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Pastor Scott Markle

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Shepherding The Flock - Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Lord Of Glory – James 2:1 (Part 1)

11 December 2014 - 02:13 PM

Weekly Sermon

James 2:1 reads, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”

Herein the Biblical prohibition is delivered that we must not attempt to combine a daily Christian walk of faith with the practice of showing respect to persons.  Involved in this presentation is the truth that our daily walk of faith is centered upon “our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.”  By referring to the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord Jesus Christ, James was publicly confessing his inclusion among those who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.  In addition, by declaring that the Lord Jesus Christ is “the Lord of glory,” James was also confessing his belief in the true identity and full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Just as David referred to Jehovah of hosts as “the King of glory” in Psalm 24:7-10, and just as David referred to Jehovah God as “the God of glory” in Psalm 29:3, and just as the apostle Paul referred to God the Father as “the Father of glory” in Ephesians 1:17, and just as Stephen referred to the One who met who Moses through the burning bush as “the God of glory” in Acts 7:2, even so James here refers to the Lord Jesus Christ as “the Lord of glory.”  Before Jesus sacrificial death on the cross and bodily resurrection out of the dead, James, as well as Jesus other biological brethren through Mary, had not accepted Jesus’ claims as the only-begotten Son of God and as the eternal Savior of the world.  Yet it is apparent that after his encounter with the risen Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:7, James discarded his unbelief and wholeheartedly placed his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and sovereign Lord.  Indeed, he set his wholeheartedly devotion upon the Lord Jesus Christ as “the Lord of Glory,” as the One in whom dwells all the majestic fullness “of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)  Even so, there are six facets of truth in this title, “the Lord of glory,” for us to consider.  In this first part of the message, let us consider the first three of these truths.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is by divine nature majestically glorious.

Speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, John 1:14 declares, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God the Father.  He is God the Son, the Second Person of the eternal Godhead.  As such, He possesses all of the divine glory and majesty in His Person by nature.  From eternity past He is the majestically glorious Son of God.  Even so, in John 17:5 He prayed unto God the Father, saying, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”  Furthermore, He is the almighty Creator of all.  “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)  “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16-17)  Even so, all of the creation, from the heavens above, to the earth beneath, to all that is contained in them, reveals the majesty of His divine glory.  Thus in 1 Corinthians 2:8 God’s Word declares that if “the princes of this world” had known the wisdom of God in the gospel, they would not have crucified the One who is the very “Lord of glory,” who is by His eternally divine nature the very Son of God.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the revelation of God the Father’s glory.

Speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, John 1:18 declares, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”  At that time when the Lord God had led the children of Israel unto Mount Sinai, Moses made request unto the Lord God, saying, “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.” (Exodus 33:18)  Unto this request the Lord God gave answer in Exodus 33:20-23 – “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.  And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: and I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”  No living person can look upon the full glory and majestic radiance of God the Father’s face and remain alive.  Yet our Lord Jesus Christ is God the Son born and manifested in human flesh. (Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 3:16)  Even so, as God the Son manifested in human flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ perfectly reveals the fullness of God the Father’s divine glory.  Even as the opening portion of Hebrews 1:3 teaches, God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, is the very brightness of God the Father’s glory and is the express (or, exact) image of God the Father’s person.  Just as the cloud of majestic radiance that rested upon the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and that filled Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3) revealed the divine glory of God the Father in the time of the Old Testament, even so our Lord Jesus Christ is the fully reveals the divine glory of God the Father for this time of the New Testament.  Indeed, the fullness and glory of God the Father is actually embodied in our Lord Jesus Christ.  “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)  Thus in 2 Corinthians 4:6 gives the report, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  Yea, the divine glory of God the Father is fully revealed “in the face” (that is – in the Person) of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is exalted by the Father unto heavenly glory.

Speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, Hebrews 1:3 declares, “Who being the brightness of his [of God the Father’s] glory, and the express image of his [God the Father’s] person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”  Even so, speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, Philippians 2:6-11 proclaims, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Indeed, we should confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is “the Lord of glory;” for at this present time He sits upon the throne of heaven in glorious majesty at the right hand of God the Father.  Again speaking concerning the working of God the Father’s mighty power, Ephesians 1:20-22 proclaims, “Which [mighty power] he [God the Father] wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.”  Indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ sits as “the Lord of glory” on the throne in heaven at the right hand of God the Father; for God the Father has highly exalted Him far above all others, and has given Him a name above all other names, and has given Him all authority over all of the creation.  Yet again speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:22 states, “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”  And yet against 1 Timothy 3:16 gives the report, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God [that is – God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ] was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”  Who is the Lord and King of glory?  Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, He is “the Lord of glory.”
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Concerning Daniel 9:24-27

09 December 2014 - 10:06 AM

(Note:  This posting is somewhat lengthy; however, those who generally follow my posts will not find this to be much of a surprise.)

 

Concerning Daniel 9:24-27 –

 

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

 

As the context of Daniel 9 reveals, this prophetic utterance was delivered unto Daniel, who had been confessing the sins of his people Israel and praying for the Lord’s mercy upon his people Israel.  Indeed, when the angel Gabriel delivered this prophetic utterance unto Daniel, he specifically indicated that the focus of its revelation concerned Daniel’s people Israel and Daniel’s holy city, Jerusalem, as per the opening line of verse 24 – “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy [that is – Daniel’s] people and upon thy [that is – Daniel’s] holy city [Jerusalem].”  Furthermore, the angel revealed that these “seventy weeks” were determined by the Lord God upon Daniel’s people, the Israelites, and upon Daniel’s holy city, Jerusalem, for a six-fold purpose as signaled by the six infinitive phrases that complete verse 24. 

 

This six-fold purpose of the Lord our God concerning Daniel’s people, the Israelites, and Daniel’s holy city, Jerusalem, are as follows:

 

1.  “To finish the transgression” – Herein the word “transgression” is singular, indicating that it refers unto the entire rebellion of the Israelites against the Lord their God as a single unit of sinful fault.  Indeed, the Hebrew word that is translated by the English word “transgression” indicates a breaking away (or, departure) from a relationship or covenant with another.  Thus these “seventy weeks” are determined by the Lord God in order to bring about a completion to the sinful departure of the Israelites away from Him.  As such, we could expect that after these “seventy weeks” are concluded, the Israelites will never again depart from the Lord.

 

2.  “To make an end of sins” – Herein the word “sins” is plural, indicating that it refers unto the individual activities of sin that the Israelites might commit against the Lord their God.  Thus these “seventy weeks” are determined by the Lord God in order to bring about a completion to the sinful activities of the Israelites against Him.  As such, we could expect that after these “seventy weeks “ are concluded, the Israelites will never again commit sins against the Lord.

 

3.  “To make reconciliation for iniquity” – Herein the word “reconciliation” indicates the ideas of atonement and forgiveness and of reconciliation thereby.  Thus these “seventy weeks” are determined by the Lord God in order to bring about His forgiveness upon the Israelites for their sinful departure from Him and for their sinful activities against Him, and to bring about thereby the reconciliation of the Israelites unto Himself and unto His blessed fellowship.

 

4.  “To bring in everlasting righteousness” – Herein the phrase “everlasting righteousness” reveals the spiritual condition into which the Lord God intends to bring the Israelites through His work of reconciliation.  He intends to bring them into a spiritual condition of “everlasting righteousness,” not into a condition of righteousness from which they might again fall, but into a condition of righteousness from which they will never fall again.  Indeed, this is the spiritual condition into which the Lord God will bring the Israelites at the completion of these “seventy weeks.”

 

5.  “To seal up the vision and prophecy” – This phrase appears to indicate that all of the Lord’s prophetic utterances concerning the Israelites (especially concerning His judgments upon the Israelites) will be brought to their conclusion through the completion of these “seventy weeks.”

 

6.  “To anoint the most Holy” – Herein the phrase “the most Holy” refers to the Most Holy One, the promised Messiah of Israel.  According to the New Testament Scriptures, we learn that this Most Holy One, that the Messiah, is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  Thus these “seventy weeks” are determined by the Lord God in order to bring about the literal anointing of the Lord Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords over all the earth.  As such, we could expect that the literal return of our Lord Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords (See Revelation 19) will occur at the completion of these “seventy weeks.”

