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Sermon #09 — James Series
Title: “Receive with Meekness
the ENGRAFTED word”
Text: James 1:21-22
Subject: Hearing the Word of God
Date: Tuesday Evening — March 31, 2015
Readings: David Burge and Mark Henson
I the fourth chapter of Hebrews God the Holy Spirit tells us of a great multitude of people to whom the gospel was preached, just as it is preached to us. Then he makes a very sad, sad declaration. He tells us, “But the Word preached did not profit them.” That is truly a sad, sad declaration. It ought to sound as an alarm in our ears to warn us, lest we also hear the gospel with no profit to our souls. What woe they must suffer in hell who have heard the gospel preached of whom God the Holy Ghost declares, “But the Word preached did not profit them!”
With that as an introduction to my message, hear the instruction God gives us in James 1:21-22.
(James 1:21-22) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
As God the Holy Spirit will enable me, I want to talk to you again tonight in very plain, simple, and practical terms about hearing the Word of God. — The title of my message is “Receive with Meekness the ENGRAFTED word.” — “Receive with Meekness the ENGRAFTED word” (James 1:21-22)
Do you sometimes wonder why you get so little from the worship service? Do you wonder why a message that seemed so impressive at the time you heard it is so quickly forgotten? Do you want to get the greatest possible benefit from the preaching of the gospel? Do you wonder why some people seem to get so much more from the ministry of the Word of God than you do? James answers these questions for us. And he does so with great bluntness. He spares no punches. He tells us that if we do not profit by the ordinance of God it is altogether our own fault. In James 1:21-22 God the Holy Ghost gives us very practical instruction about this business of hearing the gospel. In these two verses God the Holy Spirit tells us how we are to hear the Word of God. — “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
Proposition: Nothing this side of heaven is of more vital importance to your soul than the public ministry of the Word of God. — “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
Let me show you from the Scriptures just how important this matter of preaching the gospel is (Romans 10:13-17). Here are five things which are absolutely certain, five things about which you can be absolutely sure.
1. Anyone in all the world who calls upon the Lord Jesus Christ in true faith shall be saved. — “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v. 13).
2. No one can call upon Christ in true faith unless he believes the record which God has given concerning his Son. — “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” (v. 14)
· His Eternal Godhead
· His Incarnation
· Righteousness by His Representative Life of Obedience
· Redemption by His Substitutionary, Sin-atoning Death
· His Resurrection, Ascension, and Exaltation
· His Glorious Second Advent
3. No one can savingly believe on Christ until he hears the gospel of Christ. — “And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (v. 14).
In order for a sinner to exercise saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he must hear the gospel, the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of God’s grace and glory in Christ, the gospel of accomplished, all-sufficient, effectual redemption by the blood of Christ.
4. No one can ever hear the gospel without a preacher. — “And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (vv. 14-15)
The greatest blessing God can ever bestow upon any person, any congregation, or any community is to send them a man who will faithfully proclaim the gospel to their souls. The greatest curse God can ever bring upon you is to silence the voice of his servant among you (Amos 8:11-12).
(Amos 8:11-12) Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: (12) And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.
5. No man can ever truly preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit unless he is sent of God. — “How shall they preach, except they be sent?” (v. 15)
· If a man is sent of God he preaches the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16; 2:2).
· He preaches with boldness. — (Nathan).
· He preaches effectually (2 Corinthians 2:15-17; Isaiah 55:11).
I repeat myself deliberately. — Nothing this side of heaven is more important, more vital to your soul than the preaching of the gospel. If God is pleased to speak to you and reveal himself to you, you can be sure of this, it will be through the preaching of the gospel.
(Romans 10:15) As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
(Romans 10:17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
This great privilege must not be neglected (Hebrews 10:26).
(Hebrews 10:25-29) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (26) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (28) He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: (29) Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Divisions: Let me wrap this message up by showing you three things God the Holy Spirit tells us to do that we may profit by the ministry of the Word of God. If you would receive the benefit of the Word which he has inspired, the Spirit of God tells us that there are things you must do –
1. Before the Sermon
2. During the Sermon
3. After the Sermon
Before the Sermon
First, if you would receive benefit from the preaching of the gospel, you need to make some preparation before the sermon. James says, “Wherefore, lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness.” — It strikes me as the height of folly and presumption to suppose that we can come to worship God and hear the gospel of his grace without preparation. I say that is the very height of presumption; but how often we practice such presumption! Consider who he is in whose name we gather, and surely we will not rush in without thought. — Consider who he is that we claim to worship, and you will not rush into his presence like people running to see a fire. We have come here to worship God. Surely, men and women who come to worship God ought to prepare their hearts and minds to worship him.
· The saints of old prepared themselves for worship (Moses, The Priests, The People, Washings, etc.).
· We should do what we can to make ourselves ready to receive what God is ready to bestow.
