Living a Life of Words

There are things for us to do now we are believers in Jesus, and, sure, choosing words carefully is one of them; kind, loving, caring, encouraging, edifying, counselling, and consistent (James 3.1-12).

Imagine that Jesus was taking another walk on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24.27) with the New Testament in hand, how would He explain this part of James in relation to Himself?

I’m gonna suggest that He would say this – Words of life are found in one place only.

In John 6 Jesus said 

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. 

Basically, you will never tame your own tongue in your own power and never. 

Edwin Blum wrote that

The Holy Spirit, poured out in the world, gives life (salvation) to those who believe. Without the Holy Spirit, man (flesh) is utterly unable to understand Jesus’ person and His works [and then act accordingly].

Jesus continues and says

The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

He was talking about eternal life, how it is only found in Him, that we must partake of His life and work and sacrificed body to truly inherit eternal life, and that we must look beyond the physical rituals of religion to the words that He is saying and the things He is teaching. His Words carry meaning and truth, and because this is hard, some left Him. We read,  

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 

So He asked the 12, are you leaving as well? He had said some tough truths and people left Him…imagine that. Do you know what the 12 said to Him?

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus’ words lead to life. No one else, nobody else’s words lead to eternal life.

It’s so easy to look at passages like James 3.1-12 and be very moral: You need to be in control of your tongue and your speech. Words are powerful, words can heal, words can cut down, words matter, your words matter. 

That’s not incorrect, but it’s incomplete. 

Rather than be all moral and preach-y, we ought to look at passages like this with a Christ-centred lens: Your words do matter, but Jesus has the words of eternal life.

So yes, work hard to choose your words carefully, but ultimately let us rest in the promises of eternal life found in the words of Jesus.

Social Distancing, Physical Distancing, and the Church

As much of the world now goes into lockdown meaning that voluntary social distancing becomes social distancing through government order, I wanted us to pause our study through Job and consider the difference between social distancing and physical distancing.

Rather than term what we are all doing social distancing,

would it not be better to refer to this as physical distancing?

Social distancing means that we are isolated socially, not in touch with anybody, alone, feeling abandoned, and definitely not part of a loving and living body of people (1 Corinthians 12.12).

Physical distancing is simply just that; you don’t get too close to people.

Small difference in choice of words, HUGE difference in understanding, acceptance, and practice.

For the sake of others, let us practice willingly and obediently physical distancing. The church is still the church despite physical distance. Jesus said that on the bedrock truth that He is the Son of God, that He is Divine, that He is the Messiah, that He is Almighty God,

I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Matthew 16.18b

During times of adversity and tribulation and trial, we will see if the church is really the church.

We will see if this body of people is self-supporting, self-sustaining, and self-supplicating (James 5.16).

We will see if this body of people is Kingdom focused, or kingdom focused (Matthew 6.24).

We will see if the church is filling its God-given mandate to make disciples (Matthew 28.19-20).

We will see if there is fruit and a root (James 2.14-26).

We will see if this called-out-of-the-world group of people really are fully regenerate born again believers part of the living body of Christ, or just a group of consumers who turn up to watch a religious TEDTalk once a week.

This is going sting for some, turn some away (John 6.60), but for those truly in the body this is going to be a defining period of time, a call to action, a call to take up arms, a call to show that yes, we are the church, we aren’t going anywhere, we are here for each other and for the world. 

Brother, sisters, let us practice physical distancing but not social distancing, and let us show the world that we are the church today, tomorrow, and every day.

Living a Life of Faith

James wraps up this passage, James 2.14-26, by saying that 

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

A body with no breath is dead, so, says James, is faith without works, without evidence, without fruit, without proof. 

Thomas Manton said that,

Here [James] concludes the whole argument, showing how little is [given] to an empty profession of faith without works. It is like the body without the spirit of life.

What does working faith look like then, where does it take us? If you’re a notetaker, this is it;


Genuine faith results in active obedience to Jesus’ teachings. 

Working faith takes us to Jesus…every, single, time.


Here’s why. We try, and try, and try, and try to be so obedient, to do good works to show our faith, and we realise, you know what, I just cannot ever, try as hard as I might, live the kind of holy, sanctified, righteous, life that we are called out of the world to live.

Back in chapter one James writes, be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 

So we do need to be doers, we want to be doers, but when we try to be we realise that we are failing, because the standard is so high. It’s 24x7x365. This is really bad news.

Where then do we turn when we realise this, that we have failed, again?

To Jesus. To the Good News, to the Gospel. 

That’s why working faith takes us to Jesus.

Where is the Gospel in James? Admit the bad news to receive the Good News – this is a work of faith that we need to do each and every day, and that is why a life of working faith will always take us to Jesus.

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

What a question. It’s deep, it’s emotional, it’s raw, and it’s something that we have all asked at some point in our lives.

