Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Faith that Works Waits for Jesus and Prays in Faith (James 5.7-20)

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Scripture: James 5.7-20
Translation: 7So, be patient, brothers until the coming of the Lord! Look, the farmer waits for the precious fruit from the ground, while being patient for it until it would get the early and the late [rain]. 8And be patient yourselves! Strengthen your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is close. 9Brothers and sisters, don’t groan against one another, so that you won’t be judged. Look, the Judge is standing in front of the doors. 10Brothers, take the prophets as an the example of suffering-evil and patience, who spoke in the Name of the Lord. 11Look, we call blessed the people who endured. You’ve heard about the endurance of Job and you know what the Lord did in the end, because the Lord is caring and compassionate.

12But above all, my brothers, don’t swear oaths either to heaven or earth or any other oath. But your yes had better mean yes, and your no had better mean no, so that you don’t fall under judgment.

13Someone suffering evil among you, had better pray. Someone who’s happy had better sing praise songs! 14Someone who’s sick among you, had better summon the elders of the church and they had better pray over him, while smearing [him] with olive oil in the Name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him—even if he would have done some sin, it will be forgiven him. 16So confess out loud your sins to one another and pray for another, so that you’d healed. A righteous person’s prayer is really strong, so it’s effective. 17Elijah was a man with the same nature as us, and in a prayer he prayed that it wouldn’t rain. And it didn’t rain on the land for three years and six months! 18And he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit!

19My brothers, if someone among you has been led astray from truth and someone turns him around, 20he had better know that the person who turns a sinner around from the deception of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a large number of sins!

The Point I’m Stressing: People who have true faith show that faith by waiting in faith and excitement for Jesus' Return and by praying in faith that God will answer!--JESUS REALLY IS COMING BACK!!! and GOD REALLY DOES ANSWER OUR PRAYERS!!!

