It is my privelege to be preaching at Crossroads this weekend – filling in for Jerry. The message is from James 1:5-8 on discerning the wise response to various trials through boldly asking God for wisdom. I note that later in the book James says we need to be discerning as to the “wisdom” we embrace – it isn’t always from God. He gives us some helpful insight into both kinds of wisdom.
James 3:13-18 (ESV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
TWO sources of “wisdom”
Not from above – heaven
Unspiritual – i.e., natural
Characteristics of “wisdom”
|(vv 14, 16)
Open to reason
Results from “wisdom”
In the first part of this blog reflection (bloglection?) I noted that “I believe that that in some cases the gospel message has become muddled to the degree that resultant “converts” reflect, at best, shallow shadows of true Christians. At worst, they might not even be saved.” How did this come to be? A variety of things seem to have conspired to “mess up” our gospel message. Please not that I’m sure that in most cases the motives involved are pure, but the practice seems off. In some cases ignorance of biblical teaching may be at the root. I’ve discerned at least four reasons might lead us to a muddled gospel message.
- A mindset in churches and church leaders that is numbers conscious to the extreme. When we make growth and increasing attendance numbers, or baptisms, or conversions, or whatever the measure of success we can be tempted to water down the message to get a response or a lot of responses. The tendency can easily become one of subtly changing the message to be more palatable while leaving out important parts of the message.
- A “fast food” society that demands information in small bites, and results in thirty minutes or less. We need to be committed to the “whole counsel” of God and commitment to long-term redemptive relationships.
- A humanism that has infiltrated our theology and practice that leads us to cater to the egocentric “felt needs” of men and women in our culture. An emphasis on therapy may be leading us astray from confronting the real need of man (which is to deal with sin that so corrupts everything). Helping someone through their personal struggles and “felt needs” may be a worthy task, but if that becomes the ultimate goal we may present a message of self-fulfillment rather that divine redemption.
- A “muddling of the means” of salvation, forgetting that it is not men, or methods, or prayers, or activities that save. Salvation is a gracious work of God as he alone can redeem us from our sins.
More to come…