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The Test of Faith

March 14th, 2011

Background

James 1:2-4

  • James is the brother of Jesus but doesn’t mention this – only referring to himself as the servant of God; the bond-slave of Jesus Christ.
  • Although James cared about God’s teaching, he was an unbeliever of Christ for a large part of his life (John 7:5, Mark 3:21).
  • James believes in Jesus when the risen Christ appears to him (1 Corinthians 15:7). James was profoundly affected and later became leader of the Church in Jerusalem.
  • The book of James assumes that all readers are followers of Jesus Christ. Of 108 verses, 60 are commands. It is important to remember that Christianity is not moralism – James tells Christians how to live in a godly way in light of what we have become in Christ. First we must accept the Saviour, then we can receive advice.
  • We must look at our brothers and sisters and be able to see qualities of Christ, the refining of godly character. Non-Christians looking in must be able to see this life lived out – to see the action that comes from being loved by God.

The doctrine of joy in trials

  • Count it only joy when you meet trials and times of testing, rather than looking at it as punishment or the absence of God.
  • The word ‘meet’ is not sufficient, we will be set upon by trials and they will be sudden and savage. Everybody who wants to live a life in Jesus will be persecuted (2Timothy 12). But we must find God’s purpose within the trial, rather than just praying that he remove it.
  • Trials might come in God calling us to hard things which might require the laying down of cherished things. Whether these sacrifices of our own desires are sinful or not, God is calling us to sonship and His intent is for us to receive the riches of Christ.
  • We must count it (the testing of faith) all joy because trials produce endurance/steadfastness. We gain stability in the place of anxiety and confusion. God wants to show us what we’re made of and to trust him in our time of testing. All things work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

James 1:12

Difference between temptation and trial

  • Temptation and trial are similar in that they both mean ‘testing’.
  • Temptation is often associated with overstepping and being indulgent. God sees it as selling ourselves short and settling by not attaining to that which he has purchased for us. We must trust his ways, otherwise we will be left disappointed and bitter.
  • We are also tempted to doubt, fear and avenge. But His perfect love drives out fear.
  • There are two shades of testing. Trials test us to prove character and to show us what we’re made of. Temptation aims to disprove and tests us for destruction.
  • The Devil is the one who tempts us, but he can only do it with our own desires and with a door that we have left open. Do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:22).
  • Temptation can lead to sin and in doing so, will affect our view of God. We must repent and break the barrier that we have created with it.
  • 1 Corinthians 10 – God will not tempt us beyond what we can handle. He is sovereign and has control over everything, even the Devil. He does not commit evil but permits it to happen for His purposes.
  • Evil comes from ourselves and what man has done with his relationship with God. We ushered death into the heart of creation.
  • We have a will and our will may suggest ideas to us, but if we are in Christ, then our will is under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Tempted in every way but without sin

  • It was God’s will to lead Jesus into temptation and to test his resolve, but Jesus’ weapon was scripture. The words of God in the hands of his children are powerful.
  • Jesus experienced temptation to a far greater extent, we give in before it can fully take hold.
  • Because Jesus was tempted, we have a high priest who can identify with our struggles and walk us through them.
  • God wants to establish us; He is looking for progress and wants to restore and build us up. We must take action (Job 5:17-18).