1.      Structure
a.       Wait Patiently for the Lord to Return
                                                              i.      Instruction: Endure Patiently for Jesus’ Coming
                                                            ii.      Comparison: A Farmer waiting for the fruit being patient for rain
                                                          iii.      Instruction Restated:
1.      Be patient
2.      Be emotionally/volitionally strong
3.      Basis: Jesus is coming soon
                                                          iv.      Implication of the Return of the Messiah
1.      Don’t groan against each other
2.      Basis/purpose: the action is punishable/avoid judgment
3.      Warning: the Judge is closeby!
                                                            v.      Example to Follow 1: the Prophets’ suffering and patient endurance
                                                          vi.      Importance of Endurance: it results in blessing
1.      It results in blessing
2.      Proof it results in blessing: the story of Job
a.       Job Suffered
b.      The Lord blessed
3.      Basis: The Lord is caring and compassionate
b.      Don’t Take Oaths
                                                              i.      Prohibition: Don’t Taking oaths
                                                            ii.      Instruction: Mean what you say, be faithful with your words
                                                          iii.      Basis/Purpose of the Instruction:
1.      [implicit basis] breaking what you’ve said is a punishable offense
2.      [explicit aim] avoid judgment
c.       Pray
                                                              i.      Pray if you’re suffering
                                                            ii.      Pray in praise if you’re happy
                                                          iii.      Pray for healing if someone is sick
1.      Process:
a.       The sick person summons the elders to pray
b.      The elders pray for healing while smearing the person with oil in the Name of the Lord
2.      Expectation/Promise: Praying in faith will result in healing
a.       Requirement: Faith in the prayer
b.      Result: healing
c.       The Healer is the Lord, who can raise the dead
d.      Grace: Sin does not inhibit the process, rather sin is dealt with
                                                                                                                                      i.      Implications: Healing is connect to confession and prayer
1.      Instruction: Confess your sins to one another
2.      Instruction: Pray for one another
3.      Result: you will be healed
3.      Doctrine of Prayer Implied by the Above
a.       Stated: Prayer by a Godly person is powerful
b.      Example: Elijah prayed
                                                                                                                                      i.      His prayer kept the rain from coming for 3.5 years
                                                                                                                                    ii.      His prayer allowed the rain to come and the ground to produce food again
d.      Correct the Deceived Person
                                                              i.      Instruction: Correct a deceived/straying Christian
                                                            ii.      Reason: You action can lead to that person’s salvation from death (either temporal [God does kill people who are His, but walk away from Him] or but in this passage mainly ultimate [hell awaits the person who proves their faith was fake by abandoning Christ] and cover over the sins of the time of straying [that is, grace always is there for the repentance person]
2.      Themes
a.       The Return of Jesus the Messiah
                                                              i.      This is the main theme of 7-11, it is what we are to wait patiently for, to endure for (v.7), the waiting is implied to come with hope of blessing via the story of the farmer (v.7), it is not something that is easy to wait for (v.8), but it is soon (v.8), which gives us the strength and courage to wait (v.8)!!!
                                                            ii.      The return will also bring judgment against sin, especially problems within the body of Christ (v.9)
                                                          iii.      Perhaps thematically the example of the prophets is important because their message which was authorized by the Lord was often about His Return and the judgment that would come with Him
                                                          iv.      The example of Job also reinforces the theme of coming, because it was when the Lord finally came that all was set right
                                                            v.      The coming of the Lord will bring vindication and blessing and relief from suffering for those who trust in Him, who know Him, because the Lord really cares and is compassionate!
                                                          vi.      Judgment also will come against those who’s words have no integrity (v.12), and against those who have been deceived or have strayed (v.20) because of their sins
b.      Endurance/Patience
                                                              i.      Of course the biggest theme is that real Christians with real faith need to endure, to put up with what is happening to us until the Lord does come back!
                                                            ii.      The endurance with the expectation of reward and relief is compared to that of the patience of a farmer waiting on his crops
                                                          iii.      An example of patience/endurance is the prophets and Job, who all suffered great things, but did so with endurance,
                                                          iv.      We endure with an expectation of vindication and relief, just like Job—there is coming for all of us a relief and vindication from all our suffering when Jesus returns just like Job,
                                                            v.      We can endure because Jesus is coming soon (v.8)
                                                          vi.      and expect relief because of the character of God—Jesus is caring and compassionate!
                                                        vii.      As we suffer, we can endure, but we should also pray—it is not wrong to pray for relief and/or strength
                                                      viii.      If endurance is easy for you right now, praise God!
                                                          ix.      If you are enduring sickness, seek relief now through prayer, endurance does not mean holding on to suffering that can be relieved, it means putting up with the stuff that won’t be relieved for a while
                                                            x.      Endurance also means enduring not only through hard times, but sticking with the path God has put you on when you trusted Him for eternal, that is believing true things about God and living a life that proves your faith is really real
                                                          xi.      But endurance should also be a concern inside the family of God for one another, do we see our brothers and sisters enduring
c.       Judgment
                                                              i.      Judgment is coming when Christ returns
                                                            ii.      Judgment will come against sin in general (v.20)
                                                          iii.      Judgment will come against people for their words in particular
1.      Groaning against others, complaining (v.9)
2.      Taking false oaths, not keeping promises, not having integrity in what you say (v.12)
d.      Wisdom
                                                              i.      The undercurrent of the passage is that what we do matters, and so we should seek to live wisely, especially in how we use our words, which has been a major theme in James throughout the book
                                                            ii.      Wisdom should dictate appropriate responses to different situations, patience in suffering, praise in joy, prayer in sickness, correction when people are straying
                                                          iii.      Wisdom is also found in seeing the implications of the return of Christ, seeing how these basic Christian doctrines really do affect our lives, and how we should live, but of course wisdom is not just about knowing what to do or figuring out what to do, it is about doing it
e.       Faith
                                                              i.      James has been showing how a faith that is true faith works, it affects how we live and how we respond to our current situation
                                                            ii.      Faith is assumed in the Coming of Christ—you only wait for something you believe is really going to happen
                                                          iii.      Faith is assumed in the appeals to judgment, it only strengthens our resolve to live for God if we really believe it is coming
                                                          iv.      Faith is assuming prayer, we believe that God will answer
                                                            v.      Faith is assumed in correcting an deceived or straying brother or sister, because for us to correct assumes that we trust God in what He has said about Himself, and we truly believe in the consequences of rejecting Christ
f.       Prayer
                                                              i.      This is the core theme of vv.13-18
                                                            ii.      It is our response to suffering
                                                          iii.      It is our response to joy in the form of singing praise songs
                                                          iv.      It is our response to being sick
                                                            v.      It something that is does by church elders for Christians
                                                          vi.      It something that Christians do for each other
                                                        vii.      It is something that is powerful
                                                      viii.      It can accomplish big things, even long lasting things
                                                          ix.      It works because God listens and acts
g.      Speaking
                                                              i.      How not to speak is articulated in v.9 (don’t groan/complain against each other) and in v.12 (don’t break your word)
                                                            ii.      How to speak is covered in v.12 (mean what you say), v.13 (pray, sing praise songs), v.14 (pray for healing), v.16 (confess your sins to each other and pray for one another)
                                                          iii.      It is how the prophets are qualified “who spoke in the name of the Lord”
                                                          iv.      “in the Name of the Lord” occurs in v.10 and v.14, that is speaking with the Lord’s authority, which seems to indicate a bit of a connection between elders and prophets at least when it comes to the authority with which they are speaking and praying
                                                            v.      It is clearly required in correcting a deceived or staying brother or sister
h.      Agriculture
                                                              i.      This appears in the farmer comparison in v.7, and in the Elijah example in vv.17-18, which seems in some ways to bracket that as a section
i.        Healing
                                                              i.      Healing is what is clearly sought for in prayer
                                                            ii.      The healing can even go to the point of raising the person up from near-death or even death (v.15)
                                                          iii.      Healing is an appropriate request
                                                          iv.      Healing is connect with forgiveness of sins and repentance, which may suggest that physical healing is at play as well as spiritual healing although mainly it is the physical that is being discussed here
                                                            v.      This healing is clearly understood to happen in the churches today (contrary to what some people teach)
3.      Doctrines
a.       The Imminent Return of Jesus
b.      The Gift of Healing is Alive and Well in the Church today
c.       Perseverance of the Saints/Endurance is Core to the Christian Life
d.      Prayer Works
e.       The Absolute Sovereignty of God
f.       The Church is a Family
g.      Christians Should Care about other Christians

1.      We should be excited and longing passionately for Jesus to come back!
2.      We should be care what we say
3.      We should pray, and pray in faith
4.      We should care about our family members enough and know enough about the truth to correct someone who is deceived into lies or ungodly lifestyles
5.      We should confess our sins
6.      We should pray for one another
7.      We should endure to the very end, we have to wait and hold on until Jesus comes back
8.      We should expect blessing when Jesus returns!

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