Saturday, 27 March 2010

by grace through faith: part 3

I’m going to ask you to do a little work today. I am thinking of James 1 and his allusions to the world of nature. This is a fascinating portion of scripture and holds some key concepts.

In James 1:14-15 he writes “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” He is tracing the personal history of a sin and he uses bold strokes to reveal the truth. To understand the richness of this language you will need to dig a little deeper. The online resource BlueLetterBible will be our tool for digging deeper. This URL will take you to the Greek text behind our familiar translations and by identifying and then clicking the Strongs numbers equivalents of the Greek words several dictionaries will open up. Do make the time to examine what James is saying here. This is spiritual biology. It shows that an individual sin is the result of a spiritual process. The key word to it all is the idea of conception. Conception, of course, is the result of seed being received. I don’t want to be indiscrete but something passes from the outside to the inside and something on the inside welcomes the intruder. A sin then is the result of a conception and the conception is the result of insemination.

In contrast James 1:21 has a similar but slightly different natural process in view. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Now what we have in mind is the sowing of seed and germination. Again some time spent in the BlueLetterBible resource will prove really beneficial. This time the URL gives us the opportunity to dig deeper into James original words. The Old KJV ‘engrafted’ has been corrected in the NKJV to ‘implanted’ and the reader is instructed to ‘receive’ that implanted word with ‘meekness’. I don’t want to make this too demanding but there are two separate Greek words which our versions translate as ‘receive’. This is dechomai, which is slightly more passive that lambano, and we might translate dechomai as ‘accept’ or 'receive' or ‘welcome’. James instructs his readers to ‘welcome’ the ‘implanted word which has the power to save our souls.

Notice it is the ‘implanted word’ which is able or has the power to save our souls. If the word is not implanted, and it cannot be implanted unless it is ‘welcomed’ by the good earth, it cannot have the power to save the soul. The earth cannot create the life that is encapsulated in the seed but the seed cannot reproduce that life unless it is welcomed by the earth. We can only be saved ‘by grace AND through faith’.

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