We began our workout with a singing of hymn #35 - "O Great God."
As a refresher, we recited/read James 1:1-15 together.
Question: Why does James bring up the fact that God is not tempted? Why is that important?
- James is teaching us about the character of God. God has nothing to do with temptation, so James is shutting down the very idea; no one should say that they are being tempted by God toward evil and sin. To do so would be impossible because it is against God's nature and character.
- God is not the source of temptation. The source of temptations is our own lusts and desires (James 1:14-15)
- Temptations arise when we pursue and nurture our lusts and desires, in contrast to pursuing the glory of God and the exaltation of His name.
Question: Does James 1:13 apply to all men or only to believers?
- It can apply to all people, because believers and unbelievers alike are all sinners.
Question: What is the time period for the approval spoken of in James 1:12?
- The approval is not given at the end of someone's life, but after reaching the end of a period of trials.
- After having been approved for enduring through trials, one receives the crown of life, which is referring to the eternal life that will be received in the future.
- The approval is given as a result of not only enduring physical pain and suffering, but by remaining steadfast in worship and love for the Lord through the sufferings.
Question: How should we understand "persecution," and what are some examples we can relate to today?
- When somebody is persecuting you, that person is aggressively pursuing you for evil because of your faith.
- Other trials that can be forms of persecution: disease, loss of job, or the death of a loved one.
Question: If there is comfort in our lives, should we be praying for trials in our lives?
- No. On the contrary, Jesus prayed "do not lead us into temptation" (Matthew 6:13).
- It's okay to express humble longing to be spared from trials.
- We should not be naive and think that we won't endure trials as Christians. But at the same time, we shouldn't be sadistic and long for or pursue suffering as if it is something desirable.
Question: We know that God disciplines us. Should we consider those trials?
- Unless somebody's sin is patently obvious, we can't know whether something is a trial or a working out of God's sovereign plan.
- There is no basis in Scripture that tells us that our sins are a cause for our sufferings. They can be, but not always.
- The Lord's discipline is in a different category from temptations and trials. It is possible that temptations and trials can meet in the middle, but it is not often the case.
- Not all trials are discipline. Disciplinary trials are a subset of all trials.
- 1 Corinthians 11 and Hebrews 12 are passages we can refer to for to read about God's discipline and how He deals with His people.
We briefly previewed James 1:16-21.
- God gives us good things (verse 16)
- God is good. He abundantly gives us good things; most of all, He gives us eternal salvation.
- The ultimate goodness of God is demonstrated in our salvation (verse 18)
- He brought us forth in the word of truth.
- Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (verse 20)
- We are called to not get angry, but to be those who are wise, humble, and temperate.
- Anger doesn’t produce or approximate the righteousness of God. Often we feel like it does!
- Emotionally charged anger doesn’t result in good.
Reminder: We should be in the practice of reading Scripture and drawing out and clutching onto obvious truths, and not always getting bogged down in the minute details.
Peter's name was chosen, and he drew 2 Thessalonians 1 from the hat.
Peter made the following observations from this text:
- [Verse 11] When God calls us to be His followers, we must live according to His truth so that we can be counted as worthy and that the name of Jesus can be glorified in us.
- [Verses 6-7] Vengeance belongs to God. When we face affliction, we are not in any place to repay others with affliction. We should stay away from such action.
Other propositions and observations:
- We have an obligation to give thanks to God (verse 3)
- Christians can grow under persecution (verses 3-4)
- We boast about God's work in other believers (verse 4)
- Endurance through suffering results in worthiness to enter the kingdom of God (verse 5)
- God does not overlook injustice (verse 6)
- The afflicted in Christ can look forward to relief (verse 7)
- The gospel of our Lord must be obeyed (verse 8)
- The gospel is a call to obedience (verse 8)
- Those who reject God pay the penalty of absence from God and His glory (verse 9)
- The Lord is powerful and majestic; comfortingly so for believers, but terrifyingly so for unbelievers (verses 6-10)
- Christians live for the glory of Christ (verse 11)