“It’s by relying on the Father of every good and every perfect gift that we can remain steadfast under trial.” –– Mary Willson Hannah
Mary Willson Hannah delivers a message at TGCW21, teaching from James chapter 1, addressing the questions and concerns that have arisen within the Church over the last couple of years around sickness, financial strain, joblessness, loneliness, disorientation, anxiety, and how to faithfully stand firm in the midst of such compounding adversity. She encourages listeners to remember who they are and, ultimately, whose they are, as James describes in verse 1.
She also addresses three sets of instructions in James’s teaching, crescendoing into a glorious remembrance of who God is and the sovereign grace he bestowed on us, that we might be first fruits of his kingdom—reflecting his love in broken creation.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Mary Willson: Are we having fun or what? Please turn in your Bibles with me to James chapter one. It is such a joy. And such a refreshing one of that to gather with you here, gathering together around God’s Word, to hear our generous Heavenly Father speak personally to us. Sometimes we forget, what is this word, it is God’s personal speech to us, and what a privilege it is to gather around this personal speech with you. In the letter of James, God gives us clear instruction, about the distinct mindset that we believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are to embrace in order to remain steadfast in trials. This is a letter calling us to persevere.
This letter is calling us to keep going and grown in the faith. And if there has ever been a time when you and I need God’s encouragement, to keep going and growing in the faith, it’s today, the church around the world that stands in desperate need of the precise encouragement God for has for us in the letter of James, were reeling from the rank hypocrisy exposed among some of our most renowned Christian leaders. Were watching families and congregations and hold denominations Splinter over debates regarding how the Bible defines social justice or whether or not to wear masks. We’re still dealing with the fallout from the fact that many professing believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have allowed themselves to become totally co opted by partisan politics. And when we show up for corporate worship on Sunday mornings, or Saturday evenings whenever you all worship, when we show up, we are disheartened as we look around the room and we see fewer the number of fewer the normal number of local church family joining us and we’re worried that our local church will never look the same. And we’re tired.
We are wearied by hardships, a pandemic, the death of our beloved family members and friends, financial strain, joblessness, loneliness, disorientation amid the pandemic, anxiety. Sisters, amid all this compounding adversity, a burning question comes into sharp focus, are we going to make it is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ going to survive? And if so, how? You know, some of my friends amidst all this hardship, they’re thrown in the towel. They’re given up. I have some dear friends who have given up on their own local church, and some who have even given up on Orthodox, historic Orthodox Christianity. What about you? How are you going to make it? How are you going to stand the test? Amid this compounding hardship?
James writes this letter to show us how and to call us to it. Let’s dig in James chapter one verse one. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes in the dispersion greetings, count it all joy, my sisters and brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let her ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given her. But let her ask and faith with no doubting for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that she will receive anything for the Lord. She’s a double minded woman unstable in all her ways. Let the lowly sister boast and her exaltation in the rich and her humiliation.
Because like a flower of the grass she will pass away for the sun rises with its scorching heat. and withers the grass, its flower falls and its beauty parishes. So also will the rich woman fade away in the midst of her pursuits. Blessing is the one who remains steadfast under trial. For when she has stood the test, she will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when she is tempted on being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tends no one. But each person is tempted when she is lured and enticed by her own desire, then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin and sin, when it is fully grown brings forth death. Don’t be deceived, my beloved sisters and brothers, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. believer in Christ.
How will you keep going and growing in this day and age? Amid these compounding adversities? James gives us the answer in his opening passage. And we see the first part of his answer in verse one. How can you remain steadfast under trial by remembering who you are. To remain steadfast under trial, you must remember who you are, you must never forget it. You must never lose sight of your distinct identity in the Lord Jesus Christ. You must never forfeit it. You’ve got to remember who you are. That is fundamental to Christian steadfastness. And it’s easier said than done.
