James’ Urgent Message – Part III
Bible Study in the Book of James, 1:1-8
Sharing in the Divine Nature is a goal that James and Peter seem to believe we can achieve. We can see how as also look at 2 Peter 1:2-9, The Voice, ”
“I wish you a full measure of grace and peace as you grow in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need to experience life and to reflect God’s true nature through the knowledge of the One who called us by His glory and virtue. Through these things, we have received God’s great and valuable promises, so we might escape the corruption of worldly desires and share in the divine nature.
To achieve this, you will need to add virtue to your faith, and then knowledge to your virtue; to knowledge, add discipline; to discipline, add godliness; to godliness, add affection for others as sisters and brothers; and to affection, at last, add love.
For if you possess these traits and multiply them, then you will never be ineffective or unproductive in your relationship with our Lord Jesus the Anointed; but if you don’t have these qualities, then you will be nearsighted and blind, forgetting what your past sins have been washed away.”
James and Peter – Sharing in the Divine Nature
These passages teach a message very similar to James’. Both Peter and James are talking about maturity in Christ and the steps to achieve that. If you want to share in God’s divine nature, Peter has a very specific progression laid out here. He says, – if this is what you want – here is how to get it!
First, he assumes you have faith, just as James did. Now that you have that faith, you need to add virtue to it. What is virtue? Well, it literally means – moral goodness.
Second, after you have added moral goodness as a part of normal, daily life, Peter tells you to add knowledge. Knowledge of what? This is a Greek work, Gnosin, and it means knowledge of God and His ways.
Peter Lays Out His Sequential Path to the Divine Nature
You have faith and a moral base in your life. Now, you need to increase your knowledge of God and His ways. How? By reading the Bible and studying to show yourself approved as a workman who does not need to be ashamed. By prayer. You only know those you spend time with – lots of time. Invite Him into your life moment-by-moment. You share in someone’s nature, or being, when you spend time with them. In fact, the more time you spend together, the more alike you generally become.
Discipline or self-control is what comes next. You now have a lineup of faith, morality, and knowledge. Adding self-control will help you maintain the first three, particularly the morality – moral goodness. Self-control can be tough when living in a culture like ours. However, let me assure you, the culture James and Peter were living in was, in many ways, far worse than ours. Go online and do some studying on the culture of the Roman Empire. You might be surprised.
Oh No – Patience!
What’s next? The word none of seem to appreciate – patience. Just like James, Peter is saying that we must exercise patience as we walk the varied paths of this life. When you ask – believe that you will receive. Will – that indicates future. Be patient. Ask and you will receive, but what you receive might not look like the picture you painted. Be patient with God and yourself.
According to Barnes Commentary, the next thing that is to be added is – Godliness is “the reverent awareness of God’s sovereignty over every aspect of life, and the attendant determination to honor him in all one’s conduct.” Yes, Godliness.
Two Kinds of Love – Part of the Divine Nature
Peter concludes with two types of love. The first quality is brotherly love – phileo – a personal affection like that of brothers and sisters. Then, he adds agape love. This is the hardest. This is God’s unconditional love. We humans have a hard time with that one. If you really think about it, our deepest love is often quite conditional.
What in the World is Hupomone?
So here you have two lists by two Apostles, James and Peter. Both laying out quite clearly and simply what you need to do in order to be mature, complete, and effective. It isn’t an easy list. James is telling the disciples to patiently endure the tests which will produce something called “Hupomone.” That word means – “cheerful, hopeful endurance and constancy. The characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings”. Strongs Concordance
Endurance will be an active agent working on your behalf if you allow it. If you need wisdom, just ask and God will give it and He will never make fun of you.
What James is NOT Saying
You will need to be single-minded in your commitment to Him and to this process. If not, double-mindedness will cause you to shipwreck your own life. James says we cannot doubt! Wow. Here is what he is NOT saying. Our faith is NOT in our prayer or our picture of what we have asked for. Our faith is NOT in our own good works. Our faith is in God. We are never to doubt that He will do what is best; that His answer will always be the right one; that He will lead when we cannot see the path; that He will safely deliver us. That is where our faith lies. It is not in our abilities or our perfection. It is always and only in Him.
James’ Foundation for Life in Christ – Sharing the Divine Nature
The introduction to the book of James gives us the foundation for the rest of what James will say to his brethren. He is exhorting them to live a life whose character is exemplary of that of Christ. For those who doubt James’ commitment to a life of faith, that should be answered by his statement regarding being double-minded. He clearly states that we must have faith in God.
He also tells us that living a life of faith will produce a joyful endurance that will sustain us and build the character, the Divine Nature, necessary for us to be ready for anything that may come our way. Thus, James has already laid the foundation of faith from which he launches his exhortation to these Christians and to us. James and Peter have a positive message regarding our ability to do all of this! Sharing in the Divine Nature is accomplished through very basic steps of obedience and action.
If you missed the first blog in the series – here it is.