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Wed, Jul 29, 1998

11 - Stability vs. Instability

James 1:6 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:1 hr 6 mins 35 secs

Stability vs. Instability
James 1:6

James 1:6 NASB "But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind."

Wisdom has its source in God alone and it is set over against all human viewpoint systems of thought. Proverb says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he, and that there is a way that seems right to man but end thereof is death. Human viewpoint does not produce life, it produces death, even though to us it seems to good and so much like common sense; it seems like the right thing to do and we base out thinking on our limited human viewpoint. But divine viewpoint is the perspective of Scripture. It is a unified perspective. God has told us everything we need to know for life and godliness, and throughout the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is presents one unified perspective of life, and this is the divine viewpoint.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18 down through chapter two the apostle Paul gives and expended dissertation on the distinction between human viewpoint and divine viewpoint. The classic example of divine viewpoint starts at the cross, that the cross to man is foolishness, it is something that does not add up to human systems of thought. Human systems of thought base their ultimate authority for knowledge on one of four arenas. Arena # 1 is rationalism. Rationalism begins with the value of human mentality. It proceeds on the basis of rigorous logic from the starting point of principles apparent to the mind alone. Arena # 2 is empiricism. Empiricism begins with experiential data, the data of the senses: sight, hearing, touch, and it builds its system of knowledge and authority based on that. It is not logic that is the problem. One of the thing dominating today, especially in the college classrooms and the universities is postmodernism. Postmodernism means the type of thinking that has come after modernism. So it is a reaction to modernism. In a recent article in Discovery Magazine which was written by an evolutionist mentioned how that how the attack on evolution is now not only coming from the "Christian right" but it is coming from the liberal college classroom left, because the liberal college classroom left has also thrown out the use of all logic as leading to any truth and fact. What they will say is that logic is just a product of the white European male, and is a system to enslave bring others into bondage. It is a "homophobic" and chauvinistic," so we need to do away with all logic. But if you throw out logic, then you throw out the basis for all science. We laugh at this, and yet we dare not laugh because this is taken with much respect in the highest levels of academia in our country, and it is influencing the thinking of legislatures and legal theorists, and politicians of right and left. In fact, we have a White House that is dominated by people who think within a postmodern grid, and we can see the implications of that. So while we laugh because we think it is silly and foolish we ought to weep also because it is going to destroy western civilization. It is attacking the very roots of our culture and civilization. It has a lot in common with the third system of knowledge, which is almost an anti-system, and that is mysticism. Arena # 3 is mysticism. Mysticism is an anti-system because it is based on irrationalism: the way you know truth is just through intuitive flashes, how you feel, how you think things ought to be; so it is very, very subjective. Arena # 4 is revelation, that the infinite God has spoken into the finite creation, and spoken to mankind to explain how things are so that man can understand everything.

All of these systems are ultimately based on faith; faith in human reason, faith in human experience, faith in human mysticism, faith in man's ability to properly understand and interpret reality on his own, apart from any help from God. The Scripture, the object of faith, is on the infinite, omnipotent immutable God who has spoken in human history. All of these systems were exemplified and alive and well on the planet when the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. In fact, they were battling a lot of mysticism at that time because it had become very popular in the Greek religions. If we don't understand Greek mysticism and the mystery religions then we are going to have a hard time understanding the problems that the Corinthian church got into with tongues and with all the problems with the spiritual gifts. That is because speaking in tongues, in terms of just ecstatic utterance, was a common practice in mysticism. What happened in Corinth was that these believers who were saved out of this pagan background where they normally did this as a part of their means of getting in touch with their god, when they heard Paul speak about speaking in tongues, they didn't understand as speaking legitimate foreign languages under the power of the Holy Spirit, that it was a miracle, they just thought that it was what they had been doing in their paganism all along. So they got everything confused because they had not let their cognitive processes, their mentality, be renewed. Romans 12:2—we are to renew our minds, restore our thought processes according to doctrine. They were still thinking in terms of mysticism so they were still screwing everything up. Rationalism was exemplified by the philosophical system of Plato; empiricism by his student Aristotle. So these thought forms were very prevalent in the Greek culture that Paul addressed. So he said that "…the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…" Why? Because they come at it on the basis of human rationalism and human empiricism, so their conclusion is that this is foolishness. "…but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.'" God will destroy the human viewpoint systems of knowledge.