One of the main temptations we face let’s get honest here, let’s get real. One of the main temptations we face is to forget who we are in Christ when we’re under pressure. We let our circumstances shape our sense of self, rather than letting God’s word shape our sense of self and our circumstances. But friends, if we don’t keep embracing our distinct identity in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will waver under trial, will drift will lose it will give up, we’ll start operating out of the old self, out of our own strength. And let me tell you something, we don’t stand a chance against these obstacles. We need his help, we need to remember our distinct identity. James knows remember James Pastor James knows that the believers to whom he’s writing need to be encouraged to remember who they are. He’s writing to a beleaguered bunch of suffering group of Christians. And he reminds them in verse one implicitly to remember who they are. Now, most of the letter of James when James instructs us he does so explicitly by direct command, the book of James is filled with direct imperatives commands.
But here in verse one, even before he gets to his first command, which he does by verse two, almost immediately. Here in verse one, we glean an important principle implicitly, by observing James own example, consider how James introduces himself, what does he say, look with me, James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. But seems simple enough, not much to comment on right and wrong. Most likely, the James who writes this letter is none other than the Apostle James. He’s the leading pastor in Jerusalem. He’s the one about whom Luke writes in Acts 15 that presides over the Jerusalem Council. He’s kind of a big deal. And as if his pedigree couldn’t get there needed to get more impressive. James Apostle James is also related to someone pretty important in the New Testament.
You know who, Jesus, ladies Listen, whenever there’s a rhetorical question, you know, the answer is Jesus. James who writes this letter is likely the half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s this Jane’s and how does he introduced himself? Jane’s a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice doesn’t say, James leading pastor of the revival movement in Jerusalem. James, courageous preacher and advocate for the poor, James distinguished half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ. No, he hasn’t even mentioned his biological genetic ties to the Lord Jesus. Why? Because he knows that the greater privilege is not being related to the Lord Jesus by flesh and blood, but being united to him by faith.
We see here in James’s introductory words in his greeting, the evidence of a transformed life, the evidence of the distinct mindset that you and I must embrace if we’re going to stand the test in our day and age. The word for servant here that James uses is more like bond servant or slave. It’s not the kind of servant who had freedom to come and go, there were those in the first century. This was the kind of servant who was purchased. James knows that he utterly belongs to God, and he utterly belongs to his brother, Jesus Christ. His belonging, his utter belonging to God is at the core of his identity. what’s at the core of yours? How might our response to trials be different? Were we to embrace and take hold of this aspect of our identity in Christ that we are servants? Now look with me at how James identifies his original readers, to the 12 tribes in the dispersion.
Many of James’s original readers were probably literal, literally ethnic, ethnically Jewish. They were genetically tied to the 12 tribes of Israel. And they are displaced from the literal Jerusalem and their places of dispersion away from their homeland. They’re facing all kinds of trials. They’re suffering profoundly. Many of them are poor. Many of them are oppressed. Most of them are socially marginalized. Certainly all of them are homesick. They’re disoriented, like we’ve been this last year. They’re, they’re suffering. So James is language here about his original readers in verse one. It has a literal dimension, he’s referring to mostly liberal Jews, who are dispersed from Jerusalem. But there’s also a metaphorical dimension to James’s language in verse one. James is indicating that all of his readers, whether ethnically Jew or ethnically Gentile, all of his readers, who are believers in Christ belong to the true Israel, the Israel of God, as Paul puts it in Galatians, that is, believing Gentiles have been grafted into the vine of the believing remnant of Israel.
And these believers with Jewish background, Gentile background, they comprise one family, do you love it? They’re part of the ultimate 12 tribes, one family, so you know what that makes them siblings. And, of course, presupposed in that language is that we’re also children. We’re children of God. This is the family of God. And these siblings, these members of the 12 tribes are in the dispersion. We, we know that, again, this has a literal dimension. But there’s also this metaphorical dimension where James is evoking this biblical theological theme of the dispersion. We believers in Christ, we ain’t home yet. We’re pilgrims in this world. We’re making our way to the New Jerusalem the place of our ultimate citizenship. So who are we? Servants, siblings, sojourners. This identity servants, siblings, sojourners, it’s fundamental to the mindset that you and I must embrace if we’re going to stand the test.