· We spend time preparing our bodies and the clothes we wear for the worship service. — Is it not reasonable that we should also prepare our hearts?
James tells us that in preparing to hear the Word of God there are some things which must be laid aside. Some things must be removed before the Word of God can be received. — “Wherefore,” he says, “lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness.” What are these things which we must endeavor to put out of our minds before we hear the gospel?
· The Filthiness of Sin
· The Superfluity of Covetousness — “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
· The Naughtiness of Malice — “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (v. 20) — (Forgiveness — Ephesians 4).
(Ephesians 4:23-5:2) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (25) Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. (26) Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil. (28) Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (29) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
(5:1) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (2) And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
In a word, James is saying, “Put aside both the corruptions of your heart and the cares of this world, so that you may receive the Word of God.”
Why must we put these things out of our minds? The answer to that question is too obvious to need much comment from me. You cannot hear from God while you are inwardly absorbed with some evil lust of your heart. You cannot absorb divine truth while your heart is absorbed with covetousness, greed, or worldly care. You cannot worship God when your heart is stewing in malice and anger.
Like suckers on a plant, these things take up our strength and energy. While these things cunsume our minds, we are not likely to get much good from the hearing of the Word. These are the rocks which prevent the seed from entering the heart. These birds devour the seed, as soon as it is sown. These weeds choke out the tender plant, as soon as it springs up. The filthiness of sin and the superfluity of naughtiness are things that prejudice the heart and mind against the gospel.
People who are offended by the gospel are people who are offensive to God. And, usually, religious people who are picky and critical of God’s servants are are harboring some evil they are trying to cover.
Perhaps you are thinking, “Pastor, how can I put these things out of my mind? I know you are telling me the truth. I have often experienced what you are saying. But I cannot seem to lay these things aside, when I come to the house of worship. How can I lay aside the filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness in me?” — I cannot make you any guarantees. But I can offer you some suggestions, which I find helpful to me.
· Confess your sin.
· Bathe your soul afresh in the blood of Christ (1 John 1:9).
· Seek the Lord before you come to the house of worship and as you are coming to him in worship (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
(Jeremiah 29:12-13) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. (13) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
· Come early and begin to worship before the worship service begins.
· Take notes and your mind might be less likely to wonder.
(1 Peter 2:1-3) Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, (2) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (3) If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Look at James 1:21 again. The word “wherefore” refers to that which immediately precedes our text.
(James 1:17-20) 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. (18) Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (19) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (20) For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
(James 1:21) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness.
The filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness James tells us to lay aside specifically has to do with that pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness that stirs up a person’s wrath against the things of God, that causes people to speak rashly against the gospel. The text might be read this way: — “On account of this, having put aside all filthiness and overflowing evil, in meekness receive the implanted Word, being able to save your souls.”
James is saying, “Since you have laid aside the filthiness of the flesh and the superfluity of naughtiness, receive with meekness the Word of God implanted in you by his grace, the Word that is able to save your souls.”
· “Filthiness” refers to the filthiness of our nature.
· “Superfluity of Naughtiness” has a specific reference to circumcision, the removing of the superfluous, unneeded, filth of the foreskin of the flesh. — The superfluous, unneeded filth of self-righteous, works religion.
1st Before the sermon, as we prepare to come to the house of God, as you come to hear the gospel preached, “Lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness!”
During the Sermon
Second, if you would profit by the Word of God, you must receive the Word as it is preached during the sermon. — James says, “Receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls.”
Understand this: — No one can or will receive the Word of God as the Word of God until the Word of God has been engrafted in him, implanted in him as the Seed of life in the new birth (1 Peter 1:18-25).
(1 Peter 1:18-25) Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, (21) Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (22) Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (23) Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. (24) For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: (25) But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
Yet, James tells us that in hearing the Word of God there must be a receiving of it, not into the ear only, but into the understanding, into the heart, and into the conscience. We must receive the Word, or we will not profit by it. Once the Word of God has been engrafted, implanted in a sinner by omnipotent mercy, it casts down every high thing and brings every thought to the obedience of Christ, making the rebel sinner meek and humble before God (2 Corinthians 10:5). Only those thus broken by grace receive the love of the truth (Isaiah 61:1).
(Isaiah 61:1) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.
· The gospel is a feast to be eaten.
· The gospel is wine to be drunk.
· The gospel is medicine to be swallowed.
· The gospel is a refreshing shower to be soaked up and absorbed.
I love to preach to men and women who are like sponges, soaking up the dew of heaven. When I read the Bible, or hear a man preach the gospel, I like to throw open the doors of my soul and raise the windows of my heart, and receive the Word of God. — Don’t you?