1 Corinthians 1:21 NASB "For since in the wisdom of God [divine viewpoint]…"  His divine viewpoint is the basis for all creation. "…the world through its wisdom," i.e. on the basis of rationalism and empiricism you cannot come to a knowledge of God. "…did not {come to} know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." Human viewpoint always thinks divine viewpoint is foolishness. Human viewpoint rejects all divine viewpoint, it cannot comprehend or understand divine viewpoint because the issues are spiritual issues. It has nothing to do with intellect, with education, with IQ, and so if you think that is a problem in understanding doctrine fro you, then you are wrong. God has provided a spiritual way of learning truth that overcomes all physical, natural handicaps such as limited education, limited IQ; every believer has equal opportunity to learn the Word of God so that they can pursue spiritual maturity.

1 Corinthians 1:22 NASB "For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks [Gentiles] search for wisdom." Gentiles are always looking for the intellectual solution, but in contrast, v. 23, "but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness." V. 24, "but to those who are the called [believers], both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." V.24, "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."

1Corinthians 1:26-29 NASB "1 Cor 1:26  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." Why would God choose what in terms of human framework is foolish, and why does that confound the wise? It is because the wise put all of their hope and confidence in themselves, in the human ability. That is nothing more than arrogance. That is the same thought that Satan expressed when he said his five I wills" and sinned against God. Man says that the way to greatness is through self-promotion, through personal achievement and personal effort, and that that will impress God. But God says that the way to impress Him is to be humble, not to Lord it over others, to be a servant, not a master. God has subverted the human viewpoint system of priorities and put the emphasis on that which the contradiction to what was exemplified in the Satanic rebellion. IN Satan's rebellion there was arrogance, pride, the assertion of self-sufficiency in the creature. In contrast to that God has set up a system that demands humility, meekness, orientation to God's plan, grace orientation, and sufficiency totally in Christ. It is the person who excels in this arena who grows to spiritual maturity and will have a position of leadership and responsibility in the coming kingdom. The person who operates in terms of human viewpoint systems, emphasizing arrogance, pride and self-sufficiency will become a failure in the spiritual life and will not have anything in the coming kingdom, although they will be there. They will not lose their salvation but what they are forfeiting are all of those blessings, both in time and in eternity, that God wishes to give to the growing, maturing believer. So God uses that which the world despises in order to elevate and promote His own plan and to demonstrate the failure of the Satanic way of thinking.

1 Corinthians 2:1 NASB "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom," that is, in terms of Greek wisdom, human viewpoint wisdom; teaching in the rhetorical style of the Greeks, but "proclaiming to you the testimony of God." His goal was simple: v.2, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." He wasn't going to get distracted into all sorts of arguments related to Greek philosophical speculation, he was going to focus on the key issue. That is something we should always remember in witnessing. Whenever you are witnessing to somebody, keep the focus on the cross. Never get distracted.

1 Corinthians 2:3 NASB "I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling." This is just the opposite of the attitude of the arrogant, human viewpoint philosopher-thinker that the Corinthians were used to. Vv. 4, 5 "and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." Wisdom there must be understood in terms of Greek philosophy. He doesn't come using all of these rhetorical techniques and skills that have been developed from the 5th century BC in Greece. He came simply explaining the Scriptures, so there was a marked contrast in his style and delivery.

1 Corinthians 2:6 NASB  "Yet we do speak wisdom [here he starts using wisdom in the sense of divine viewpoint] among those who are mature [TELEIOS/teleioj]; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away…" In 2 Corinthians 4:4 we are told that Satan is the ruler of this age. Here we see that human viewpoint is roughly correlated to the thought of Satan and the thought that dominates the cosmic system which is ruled by Satan and his demons.

1 Corinthians 2:7-9 NASB "but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery [something which has been hidden and unrevealed], the hidden {wisdom} which God predestined before the ages to our glory; {the wisdom} which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD (empiricism), AND {which} HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." This is doctrine that cannot be discerned on the basis of empiricism. All that God has prepared for those who love Him comes from revelation, the entire panorama of Bible doctrine in the Scriptures. He has prepared it for whom? For those who love Him. But not all believers love God; only those who are advancing in the spiritual life. Relate this to the fortress of the soul that the believer erects through the use of the stress-busters.

