Thursday, January 31, 2013

God's Progressive Revelation about the Tongue

James 1:26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

Yesterday we looked at the Bible study principle of interpreting scripture in light of other scripture.  Today we will consider another vital Bible study tool that like yesterday's, flows from the very character of scripture itself.  The Bible is God's progressive revelation of His mind to man.  I find the Book of James to be such a great Book for demonstrating Bible study tools, since the Book is all about "Living Working Christianity" or "Christian faith at work".  When we can demonstrate the doctrine we believe by experience, we prove we have grasped that teaching by faith.  Today I want us to look at what James has to teach on the tongue. 

Progressive revelation simply refers to how God will reveal an idea, and then expand on that idea in a clearer and fuller way over time and throughout scripture.  Sometimes we will see this over the course of the whole Bible or in a particular Bible book.  Watch what James does in writing to us about the tongue in each chapter of his letter:

1. James 1:26 "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless."

2. James 2:12 "So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty."

3. James 2:15 "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself."

4 . James 3:2 "we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well."

5. James 3:5  "So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things."

6. James 3:6 "And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell."

7. James 3:8-9  "But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way."

8. James 4:11  "Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it."

9. James 4:14-16  "Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil."

10. James 5:12-16   "But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.
13Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."

As you noticed, the underlined words signify various acts you can do with your tongue - both Godly and ungodly.  The Holy Ghost through James' pen progressively reveals in greater detail and depth the simple principle articulated in James 1:26.  We see just how powerful the tongue can be.  May you and I, by the leading of the Spirit and not our selfish-desires, use our tongue to advance the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.