|Vol. 16 No. 8 August 2014||
In James 1:12-15, James established that God is not responsible for temptation and sin in Christians’ lives (James 1:13); rather, the responsibility for temptation and sin lie at the feet of individuals who relinquish control to their own lust (James 1:14). James reminded the brethren not to err in this fashion (James 1:16), and he further established his case by revealing the truth about God.
First, James declared the truth about God’s giving with these words, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17a). While some were blaming God for temptation and sin in their lives, James declared two very important facts about God’s charitableness: (1) God’s giving is good; (2) God’s gifts are perfect. The first word translated “gift” denotes the act of giving while the second word translated “gift” signifies the product. In other words, God is not the source of temptation; He is the source of giving that is beneficial (“good”) for Christians. In addition, God is not the source of the product of uncontrolled temptation, namely, the uselessness of sin (James1:15). The opposite is true; God gives blessings that are complete (“perfect”). If there is good in your life it came from God.
Second, James declared the truth concerning God’s reliability with these words, “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17c). James refuted the notion that the same God who is purely motivated and gives profitable, complete gifts could also be motivated by base purposes and give incomplete, evil gifts. God is consistent; He is incapable of dispensing both good and evil. The variation (“variableness”) and change of shadow (“shadow of turning”) which commonly appear among the physical “lights” of which He is the Creator (“Father,” Ephesians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 1:3) do not reflect upon the character of God (Malachi 3:6; 1 John 1:5). God is reliable without question.
Third, James declared the truth concerning God’s motives, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). God’s motives are pure, and His gifts are complete; perhaps there is no greater demonstration of this truth than the Gospel (“word of truth”), which He revealed to us through inspired men. The Gospel is perfect and lacks nothing (2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Peter 1:3) and was given to us by God out of pure motives, namely, that we would be born of God (“begat he us”). While sin gives birth to death, God brings us forth through the Gospel. When the plan of salvation is obeyed, which involves hearing the Word (Romans 10:17), believing that Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 16:16), repenting of past sins (Acts 2:38), confessing Jesus (Romans 10:9) and being immersed (“baptized,” Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:38), one becomes a newborn babe in Christ (John 3:5; 1:11-13). It is important to notice that the instrument that brings forth this “new birth” is not a creed book, relative or some special supernatural event, but simply “the word of truth.”
The truth concerning God is simple. God’s charitableness is good and perfect; His reliability is unwavering, and His motives are pure.
Quite frequently we hear false teachers tell their listeners to “Just say the sinner’s prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart.” Of course, since there is no Scripture that teaches this, no Scripture references are given. Those who are told, and who may be inclined to believe this fantasy, need to read Solomon’s warning in Proverbs 28:9. Hear him: “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.” Since in the New Testament both Jesus and His apostles give in no uncertain words the terms by which man accepts God’s gift of salvation, one is without excuse when he turns away his ear from the law of Christ and imbibes the babble of those who encourage him or her to “say the sinner’s prayer.” These teachers are encouraging them to commit an abomination. Such teachers ought to be ashamed.
Friend, obey the Gospel to have the forgiveness of your sins. As you do so, the Lord will add you to His church, not to some denomination. Then, as a child of the heavenly Father you will have the God-given right to pray, “My Father who art in heaven…” Isn’t this what you yearn to do?