Lesson 17 - Chapter 5:7-12

Lesson 17 - Chapter 5:7-12

Lesson for May 4, 2014

The Book of James

Chapter 5:7-12

Verse 7-8

“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

We have the first of two identical commands. In both verses (seven and eight) the Rapture of the Church is mentioned, and in both verses we have a command which says “Be patient.” Be patient means to be long-suffering or to be long-enduring, which is the opposite of reversionism. It is the responsibility of every believer to grow spiritually and takes a lot of patience and endurance to reach the goal of spiritual maturity. The principle in this particular passage has to do with the fact that a believer with Bible doctrine in the soul has the solution to every problem, including monetary reversionism. The word “therefore” means that you do not have to stay in reversionism; as long as you are alive you can get out of reversionism.

There will be two disciplinary points later on in the passage: one in verse 14 and verse 15, where a believer is dying the sin unto death in reversionism, and one in verse 16 where the believer is very ill but not terminal as yet. In both cases believers will hear the principle given by James and hopefully realize the awful state when they are hurting enough to wake up.

The coming of the Lord is a reference to the Rapture of the Church and James is urging the reversionist to wake up before it’s too late and the Rapture occurs. Behold means to get a panoramic view. This word gives us the purpose for the illustration that follows in order to concentrate on something in life that is easily understood. In those days the concept of a farmer was understood by the reader since they lived in an agricultural society. The word waits means to receive from another, to expect to receive something. It has the connotation of expectation, to look for something with expectation. Behold, the farmer waits with expectation for the valuable production of the land. This is analogous to the spiritually mature believer redeeming time while waiting for the Rapture of the Church. So the precious or most valuable production refers to divine production from Bible doctrine.

The farmer in the illustration knows that his investments in crops will sooner or later make money, just as a believer should know that his investment in learning and applying Bible doctrine will reap great rewards. The early rain is analogous to that part of the believer’s life when he is progressing. There are many blessings and even prosperity in daily spiritual growth. You may not have arrived yet, but you should be on the way. While the believer is moving toward spiritual maturity his capacity is developing and he receives many wonderful blessings along the way. The late rain is the rain that guarantees the harvest. This is analogous to a believer reaching spiritually maturity. Therefore, the latter rain refers to capacity for life, capacity for freedom, capacity for love, capacity for happiness, capacity for prosperity, and capacity for grace in the Christian life.

Every day is a day in which he can invest his time for the Lord. But, eventually we are all going to run out of days because the Rapture will occur or we will die. So while you have some days left on earth invest in eternal rewards by means of divine production. Strengthen your hearts means to stabilize your mind through the consistent intake and application of Bible doctrine (be a doer not a hearer only).

Verse 9

“Do not complain, brethren against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.”

The Greek word for complain is“stenazo,” whichmeans to vent verbally, to murmur, to criticize, to malign, or to slander. In other words, complain means to be guilty of the sins of the tongue. The word judged in this verse means to be disciplined for the sins of the tongue. The reversionistic believer receives discipline from God. In this verse we have the sin of the tongue, the discipline from God, and a principle. James is exhorting and warning his readers to avoid divine discipline from God by not acting like the reversionistic believer.

The principle in this verse begins with the word “behold,” which is used in this passage to introduce the principle - the judge is Jesus Christ and He may return at any time. If you are being critical of others, you will have to face the Judge. This is not God judging carnality, but reversionism. We need to distinguish between carnality and reversionism. Carnality is a believer getting out of fellowship, temporarily. But when a believer is in reversionism he remains in a state of persistent carnality.

This sentence in verse 9 is not completed; it is postponed by a parenthesis. The sentence is continued in verse 12. So the verbal reversionism is interrupted and in the parenthesis we see that not all suffering is for discipline. If you are suffering it doesn’t mean you are being disciplined by God. It may be that you are growing spiritually and you need some suffering for blessing for that growth. So we have in verses 10-11 a parenthesis to set up a contrast between suffering for discipline on the one hand and the reversionist suffering on the other.