I hope that when you asked this, the answer you got was ‘yes‘. If directly or indirectly you got a ‘no‘, if you feel like you will never be good enough, you find yourself in good company here. 

Job replies to Bildad (ch.8) and says,

Truly I know that it is so:
But how can a man be in the right before God?

Job 9.2

This is a process that we all work through, isn’t it? 

We accept that the world was made. We accept that the world was made by an all-powerful creator God. We accept that this all-powerful creator God is uniquely holy and pure. We accept that, by nature, we are not. We question, will I ever be good enough for this all-powerful, creator God who is uniquely holy and pure?

The answer is that alone, left to your own devices, no, you won’t be. You never will be. This is bad news.

We many look at others and appear humanly righteous, as people like Noah (Genesis 7.1) and Job himself (1.1) were. But, bigger picture, compared to the uniquely holy and pure righteousness of God, are we? Can we ever be good enough?

There will only ever be one way that God looks at you and declares you righteous – faith in Jesus.

As by nature we are all broken and sinful, by faith we are declared righteous (Romans 5.19).

There will always be others around us to whom we can point and say look, see, I am more righteous than him/her. Does this make us good enough? 

With faith in Jesus, you have the only thing you ever need to be good enough for our all-powerful creator God who is uniquely and totally holy and pure. This is the Good News!

Who Will Save Me?

Eliphaz continues his counsel and asks Job another question, something that we have all asked at some point,

Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?

Job 5.1

Having laid out his first batch of counsel for Job (4.2-21), Eliphaz asks this rather poignant question, is there anyone who will answer you? Job must have asked himself this whilst enduring the worst that earthly life can throw at him, who will save me?

If you have ever been through any of Job’s trials and tribulations you will no-doubt have asked yourself this question too, who is going to save me, who is going to make this better

It’s important to say here that God always saves. Period. Full stop. He promises to save you (John 3.16-18). It’s also really important to say that God promises to always deliver us through circumstances, but never promises to save us from our circumstances. A fine difference in language but a perspective-altering difference too.

The Lord never guarantees to rescue and deliver us from every situation that trials us. We are seeing here that Job is living through this trial, he is experiencing profound loss and grief. The Lord does, however, promise to rescue us in spite of them, to rescue us despite what is going on around us unto eternal life with Him.

Paul had the proper perspective here (2 Timothy 3.10-11), and believed in a God that can work miracles to deliver His people, but never guarantees it. Paul knew that even though he was in prison, even though he was awaiting execution, that the Lord would never leave nor forsake him, would always be an ever present help in times of need, and even if earthly circumstances seem to have defeated him, that his Lord and Saviour had overcome the world and had something far greater waiting on the other side. 

Is that something you know?

The prophet Joel knew this, didn’t he, when he wrote that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (2.32). This is where Job would be calling, this is where Job’s answer will come from, this is the Holy One to whom we all turn. Turn to Him today! 

Who Are We?

This is the first big question that we encounter in Job. If you didn’t read our introduction to Job yesterday, you can do so here

And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 1.8-12

The first big question is about our identity – who are we?

God gives a pretty good character reference for Job, doesn’t He? Job is described as a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil. However, the Accuser, Satan, basically says ‘OK, well, Job is only like that because you have prospered him. I bet if you take all of that away, his real character will come out and he is not so great.’

So, our identity. Are we willing to take God at His Word and see ourselves as His children, redeemed, ransomed, forgiven, loved unconditionally, blameless in His eyes, justified in His eyes through our faith in Jesus?

The alternative is that we try to forge our own identity on the shifting sands of the culture we live in, how we feel about this or that, or what other people say about us. In Job’s case, that was the Accuser saying that he was not all that, that he was loyal to his blessings, and that he was in this walk with the Lord for what he could get out of it, not because of his firm faith that God is good. 

Where we look for identity, for belonging, for security, for acceptance, for love will impact hugely how we feel about ourselves, how we feel about the world around us, and how we interact with it. I would encourage you to look to the truths of God’s Word to see who He says you are.

Today, consider these truths from the Word about who you are.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 1.3-10

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1.9-13

Belonging

As a Christian, as a believer in Jesus, where do I belong?

Yesterday at Saar Fellowship we looked at Hebrews 13.1-6, and said that as believers in Jesus we belong to each other (vv.1-4), and ultimately this is possible because we belong to Him (vv.5-6). 

We belong to each other, to the Christian family, to those who have the same key interest and insight as you. That is possible because, by faith in His faithfulness, we belong to Jesus.

He has said that there is never any chance that He will leave or forsake us (v.5). In the original language of the New Testament, this is written in the most emphatic way possible. Our belonging is sure, our belonging is permanent as it rests in Him and not on us. It looks like this…

33.013

Simply, we belong to Him and because of that, to each other.