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Shepherding The Flock - Every Good Gift And Every Perfect Gift – James 1:16-18


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#1 Pastor Scott Markle

Pastor Scott Markle

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 12:46 PM

Weekly Sermon

James 1:16-18 reads, “Do not err, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

James 1:16-18 brings the third paragraph of the epistle to its conclusion.  As we have not-ed, the subject matter of this paragraph is arranged in order to move our focus and understanding from the outside toward the center.  Even so, verse 12 & verses 17-18 give counsel concerning our right motivation for endurance in godliness.  Then verse 13 & verses 16-17 give counsel concerning our right attitude toward the Lord our God.  Finally, verses 14-15 give counsel concerning our right understanding of temptation to sin. 

James 1:16 serves as a turning point in this paragraph with the loving, pastoral admonition, “Do not err, my beloved brethren.”  This admonition renews that of verse 13 and returns the focus of the paragraph to the counsel concerning our right attitude toward the Lord our God.  Yet with this admonition the focus of this counsel turns from the negative truth that the Lord our God never tempts anyone with sin and turns to the positive truth that the Lord our God provides every good and perfect gift.  On the one hand -- “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (verse 13).  On the other hand -- “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (verse 17).  On the one hand, we must never attribute to the Lord our God or accuse Him of any sinful temptation.  On the other hand, we must acknowledge and appropriate the truth that He is eternally good and that He is the Source of all good.

This truth concerning our Lord God’s eternal goodness is revealed in the declaration of verse 17 and illustrated in the declaration of verse 18.  Grammatically, verses 17-18 provide two separate declarations of truth, wherein verse 17 may be divided into three parts and verse 18 may be divided into two parts.  First in verse 17, there is a revelation of our Lord God’s care through the opening declaration -- “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.”  Second in verse 17, there is a revelation of our Lord God’s character through the second verb phrase -- “And cometh down from the Father of lights.”  Third in verse 17, there is a revelation of our Lord God’s constancy through the adjective clause -- “With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  Then in verse 18, there is the illustration of our Lord God’s good provision through the main clause -- “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.”  Second in verse 18, there is the illustration of our Lord God’s good purpose through the adverb clause -- “That we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Our Lord God’s Perfectly Good Care

James 1:17 opens with a declaration of our Lord God’s perfectly good care, saying, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.”  In direct contrast to the false idea that the Lord our God sends forth sinful temptation and thereby spiritual corruption into our lives, the truth is revealed and declared that “every good gift and every perfect gift” comes down from Him.  Thus our attention is focused upon our Lord God’s perfect goodness to-ward us.  Indeed, all His works are done in perfect goodness; and all true goodness finds its source in Him as gifts given out of His abundant grace.  “The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (Psalm 33:5).  “For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9).  “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:9).  Yea, everything in our lives that can be Biblically defined as a good and perfect gift has come down to us from the good and gracious hand of the Lord our God.  Furthermore, these good and perfect gifts from our Lord God’s good and gracious “cometh down” to us in a continual manner.  “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).  Surely, our Lord God’s goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives (Psalm 23:6).  Even so, let us join with David from Psalm 103:1-5, saying, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

In James 1:17 the phrase “every good gift and every perfect gift” encompasses both the manner of the giving and the gift that is given.  Herein the two uses of the word “gift” are each translated from a different Greek word.  The first word “gift” is translated from a Greek word that refers to the act of giving.  The second word “gift” is translated from a Greek word that refers to the gift itself.  Thus in the goodness of the Lord our God, it is not simply the product of every one of His gifts that is perfect, but also the process by which He gives His gifts that is good.  This is the nature of our Lord God’s care that comes down from Him to us.  In the motives and means of the giving as well as the measure and material of the gift, our Lord God’s care is perfectly good toward us.  Furthermore, the two-fold description of our Lord God’s giving and gifts emphasizes that His care is perfectly good toward us.  The descriptive word “good” refers to that which is beneficial and profitable, without any characteristic of destruction.  The descriptive word “perfect” refers to that which is complete and perfect, without any lack in provision.   Indeed, the giving and gifts of our Lord God’s perfectly good care toward us is without any characteristic of destruction and without any lack in provision. 

Yet although the declaration of this verse encompasses every manner of giving and gift in our Lord God’s perfectly good care toward us, the context of this verse directs our attention especially upon our Lord’s God’s perfectly good care in the spiritual realm.  The context of this declaration concerns the matter of sinful temptation and spiritual corruption.  The absolute truth is that the Lord our God is never at any time in any way, directly or distantly, the source of sinful temptation and spiritual corruption.  Rather, the absolute truth is that the Lord our God always and continually sends forth influences in the spiritual realm that will be good and perfect for our spiritual health and growth.  Thus every influence that truly leads toward our Lord God’s fellowship and righteousness is from His perfectly good care toward us.  Yet any influence that leads us toward unrighteousness and spiritual corruption is contrary to His perfectly good care toward us.  Even so, the truth of our Lord God’s perfectly good care toward us is a great barrier against sinful temptation and a great encouragement to righteous endurance.  The Lord our God pours out the gifts of His perfect goodness unto our spiritual growth, whereas sinful temptation draws us away and entices us with deceptive pleasures unto our spiritual destruction.  When we apprehend the perfectly good care of the Lord our God toward us, we will not be spiritually drawn away from Him unto the deceptive pleasures of sinful temptation.  However, when we begin to doubt the perfectly good care of the Lord our God toward us, we will be selfishly attracted to the deceptive pleasures of sinful temptation.  “Do not err, my beloved brethren.”  Let us never doubt our Lord God’s perfectly good care toward us.  Rather, let us wait on the Lord and believe “to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13-14).  “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.  O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.  The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing” (Psalm 34:8-10).

