[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back to James: Slow to Speak

by hk flynn

James is often thought of as decisively refuting the idea of a passive faith that saves. But as we’ve seen there are some obstacles to understanding James this way. One of the obstacles is simply that 1:19 provides a surprisingly strong organizing concept for James’ main section on how to respond to trials. As we’ve seen previously, by being “quick to hear” James means that we should not be passive hearers but active doers of God’s word. This is the unit that carries us to the end of chapter two.

The next unit, being slow to speak is neatly expressed in chapter three. The point is for Christians to be slow to become teachers and instead recognize virtuous behavior as a safer medium to convey wisdom than words. In deference to this exotic idea, I’ll stop my own yammering and risk Matthew’s ire by quoting from the JB Phillips translation/commentary the entire 3rd chapter of James:

Don't aim at adding to the number of teachers, my brothers, I beg you! Remember that we who are teachers will be judged by a much higher standard.

We all make mistakes in all kinds of ways, but the man who can claim that he never says the wrong thing can consider himself perfect, for if he can control his tongue he can control every other part of his personality! Men control the movements of a large animal like the horse with a tiny bit placed in its mouth. Ships too, for all their size and the momentum they have with a strong wind behind them, are controlled by a very small rudder according to the course chosen by the helmsman. The human tongue is physically small, but what tremendous effects it can boast of! A whole forest can be set ablaze by a tiny spark of fire, and the tongue is as dangerous as any fire, with vast potentialities for evil. It can poison the whole body, it can make the whole of life a blazing hell.

Beasts, birds, reptiles and all kinds of sea-creatures can be, and in fact are, tamed by man, but no one can tame the human tongue. It is an evil always liable to break out, and the poison it spreads is deadly. We use the tongue to bless our Father, God, and we use the same tongue to curse our fellow-men, who are all created in God's likeness. Blessing and curses come out of the same mouth - surely, my brothers, this is the sort of thing that never ought to happen! Have you ever known a spring to give sweet and bitter water simultaneously? Have you ever seen a fig-tree with a crop of olives, or seen figs growing on a vine? It is just as impossible for a spring to give fresh and salt water at the same time.

Are there some wise and understanding men among you? Then your lives will be an example of the humility that is born of true wisdom. But if your heart is full of rivalry and bitter jealousy, then do not boast of your wisdom - don't deny the truth that you must recognize in your inmost heart. You may acquire a certain superficial wisdom, but it does not come from God - it comes from this world, from your own lower nature, even from the devil. For wherever you find jealousy and rivalry you also find disharmony and all other kinds of evil.

The wisdom that comes from God is first utterly pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no breath of favoritism or hint of hypocrisy. And the wise are peace-makers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness - in other people and in themselves.


  • Thanks for sharing that, Jodie.

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at Thursday, May 25, 2006 5:58:00 PM  

  • That's a great chapter. It's a similar theme to a post I had a few days ago...


    Every now and then I come across posts that people have with similar themes or the same scripture that I was led to at the same time, and I smile. It's cool how you can see the Spirit ministering similar things to lots of people - confirmation that the message is from Him. Thanks!

    By Blogger N8, at Thursday, May 25, 2006 6:14:00 PM  

  • Jodie, it is amazing how people completely ignore the context to make James chpater 2 into a theological point about the nature of saving faith.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 26, 2006 12:21:00 AM  

  • Great thoughts, Jodie. This was good for me to read.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, May 26, 2006 5:56:00 AM  

  • Thanks Scribe :)

    God bless

    Thanks for visiting Nathan :)

    I like your Where There are no Palm Trees blog :)

    Your post on 2 Timothy is similar, and I agree that we need to be patient with the decieved.

    God Bless


    Amen to that Matthew ! It's a big issue of here in America :(

    God bless

    Hi Rose :)

    Thanks for commenting so early. Are you still walking early in the morning? You inspired me to get back in shape :) Which was very needed.

    God bless


    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Friday, May 26, 2006 6:04:00 AM  

  • Over here it is hardly even an issue. I think the Free Grace position is virtually unknown.

    Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology did more than anything else to make Zane Hodges known in the UK.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 26, 2006 8:16:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    I didn't know Wayne Grudem brought up Hodges. Negatively?

    IN the late 80's was really when the Lordship Salvation debate flared up over here. The only people who are aware of it currently are people who can remember all that, or who are in or have gone to seminary etc, and they don't seem to have any first hand knowledge of the literature. But James is a hot verse that is invoked to dimiss the idea that sloppy Christians have eternal security because they once put their faith in Christ.


    But it does sound like Lordship theology has made even stronger inroads in the UK. There's a lot of agreement that that is a big error.

    But good doctrine is its own reward, so we can remain encouraged :)

    God bless


    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Friday, May 26, 2006 10:51:00 AM  

  • Yes, without giving any arguments.

    Grudem just said that MacArthur gave some very convincing arguments against Hodges' position.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, May 27, 2006 3:08:00 AM  

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