1 Corinthians 2:10 NASB "For to us God revealed {them} through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God." Once again we come back to our principle that the spiritual life in the church age is a supernatural way of life and is uniquely related to the Holy Spirit. It was never this way in the Old Testament when no one was indwelt by the Holy Spirit; all they had was enduement, which means the temporary ministry of God the Holy Spirit on just a few for the purpose of giving them skill in some arena of leadership related to the nation Israel. It was not for power related to the spiritual life. Then in the New Testament there are two other doctrines, the indwelling and the filling of the Holy Spirit. These are true for every single believer at the moment of salvation. The indwelling is permanent; in fact, we are told that the Holy Spirit, God the Father and God the Son all indwell the believer. The Holy Spirit's indwelling is related, as it is throughout all of history, to preparing a place, a dwelling place, a tabernacle or temple for the dwelling of Christ, the Shekinah glory. The filling of the Holy Spirit is something totally different. It is related to the Greek word PLEROO [plhrow]; its cognate is PLEROMA [plhrwma]. The Holy Spirit is really an instrument, we are filled by means of the Holy Spirit. What are we filled with? We are filled with the Word of God. Together these are the source of power in the believer's life: the Holy Spirit who makes divine truth clear to us, enables us to understand it, apply it, and reminds us of it, and what he uses, which is the Word of God. These are the two power options in the believer's life. We must utilize not of them together, they work in tandem, one does not work without the other. We live by means of the Spirit of God and that means that the Christian life, the life in the church age, is a unique spiritual life. Never before in human history did a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ have what you have. In the Old Testament they did not have the Holy Spirit filling them, teaching them, giving them the ability to learn and apply Bible doctrine. We have so much more. We have the complete canon of Scripture, everything we need for life and godliness. This is why it is a unique spiritual life and a unique age. The Holy Spirit searches into the depths of God. He knows everything in the divine mind because He Himself is omniscient.

1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul gives an illustration: NASB "For who among men knows the {thoughts} of a man except the spirit [the soul, the thought processes] of the man which is in him? Even so the {thoughts} of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." Paul uses the word "spirit" about four different times in this passage. It is very important that we understand the various meanings of the Greek word PNEUMA [pneuma]. Its basic meaning is wind or air or breath. It can also refer to thought or someone's attitude. In some passages it refers to the human spirit and in other passages it refers to the Holy Spirit. So we have to evaluate the context, and here it refers to thought. Note the parallel with John 1:18: "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained {Him.}" Jesus Christ has revealed the Father. Who is it that explains the thoughts of God? The Holy Spirit: "…the {thoughts} of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." So it is the Holy Spirit's unique role to teach the thinking of God. What is the thinking of God? 1 Corinthians 2:16 NASB "For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ." The mind of Christ is Bible doctrine, all that is taught within the canon of Scripture for the believer. So the Holy Spirit is the one who reveals the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:12 NASB "Now we [believers] have received, not the spirit [attitude or mentality, the thought processes] of the world, but the Spirit [the Holy Spirit] who is from God, so that [HINA/ i(na], purpose clause] we may know the things freely given to us by God." So the Holy Spirit is given to teach us. The Holy Spirit takes the doctrine that is taught and makes it clear to the individual. It becomes PNEUMATIKOS [pneumatikoj], spiritual truth. We see that in verses 13 and 14, "which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual [PNEUMATIKOS] {thoughts} with spiritual [PNEUMATIKOS]{words.} But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." In other words, God the Holy Spirit takes spiritual concepts and combines them with words. You can't understand concepts apart from words. The Holy Spirit makes spiritual concepts clear to the individual so that he can perceive it with his mind, the left lobe of the soul, the NOUS [nouj]. There it becomes GNOSIS [gnwsij], academic knowledge. The NOUS is the staging area. First you have to understand doctrine academically. You have to have the vocabulary, the frame of reference. The Holy Spirit has to make it clear to you. Why? Because the natural man, v. 14, does not understand the things of the Spirit of God. The word there for "natural" is PSUCHIKOS [yuxikoj], from the Greek word PSUCHE [yuxh] from which we get our English word psyche. It has to do with the soul. The unsaved man has a soul but he doesn't have a human spirit. The human spirit is that which enables believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to understand doctrine. It is distinct from the soul but it works together with the soul. How do you understand doctrine? With your mind. What enables your mind to understand the doctrine? The Holy Spirit makes it clear to the human spirit; the human spirit enables the mentality of the soul to comprehend it. Te spirit and the soul become intertwined, so to speak. The human spirit is not a separate category in that it operates with the mentality or volition independent of the soul, it is a faculty which enables the human soul comprehend…

1 Corinthians 2:15, 16 NASB "But he who is spiritual [who has a human spirit] appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ."