 

Now, in this context the phrase “seventy weeks” may be literally understood as “seventy sevens,” wherein the English word “weeks” is employed for the idea of “sevens.”  The reason that the English word “weeks” is so employed is because a week is the most natural grouping of seven when we encounter the element of time sequences.  However, the Hebrew idea of “sevens” is not limited only to a group of seven days, but can refer to any grouping of sevens within the sequence of time.  With this understanding in mind, we move to verse 25, wherein greater detail is revealed concerning the first sixty-nine of these “seventy weeks” (or, seventy sevens).

 

The opening portion of verse 25 reveals that the first sixty-nine of these “seventy weeks” will encompass the time period “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince.”  Thus these first sixty-nine sevens will begin with “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” after their seventy years of captivity by the hand of the Babylonians (See Ezra & Nehemiah).  Thus also these first sixty-nine sevens will conclude with the coming of “the Messiah the Prince.”  Now, the distance of time between these events are known by historical record to be greater than a period of sixty-nine literal weeks.  Rather, we understand by the historical record that the distance of time between these events encompassed a multitude of years (indeed, 483 years).  Therefore, we are brought to understand that the “seventy sevens” of this context are a reference unto seventy groupings of seven years each.

 

Now, the report of verse 25 is not presented with a simple designation of threescore (sixty) and nine “weeks” (sevens), but with the dividing of two parts, the first being “seven weeks” (seven sevens) and the second being “threescore and two weeks” (sixty-two sevens).  This seems to indicate that something of significance will also occur at the completion of the first “seven weeks” (or, forty-nine years) of these sixty-nine weeks (sevens).  Even so, the closing line of verse 25 appears to reveal what this “thing” of significance is – “The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”

 

Since verse 25 has recorded the beginning and the ending for the first sixty-nine “weeks” of the “seventy weeks,” we would now logically expect verse 26 to report the events of the seventieth and final “week” of these “seventy weeks.”  Indeed, human logic would move us to expect that the seventieth and final “week” of these “seventy weeks” would follow immediately after the first sixty-nine “weeks” are completed (since the number seventy does follow immediately after the number sixty-nine).  However, this seventieth and final “week” of these “seventy weeks” is not actually and specifically mentioned until verse 27.  Rather, verse 26 gives a report concerning events that occur “after” the “threescore and two weeks” (after the first sixty-nine “weeks”) without making any specific reference to the seventieth and final week.

 

What then are these events that occur after the first sixty-nine “weeks” (483 years), without any specific indication that they fall in the seventieth and final “week” (7 years)?  Verse 26 appears to give report concerning three things, saying, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”  Herein the preposition “after” does not indicate that these things occur at the end of the first sixty-nine “weeks” (483 years), but indicates that these things occur after the first sixty-nine “weeks” (483 years) are already concluded.  Furthermore, it is worthy of notice that verse 25 did not specifically state that the first sixty-nine “weeks” would conclude with the cutting off of the Messiah the Prince.  Rather, verse 25 simply indicated that the first sixty-nine “weeks” would extend “unto the Messiah the Prince” (and thereby conclude), without specifying the activity of the Messiah the Prince to which it was referring.  (Personally, I believe that verse 25 is referring to the beginning of our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry as initiated by His baptism.)

 

So then, what are the three things which verse 26 indicates occur after the conclusion of the first sixty-nine “weeks” (483 years)? 

 

1.  The Messiah will be cut off in death, not for His own sake, but for the sake of others.  According to the New Testament Scriptures, this would be a prophetically reference unto the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross. 

 

2.  “The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city [that is – Daniel’s holy city, Jersusalem, as per the contextual statement with which verse 24 began] and the sanctuary [that is – the temple in Jerusalem].”  Now, in this statement there are two elements of information that are worthy of notice in relation to the context.  The first of these elements of information is that there is “a prince that shall come” unto the Israelites and unto the city of Jerusalem who is not referenced as their Messiah.  The second of these elements of information is that this “prince that shall come” is not the one himself who comes against Jerusalem in the event of verse 26 to destroy the city and the sanctuary (temple) therein.  Rather, it is the people of which he will be a part that come against Jerusalem in the event of verse 26 to destroy the city and the sanctuary (temple) therein.