Our Lord God’s Purely Righteous Character

James 1:17 continues with a declaration of our Lord God’s purely righteous character, saying, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”  Our Lord God’s perfectly good care is rooted in His purely righteous character.  He pours out the goodness of “every good gift and every perfect gift” because He Himself is good.  The purely righteous character of the Lord our God is revealed through the title, “the Father of lights.”  In this title the plural word “lights” refers to the “lights in the firmament of the heaven,” the sun, the moon, and the stars (Genesis 1:14-19).  Thus the title, “the Father of lights,” refers to the Lord our God as the Source, as the Creator and Sustainer, of these heavenly lights.  Having directed our attention above by indicating that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,” James refers to the Lord our God as the Father, as the Creator and Sustainer, of those lights that we observe above.  Yet the technical meaning of this title is intended to focus our understanding, not upon the creative work of the Lord our God, but upon the righteous character of the Lord our God.  As “the Father of lights,” He is not only the Source of physical light, but also of all spiritual light.  Just as that old serpent the devil is the father of all lies, unrighteousness, and spiritual darkness, even so the Lord our God is the Father of all truth, righteousness, and true holiness.  Furthermore, the Lord our God is the Father of all such because He Himself is purely righteous in character.  “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).  “There is no unrighteousness in him” (Psalm 92:15).  Not only is He the Source of light, but also His very character is light.  Even so, because He is purely righteous in character, the Lord our God is never in any way the source of sinful temptation.  Rather, because He is purely righteous in character, He is always the Source of every good and perfect gift, especially for our spiritual health and growth.

Our Lord God’s Permanently Unchanging Constancy

James 1:17 concludes with a declaration of our Lord God’s permanently unchanging constancy in these things, saying, “With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  Indeed, the Lord our God is the Father, the Creator and Sustainer, of the “lights in the firmament of the heaven.”  Yet He is infinitely greater than these lights in His character of perfect light.  From day to day and from season to season, they have variableness in their shining and create shadow in their turning.  Yet the light of our Lord God’s purely righteous character shines with perfect brightness in every day and in every season.  The light of His purely righteous character contains no variableness.  In His purely righteous character, He changes not and turns not in the smallest degree (Malachi 3:6).  Therefore, He does not cast even the smallest shadow of darkness.  In Him there is no spiritual darkness in any form, at all, ever (1 John 1:5).  His purely righteous character is “the same yesterday, to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).  There is no variableness in His righteous purposes, neither any shadow of turning in His righteous practices.  Our Lord God’s purely righteous character is permanently unchanging in constancy, and His perfectly good care toward us is rooted in His purely righteous character.  Thus we can and should always trust in and depend upon His goodness in our lives.  Yea, we can and should trust in and depend upon His goodness toward us even when are suffering under a great trial of affliction.  The Lord our God is good and righteous in His character.  He is always good and righteous in all things.  Thus all His relationship toward us is always good and righteous for us.

Our Lord God’s Personally Loving Choice

As an evidence for our Lord God’s perfectly good care, James 1:18 presents a declaration concerning the greatest of His good and perfect gifts toward us.  Thus the declaration is given, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”  Herein is presented our Lord God’s good and perfect gift of new spiritual birth through faith alone in our Lord Jesus Christ as eternal Savior from sin.  Herein is presented our Lord God’s personally loving choice to save us sinners from the condemnation and corruption of our sins.  “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1).  Of His own freely loving, merciful, and righteous will, He chose to beget us spiritually through faith in Christ that we might be His own dear children.  As sinners by both sinful nature and rebellious choice, we were spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).  Whereas our own selfish lust brings forth sinful corruption, our Lord God’s freely loving and righteous will has sent forth spiritual new birth (James 1:15).  Whereas our sinful disobedience and rebellion begets death in us and to us, the Lord our God, out of His personally loving choice, begat us believers unto newness of spiritual life.  Oh, how great evidence is this of His purely righteous character and perfectly good care!  Certainly then, the Lord our God and heavenly Father is never the source of sinful corruption and spiritual death in us.  Such finds its source in sinful temptation through our own selfish lust (James 1:14).  Rather, the Lord our God is the Source of spiritual life and righteous character in us.  Not only does the Lord our God never tempt us with sin, but He Himself, out of His personally loving choice, has granted unto us believers the means to combat our selfish lusts through newness of spiritual life.
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