So the Bible clearly portrays that there are two ways of thinking: divine viewpoint and human viewpoint. When you are operating on divine viewpoint the people around you who are operating on human viewpoint will think you are a fool. The do not have the ability or the capacity to comprehend divine truth apart from regeneration. God regenerates the new believer so that they are alive spiritually. Then they can begin to understand spiritual truth. Until then their only solution is human viewpoint thinking. The Bible makes this distinction. Divine viewpoint is wisdom, not just an academic wisdom or a wisdom that is divorced from application but a wisdom that is particularly suited to application. In the Greek it is called EPIGNOSIS [e)pignwsij] doctrine. As we circulate that doctrine in our soul, as we think about it consciously in meditation God the Holy Spirit makes it clear to us so that we can apply it to life and produce something that demonstrates skill. It has something of an aesthetic quality, building something attractive and beautiful that glorifies the Lord.

James 1:5 NASB "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." What underlies all systems of thought is arrogance. Arrogance in the Bible is defined as hostility to God and destroys all divine viewpoint wisdom.

Proverbs  11:2 NASB "When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom." 

Proverbs 13:10 NASB "Through insolence [presumption] comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel."

Proverbs 23:23 shows the priority that should be placed on learning Bible doctrine. NASB "Buy truth, and do not sell {it,} {Get} wisdom and instruction and understanding."

Arrogance is the enemy of all divine viewpoint. 1 Peter 5:5 NASB "…and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."

James 4:6 NASB "But He gives a greater grace. Therefore {it} says, 'GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.'"

So the issue here is that if we would have wisdom we must have humility. Humility is defined as teachability, recognizing your limitations, your role and place in God's plan and that you are going to submit yourself to the teaching of God's Word. Therefore with an attitude of humility you recognize your need for wisdom to apply to the tests of faith.

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…" The phrase "let him ask" here is a present active imperative. It doesn't say, 'If any of you lacks wisdom, have you thought about prayer?' Maybe that's an option. It doesn't say that. It says if any of you lacks wisdom, pray—Now! No options, no alternative; pray. "…who gives." In the Greek it is TOU DIDONTOS [tou didnontoj]. When you have a participle you have a tense. In this case it is a present tense. A participle expresses something either about the verb, or here, because it has this definite article, TOU, it tells that this is an adjectival participle. That means it is going to modify a noun. The noun that it modifies is the noun THEOS [Qeoj], for God. So it is going to tell us something about the character and person of God. He is the God who gives. DIDOMI [didomi] relates to God's grace policy, that God gives freely without asking for anything in return. The basis for God's giving is His matchless, infinite love which is based solely on who he is. So this word reminds us of His grace, that everything is based on who God is and what He did on the cross. It is never based on who we are or what we do. That is legalism. The send thing that we see here is that in terms of it being a present tense, that means it is talking about, usually in terms of time, something that continues in time. A present tense can have several different emphases or nuances of meaning. One form of the present tense is called a gnomic present. Gnomic refers to a statement of a general and timeless fact. So a present tense is used to express a statement of a general timeless fact that is always true. So the timeless fact here is that God is always a God who gives. This is a timeless principle about the character of God. God always operates on the principle of grace, there never is a time when He doesn't operate on the principle of grace. This is an active voice, which means that the subject performs the action. It is God who performs the action here, not man. The adjectival participle tells us it is descriptive of God.

So what have we learned here? We have learned that it is the character of God to always give, it is based on who he is and not on who we are or what we have done. We are to ask of God who gives to all men. How does He give? This adjectival participle then becomes the subject of an adjectival clause. The subject is the God who gives. How He gives is described by two adverbs. The first adverb is a one that appears only once in the Greek text, HAPLOS [a(plwj], and it means generously, bountifully, lavishly, without restriction, with abundance. So how does God give? Abundantly, freely, generously. Secondly, "and without reproach." The Greek word here is the negative, meaning no, plus the word ONEIDIZO [o)neidizw]. It means "no regrets." It means that God is not going to say, "You asked, I have given it, and you've dropped the ball. So pay attention this time." He is not going to reproach you because this is the fifteenth time you have gone through this test and failed because you are not listening in Bible class. Then what? "…and it will be given to him." The future passive indicative of  DIDOMI [didomoi]. The future means that it is going to happen in the future, future to the act of asking. God will answer. Passive voice: it will be done. The prayer request is acted upon by God. The indicative mood is the mood of certainty or the mood of reality, that you can count on it. This is a promise from God that you should memorize and store in your soul, so that when you encounter trials you can say, "Lord, I'm lacking the doctrine I need, You have promised you will give it to me generously and without reproach."