 

3.  “The end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”  This statement appears to indicate that the destroying of the city Jerusalem and of the temple in Jerusalem will end with utter desolation upon the Israelites, and that the Israelites and the city of Jerusalem will continue to suffer ongoing desolations thereafter.

 

Finally, with verse 27 we come to the concluding verse of this prophetic utterance and to the specific reference unto the seventieth and final “week” (7 years) of these “seventy weeks.”  The opening line of this verse indicates that some “he” will “confirm” some “covenant with many” (apparently among the Israelites, since that is the focus of this prophetic utterance as per the opening statement of verse 24).  In fact, this “he” will “confirm” this “covenant” with these Israelites for a period of “one week” (that is – a period of one seven, or of seven years).  Then this verse indicates that in the middle of this seven year period (after 3.5 years), this “he” will “cause the sacrifice and oblation” of the Israelites “to cease” (apparently ending his seven year “covenant” with the Israelites).  Finally, this verse indicates that this “he” will bring a form of desolation upon the Israelites and the city of Jerusalem, and that this “he” will do so for the purpose of “the overspreading of abominations” upon the Israelites and the city of Jerusalem.  Indeed, this verse indicates that this desolation will continue upon the Israelites and the city of Jerusalem “until the consummation” (until the completion) of the seventieth “week,” and thereby of the “seventy weeks.”

 

So then, who is this “he” of verse 27?  Grammatically, the closest antecedent to this pronoun in the context is “the prince that shall come” who was mentioned in verse 26.  Furthermore, in the context there is no other reference to “the prince that shall come” of verse 26 in order to explain who he is and why he matters and was mentioned at all in verse 26.  As such, I would contend according to these principles of grammar and context that the “he” of verse 27 is “the prince that shall come” of verse 26.  Now, it is again worthy of note that this “prince” is not referenced in verse 26 as being the Messiah, but that he is in some way related to the people who would destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary (temple) therein in the destroying event that is prophesied in verse 26.

 

In conclusion, let us consider the grammatical and contextual gap that is presented in this passage between the conclusion of the sixty-nine “weeks” and the beginning of the seventieth “week.”  Verse 25 clearly speaks concerning the beginning and conclusion of the first sixty-nine “weeks,” and verse 27 clearly speaks concerning the beginning of the seventieth “week.”  However, the events of verse 26 are presented between these other two records.  Indeed, as we have already noted, verse 26 does specifically indicate that the events which it records occur after the sixty-nine “weeks.”  Yet verse 26 makes no specific reference whatsoever to the seventieth “week.”  Furthermore, verse 27 specifically makes reference to the beginning of the seventieth week, and then reports concerning events that will proceed from that point.  Yet verse 27 does not specifically indicate that the events which are recorded in verse 26 are included in that seventieth “week.”  As such, we may understand from the flow of the grammar and the context that there is some form of gap in time between the first sixty-nine “weeks” (483 years) as recorded in verse 25 and the seventieth and final “week” (7 years) as recorded in verse 27, and that the events of verse 26 will fall within that gap in time.

Shepherding The Flock - Audio Sermon - Wisdom Crieth Without (Part 4 Of 4)

08 December 2014 - 01:16 PM

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What Are The Sins Of Our Thought Life?

02 December 2014 - 07:35 PM

This thread was motivated by Brother Donald's recent thread, "How God Deals With Our Sin."

 

I would present the following question -- What are the sins of our thought life?  By this, I am asking for us to consider what God's own Word indicates are sins in our thoughts and imaginations and in our attitudes and emotions.  In providing an answer, please also provide Biblical support for your answer.

 

Do I myself already have some points for contribution?  Certainly, but I wish to wait for some others first.

