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September 1, 2022 4:00 am
With large bank accounts, special privileges, that's nothing new. It's been going on since biblical times. What constitutes true wealth and what should our response to that be were exploring the answer to these questions today with Alistair Begg concrete for life were in the first seven verses of James chapter 2.
You don't have to go too far back in Anglicanism in the British Isle defined the situation where the wealthy in a parish paid an annual rent so as to secure a well placed seat in the church. Vaccines are that pew often came with its own door and with its own key so as to prevent anybody from sitting in Mrs. Jenkins pew. After all, the rich who had secured their riches by whatever means where entitled, so it was thought to that kind of thing. Those who were not wealthy, those for whom finances were insufficient had to content themselves with finding a spot in the open seating and find the seating was identified in the parish churches as free seating is not very nice. That is exactly I would be lazy O what a long way from their far away from England and far away from the time you won't run into anything like that over here in America wholly or not, will you not where you been walking around with your eyes closed, there's anything we own the pew that we said, in every single Sunday. Something you would like to have a door on the end of your view invite the depth of your depravity is coming out in that as I describe the situation or say now that's the kind of thing that we are to adopt your bonsai term. We may not have seen that but I think most of us have seen the appointment of leadership in churches not on account of wisdom, but on account of wealth. You see money still does the talking. Far too loudly in Christian circles, money still talks and talks very loudly in Christian circles, and where it does, and when it dies, the glory of Christ will eventually depart. It will the description. The illustration and then he makes application of it verse five and I wanted long on this.
Listen, he says my dear brothers listen and then he makes application all of his illustration by means of three rhetorical questions, let me point them out to you without belaboring the mental question number one, he says, hasn't God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith as I want you to listen and I want you to think about this is very very important question number one.
Hasn't God chosen those who are poor in the world in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith, and of course the answer to that rhetorical question is so clearly yes we thought this morning about Paul's words in first Corinthians 1, and we might equally well have gone to Mary's song in Luke chapter 1 as sincere as she sings of Jesus the Messiah. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but is lifted up the humble has filled the hungry with good things that I sent the rich away empty and there in the Magnificat we find the answer to the first of these rhetorical questions. Hasn't God chosen those who are poor in the world.
The eyes of the world.
Note we need to think this out because it would appear extremely likely that James here is taking a leaf again from the teaching style of Jesus, his brother. I'm grateful to my Tia again. My favorite Old Testament scholar for for so much of this insight. Let me just make this clear to you, Luke, chapter 14, don't look it up. Large stars were traveling with Jesus and turning to them. He said if anyone comes to me and doesn't hate his father and his mother, his wife and his children, his brothers and his sisters and even his own life he cannot be my disciple.
What if anyone comes to me doesn't hate his dad in his mom. He and his wife hated his kids. He and his brothers and sisters hate himself that he can be my disciple.
What Jesus said is he really teaching there that were supposed to hate our parents know never supposed to hate ourselves no our siblings. No, what is he doing.
He's implying a device in order to make a very strong point is the he's making it clear that devotion to him. Jesus as Lord is of necessity in a class of its own. In fact, devotion to Jesus is to be so striking and so stirring that devotion to anyone else would appear almost like hatred by way of comparison.
So in other words, in some situations where two sides of a truth exist, but one side outweighs the other far outclasses the other. It narrates stating it as if that was the only true in other words, we know from reading our Bibles that what James is saying here is generally true, it is not invariably true. Therefore, he is employing a device I rhetorical device, a teaching device and a device that Jesus himself used as his brother because when he says, isn't it the case that God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith. The answer is yes and no.
It's just generally but not invariably, because he chose Abraham rich Joel rich Zacchaeus, rich Levi rich Sarah just polish the proconsul rich Joseph of Arimathea rich sleazy reason he's pressing and driving home appointment by taking one side of it and stating it in a way that makes it so welcome howling and its impact because as again.
We saw and in first Corinthians chapter 1 Paul is able to see. Not many all of you were ranch. The vast majority of society was poor.
There were some who were rich. There was no middle class and so when a church assembly replicated society. It was inevitable that the preponderance of the assembly would be poor and if you would be rich. Second question is not the rich who are exploiting you and dragging you into court and the answer to that again is this is generally the case, but not invariably, so James is not for a moment suggesting that the only litigation that was taking place that the only animosity that was expressed was an animosity that came from people who were wealthy, but what he is pointing out is and it is true in our culture that it is only people who have access to finance, who will be ill to litigate the that is why the poor and the downtrodden need public defenders.
