James 1

James 1:12

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

(a) The crown of life is the eternal life the believer has in union with Jesus the King.

(b) To those who love him. The crown of life is given to those who love the Lord, regardless of what trials we face and how well we face them. Those who insist we must show ourselves approved to earn the crown, perhaps by putting on a brave face and saying positive things as our world crashes around us, forget that we have already been tested and approved in Christ (Rom. 16:10). He whom the Lord approves has nothing to prove.

James 1:16

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

My beloved. All the epistle writers referred to believers as the beloved or dearly-loved children of God (see entry for Rom. 1:7).

James 1:17

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift. Your heavenly Father is a Giver who gives and gives and he never takes back his good gifts (Rom. 11:29). His giving nature testifies to the surpassing riches of his extreme and measureless grace (see entry for Jas. 4:6).

James 1:20

for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

(a) The anger of man. Angry preachers portray an angry God who is angry at you and your sin, but the God Jesus revealed is nothing like that. “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16). It was the love of God that caused him to reach out to a world enslaved to sin, and it is a revelation of his kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

(b) The righteousness of God. Most of us are familiar with the righteousness that comes from right-living and keeping the rules, but Jesus introduced us to another kind of righteousness that comes from God (see entry for Matt. 6:33). Our righteousness will never qualify us for the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20), but anyone can receive the gift of God’s righteousness (see entry for Rom 5:17).

James 1:21

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

(a) To receive the word is to believe the good news about Jesus.

In the New Testament, there are more than 200 imperative statements linked with faith. Some of these statements exhort us to: receive Jesus (John 1:11-12, 5:43), receive the message of Jesus (John 17:8), obey or heed the message or good news of Jesus (John 17:6) and turn to God in repentance (Acts 26:20).

Other scriptures encourage us to accept the word (Mark 4:20), confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9), call on the name of the Lord (Act 2:21), eat the bread of life (John 6:50-51), be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20), submit to God’s righteousness (Rom. 10:3), and be born again (John 3:3, 7).

But the one imperative that appears far more than any other, is the instruction to believe. We are to believe in Jesus (see entry for John 3:16).

(b) The … which is able to save your souls is not the Bible but the word of God or the word of Christ or the word of his grace. It’s the good news of Jesus revealed in the gospel of grace. See entry for Acts 4:31.

James 1:27

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Our God and Father. Jesus came to reveal a God who loves us like a Father and the epistle writers echoed this theme. See entry for John 17:23.

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