Shepherding The Flock - Have Not The Faith With Respect Of Persons – James 2:1-13

26 November 2014 - 02:58 PM

Weekly Sermon

James 2:1-4 reads, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

With James 2:1-13 we come to the sixth paragraph of this epistle.  This paragraph is the first of two lengthy paragraphs in James 2, encompassing the entire first half of the chapter.  In providing pastoral counsel for a spiritually mature walk in the believer’s life, this paragraph directly confronts those who are showing sinful partiality against the poor and needy in favor of the rich and prestigious.  This contextual setting for the paragraph is immediately introduced in verse 1, wherein the caution is given, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”  Again in verse 4 the confrontation is presented, “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”  Yet again in the opening line of verse 6, the further confrontation is proclaimed, “But ye have despised the poor.”  Finally, in verse 9 the condemnation is delivered, “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”  Thus with these four declarations, this paragraph is unified concerning the sinful practice of showing partiality against the poor and needy.

James 1:26-27 had revealed three essential elements to that which the Lord our God would define and accept as a pure religious life.  These three essential elements were the Spirit-filled communication of a bridled tongue, a selfless compassion for the poor and needy, and a separated character from this world’s corruption.  Now James 2:1-13 specifically confronts those who were not demonstrating a selfless, loving compassion for the poor and needy by showing partiality against them. 

Already James 1 has provided warnings against various characteristics of unrighteousness.  James 1:6-7 has warned against wavering with doubt in the Lord our God.  James 1:11 has warned against maintaining a priority after the ways of materialism.  James 1:13 has warned against blaming the Lord our God for sinful temptation.  James 1:15-16 has warned against thinking that we can get away with sin.  James 1:20 has warned against yielding to the influence of selfish wrath.  James 1:22-25 has warned against being a hearer only of God’s Holy Word.  Finally, James 1:26 has warned against joining our religious life with an unbridled tongue.  Yet James 2:1-13 now moves from general warnings to direct confrontation and condemnation of unrighteous behavior.

In a broad manner, this paragraph can be divided into four parts.  First, verse 1 presents the prohibition against showing partiality.  Second, verses 2-4 present the problem with showing partiality.  Third, verses 5-7 present the presumption of showing partiality.  Fourth, verses 8-13 present the principle to prevent showing partiality.

The Prohibition against Showing Partiality

James 1:1-13 begins with the direct prohibition against showing partiality, saying, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”  Although James intended to present a significant rebuke against their sinful behavior, he approached these believers with the direct address, “my brethren,” in order to reveal the love of his pastoral burden for them.  As such, he sought to motivate their hearts unto repentance and obedience.  The specific precept and prohibition to which he would draw their attention was that they must not show “respect of persons.”  Yea, the manner in which James presented this prohibition implied that they were already engaging in this sinful behavior, even as he more directly accused them in verses 4 & 6.  Thus James, under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, was instructing them to stop showing “respect of persons.” 

Yet this prohibition is not presented in such a simple fashion – that believers must not show “respect of persons.”  Rather, this prohibition is presented in a more detailed fashion – that believers must not attempt to have “the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” in union with the practice of showing “respect of persons.”  Indeed, a daily walk of faith in our Lord and a practice of showing “respect of persons” are not spiritually consistent and compatible with one another.  Rather, these two behaviors are spiritually contrary to one another.  Thus we believers, who are called by our Lord unto a daily walk of faith in and fellowship with Him, must not be characterized by a spirit of partiality.

The Problem in Showing Partiality

In order to reveal that the sin of showing partiality was a real problem amongst these believers, James presented a hypothetical illustration in verses 2-3 – “For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool.”  This hypothetical illustration concerned two visitors that came unto the assembly of these believers during a church gathering.  The first visitor was clearly a rich individual, as made apparent by the prominent gold ring and the obviously expensive apparel.  The second visitor was clearly a poor individual, wearing dirty, work stained apparel (in direct contrast to the rich individual’s “goodly apparel”).  The hypothetical illustration continued with the response of these believers unto these two visitors.  On the one hand, the response unto the rich visitor is presented as one of respectful favoritism; and with this favoritism he is invited to sit “in a good place.”  On the other hand, the response unto the poor visitor is much less favorable; for he is instructed to stand off to the side or to sit on the floor at the foot of the speaker’s footstool. 