And it’s obviously been embraced by Jane’s we see the evidence of it in verse one. And sisters, this is also the relational and redemptive historical context in which you and I must heed every single one of James’s commands that follow. To remain steadfast under trial. You must remember who you are. And verse two James turns to explicit instruction to direct commands. He is now directly encouraging his readers to cultivate this mindset. This distinct perspective regarding trials. Here in verses two through four, we find the second part of James’s answer to our burning question, how are we going to make it? Well, do you want to remain steadfast under trial, then you must rejoice in God’s purposes in your trials, and let him mature you through them.
To remain steadfast in trial, we must rejoice in God’s purposes in our trials, and let him mature us through them. We’ve got to give ourselves to this process of maturation. You see, this is astounding. James doesn’t just call us to survive trials. That’s hard enough. James isn’t calling us just to grin and bear it. No, he’s calling us to thrive. He’s calling you to flourish under trial. And that is totally astounding. And it’s also in our flesh totally counterintuitive. Some of us feel so beaten down. Right now we feel so pulverized by sorrows, that we’ve begun wondering if God has completely abandoned us.
With begin wondering whether God has entirely forgotten us, is he neglecting us? How else can we make sense of this past year? How else can we make sense of the compounding hardships one after the other crushing us into the dust, we begin to assume that God isn’t for us, he’s against us. And this, this despair, is the final blow. This is what really crushes us. When we feel that God is plugging up his ears to the cries of our hearts. James knows this. He knows that his readers will be tempted to imagine that God has forsaken them and tempted to despair. And so you know what James shows us in these verses. God has not abandoned you. He’s not against you. He’s for you. Your trials, no matter how grueling are not the evidence of God’s absence.
They’re the very instrument by which God is fitting you, perfecting you for his unmediated presence. That’s what God is doing in your trials. of friends, this is the answer we need. This is the answer. Our local churches need this as the answer the world needs. We’ve got to have this answer in order to remain steadfast even in times like ours. Okay, look with me more closely at verses two through four. You see there, don’t you two key commands, what’s the first count it all joy my sisters and brothers or pure joy, unadulterated Joy total joy. When not if, when when you meet trials of various kinds, or more literally, I love this many colored trials. Now with respect to trials, James has in mind both the trials that come to us externally, as well as the trials that come to us internally such as temptation to sin. It’s a broader topic here trials that encompasses both kinds of trials. And that’s James first command, consider trials. occasions for joy. Consider trials occasions for joy.
Why? Because trials in and of themselves are joyous. away. That’s crazy talk. That’s crazy talk up in here, there are trials for crying out loud. So why? Why must we consider trials occasions for joy? Well, James is so glad that you asked. And that’s what it gives us in verse three, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. God is up to something in your trials. He’s producing something in you something precious, something lasting, something worth it. These trials prove the genuineness of your faith, and these trials strengthen your faith. That’s the first command. Let’s look at the second in verse four. Let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete lacking enough and nothing. In other words, give yourself to God’s ordained process of progressively perfecting you this progressive sanctification. We don’t like his timetable. We wish he’d operate according to Our timetable, but give yourself to this process. Let steadfastness have its full of full effect. Let steadfastness come to it’s designed in of making you whole, perfect, righteous, singularly righteous.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself was perfected how the author of Hebrews tells us through what He suffered. That’s how we learned obedience. That was the process of being perfected as a mediator, through what He suffered believer in Christ, one day at the Lord’s coming, which is at hand, the Lord Jesus Christ with great joy, well present you before God the Father, perfect, blameless, spotless. And you will hear his benediction, your heart will swell when you hear his benediction. Well done, my good and faithful servant. This is your certain hope. This is your future. And this is why we can and must rejoice in God’s purposes in our trials with joy, unshakable, transcendent joy. So you know what that means.
