by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 49 August 12, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:God's judgment will be according to His purpose for man in coming to relational harmony with the Father and the children of the Truth.
Introduction:Last week we attempted to establish the claim that James' third chapter is his attempt to blunt the appeal of the temptation to succumb to the pride of life. We also attempted to put James' words into a theological and historical setting because without that setting, the words can easily be turned into heresy and disobedience. Teachers of the Church are NEVER such by the will of man, and men who refuse the will of God are ALWAYS subject to enormous shame before Him at His coming. Thus, no one should seek to be a teacher who has not been summoned by God [note both Moses and Jeremiah sought to escape the summons by reason of meekness], and no one who has been summoned by God should reject the summons. But there are historical settings in which the believer's inability to possess status in the eyes of the majority of men is so severely highlighted that if they have not settled the issue at the Cross, they will seek to satisfy their cravings for accolades in the church. This is what James is demanding that they resist.
In making this demand, James raised the spectre of the judgment of God. Interestingly, it is the judgment of God that will ultimately fix the issue of accolades--for in the final analysis it is His final opinion that makes or breaks the entire issue of "glory" for men. But, by the same token, it is the issue of the judgment of God that raises the question with which we are to deal this evening: by what criterion will His judgment be processed?
I. James' Focus is Upon the Judgment of God.
A. This is established by the following textual facts:
1. ANY command rests upon the twin pillars of blessing and cursing, both of which require the active intervention of God.
a. Obedience to a command always leads to benefit.
b. Disobedience to a command always leads to negative (life-destructive) consequences.
2. James has set up and maintained a consistent thesis of living in light of the judgment to come.
n. He clearly realizes that since the fall, judgment to come is a necessary thesis for a proper BEGINNING.
3. James made the foundation of his demand the fact of the coming judgment of God in 3:1.
a. The King James translation here is misleading in that it uses "condemnation" in contradiction to Romans 8:1.
b. The term James uses simply means that a critical evaluation is coming that will result in real consequences of both pain and pleasure.
II. James' Revelation of the Criterion of Divine Judgment.
A. It begins with the issue of "stumbling".
1. This indicates that God has a standard by which He defines a failure to walk properly.
2. The Scriptures make a distinction between a stumble and a fall (Romans 11:11; 2 Peter 1:2).
B. It moves in the direction of "the impact of words".
1. James freely acknowledges a large degree of guilt upon us all.
2. But he focuses upon a particular kind of guilt when he addresses not stumbling in word.
a. Words are the root of the power of life. ["...the words that I speak to you are Spirit...]
b. Words are the root of the power of death.
C. It stands out sharply in James' use of the telos of the male of the species.
1. God's telos for man is that he come to the place where he does not stumble in words.
2. This means that God's standard for judgment will be man's arrival, or lack thereof, at the standard of the telos.
D. But underneath there exists a more fundamental objective.
1. Becoming word-perfect is not a final goal.
2. The issue is the communication of life by the words.
E. Conclusion: God's standard of judgment will be His objective of men becoming life-communicators by words, and He will evaluate all men by that standard. Thus, those of us who find ourselves in the forefront of that process will also find ourselves in the forefront of the blessing and cursing of God.