Verse 10-11

“As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”

In this verse we have believers growing spiritually and suffering for blessing. There are two things here: a) There is a situation of suffering; b) There is doctrine (patience) so that you can cope with it. We have just had in verse 9 suffering from divine discipline; that is a reversionist. But now we go to a person who has doctrine who is not a reversionist. What does he do when he suffers? He applies doctrine when he is suffering. When a person has doctrine in the soul he can meet the situation in suffering while sharing the happiness of God.

Why did he mention the prophets? He mentioned them because these prophets had doctrine. And, they applied doctrine. That is why they made such a good illustration. They often faced great adversity. This adversity was not discipline; it was to give them a chance to apply some of that doctrine they were communicating. So they applied it in the adversity, and when you apply doctrine in adversity you are able to share the happiness of God — “Behold we count them happy (blessed).”

Now he gives the illustration: “You have heard” — they had been taught, they are Jews, they understood the Old Testament Scriptures. James is one of the earliest books in the New Testament. The New Testament had not come along yet so he had to use an illustration from the Old Testament. In the past they had learned some doctrine, they had studied the book of Job. “You have heard [through Bible teaching] of the patience of Job.”

When Job went into the great adversity he had doctrine. He applied doctrine, and as long as he did everything was great — he was happy. But Job’s three friends began to work on him in a negative way and he stopped applying doctrine and began listening to them. God finally told his three friends, who were in reversionism, they had better listen to Job and get him to pray for them. Job did pray for them and they were restored. Then God poured out grace blessing on Job that was fantastic.

Verse 12

“But above all, brethren do not swear, either by Heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall under judgment.”

In verse 9 we began verbal reversionism with the principle of criticizing. In verses 10 and 11 we have the completion of a dissertation on adversity for blessing, and in verse 12 we resume with verbal reversionism. The discourse started out indicating the fact that in verse 9 verbal reversionism results in suffering for discipline. However, just because a person may be a verbal reversionist and suffer from it there is another type of suffering which is designed for blessing.

Now in verse 12 we resume the discourse with another negative. This time we have the word swear not, meaning to make a promise with an oath, to cover a lie by making an oath in the name of something that will act as a front. “Swears”indicates that the content of what is said is a lie. But in order to make the lie appear as the truth a person makes some kind of a solemn oath with it. For example a person may say, “As God is my witness, thus and thus is true,” when in reality it is not true at all. That is using God to front for a lie. There obviously were believers involved in verbal reversionism. Some were involved in the criticism of others and some were involved in trying to cover their lies by swearing they were telling the truth.

What is used as a front? Our first phrase says “either by Heaven.” This refers to using God as a front. God is associated with truth and therefore if you want to make a lie more impressive you mention the fact that God is the witness that you are telling the truth.

There are other ways also of covering a lie by setting up something that appears true — “or by the earth.” This refers to a person using another person to cover for his lie, someone who is usually recognized as being truthful. This is also used in some cases to set up some kind of an institution which is recognized as being truthful, therefor the next phrase, “or with any other oath,” the oath being, for example, “I swear on my mother’s grave,” or “I swear on a stack of Bibles.” All of these can be fabrications designed to cover a lie.

What this verse does not mean is profanity. This verse does not refer to profanity, to taking the Lord’s name in vain, except as it applies to using the Lord as a front for a lie. When a believer enters into reversionism one of the signs of this reversionism is dishonesty: fabricating lies and using something for a front. Reversionism is a life of sham, of pretense, and of fabrication.

“Let your yes be yes; your no, no.” This is an idiom. It is an idiom which demands honesty and straightforwardness of soul. It demands nobility and integrity of soul. It demands an expression of the soul’s content in speech: honest, noble, related to doctrine, related to divine establishment principles. People often obscure the truth or change the meaning of someone’s actions by leaving out something. So “let your yes be yes and your no, no” demands honesty. Falling under judgment refers to the divine discipline of the reversionistic believer who enters into these verbal sins.