That means your cancer diagnosis. It can’t steal your joy. Your recalcitrant husband and defiant teenager. They can’t steal your joy, your dwindling bank account. It can’t steal your joy. Your grueling ongoing battle against sin. It can’t steal your joy. Those Christians who are actively stirring up controversy on Twitter, they can’t steal your joy. Joe Biden. He can’t steal your joy Donald Trump. He can’t steal your joy. Derek Chauvin, he can’t steal your joy. Yes, we lament injustice. Yes, we cry out for mercy. We grieve hardships. Yes, we we, with broken hearts over our sin. Yes. But we never, ever forfeit our joy. Never. Christian, all your life’s various tragedies are embedded in God’s comedy of grace. Yours is a happy ending.
There is no place for cynicism in the Christian life. And this is no pollyannish triumphalism. This is not namby pamby pie in the sky, the power of positive thinking. This is sober minded Christian realism. And we must take hold of it. To remain steadfast under trial, we must remember who we are. And we must rejoice in God’s purposes in our trials, and let him mature us through them. Now I’d like to take a look at verses two through 18. I’d like you to have the text open, we’re going to scan through it a little bit to see part of how James is part of his somatic and logical progression in these instructions.
At first glance, we might look at verses two through 18. And see them as disparate sets of instructions. Maybe we think they’re not related at all. Or maybe they’re loosely related, at best at best, but I beg to differ. Let me briefly explain how I see this unfolding. One way to see the instructions in verses two through 18 is to take verses two through four as a 30,000 foot angle so to speak, a banner exhortation, a command that cries throughout the whole of James’s epistle. It’s that 30,000 foot view and and then the way to take one way to take verses five through 18 is to see James coming from 30,000 to about 10,000 feet. He’s he’s actually showing he’s illustrating how to live out this banner, exportation and 234 and some of the concrete realities of life. Now scan your finger over verses five through 18. Let’s see how this works.
How does James flesh out the banner exposit the banner exhortation will quickly scan. Do you notice that verses five through 18 Really cluster in three main units do you see that? We see one unit verses five through eight. Next unit verses nine through 12. The third unit verse verses 12 through 18. Now I want you to know I realize I’ve mentioned verse 12 Twice that’s big Because verse 12, functions a bit like a hinge, it’s vitally important to that which precedes it, and that which follows it. So I’m double dip. And in each unit, keep your keep your eyes on the text. And each unit. James is really pinpointing a specific kind of trial, a specific sort of test that we face in this life. Remember, in 234, he’s saying many color trials, all kinds of trials. Seems to me in these three units, James is really pinpointing a particular sort of trial, and then showing what it looks like to let steadfastness have its full effect in that trial. So he’s like a good pastor, illustrating and showing us a bit more concretely how we actually live out this banner exhortation, and verses two through four.
So what are the three sorts of trials that James selects? Look with May, verse five, the trial of lacking wisdom, look at verse nine trials relating to socio economics and material possessions. Verse 13, the trial of being tempted enticed to sin. So let’s take a brief look at each of these units and it breaks my heart, we’re not going to be able to expand on them in any depth, we’re going to be looking at the units to mainly to draw some, make some key observations about what we take as the main theme. So look, in verses five through eight, James takes up the trial of lacking wisdom when we’re facing other trials.
Yes, it’s true, verse four, that believers in Christ, by God’s grace are heading for that day, when we ain’t going to Latin, nothing. But in the here and now, verse five. In our dispersion, we lack many things, including wisdom. We need God’s help. Certainly trials have a way of sobering us to our knees don’t pay. Do you feel that? They sober us to our utter helplessness apart from God, and when our faith is being tested, we need God’s wisdom to help us trust the promises laid out in verses two through four. We need wisdom to learn how to embody this distinct mindset. I experienced this need for wisdom in trial quite poignantly, several weeks ago. Here I am a few weeks ago meditating on the glories of James Wan, and they are glorious. And the spectacular gifts that God gives us in our trials, is the spectacular gift in particular have the distinct mindset we can have in our adversity.
