Category Archives: Bite Sized Theology

A Reflection on James 1

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. ~James 1:19-27

Most anger is a fleshly anger, an anger produced of man not of the righteousness of God. The point I want to bring out is being a doer of the Word also includes being quick to hear (Proverbs 18:13) and being slow to anger (Proverbs 14:29), as well as, bridling the tongue (Proverbs 12:23; Proverbs 13:16; Proverbs 15:2; Proverbs 15:14). Visiting orphans and widows in their affliction does not outweigh the folly of allowing anger to flourish and the tongue to be unbridled (Proverbs 17:12; Ecclesiastes 10:1).

Other passages to note:

If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. ~1 John 4:20-21

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. ~Matthew 5:43-48 (Luke 6:27-31)

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. ~Matthew 5:22

from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. … Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. ~Ephesians 4:16, 25-27

We must be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. But if we do get angry, let not the sun go down on our anger; remember, “my little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1).

Recapitulation

Genesis 1-2 provides the initial account of creation. Scripture makes the practice of recapitulating the creation account in some form or fashion.

What is recapitulation?

re·ca·pit·u·la·tion/ˌrēkəˌpiCHəˈlāSHən/
Noun:
An act or instance of summarizing the main points of something

Scripture is replete with recapitulation of the creation story. Creation is not the only subject that is recapitulated; the Exodus, Matthew recapitulates Israel’s history via Jesus’ life, the Psalmists recapitulated (rehearsed) the works of God (i.e. Psalm 40:5), are a few other examples.

Preaching the Gospel is recapitulating the Person and Work of Jesus to others (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). Paul recapitulates the Gospel to Christians in all of his letters.

Recapitulation is standard fare in Scripture

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. ~Genesis 1:1, 31

You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. ~Nehemiah 9:6

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. ~Psalm 104:24-25

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. ~Colossians 1:15-16

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. ~Deuteronomy 10:14

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. ~1 Chronicles 29:11

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. For ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.’ ~Psalm 24:1-2; cf. Psalm 89:11; 1 Corinthians 10:26

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. ~Psalm 33:5-6

The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. ~Psalm 145:9, 13; cf. Psalm 145:17

In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. ~Job 12:10

You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. ~Nehemiah 9:6

He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? ~Psalm 94:9

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. ~Psalm 104:24

Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: ~Isaiah 42:5

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, ~Isaiah 44:24

It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. ~Jeremiah 27:5

The oracle of the word of the LORD concerning Israel: Thus declares the LORD, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: ~Zechariah 12:1

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. ~John 1:3

Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. ~Acts 14:15

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. ~Acts 17:24-25

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20

But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. ~1 Corinthians 15:38-39

and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, ~Ephesians 3:9

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ~Colossians 1:16-17

And he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’ ~Revelation 14:7

Bite Sized Theology – Sin

Anthony Abell shares a great post about what sin really is. Anthony quotes John Paul II:

The loss of the sense of sin is thus a form or consequence of the denial of God: not only in the form of atheism but also in the form of secularism. If sin is the breaking, off of one’s filial relationship to God in order to situate one’s life outside of obedience to him, then to sin is not merely to deny God. To sin is also…

Read the whole thing to get the full answer.

Bite Sized Theology is a series which provides definitions and discussion of theological terms and concepts. It’s designed to help you think biblically.

Bite Sized Theology – Covenants

God is a covenant keeping God.

Mike Leake says,

“Covenant’s are a big deal to God. Breaking covenants is a big deal to God. To see how big of a deal covenants are consider Genesis 15. The Lord walks through a host of animals that are ripped asunder and essentially says, “If I break my covenant let what is done to these animals be done to me”. Covenants are a big deal.”

Covenants are legal contracts. But to our covenant-keeping God, they are so much more.

Covenants are relational

Dr. O. Palmer Robertson – “A bond in blood sovereignly administered”
Prof. John Murray – “Sworn fidelity”
Pastor G. Nichols – “God’s holy covenant is his pledge, His sworn commitment or oath” cp. Luke 1:71

CARM (Christian Apologetics Research Ministry) explains covenants this way:

A Covenant is an agreement between two parties. The agreement, according to Ancient Near East custom, consisted of five parts: 1) Identification of parties, 2) Historical prologue where the deeds establishing the worthiness of the dominant party is established, 3) Conditions of the agreement, 4) Rewards and punishments in regard to keeping the conditions, and 5) Disposition of the documents where each party receives a copy of the agreement (e.g. the two tablets of stone of the 10 Commandments).