That is why the need people within our culture who will be on the stand up and represent them even though they do not have the finances themselves to go out and hire their own attorney in order to protect their own interests and so when he asked the question again, it is generally so.
And of course this is in theoretical it's intensely practical and we won't be tedious and go through the acts of the apostles, but we recognize that that is exactly what we find in acts where wealth is on the side of power, power and wealth combine to grunting the poor into the dais and the temptation is always for those in the position of power, wealth and influence to treat in a disparaging way. Those who do not have the wherewithal to defend themselves and so many of these Christian people were on the receiving end of that thing they see. Of course what he's doing.
He's going to make the point in conclusion, if you know this to be true.
How in the way the world can you treat poor people like this when they come into your church. If you know that's the case, if you know what God has done in relationship to the poor and if you know what the rich have done in relationship to abuse and to litigation and third rhetorical question final rhetorical question. Aren't they the ones who slander the noble name of him to whom you belong. Aren't they the blasphemers the taking of a name you see this in the Old Testament, for example, in the in the account of Jacob.
I think it is denied, not just my own stuff to look this up for myself.
You can wait yeah then he blessed Joseph and said this is Jacob made a God before them. My father's Abraham and Isaac walked the guard was be my shepherd all my life. To this day the angel was delivered me from all harm.
May he bless these boys now listen made a be called by my name and the names of my father's Abraham and Isaac, and maybe increase greatly upon the air you see to be broad under the auspices or the influence of a name was to describe a relationship which was both permanent and personal and intimate and James is saying to these believers to whom he writes God has brought you under the auspices if you like of his name. Remember in Chronicles.
If my people who are called by my name, they were first called Christians in Antioch and he says think about it isn't the truth that God has largely taken those who are poor in the eyes of world and made them rich in faith. And this is the root of the year. The real riches and these rich people and wealthy people, not the ones who are involved in abuse and litigation and are they not the ones who feel free to blaspheme the noble name under which you March the banner under which you move. Bottom line, he says in verse six, you have insulted the poor. You have insulted the poor and how have they done so by treating them in a disparaging manner, causing harm to them to those upon whom God has set his love those to whom you will notice he has promised his kingdom verse five and for the readers of this letter to even approximate to what James describes in the illustration is to find themselves on the wrong side of the equation now enough. We must stop the challenge in this and were not anywhere close to the center of the chapter yet, but the challenge in this section is unavoidable. Listen, and the correction to our misplaced affection to our misguided thinking to our insulting behavior is to number one consider how Jesus came from a position of unassailable wealth and glory and moved graciously, kindly quickly and consistently reaching out to the poorest and the loyalist to consider also the basis upon which God chose to save those to whom James writes he didn't set his love upon you. He writes in Deuteronomy 7 because you were the most significant group because you were the largest group. He said his love upon you because he loved you and fight. He came and redeemed you from Egypt when you were frankly just a bunch of slaves became and redeemed the slaves out of Egypt did income and redeem the intelligentsia.
He didn't come and redeem the ruling class he came and redeem those with broken backs and bloodied brows and hands that were worn by the responsibilities given to them by their captors. So the correction is to be found in considering the coming of Jesus and his approach to the poor, the approach of God in his choice in verse five, and in consideration of true wealth and what it means to be his heirs, he has chosen us to inherit the kingdom kingdom that is promised to those who love him if were kids of the kingdom were supposed to act like the king and the king took off his crown and didn't show any airs and graces and didn't hang around this with a certain group who fit his framework very talent phase with a quote from an old hymn that was in my mind when I wrap this up for two reasons and and this song goes like this.
Some of your old like me will remember it.
We don't sing the songs anymore and I'm not sure whether that is good about at the moment.
Please don't write to me about that.
If you think it's good I think is good as well.
Everything is bad I mean is bright as well. They II did I just don't have time for those kind of debates in my own mind, down from his glory ever living story my God and Savior came and Jesus was his name, born in a manger to his own. A stranger, a man of sorrows, tears and agony. The refrain goes.
Oh how I love them.
