a young man and urging upon him the vital importance of running the race and keeping the faith and finishing the course. He says at the end of first Peter five in verse 22 in just a phrase Timothy, keep your self pure keep your self pure. One of my friends who were known to you because he's hard every day on the radio when I was in his company. Not so long ago and we were talking together and praying together. He said to me and this man is just a few years older than me, but he said to me, Alastair. You know, one of my daily prayers is simply this, Lord, don't let me become a dirty old man. I admired his honesty. I thought about it often since I guess the way to become a dirty old man is to be a dirty young one and a dirty middle-aged and who, when the Bible comes and says one of the tests of the authenticity of your faith is that you keep yourself unspotted from the world sis and I don't think that really applies to me while somebody what test I'm not sure what I got on the test on the nurture what I should do if I prepare for this test I one of my supposed to do what James is actually already told us what to do. The answer to all of this is a steady recourse to the Bible, get rid verse 21, of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. You have it all here right in the book, humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save save us from our selfishness so that we reach out with compassion saves us from our hasty outbursts and are sullen verbosity's controls are tons and saves us from walking through the world and just becoming filthy as it purifies our minds and constrains our feet keeps our hands in our pockets and turns her gaze again and again to our heavenly father we need to be keeping careful watch over our spiritual lives, so we don't start blending in with the culture were trying to reach with the gospel listing to Alistair Begg was the final message in our series faith that works from the book of James. Alastair will be back to close in prayer in just a minute so please keep listening.
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Now here's Alastair with the closing prayer eventually you will know all the courses that I know from Sunday school as I turn them into prayers, but I want to use Sunday school chorus is our prayer, save in the first person. Make it your own. Cleanse me from my sin, Lord, your power within Lord take me as I am Lord and make me all your own and keep me day by day, Lord underneath your sway Lord and make my heart your palace and your royal throne for the sake of your son Jesus. We ask about the pain.
Thanks for listing today. What kind of signal is your congregation sending to a watching world and what kind of signal are ascending to God. Join us tomorrow for a special message titled a call to worship the Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life with Learning is for Living