Now, although this illustration was strictly hypothetical, it did reflect their actual behavior and did reveal the real problem of their partiality against the poor in favor of the rich.  Thus in verse 4 James delivered a confrontational rebuke in order to pierce their conscience, saying, “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”  The first half of this rebuke confronted their actions; the second half confronted their attitudes.  Yes, they were being “partial in themselves.”  Yes, they were showing sinful discrimination within their very assemblies for worship of “the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.”  Furthermore, this action of partiality was rooted in an evil attitude of heart.  In their hearts they had become judges who were characterized and motivated by evil thoughts.  Indeed, this is the primary spiritual problem with showing partiality against the poor in favor of the rich.  It is motivated by the evil thinking that an individual’s value is determined by external appearance rather than by heart character.

The Presumption of Showing Partiality

Having sought to pierce the conscience of these believers through the question of verse 4, James proceeded to call for their renewed attention with the opening line of verse 5, saying, “Hearken, my beloved brethren.”  Thereby James forcibly, yet lovingly called them to consider a two-fold spiritual contradiction in their practice of showing partiality against the poor in favor of the rich.  First, James called them to consider the contradiction between God’s choosing of the poor and their despising of the poor.  Even so, in verse 5 he continued with the rhetorical question, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”  As such, the answer to this question is to be understood as an affirmative.  Yes, the Lord our God tends more often to choose “the poor of this world” for His own.  This He does because “the poor of this world” tend more often to put their trust in Him, rather than in the things of this world.  Yet with the opening line of verse 6, James confronted these believers, saying, “But ye have despised the poor.”  In direct contradiction to God’s attitude toward the poor, they were despising the poor by showing partiality against them.  Indeed, by showing partiality against the poor, they were standing contrary to God Himself.  Even so, the practice of showing partiality against the poor must be recognized as a sinful presumption against the Lord our God.

Yet James had a further set of questions for them to consider.  In showing partiality against the poor, they were also showing partiality in favor of the rich.  Thus second, James called them to consider the contradiction between their favoritism toward the rich and the hostility of the rich toward them and toward their Savior.  Even so, in verses 6-7 he added the rhetorical questions, “Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?  Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?”  Certainly, James was not indicating universally that every single rich individual maintained such hostility toward these believers.  Rather, he was speaking generally of the rich in the majority as a class.  As such, the rich were lording it over these poor believers in an oppressive manner.  As such, the rich were forcing them into the public courts in order to exploit them.  As such, the rich were engaging in blasphemy against the all-worthy name of their Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  How practically foolish was it for them to show favoritism toward those who demonstrated such hostility toward them.  Even more, how spiritually ungodly was it for them to show favoritism toward those who demonstrated such blasphemy against their Savior.  Indeed, by showing favoritism toward the rich, they were joining in union with blasphemers against God.  Even so, the practice of showing favoritism toward the rich must also be recognized as a sinful presumption against the Lord our God.

The Principle to Prevent Showing Partiality

However, there is a Biblical principle that will motivate us not to show partiality.  Even so, verse 8 reveals that principle, saying, “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.”  According to our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 22:39, all of the rules and regulations in the law of the Lord our God and King concerning our relationship toward others are encompassed under this principle – “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”  “But,” as James 2:9 declares, “if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”  To show partiality, to “have respect to persons,” is contrary to the law of love.  Thus it is a direct, definite commission of sin.  Indeed, when we show respect of persons, the law of the Lord our God and King judicially convicts us as being guilty transgressors. 

Yet if we might defend our practice of showing “respect to persons” as being just a small, insignificant matter, verses 10-11 give the truth, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.  For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill.  Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.”  Indeed, if we actually kept the whole law of the Lord our God and King, and yet offended the love of love by showing “respect to persons,” we still stand guilty as lawbreakers.  Even if we offended the law in only this one point, we stand guilty before the Lord our God and King as transgressors of His proscribed law.  We stand guilty before Him of having disregarded His authority over our lives. 

Thus verses 12-13 conclude this paragraph with an earnest instruction and admonition, saying, “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”  As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we should ever be careful both to speak and to act in accord with the law of love toward others.  Indeed, we should ever be careful to so speak and to so act because we ever recognize that we must give an account unto the Lord our God for our every word and our every action.  We shall then be judged by the law of liberty.”  Therefore, we should now live according to the law of liberty.
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