Sunday, November 4, 2012

P4 - Traits of a Strong Christian - Persistent Application of God's Word

James 1:25  "But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."

These past three days we have been observing a series of traits from the life of James that characterizes what we are calling: Traits of a Strong Christian.  Why James?  James wrote the first book of the New Testament - the Epistle of James.  James was half-brother of Jesus according to the flesh, as well as the first leader of the church at large in the book of Acts.  According to Paul in Galatians 2:19, James, along with the Apostles Peter and John, was considered a "Pillar of the Church".  Ample reasons serve to prove why James would be worthy of consideration as a model of a strong Christian.

Thus far in this study we have noted three traits of a strong Christian, strong Christians have....

1. Personal Testimony
2. Prioritize Spiritual Maturity
3. Passionate about Jesus

In today's post we are going to consider another trait of a strong Christian, as seen particularly in the life of James, namely Persistent Application of God's Word.

James - a strong Christian who knew God's Word  Acts 15:13-15
If we are going to be stronger Christians who persist in our application of God's Word, we must know God's Word.  Acts 15 is the account about the Jerusalem Council, an event wherein the predominately Jewish Church had to deal with a terrific problem.  The problem was how to instruct Gentiles who were being converted to faith in Jesus Christ.  The terrific aspect of this problem was the fact that people were being won to Jesus Christ. 

The dilemma was acute - if the early church relaxed its convictions on matters of holiness and compromised too much - then the character of God would be in question.  On the other hand, if James and these church leaders placed too many restrictions on the Gentile converts, the Christian movement would had been mired in legalism and dead, dry religion. 

James, the strong Christian, stood up in Acts 15:13-14 "After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. 14“Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name."  What was he going to say next?  Simeon (Peter) just delivered a glorious missions report.  People by the hundreds were getting saved.  James states in Acts 15:15 “With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written".  

Notice what he says "with this the word of the prophets".  James knew where to go in his Bible.  He knew God's Word.  To apply God's Word, we need to not only know what area of life to apply God's Word, we need to know what area of God's word to bring life's problems to.  God's specific solutions are more than enough to deal with life's problems, but you and I need to know God's Word. 

But notice second....

James - a strong Christian who memorized God's word Acts 15:16-19
As James addressed this assembly of the early church, he quoted scripture.  He not only knew scripture, he memorized it.  He was a walking Bible.  As a man who memorized scripture, he could speak as God would to the problem this church was facing.  1 Peter 4:11a "Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God..."  

We as Christian people are living in a day an age that is full of words of men.  Many folks can tell you what they heard on the news, or heard what so and so said on T.V.  Often when I am on Twitter, I tell my wife what such and such said.  We are saturated by the words of men.  But what happens when you and I are faced with a crisis, a crossroads?  What occurs when the bottom falls out of your life?  A word of man will fail, however a Word from God will prevail.  When you and I memorize scripture, we will be able to recall it at a time when a man-made problem needs a God-sized solution.  Much more could be said, but lets move onto what else constitutes persistent application of God's word....

James - A strong Christian acts out what He has memorized and read Acts 15:19-35
James the strong Christian knew his Bible.  He quoted what he memorized to a needy people.  But now James was going to instruct them on how to act on what they heard, read and memorized.  Unless you and I apply God's Word, we cannot claim we have understood it nor believed it.  James himself writes in James 2:22-24 "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was." 

James quoted more scripture and then he gave further instruction.  The assembly agreed, and the church sent out a letter.  They not only put prayer to their feet but feet to their prayers.  They acted on what they claimed they stood upon.  James' influence was not only apparent but evident.  These folks rejoiced.  God had spoken through this strong Christian.  Every child of God has this same opportunity to take their Bible, know it, memorize it and act it out. 

May you and I persist in our application of God's Word as strong Christians!

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