Gospel Provisions for Suffering (James 1) Chris Peterson
In the book of James the main theme is the character of saving faith. But faith is not seen in a vacuum. It is seen in the midst of trials and suffering.
It is in the fires of trial that the true character of saving faith comes to life. Faith is realized through trials.
5 divine provisions for suffering
Each provision is underlined with the word “let” (verses 4, 6, 9, 13, 19).
1. Persevering Faith (verses 2-4)
This persevering faith possesses trials and these trials belong specifically to saving faith. In other words, these trials the world knows nothing about. The trials are tested by God and they belong to believers in Christ. Trials test the believer’s dependence. Trials show us where our reliance is.
Genuine faith employs spiritual knowledge in the trial. Faith receives the spiritual data called it “all” (verse 2). It adds spiritual knowledge and receives the sum total= joy in God’s sovereign purpose. Therefore joy is the attitude of resting in God’s sovereignty.
Genuine faith employs experimental knowledge (verse 3). We can know a lot about the glory of God or the gospel, but until we're thrown in the midst of the trial to apply our knowledge, we really don't understand it.
As your faith grows, you need various trials to meet that growing faith.
“It doesn't matter how great the pressure is, it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord, then the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to his heart.” Hudson Taylor
2. Pure Wisdom (verses 5-8)
We need wisdom to respond appropriately to trials. But this wisdom is supplied by God. If you lack wisdom...and you do... then ask! If we do not ask for wisdom, we will fall into the traps of doubt and double-mindedness (verses 6-8).
Wisdom can be summed up in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Prayer is the gift of God through the work of Jesus Christ. We can come boldly for wisdom because Christ has procured access for us. Jesus fulfilled the royal law by loving God and neighbor perfectly. Then he went to the cross and took the punishment that was required, so that through faith his righteousness is credited to our account and our guilt is credited to his account. And we have full access to the throne of grace,through Jesus Christ, because he has purchased access!
3. Paradoxical Boasting (verses 9-11)
“Let the lowly brother boast (glory) in his exaltation.” What is he boasting in? The gospel (James 2:5). The person in a humble circumstance is treasuring the richness that he has in the promises of the gospel. He is making an exchange or calculation by realizing that his humble condition is not his eternal condition, which is settled in Christ.
The rich also boast. However, they don't boast in their riches, but rather in their humiliation.
They understand that their riches can never get them to heaven, rather it's a gift from God that they are broken over the cross by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus.
4. Perfect Gifts (verses 13-18)
It's the goodness of God that is the promise to do battle with the temptation of sin. The promise of our flesh looks attractive to us, but it comes up empty. The goodness of God, however, is faithful.
5. Planted Word (verses 19-25)
Chris argues that the “royal law” (chapter 2:8) is the great commandment to love God and others. The royal law is contrasted with the law of liberty in verse 12. We have broke the royal law, so we look to the law of liberty for mercy (chapter 2:13) which is the promise of the gospel-faith in Christ Jesus.
James says look at the law of liberty in the midst of trials. How do we get the law of liberty? We believe the gospel and it is credited to us as righteousness (chapter 2:23). Christ provided righteousness for us.
Some characteristics of the word in verses 19-25:
The word has a saving character (1:21).
The word has a liberating character (1:25). The word frees us from sin's deception. We are to be on guard against the wickedness and filthiness of sin.
When we need our eyes clean to see the trial, we need to run to the promise of the gospel.