We finished the Epistle of James last Sunday. Based on your responses, we learned a lot and gained a new appreciation for God's faithful provision for the Nation Israel, especially with regard to the believing remnant of Israel as they go through the Tribulation Period, the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.
We answered a couple of questions:
1. What is the practical application we can take away from James? But before answering that, we need to go back a step. Why do we even ask such a question? It is because we have been brainwashed by Historic Christianity into thinking that the whole Bible is to and about us. But those who rightly divide and appreciate Paul's distinct apostleship know that this is not true. While the whole Bible is certainly FOR us (otherwise we wouldn't be studying Matthew and James!), the whole Bible is not written specifically TO and ABOUT us. I remember listening to a famous preacher on the radio tell his audience that they should go to any passage in the Bible that they wanted and replace the name in the passage with their own name, naming and claiming that passage for themselves, making it their own. So, if you are going through some trouble, he said, go to the Psalms, throw away God's reference to David and replace it with your own reference to yourself, believe and God will do for you what He did for David. Or, if you are a woman who is having difficulty having a baby, go to the passages about Sarah and Hannah, throw out God's reference to them and replace it with your own reference to yourself, and if you have faith, God will give you a baby. This last example is particularly sensitive for me. I witnessed a women in this predicament destroyed by such teachings. She did everything the preacher said, she had faith, she waited on God, but the months and years went on and still no baby. First, she blamed herself. Then she blamed God. No, this is not spiritual Christianity! This is nothing more than pagan superstition!!
So, in our study of James, we are NOT going to do what these erring representatives of Historical Christianity teach. We are not going to throw away God's reference to the 12 Tribes of ISRAEL in James 1:1. For instance, and replace it with the Body of Christ or our own assembly or our own names. The Letter James wrote to the believing remnant is written specifically to and about them. We are not going to steal it away from them. We are going to let them have their beautiful and powerful little Letter that will have a direct bearing on how they conduct themselves during the Tribulation Period. James tells his readers, the believing remnant of Israel, to rely on God, to pray, to go to Him for His good things, to study the Word, to support fellow believers, to look for the 2nd Coming, etc. Aren't we supposed to do all that as well? Of course, we are. But what they will be relying on God for is not what we rely on God for today. What they will be praying about is not what we pray about today. The good things He will give them are not the good things that He is giving us today in the Body of Christ. Their reasons for supporting the brethren are not the same reason we support each other. We are not waiting for the 2nd Coming of Christ, we are waiting for the Rapture to meet Christ in the air. We could go on and on, but I think you get the drift.
So what is the main take away, the main “practical application” we make as we leave the Letter of James and any non-Pauline Scripture for that matter? It is what Paul explains in Rom. 15. When we see God faithfully confirming and fulfilling all the promises He ever made to the Nation of Israel in every detail in accord with His Prophetic Program, we can be rest assured that He will be just as faithful in every detail with His plan and purpose for us as member of the Body of Christ in His Mystery Program.
2. We also had a most excellent question about James referring at that time to the 2nd Coming of Christ being “near” and that the Judge was “standing at the door” ready to return (James 5:7-9). We could go back even farther in time, going all the way back to John the Baptist and Jesus, who both claimed that the Kingdom was “at hand.” Well, it has now been some 2,000 years later, and it hasn't happened yet! Why not? Of course, only those who appreciate Paul's distinct apostleship can answer this question in a way that glorifies God. Even in the Apostle Peter's day, unbelievers were mocking him, saying: “Where is the promise of His Coming” (2 Pet. 3:4). Peter had preached some 30 years before that Christ was about to return to usher in Israel's earthly Kingdom in accord with the Davidic and Abrahamic Covenants (Acts 2-3). But now, some 30 years later, what Peter and the 12 preached NEVER HAPPENED! Why?
That is really the million dollar, not the trillion dollar question of Christianity. To answer this correctly is to answer everything correctly. There is only one true answer that glorifies God. The unbeliever says that it was all just a bunch of fables to be ignored and ridiculed. Most believers follow the errant teaching of Historic Christianity, which tries to get rid of this problem by saying that Peter and the 12 were ignorant, they misunderstood everything Christ tried to teach them. God never intended to set up an earthly kingdom—how silly! God was always referring to a spiritual kingdom and Christ has come through that. What a bunch of nonsense. The only ignorant people here are the preachers who teach such things.
There is only one answer to this question that glorifies God, and it is the one that Paul gave: God implemented a distinct Mystery Program, something He had kept secret since the world began (ie., NO ONE BEFORE PAUL, MAN OR ANGEL, KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT IT! (Rom. 16:25)). After Israel nationally once-and-for-all declared that they would not have the Lord Jesus reign over them and refused to participate in God's plan for them at the stoning of Stephen, God set aside His Prophetic Program with the nation of Israel and introduced a new Mystery Program with the Body of Christ, which He would fulfill BEFORE He completed Israel's Prophetic Program. The next thing Peter, Stephen and James expected to happen in accord with Israel's Prophetic Program was for Christ to return in His Wrath and Judgment to destroy His enemies beginning with Saul, Christ's chief persecutor, and the House of Israel, and especially the Gentiles. But God out of the Riches of His Longsuffering Kindness and Grace, didn't do that. Instead, He returned in His Grace and Peace to SAVE HIS ENEMIES beginning with Saul, making Him our Apostle Paul and the pattern for salvation today, first to the Jews and, especially among the Gentiles. Today God is holding back His Wrath and Judgment a little while longer so that He can extend His Grace and Peace as long as possible to ungodly sinners on enemy status before Him so that He might save as many as possible BEFORE HE RETURNS IN HIS WRATH AND JUDGMENT TO DESTROY THEM! That is why we call this the Dispensation of Grace. That is why we call this God's Mystery Program for the Body of Christ. This is why the 2nd Coming hasn't come yet, some 2,000 years after John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and the 12 and James said it would. God through His longsuffering kindness is manifesting the Righteousness of God in Saving His Enemies Because He Has No Friends. And this brings great, GREAT!, glory to God (Rom. 11:33-36; 16:25-27)!