How I adore him so long and one of the following stanzas I contains the phrase what condescension, what condescension that Christ would condescension to come down here and when I think of that could damage me every point when I'm tempted to write my high horse. Maybe you feel that way to father, thank you that the word of God is alive and so relevant to us as we try and work out our own salvation with fear and trim help was not to get this wrong. Help is not to make misguided applications based on our own preferences. Help was not to create little escape hatches for ourselves that we can slide down and away.
Help us to stand face on to the full impact of your truth both as individuals and as families and certainly as a church family.
Lord forgive us for everyone whom we have wittingly or unwittingly offered a bad seat or no seat metaphorically if not literally, those who have been turned away by the absence of our condescension by the absence of humility by the presence of values which or more to our contemporary society than the old to the convicting truth of the Bible and help us as we go forward so that we can get it right so that we might do better so that we might increasingly become the kind of place where all who enter will be welcomed in the way that Jesus welcomed those among whom he moved irrespective of social status resources, intellect, help us, Lord, we pray for Jesus sake. Amen.
Listing to Alastair big Truth for Life back shortly with a little surprise that we have a new book.
We want to recommend to you today. This is a fun book.
You may be familiar with the classic book, the Pilgrim's progress.
It tells the fictional story of a character name Christian who navigates a host of challenges on his way to the celestial city when you may or may not know that the author of that book John Bunyan wrote a sequel to his story. It's called the Pilgrim's progress part two in the SQL a character named Chris GM a embarks on her own journey in her story has recently been adapted for children in a book called little Pilgrim's big journey part two.
This book follows the same storyline is Bunyan's sequel, but uses simplified language that's perfect for young kids. This is a great book to share with school-age children or grandchildren will meet the same colorful characters that Bunyan created in the adult version and the book is illustrated with beautiful engaging, colorful pictures, your kids will love it.
It comes as a hardback and even includes a companion coloring book requester copy of little Pilgrim's big journey part two when you give a email@example.com/donate that we have been greatly encouraged to Truth for Life by the enthusiastic response to Alistair's daily devotional released at the end of last year. It's called truth for 365 daily devotions. The book offers a passage of Scripture. Each day followed by a commentary from Alastair that expounds on the passage we thought you might enjoy hearing the sample from that book written by the author truth. You can trust. Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth.
John 1717, post enlightenment rationalist materialist culture scooped up all sorts of enticing solutions to mankind's greatest questions and dilemmas. We are told that science has already delivered a death blow to religion in any talk of God of the Bible is dismissed as a superstition of a bike on a Christian faith is regarded as a leap into the dark leap into intellectual oblivion. One of the great challenges to faith in Christ, then, is whether we will take God at his word and be satisfied with what he says in our cultural milieu. It's good for us to periodically ask ourselves do I believe the Bible I'm I actually prepared to trust what it says we can have confidence in the testimony of Scripture for all kinds of reasons we can consider the undeniable integrity of its manuscripts, its historical reliability down to the details of its claims, or even the way it is engendered faith across cultures.
For nearly 2000 years but there's actually a reason that's even more fundamental than the use or other defenses we could muster. The most essential reason we submit ourselves to the authority of Scripture is because it is a necessary consequence of our submission to the Lordship of Christ our Lord Jesus Christ believe the Bible, therefore so do we acknowledge the authority of God's word. Therefore, so do we. In his high priestly prayer of the night before he died.
Jesus prayed to his father, sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth. Notice there are no qualifications here. According to Jesus, God's word simply is truth.
So then the pressing question becomes do I believe Jesus and if I believe Jesus that I believe the words Jesus spoke therefore I accept what he taught about the Scriptures.
Therefore, I embrace the Bible just as he did. If you have tasted and seen the goodness of Jesus Christ, then refresh your resolve to cherish God's word daily and are confused and conflicted world. Nothing will steady your life like the truth of the Scriptures Douglas someone try to convince you that embracing the Bible is equivalent to taking a blind leap into the dark. The truth is that when you read the Scriptures and faith that it is God's word and that every word is therefore true will find it to be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. That's great thank you Alastair.
The book is available on our website for just nine dollars.
You can also subscribe and receive these devotions each day in your email inbox.
Purchase a copy signed up for the daily firstname.lastname@example.org/365 Bob Lapine hope you can join us tomorrow will be unpacking God's core principle that overrules our inclination to show favoritism Bible teaching of Alastair big is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living