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Sermon #02 — James Series
Title: “The Trying of Your Faith”
Text: James 1:1-4
Date: Tuesday Evening — January 13, 2015
Readings: Lindsay Campbell and Larry Brown
The great hymn writer, William Cowper, wrote…
“`Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross,
But my Savior’s power to know,
Sanctifying every loss.
Trials must and will befall,
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all ―
This is happiness to me.
God in Israel sows the seeds
Of affliction, pain, and toil.
These spring up and choke the weeds
That would else o’erspread the soil.
Trials make the promise sweet.
Trials give new life to prayer.
Trials bring me to his feet,
Lay me low and keep me there!
Did I meet no trials here,
No chastisements by the way,
Might I not with reason fear
I should prove a castaway?
Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly, vain delight,
But the true born child of God
Must not, would not, if he might.”
My subject is “The Trying of Your Faith.” Our text will be James 1:1-4. — “The Trying of Your Faith” (James 1:1-4).
Proposition: In the opening verses of his epistle James tells us that the trying of our faith should be a cause of joy in our souls, and tells us why our trials should inspire joy in us.
James 1:1-4 (1) James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (2) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
The first thing we see in this passage is the high honor God puts upon poor sinners when he makes them his servants. — “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James was the half brother of our Savior; but he chose to identify himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find that remarkable and instructive.
· Our blessed Savior tells us that he came into this world, not to be served but to serve, and counted it his soul’s great joy to do so say, “I am among you as he that serveth” (Matthew 20:28; Luke 22:27).
· The gospel of the grace of God teaches us by love to serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
· Paul considered it his high honor to write to the Corinthians and minister to them as their servant.
· Are you willing to be a servant? Am I?
Identifying himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” James claims no distinction except that which we all possess, “servants of God” (Psalm 116:16-18).
Psalm 116:16-18 (16) O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. (17) I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. (18) I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people,
There is no such thing as “clergy” and “laity” in the church and kingdom of God. We who are God’s are the servants of God, fellow-laborers in the Master’s vineyard. What an inexpressible honor and blessing that is!
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Servants of God — We never rise above this blessed position (and never desire to), not even in heavenly glory (Revelation 22:3).
Revelation 22:1-3 (1) And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.
Second, James, the Apostle, the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, shows us that all God’s church is one family, the family of God. He addresses this epistle to God’s elect, calling us, “my brethren.”
James 1:1-2 (1) James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (2) My brethren.
The twelve tribes scattered abroad has specific reference to those Jews who had been converted by the grace of God and were scattered abroad from Jerusalem by persecution. They were, like us, a part of that great multitude called “the Israel of God,” “Abraham’s children,” “the whole family” of God! God’s saints are all brethren! — “Behold, my mother and my brethren!”
· One Father
· One Elder Brother
· One Blood
· One Family Table
· One Family Nature
· One Home
· One Inheritance
Every one that is born of the Spirit of God is brother to every other that is born of the same Spirit. Wherefore, let brotherly love continue; let us love one another with a pure heart fervently, and manifest that love, not in word only, but in deed and in truth.
Beginning with this word “brethren,” James shows a true brotherly sympathy with believers in their trials, and this is a basic part of family life. — “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Remember those that are in bonds, as bound with them, and those that suffer affliction as being ourselves in the body.
Remembering the trials of his brethren, James wrote this epistle, first and foremost to cheer them. Therefore he says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” The whole tendency of our holy faith is to elevate and to encourage. Grace breeds no sorrow, except the healthy sorrow which comes with saving repentance and leads to the joy of pardon. Grace comes not to make people miserable, but to wipe all tears from their eyes. The message of the gospel is a message of joy and gladness. If grace reigns in our hearts, our hearts ought to be filled with perpetual songs of praise. Even the trials of life ought to become causes of the highest joy. Look at James’ wonderful expression — “all joy.”
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations
James considered it his great work as the servant of God, not to upbraid his brethren, but to cheer them. One great goal of our lives ought to be to make the lives of others, especially our brethren, more cheerful.
Here’s the third thing James shows us. — If we have faith in Christ, our faith must and will be proved by God. It will be tried, tested and proved by God our Father.
James 1:2-3 (2) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
James is talking here about the trial of faith. So the matter of first concern is this: Do you have faith? Do you have faith in Christ? There is no need to talk about trials, if you do not have faith in Christ. — Believe on the Son of God now! Come to Christ now! Trust the Lord Jesus now!
James is, in these opening verses, specifically telling us that our trials and temptations, though intended by Satan to destroy us, are instruments of grace, designed by our heavenly Father to do us good.
Our trials a marks of our adoption, marks of our sonship, marks of our union with Christ. As Cowper put it…
“Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly, vain delight;
But the true born child of God
Must not, would not, if he might.”
Hebrews 12:5-14 (5) And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: (6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (8) But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (9) Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (10) For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (12) Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; (13) And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. (14) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Every heaven-born soul in this world is born for adversity. Trials are, for God’s people, a matter of certainty.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 15:19-20 (19) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (20) Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Knowing that our trials are God’s work, God’s doing, for our souls’ benefit, we should consider every experience of hardship, trial, and adversity as a reason to rejoice in the Lord our God.
Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.
Psalm 119:65-72 (65) Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word. (66) Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. (67) Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (68) Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. (69) The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. (70) Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law. (71) It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. (72) The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
Matthew 5:11-12 (11) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (12) Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
2 Corinthians 12:3-10 (3) And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) (4) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (5) Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. (6) For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. (7) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
James gives us three reasons why we should look upon our trials as blessings and count them as reasons to rejoice.
1. We are providentially brought under these trials by the hand of our heavenly Father, who works all things together for our good (romans 8:28-32).
Romans 8:28-32 (28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
2. Faith must be proved; and it can only be proved by trial.
How often faith is counterfeited! Trials are given that we may determine if we are leaning on the flesh or the Lord. If I would know the genuineness of my faith, if I would know that I have not run in vain, if I would know that I am not a stony-ground hearer, my faith must be tried! God has his way of proving our faith; and his way is never our way!
“If we had the power of God we would change everything. If we had the wisdom of God we would change nothing.”
— Pastor Scott Richardson
3. The trials by which God proves our faith in Christ are the instruments of grace by which our God teaches us patience (Romans 5:3).
Did God not to try us, if he left us free from trouble, we would never learn patience, pity, compassion or perseverance.
Romans 5:1-5 (1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Fourth, James tells us that we are to endure our trials with patience.
James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Trials are black ships, sailing through storms of darkness and rough waters, carrying cargoes of gold to our souls. Let us, then, bear them with patience.
Endure everything patiently. Suffer everything that God sends with bowed head and calm, patient heart. Bathe yourself in this rough sea, till, by God’s blessing, it has strengthened you and cleansed you. When your Father makes bear his rod, hug him tightly. — The closer the child the less painful the rod!
You and I are horribly sinful, far from perfect, and are very far from being complete in body, soul, and spirit. Oh, how much we yet lack! How far short we fall in all things! But, when patience has had its perfect work, when it has been tried to the uttermost and proved, when faith, patience, and hope have preserved to the end, when we have finished our course here and entered into rest above, then we shall be perfect in holiness and happiness, and be entire, whole, and complete. — Wanting nothing! Deficient in nothing!
The unbeliever can never rejoice in trials; for “the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). But when a child of God falls into temptations there is cause of joy. What an honor it is for us to be thereby to be conformed to Christ’s image (Philippians 3:10). There is nothing to fear. Nothing stands in doubt. The outcome of the trial is certain.
1 Peter 1:3-9 (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.