Save Time on Sermon Prep: Stock Up on Sermon Illustrations

What was the secret sauce in Spurgeon’s most powerful sermons? 

While the Holy Spirit is the source of true power behind any preacher’s sermon, there’s a craft to sermon writing—and Spurgeon mastered it. And more than anything else, Spurgeon mastered the art of the perfectly placed and eloquently delivered sermon illustration. [Read more…]

The $5 Secret to Getting Theological Journals You’ll Love

Ah, theological journals. They’re outstanding resources for keeping up with scholarship in theology—and so much more.

But until now (with the new Galaxie Theological Journal Library Subscription), there’s been a problem. [Read more…]

Last Chance: 3 Major Jonathan Edwards Titles for $6.98

Through October 31, add three valuable works to your Logos library for less than your extra-large triple shot pumpkin spice latte. Snag these deals before they’re gone! [Read more…]

Kanye Says Jesus Is King: What Does Tim Keller Say?

In case you haven’t heard, rapper Kanye West titled his newest album Jesus Is King. 

“Jesus is king.”

Just three words, but they carry a world of meaning.

Tim Keller explores that meaning in his book with the same title, Jesus the King. See how Jesus came as a king—but a king who had to bear the greatest burden anyone ever has. [Read more…]

Last Chance: 4 Ways to Save Instantly on Powerful Resources This October

What problems are you (or your church) facing right now? What are you itching to study in the Scriptures? [Read more…]

10 Books on Being a Pastor in the Real World

Pastors have a monumental calling.

Acts 20:28 instructs, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” [Read more…]

Idolatry in the Bible: Animals, Demons, and the Desert

Students of the cultural context of the Bible are familiar with the association between animals and idolatry.

The idolatrous worship of the golden calf (egel; Exod 32:1–24) makes the connection explicit. Even after the Israelites entered into a covenant relationship with Yahweh at Sinai, Moses and Aaron had to act to prevent the people from sacrificing to “goat demons” (se’irim) in the wilderness (Lev 17:7). Centuries later, the apostasy of King Jeroboam returned this idolatry to the northern kingdom of Israel (“He appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat idols [se’irim] and for the calves [agalim] that he had made”; 1 Chr 11:15). [Read more…]

Douglas Moo: Should Christians Be Environmentalists?

For 40 years, Dr. Douglas Moo has been studying, teaching, and writing about Paul and Romans.

These words from theologian Johann Albrecht Bengel hang on his wall: “Apply yourself wholly to the text. Apply the text wholly to yourself.”

It’s with that spirit he studies and teaches New Testament at Wheaton College.  And that’s why we’re featuring him in this month’s author spotlight[Read more…]

The 7 Qualities You Must Nurture for Peace in Your Church

[In James 3:14–16,] James . . . told what heavenly wisdom is not, and now [in James 3:17–18,] he turns and tells what it is. . . . 

Purity

The false wisdom is “earthly [and] unspiritual,” while this true wisdom is “first of all pure.”

The four following characteristics develop aspects of this purity: they all begin with e, and the last two end with kritos. The emphasis is not on the purity laws of the Torah but on moral blamelessness with a clear conscience. Such a person is the opposite of the worldly characterized by verses 15–16. This person entails an absence of sin and defilement, true holiness. There is a spiritual and moral faithfulness to God leading to a divinely directed way of life that glorifies God and serves his people in his messianic community.

Peace 

The other six qualities are introduced by epeita (then) and provide aspects of this moral and spiritual purity. In the context of serious dissension in the community, “peace-loving,” or “peaceable,” is another key attribute of godly wisdom. 

This quality will become the theme of 3:18. 

There is a complete absence of peace in 14–16, while it is central here and builds on Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (see also Ps 34:14; Isa 52:7; Rom 12:18; Heb 12:11). This is the exact opposite of the jealous, combative ambition that produces the “fights and quarrels” of 4:1.

Peace with God is achieved through the cross and the gift of salvation; peace with the people around us is the product of sanctification—that is, the process of holiness.

As the Spirit enters us and draws us to God both in our thinking and our actions, love takes over, and as God’s love infiltrates our being, our relations with those around us change correspondingly.

Self-giving spirit

“Considerate,” or “gentle” (epieikēs), in the Greek mind means “reasonable” or “fair” but for Christians refers to that spirit that refuses to demand its own rights but lives for others (also Phil 4:5; 1 Tim 3:3). So it connotes an empathetic, forbearing spirit that accepts others as they are and is willing to forgive.

Next, this God-sent wisdom is “submissive” (eupeithēs), or “open to reason” (RSV, ESV), or “accommodating” (NET). This “willingness to yield to others” (NLT) is the direct opposite of the narcissistic concerns of verses 14–16 and is the epitome of the self-giving spirit that is supposed to characterize the Christ follower. . . .

This is so needed today, as Christians fight and disrespect each other over every issue imaginable.

Living out godly wisdom

The final three continue this emphasis on godly wisdom lived out in our lives. “Full of mercy and good fruit” reverses the sinful results of the counterfeit wisdom above. Instead of a tongue “full of deadly poison” (3:8), we have a life “full of mercy”—namely, caring and sharing with the needy around us.

Such acts of love and compassion reflect a kind spirit concretely via good deeds, which indicates the presence of the Spirit in our lives. Mercy is known by its “good fruit” and is the natural by-product of the “word implanted in you” (1:21).

Finally, the saint filled with heavenly wisdom is “impartial and sincere.” 

The first (adiakritos) stands opposed both to the double-mindedness of 1:6, 8, and the partiality of 2:4. This person refuses to discriminate and both treats and respects everyone equally. It is immensely difficult to exemplify this godly trait consistently, for we are all sinful, selfish creatures, and only those truly filled with the Spirit and holiness can do so. 

The final trait, “sincere,” or “without pretense and hypocrisy” (anypokritos), is closely connected. Such a person refuses to play-act and consistently exhibits godly qualities. There is no hiding behind a mask for such people, and they live out what they claim to stand for.

The concluding description of godly wisdom (3:18) returns to the beginning of the verse and is an inclusio with the “peace-loving” person described there.

Spiritual victory

Those with true wisdom will always “sow [seeds of] peace” and then through that “reap a harvest of righteousness.” This is not another characteristic of wisdom but the by-product of wisdom. 

So verse 17 defines wisdom, and then verse 18 tells what its effects will be. 

Here we have the antidote for the epidemic of divisiveness and dissension caused by rampant self-centeredness, the main problem of 3:1–4:12. 

If our speech ever begins to sow seeds of peace in our assemblies, the “fights and quarrels” of the next verse (4:1) would never take place. Divine wisdom calls for peace-loving gardeners (3:17) who sow peace rather than discord (3:18) in God’s vineyard (see also Rom. 14:19; Heb. 12:14), producing a life that truly will make a difference.

What is sown in peace produces a “harvest of righteousness.” . . . We will have a bumper crop of spiritual victory and live in a way that greatly pleases God, beginning with peace rather than conflict in our community.

***

This excerpt is adapted from James Verse by Verse (Osborne New Testament Commentaries) by Grant R. Osborne, the last full volume in Osborne’s commentary series, available now through Lexham Press. 

 

The headings and title of this post are the additions of the editor. The author’s views do not necessarily represent those of Faithlife. 

October’s Top Picks—Jonathan Edwards, Anchor Yale Bible Reference & More!

Biblical research is like an ongoing, always-profitable treasure hunt. You can never get into the Word too much, and your Logos library can never be too full.

Now’s your chance to add monumental works at prices kind to your book budget.  [Read more…]