Sunday, June 23, 2024

968. After the Cross: The Mixing of Law and Faith

Throughout the pages of the New Testament, we see numerous examples of how there were Jewish people coming to believe in Jesus, but understandably also believed the law of Moses was still in place for them. The Apostle Paul came along a short while later with a gospel message he claimed was taught directly to him by divine revelation ... to declare the former law had been put aside and nailed to the cross. His message was that life could not be found in the law which had now come to an end, and that the Jewish people had been delivered from such a burdensome ministry of death and condemnation.

But he was in the minority and suffered much persecution because of it. Various places within the New Testament show how James and his council of leadership within the Jerusalem church were part of this persuasion who believed that the Mosaic law was a component towards attaining salvation/justification (for the Jew). They also encouraged at least portions of it for the believing Gentiles. By not ignoring this important part of the big picture within the scriptures, we can begin to see how all of these books (including the works-based letter from James) harmonize with each other to tell the story. The story of what was happening with the struggles in the early church at that time—but more importantly—the message of Jesus and how eternal life is found in Him as a gift by grace through faith ... apart from works.

Here's the playlist for our previous series, "Faith and Works, Paul and James."




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Sunday, June 16, 2024

967. "The Law of Liberty" - Something New or Something Obsolete?

Continuing with program #3 of our series on being a "doer of the word" and what this was meant to be about...

The "law of liberty" is seen twice in the New Testament, both times used by James in the first two chapters of his letter written to the twelve tribes of Israel which had been scattered to different regions. If doing an online search to find out what the law of liberty is ... like many other Bible topics ... be prepared to see no fewer than hundreds of different opinions. But as we springboard off the context from chapter 1 of his letter and move into chapter 2, we'll notice clearly how James is using this phrase as a reference to the law of Moses—something he also refers to as the royal law.

Within this context, he encourages his audience to follow all of that law and to speak "and do" as those who will be judged by that law—what he calls a law of liberty—but had just defined it as the Mosaic law. James would double-down to say faith without works is dead (useless) and that one cannot be justified by faith without works (of the law). He will declare that faith is perfected by works ... the precise opposite of what Paul said in his writing to the Galatians at the beginning of chapter 3. Even when using the example of Abraham, there is a conflict with what Paul said along the same lines, which we will cover more on the next program.



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Sunday, June 09, 2024

966. "Be Doers of the Word" (But What IS the "Word" in This Instance?)

James made a statement in his letter to the twelve Jewish tribes ... believed by most historians to be the earliest writing in the pages known as The New Testament. "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22). This passage, along with what follows has a consistent but curious theme of externals, doing and works—and all under the topic of righteousness, salvation and justification.

In program #2 in this brief series, we continue to take a closer look at the entire context of what James said shortly before this (and after). Have you ever stopped and asked yourself what he meant by "the word?" Modern-day believers may skim over it and think that James is telling us to be a doer of the Bible (whatever that means). But in order for these Jewish believers to be able to meet this goal of identifying as a doer, it would have to be something specific that they were already familiar with ... and something they could see, hear and do—dare we say—something being read and heard in synagogues every week on the Sabbath.



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Sunday, June 02, 2024

965. Can We Have a Word? (A Look at the Word "Word")

The popular phrase from the Old Testament known as, "The Ten Commandments" is more rightfully interpreted as "The Ten Words." Is it a big deal? Perhaps not, but we wanted to point out a few things about this to lay some groundwork before getting into something that James wrote to his believing Jewish brothers and sisters from the twelve tribes.

James made a statement to them about being a doer of "the word" and not a hearer only. It's easy to brush past this, but let's put on the brakes and check it out in context. Just exactly what did James mean by being a doer of the word? How we answer this becomes a bigger deal. He also said that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. So what is it precisely that James believes will produce the righteousness of God? What did he mean when referring to the law of liberty? Is it a grace thing found within the New Covenant or something else? We'll dive into it and offer some perspectives over the next few programs.



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Sunday, May 26, 2024

964. Identifying as a Doer... Or a Believer

When we shrink the message of the good news down to a few Bible verses which have been yanked out of context, it can turn into a scary place to hang out. For example, Jesus spoke about some people who would one day be told to depart from Him ... and that He never knew them. Believers can misunderstand such a passage and make it their life's goal to work at doing whatever it takes to never hear those words being spoken to them.

Jesus told some religious scholars that harlots and tax collectors would enter into the kingdom of God before they would. Why?

The disciples asked what they must do to work the works of God. Jesus didn't dictate an instruction manual but answered by saying, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

Understanding our identity as believers in Christ is a foundational launching pad for us to come to a place of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who strives to be identified as a doer by performing what they consider to be mighty works in the name of Jesus ... will mistakenly think this entitles them to a reservation in the kingdom.



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Sunday, May 19, 2024

963. Thou Shalt Read Your Bible (And Like It!)

Never mind the millions of opinions, interpretations, and thousands of church corporations and denominations about what is inside the pages of the Bible ... there is also an immeasurable number of thoughts and assumptions just about the Bible itself and what it is or isn't. Some of us were instructed to make it required reading on a daily basis. Others may have been told it is our daily bread and without ingesting it as frequently as eating food, we might starve spiritually.

Of course, we're thankful for these writings (we talk about them every week on the podcast). But anything—even something as potentially beneficial as Bible reading—can become a lifeless religious exercise that can sadly feel like a burdensome activity because of what others have told us. And everyone will have a different viewpoint on how to read it, how often, etc., without any guarantee of walking away with a better understanding of the gospel. Knowing we can pick up the pages because we want to instead of being guilted into it will make things more enjoyable ... and probably more profitable.



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Sunday, May 12, 2024

962. The Things We Do for Love

This week, we take a look back at some of the things we were coaxed into thinking and doing as it was being fed to us through our legalistic religious surroundings and misunderstandings ... as we strived to do whatever we thought was necessary to make sure we were in "God's good graces." After all, we were told of the risks of potentially losing fellowship with God (although the specifics were mysteriously missing in the fine print). Do more. Pray more. We thought that maybe "more" would be enough. Maybe.

You may be able to relate to our experiences a little bit, because sadly, many believers in Christ have been in a consistent state of panic—wondering whether they are still loved by God or still accepted because of things they have done. They begin to feel a false sense of contamination—and then condemnation— and will attempt to get their compass pointed in the right direction by doing things to make up for it. Their "faith" or belief becomes centered around their dedication and commitment to God instead of what God has already done for us through His Son. There will be no need for us to graduate by earning a spiritual senior discount when we begin to understand the things that have already been freely given to us by God.



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