When all of the sudden, a big fatal trial lands on my lap, and I get the breath knocked out to me. One of my closest friends, a family member was admitted to the hospital where he began fighting for his life with COVID and double pneumonia. And I can’t articulate the heartache. You know it, you know, it well, crushed, heartbroken. And sisters, let me tell you again, meditating on James one meditating on James one. I was inundated with temptation. I had temptations all around me to relinquish this distinct mindset that God has given us, and instead, to indulge in fear, to indulge and panic, to indulge in trying to control the situation, to indulge in despair, imagining the worst. I was surrounded by temptation. And so I know from recent personal experience, that this mindset of verses two through four, we can’t live it out in our own strength, we need God’s help. And that’s exactly what explains the logical progression from verse four to verse five. God after God is exhorting us to embrace this mindset.
What does James show us? That God supplies us what we need to embrace this mindset? When we ask Him in faith, for wisdom for how we are to let him mature us through a trial, he gives it to us? Oh, sisters, two weeks ago, verses five through eight of James chapter one have become some of my most precious, precious verses in all of Scripture. This truly is glorious. James by his very logical sequence is showing us he’s preaching to us that God always supplies what he demands. God is so good He’s not just he’s not just using your trials to fit you for heaven. He’s actively supplying what you need in the midst of trials. He’s with you. He hasn’t abandoned you. He’s right smack dab in the middle of the trial with you supplying your every need, giving you intimate secret counsel by His Spirit and word.
That’s the Jesus we know. That’s the God we know. He supplies wisdom when we come to him with faithful prayer. Well, what is wisdom? Wisdom is skill for living in God’s word, with God’s pardon me living in God’s world, with trust in God’s promises. God is the source of wisdom. Paul tells us in Colossians, that all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. And God mercifully reveals his wisdom to us were the scriptures. In that case, the answer was not Jesus, although he does reveal them in Jesus, but the scriptures, He gives us His word for his wisdom. Now, James warns us here in these verses that there’s a right way and a wrong way to ask for wisdom, what’s the right way, and faith? What does that mean?
It means that we ask God for wisdom, with a heart that intends to apply the wisdom he gives us. We intend to take the help that he gives, we intend to rely on the gift that he gives. So we searched the scriptures when we’re in our trials. And we ask him to illumine our hearts to His truth that he’s laying out there as a compass for us. And then we put those scriptures into practice. Well, what about asking God with doubting the wrong way? It seems like a strange combination, doesn’t it? Asking God with doubting? The image in verse six is poignant, isn’t it? Some of us have felt like a wave being tossed around to and fro.
James here seems to have in mind a particular sort of doubting. In verse eight, he calls the one who doubts what a double minded or double sold woman to be double minded means that you have divided loyalties. It means to be two faced, a double sold woman says with her lips, that she trust and love God loves God, she may even pray to for wisdom. But in her heart, she’s made her ultimate treasure, something else. Beauty, prestige, money, success, reputation, even her family. She’s got divided loyalties. And you know what that means? That means that when God is instructing her in the scriptures, she will refuse to apply his word when it competes with her ultimate treasure. She’s a double sold woman.
She won’t hear the word in a way that issues into doing it, because she’s double sold. She has divided loyalties. This passage is the first instance when James warns us against such double sold living. But this comes up again and again. If we’re double sold, what does James tell us? We won’t get God’s help. Sisters. There’s nothing more fearful than that. We do not stand a chance without God’s help. We don’t have what it takes. So do you see now how we’ve we’ve briefly unpacked verses five through eight. Do you see how these verses show us more clearly what it looks like to remain steadfast under trial? And what does it look like? It looks like turning to God. It doesn’t look like rolling up your sleeves, rosy riveter style, doing it yourself.