Ultimately, the covenants God has made with man result in our benefit. We receive eternal blessings from the covenant of grace. (For further study see Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 9:1-17; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 26:3-5; Galatians 3:16-18; Luke 1:68-79; Hebrews 13:20).

Bite Sized Theology is a series which provides definitions and discussion of theological terms and concepts. It’s designed to help you think biblically.

Bite Sized Theology – Worldliness

Genesis 3:1-7 is a description of our fallenness. Our nothingness.

There are some things we need to recognize in what happens in this passage:
1) God’s Word was questioned – “Has God said,…”
2) God’s Word was twisted – “You will not surely die:”
3) Man was said to be lifted up to be like God – “you will be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
4) Adam and Eve exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served a created thing rather than their Creator (Romans 1:25)
5) They are now characterized by worldliness

Life on the outside (of the garden) is dominated by worldliness. So, the question is,

how do we define worldliness?

There are lots of definitions out there. What I want to do here is to give us a bottom line description of worldliness. And here it is –

Worldliness is performance based living

Within the Lord of the Rings, some of the most intriguing characters are the Ring Wraiths. These nine human kings, great kings of old they’re called, who were given rings from the Dark Lord Sauron. And when they were given these rings they were bewitched by Sauron, they were enslaved by Sauron, and they actually became less than human– in that now they were no longer visible to the human eye. They were kind of in between physical existence and this other world, and they were enslaved to do his will.

If you’ve seen the movies, they have these suped up monk robes, where the hood comes down and you can’t see the inside. They have these massive arm holes in the robes. And I remember asking the question, ‘why are they wearing these robes?’ Well, Tolkien actually tells us why they’re wearing these robes.

Listen to this, Tolkien writes,

“The black robes are real robes that the Wraiths wear to give shape to their nothingness.”

These fallen men have a profound sense of their fallenness. They have a profound sense of their nothingness. And they wear these robes, not because they like robes, but these robes are their way of covering that fallenness, of covering this profound sense of nothingness.

The story of the Ring Wraiths is really not a fictional story. Well it is a fictional story, but it’s not because it captures all of our experience this side of the Fall.

That we wear robes. We have a profound sense, we can’t articulate it and it takes years in your 20’s and 30’s and 40’s before we can really begin to get a sense of the depth, of our own fallenness. But we wear these robes to cover our fallenness.

We put on the robe of sex (pornography, wandering thought-life), we put on the robe of money (we never have enough for what we really want), we put on the robe of power, we put on the robe of vocational achievement, we put on the robe of educational achievement, we put on this robe and that robe and we’re wearing all these different robes in an attempt to cover our fallenness, in an attempt to cover our nothingness. But we do not only put on robes of sex, money and power, we also put on religious robes.

This is why James, for instance, talks about pure and undefiled religion, because we are a people, I am a person, who will put on religious activity: I will put on social concern, environmental involvement, animal rights, as a robe that is my attempt to cover my own sense of fallenness and brokenness.

THIS is worldliness.

Note: Doug Wilson wrote a good piece on Discerning Worldliness.

Definitions:
Worldliness is…

  1. Performance-Based Living
  2. Looking to lesser things as ultimate things
  3. Indulging in desires as if they are the ultimate fulfillment of life
  4. A disposition contrary to following God’s will
  5. Enmity with God
  6. Seeking God’s favor on our own
  7. Inordinate love of lesser goods
  8. Conditional identity
  9. Whatever makes sin look normal and righteousness look strange. ~Kevin DeYoung in THE HOLE IN OUR HOLINESS

Quotes about Worldliness

Worldliness proposes objectives which demand no radical breach with man’s fallen nature; it judges the importance of things by the present and material results; it weighs success by numbers; it covets human esteem and wants no unpopularity; it knows no truth for which it is worth suffering; it declines to be a ‘fool for Christ’s sake. ~Iain Murray

Bite Sized Theology is a series which provides definitions and discussion of theological terms and concepts. It’s designed to help you think biblically.