(Proverbs 27:7) The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
Receive the Word of God with meekness. — If the preacher truly declares the Word of God to you, you are to receive the Word he preaches with a meek, submissive, teachable spirit (Hebrews 13:7, 17). If he does not preach the gospel in its purity, you have no business listening to him.
(Hebrews 13:7) Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
(Hebrews 13:17) Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
You are not to judge the Word. You are not to analyze the Word. You are not to criticize the Word. We are not to question the Word of God, but receive it. — “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
· If the Word reproves you, receive it with meekness.
· If the Word shocks you, receive it with meekness.
· When the Word hurts you and gives you pain, receive it with meekness.
· When the Word baffles your understanding, receive it with meekness.
· When the Word of God crosses your will, receive it with meekness.
· When the Word of God goes against your religious notions, customs, and traditions, receive it with meekness.
This Book, the Word of God, is our only rule of faith and practice. This Book alone has authority in the Church of Christ. There is no room for human opinion. This is our creed, our confession of faith, and our order of discipline (Isaiah 8:20; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
(Isaiah 8:20) To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
If you would obtain the blessings of God’s grace, you must receive the gospel of God’s grace. — If you are a disciple of Christ, you do not question the doctrine of Christ. To reject the teaching of Christ is to reject the Person of Christ. To question that which is plainly revealed in the Word of God is to betray a heart of treason against the authority of our Lord. — We must receive the Word of God in it’s entirely. To reject one part is to reject the whole.
· We must receive what this Book says about God (Romans 9:11-23).
· We must receive what this Book says about ourselves (Romans 3:9-19).
· We must receive what this Book says about Christ (Romans 3:23-26).
· We must receive what this Book says about salvation (Ephesians 2:8).
· “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth thee.”
Illustration: “I was listening for God
to speak to me.”
We must receive the gospel with meekness, as the engrafted Word of God. — The gospel of Christ is truly received only when it is received as “the engrafted Word” of God.
Illustration: In order to graft one tree into another two cuts have to be made, one in the living tree and one in the branch to be engrafted. Even so, the Word of God does its work when the bleeding heart of a wounded sinner is united to the bleeding Savior. —— Oh, that’s the way I want to receive the Word of God!
We must receive the Word of God by faith, realizing that the gospel of Christ is able to save our souls. — There is such power in the Word of God that being engrafted into the heart, it is able to save our souls (Romans 1:16 Hebrews 4:12; Jeremiah 23:29).
(Romans 1:16) I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
(Hebrews 4:12) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
(Jeremiah 23:29) Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
You may never be saved by the grace of God; but I know this: — if you are saved by the grace of God, it will be by the preaching of the gospel.
· The gospel exposes our sin.
· The gospel reveals Christ in his saving fulness.
· The gospel brings me life and faith in Christ.
I want to be like a sponge to soak up the Word of God, like Gideon’s fleece, saturated with the dew of heaven, like the plowed ground, broken up and pulverized, so that every drop of rain from heaven may be absorbed into my heart.
1st Before the sermon, do what you can to prepare your heart to worship God.
2nd During the sermon, “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”
After the Sermon
Third, after the sermon, be sure that you obey the Word God sends to you. — “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
Illustration: “Is the sermon done already?” — “No, it is said, but it is not yet done.”
First, the command is positive. — “Be ye doers of the Word.” — All that I preach to you is useless, unless you obey the word that you hear. Put into practice what you hear. Put into practice what you have heard tonight.
· Repent of your sin.
· Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ — (Commitment, Submission, Trust).
· Love one another.
· Serve one another.
The command is also negative. — “Not hearers only.” You have heard the Word of God. You may consent that it is very good. But if you do not obey what you have heard, you will surely perish. No judgment is so woeful as the judgment that will fall upon you who willfully reject the gospel of Christ (Proverbs 1:23-33).
(Proverbs 1:23-33) Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (24) Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (27) When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (28) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: (29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (30) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. (31) Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (32) For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (33) But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
(Proverbs 29:1) He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
Our text closes with the solemn word of warning. — “Deceiving your own selves.” — Many think all is well when all is ill. You regularly hear the gospel. You are thoroughly orthodox in doctrine. You cannot endure Arminianism in any form. But the Word of God has no influence over your heart and life. It is of no great importance to you. You do not love Christ. You do not obey Christ. You do not follow Christ. Because you do not trust Christ. You know much, but you do not know Christ (James 2:17-20).
(James 2:19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
“Take heed how ye hear!”
(Luke 13:22-30) And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. (23) Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, (24) Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (25) When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: (26) Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. (27) But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. (28) There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. (29) And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. (30) And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
(Luke 8:18) Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
1. Before the sermon, prepare your heart to receive the Word of God.
2. During the sermon, receive the Word as God sends it. — “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
3. After the sermon, obey the Word God has given you. — Meditate on it. — Share it. Discuss it. — Believe it. — And obey it.
(James 1:21-25) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (23) For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: (24) For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (25) But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.