by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 38 May 27, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:James' focus upon the churches' active discrimination against the poor has roots in the heart of God toward those who are rich in faith.
Introduction:Last week we saw that God's sovereign election moves primarily in the direction of the materially poor. We saw that this was not a kind of reverse discrimination, or respect of persons,--because God is not a respecter of persons--against the wealthy. The issues are not fundamentally wealth/poverty issues. The issues are fundamentally love/faith issues.
The problem of love/faith issues is that they are impossible to develop within the context of idolatry, and they are next to impossible to develop within the context of material wealth. The problem is not wealth, per se; it is man's focus upon the visible and tangible. The problem with love is that time has corrupted eternity in the minds of present-loving men; and the problem of faith is that visibility has corrupted spiritual integrity in empirically insecure men. The bottom lines are two: God's values MUST replace men's, and God's words MUST be viewed as absolutely trustworthy by men.
I. James' Emphatic Declaration of Contradiction.
A. James deliberately contrasts God's election and the churches' selection of His opposite.
B. He places the emphatic contrast at the beginning of his sentence (verse 6).
C. This is a fundamental return to the call of 2:1 that we do NOT engage in anything that is contrary to what we find on "the ranch".
II. James' Focus as Fundamentally Inherent in the Divine Love/Wisdom Complex.
A. General biblical comments.
1. Matthew 11:5 and Luke 4:18; 7:22: One of the distinguishing marks of "Messiah" was his real interest in the materially poor.
2. Matthew 19:21: real maturity could only come to the rich through the sale and distribution of all his possessions to the poor.
3. Luke 19:8: only after Zacchaeus pledged the voluntary self-impoverishment in order to make amends did Jesus say that "salvation" had come to his house.
4. Galatians 2:10: Paul allowed the constraint of remembering the poor when he would NOT allow the insistence upon circumcision.
5. Mark 12:42: Jesus apparently had no qualms about insisting that people give all that they have.
6. Summary: If one believes that his quality of life will degenerate if he parts with ALL of his material possessions, he has yet to learn the most basic truth of the Gospel--that God is the Author and Sustainer of Life.
a. We have no problem saying that God will not save anyone who adds to the Gospel.
b. Why are we so willing to say that God will sustain those who add to its promise?
B. James' immediate context.
1. Clearly the wealthy are fundamentally opposed to God.
a. They drag the saints to court.
b. They blaspheme the name of Christ.
2. Yet the church fawns over them and denigrates the rich in faith.