No, it looks like turning to the God of all gifts, and then relying on the gifts that He gives you. That’s what it looks like. Contrary to what we might think or what images might come up in our mind when we hear the word steadfastness. steadfastness does not look like independence. It looks like a growing radical dependence on our generous Heavenly Father. That’s what it looks like. And that’s what James begins to show us in these verses. Now, in verses nine through 12, dred James transitions to a second topic, and continues illustrating what it looks like to embrace this distinct mindset in our trials. What’s the second topic well, specifically, James terms and first Since nine through 12, to the topic of one socio economic situation and status and one’s attitude toward material possessions, James doesn’t stay away from the hard stuff. You know, he’s like the guy who brings up politics at the dinner table. I bet he would do that. But why does he do that? Is he just trying to be controversial? Is he just trying to, you know, get in our grill? No, no, James knows us. He knows Mary Wilson, Mary Wilson, Hannah.
He knows that, that some of the fiercest temptation that we face is worldliness, and worldliness is no respecter of persons. It’s not just the rich who are worldly. It’s not just the rich who are battling who must battle rather the temptation to be worldly. Both the poor and the rich need to be exhorted not to chase after material possessions and status, not to make this world’s treasures, their ultimate treasures Jane’s knows pastor Jane’s knows how prone we are to be double sold. And the truth is that some of the most divisive issues in our local churches relate to socio economics. We allow worldly categories to define us.
And then we begin to resent or other rise, people who fall in different socio economic categories. Kancil culture is alive and well, not just on social media, but in our local churches out there, and in here, in your heart and in my heart. Thanks be to God, he doesn’t otherwise us. We see the evidence of that in these verses and nine through 12. He doesn’t play favorites. Look at verses nine and 10. God makes this gift that is this gift of the distinct mindset we have to embrace to endure trials. God makes this gift available both to the poor, and to the rich, do you see that? It’s a gift that transcends the peculiarities of our circumstances, and empowers every believer to persevere in faith. Every one of us can experience the God given liberty, of not having the trinkets of this world have us in their grip.
So what does that mean? Well, if you’re poor, verse nine, that means you shouldn’t view yourself primarily according to what you lack in this world, materially or socially, or what you hope to get in this world material materially and socially. Instead, you must boast in your exultation. Here, James is alluding to your exultation in Christ. I know that because later on in James and two, five, he says, Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world, to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom? The great reversal? What about the rich believer? The rich believer shouldn’t view herself primarily according to what she has in this world, materially and socially. Instead, she must vote on her humiliation.
What does that mean? Her humbled status in Christ. After all, who is her Christ, he’s the Lord, the suffering servant, the one who didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant. So she counts at her greatest privilege, the rich woman to be a servant after the pattern of her savior. As this unit nine through 12 continues, James is warning us not to strive, after gaining the whole world and in the process, forfeit our soul. Instead, rather than chasing after these, these pleasures that will fade away in verse 12, we must set our eyes on the prize. Friends, keep your eyes on the prize.
And what is the prize in verse 12, the crown of life, the crown of life that God will bestow on those whom he loves, that is eternal life and the unmediated presence of Your Beloved, the crown of life, your beloved as the great reward, Christ is the great prize of friends, may you and may I be among those who let go of identity politics, who let go of chasing this world’s trinkets, let go of defining ourselves and others according to what we have or don’t have, so that we can take hold of Christ and have this mindset of finding our greatest privilege and identifying with him. In verses 12 through 18, James takes up a third and final try He knows his readers are facing. What is that trial? We see it beginning in verse 13, the temptation to sin.
I want you to notice, look at the whole section. Notice how verses 12 and 18, beautifully hold the whole passage together. Do you love it? In verses 12 and 18, James is highlighting God’s character as the Life Giver, the one who gives life. And of course in verses 13 through 1513, through 16, in the middle, we see the devastating death that comes when we get into sin. In light of who God is, as the Life Giver, we’d be out of our minds. If we thought that God would try to destroy us. We’d be positively out of our minds. If when we were tempted, we thought God was the one trying to trip us up. You think we’d know better?
You think we know not to accuse God. But blame shifting that things as old as Adam and Eve, you know, not so subtly blaming God for their failure. And it goes with God’s people all the way through the wilderness as they journey and accuse God of trying to kill them. And it keeps going into this room right here when we are tempted to blame God for tripping us up. James is showing us that a victim mentality with respect to our sin, is totally opposed to the mentality that you and I must embrace if we are embraced if we are going to remain steadfast undertrial this passage makes that crystal clear. God never entices or seduces us to sin.
Yes, Jesus was tested in the wilderness by Satan. But Jesus in His heart wasn’t seduced and enticed. That’s what James is talking about here. Not just being tested, but being seduced in your heart. And yes, God allows us to be tempted in order to test us and strengthen our faith. But God’s never trying to make a stumble, that would be against his character. He’s the one who always provides a way of escape. So here’s the bottom line. If we blame God, for our temptations, for being seduced by sin, were deceived. Why? Because that’s not who God is.
And that brings us to very briefly, our third and final aspect of James answer to our burning question about how you and I can keep going and grow and in the faith, even amid the circumstances. Now we see this third aspect of the answer all the way and five through 18. But we see it most vividly in verses 17 and 18. And you want to know what it is? Sr, do you want to remain steadfast under trial? Yes, you must remember who you are. And yes, you must rejoice in God’s purposes in your trials, and let him mature you through them. But above everything, above all else, you must remember who he is. And who is he. He’s the one who gives wisdom generously to all believers without reproach, who asked him in faith. He’s the one who is no respecter of persons in terms of giving the gift of allowing us to identify with Christ.
And here in verse 17, He is the giver of every good and every perfect gift. He’s the father of lights, and whom there is no variation, Shadow, or shadow due to change. He’s unwavering. Unlike the one who doubts he is our stability. He is our steadfast foundation. Sisters, let’s marvel over the beauty of this, in the midst of calling you to remain steadfast. undertrial James lifts your eyes to behold the steadfastness of Almighty God. James lands the plane and verse 18, by reminding us of one of the clearest evidences of God’s steadfastness and what is it? He says, of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures of his own will. believer in Christ, God chose you. He chose to give you new birth through the Gospel, the word of truth. The gospel is the instrument that God uses to regenerate you to give you life by a spirit. And why?
Why did God choose to give you new life? Because God chose to give you new birth. He didn’t look down the corridors of time and say, oh, you know what? That one, she’s gonna make a really steadfast Christian, I’m gonna choose her. He didn’t look down the corridors of time and choose you because of anything you bring to the table. He chose you out of his own will. You are a Christian today if you’re a believer in Christ simply because of God’s sovereign grace. In other words, the basis for your hope, in your steadfastness, it’s his. And we know we can trust God’s steadfast love, because his gift to us of eternal life has come at great personal cost to him.
On what basis can God give us all these generous gifts, on the basis of the ultimate gift, the gifts of the Lord Jesus Christ, your Father of lights, you’re all generous God gave His own Son who gave his life in order that you and I might one day receive the crown of life. God doesn’t just save us from tyranny, the tyranny of sin and death, he saves us to be first fruits, look at that sacrificial language. We are first fruits, we are being made righteous, and one day from regeneration through progressive sanctification. God is going to bring us home, and he’s going to Dawn us with the crown of life. For that day, sisters, your heavenly Father is singularly good. He’s generously showered you with gifts, and he’ll keep showering you with gifts until you get home.
It’s by relying on the father of every good and every perfect gift that we can remain steadfast under trial. We’re facing many trials, yes, externally internally. We’re weary. Yes. But God is using every single, every single one of your trials to fit you for heaven. Don’t forfeit your joy. Take hold of it. In other words, counted all joy when you meet trials of various kinds. For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Father we believe help us in our unbelief, all for the glory of Your Son, and whose name we pray. Amen.