The Word of Truth
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The Word of Truth

From Series: Faith That Works, Volume 1

James 1:18-21  (ID: 2564)

Believers are those who have been born again by the Word of Truth. Formerly, as Alistair Begg reminds us, we were dead in our sins, but God has taken the initiative in giving us new life. The instrument of our new birth is the Gospel, to which James urges us to listen. We must learn to be quiet and hear the Word of God, receiving it by faith, since it both gives us life and transforms our life.


Sermon Transcript: Print

Father, we thank you for the privilege of singing songs of praise to you, of reading from your Word. And we pray that as we turn to the Bible now, that you will be our helper, that the Spirit of God may conduct a dialogue within our lives so that we might know that far beyond the voice of a mere man we may hear from you, the living God, in your Word of Truth, the Bible. This is our earnest plea and our keen expectation as we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, I invite you to turn to James chapter 1 as we resume our studies here in this letter of James, the brother of Jesus, writing to folks in his day. James chapter 1, and we’re going to pick it up from verse 18, which is where we left off two Sunday evenings ago:

“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

And we’ll leave it there.

James is writing to believers. He identifies them in 2:1: “My brothers,” or “my brothers and sisters,” “as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ…” This immediately distinguishes his readers from unbelievers. And whenever we come to the word “believer,” it immediately confronts each of us who is thinking with the question, “Am I a believer?” In other words, “May I legitimately read James and find myself included in the company of those to whom James writes?”

Well, were these individuals to whom he writes always believers? The answer to that is no. Because by our nature and by birth we are not believing people, but we are unbelieving people. And indeed, as Paul puts it in Ephesians chapter 2, our predicament is much worse: we’re actually dead people. We are spiritually dead.[1] It doesn’t sound very nice, and skeptics don’t like it, and unbelievers are appalled by it, but it’s actually what the Bible says. And as I’m going to show you, it really makes quite a lot of sense.

The Initiative God Takes

Now, this whole concept of being given birth in verse 18 will make some of us think of a particularly famous conversation between a religious man by the name of Nicodemus, who was actually a Pharisee, and Jesus of Nazareth. That conversation is recorded for us in John chapter 3. You needn’t turn to it, but I want you to know that it is there in case you want to look for it later. This conversation took place at night. It took place at the initiative of Nicodemus, who had come to seek Jesus out. He knew that he was a rabbi, he said, and “a teacher who ha[d] come from God,”[2] because otherwise nobody could possibly do the miraculous things that Jesus was doing. It was a very generous and gracious word of introduction. How he must have been struck by the immediate response of Jesus when he says to him, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again,” and later on, in the same little section, “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”[3] Why? “Because, Nicodemus, religious man, you are spiritually dead. And unless you are made spiritually alive, no amount of religious affiliation will do anything for you in relationship to your cause before God.”

Last week, in the course of conversation with someone, this individual explained to my wife and I that she had an awareness of all forms of Christianity, including born-again Christianity. She said she had met born-again Christianity as well. And the presupposition in the way in which she articulated her view was that this idea of being born again was a unique perspective relating to certain segments of Christianity.

Well, in one sense, of course, she’s right, because not everywhere you go where the name of Jesus is mentioned do you hear the message proclaimed that men and women are dead spiritually and they need to be made alive. But when you read the Bible, you discover that the notion of being born again, or being made new, or having a spiritual rebirth is not something that is tucked away in the corners of the Bible or in the fringes of what Jesus had to say but, indeed, lies at the very heart of it.

And this, says James in verse 18, is something that God has chosen to do: he has chosen “to give us birth.” “To give us birth.” We were born physically as a result of decisions and actions taken by our parents without any reference to us at all. Remember the famous conversation involving Johnny Carson and his son when, in a fit of pique, his son says to Johnny Carson, “I didn’t ask to be born!” And Johnny Carson replied, “No, and if you’d asked, I would have said no.” We did not ask to be born; it was not as a result of our initiative at all. That is true not only physically, but it is also true spiritually. At the initiative of our earthly parents, we were conceived, and at the initiative of our heavenly Father, we have been given birth. “He chose to give us birth.” He was not pressured by our helplessness, he certainly wasn’t impressed by any sense of goodness, but he acted in accord with his own free, uncompelled, sovereign will.

The Christian’s faith does not lie in our wavering reaction to an invitation but lies in the initiative of a gracious, sovereign God.

And when we became Christians, those of us who did—and incidentally, we have a little booklet entitled “Becoming a Christian,” which we keep in our prayer room here as well as other places. And if, as our time ends this morning, you are still thinking about this question, we’d love for you to come and just pick up a copy of this booklet and take it away with you. It’s simply titled “Becoming a Christian.”

Those of us who remember becoming Christians will remember that whoever it was that led us to faith in Jesus told us about all the things we were supposed to do. We were supposed to repent, to turn away from ourselves and our sin, and to turn to Jesus. We were supposed to believe in Jesus and trust in him. And they even said we should receive Jesus; in the same way that we might receive something that is given to us as a gift, so we might receive the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. And at that period in our life, it seemed as though it was all for us to do. Ours was the repenting and so on, and so we did what we were told. But now, in looking back on it, in putting the pieces of the puzzle together, it becomes absolutely clear that God was at work long before we were responding to him. And the hymn writer puts it so accurately when he says,

I found a friend, such a friend!
He loved me before I knew him.
He drew me with his cords of love
And bound me to him;
And so round my heart so closely twined,
These ties that nothing can sever,
For I am his, and he is mine,
Forever and forever.[4]

The Christian’s faith does not lie in our wavering reaction to an invitation but lies in the initiative of a gracious, sovereign God. He does not believe for us; we must believe.

The Instrument God Uses

Not only does James mention the fact of God’s initiative, but he then goes on—and this is really the emphasis of this morning—to tell us the instrument that God uses in bringing us to new birth. And that instrument, you will notice, is “the word of truth.” “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” What is “the word of truth”? It is the gospel. It is the story that Jesus told. It is, if you like, the great comprehensive, wonderful tale of an initiative-taking God who is seeking to save men and women when they’re not looking for him at all. It is a wonderful story.

And the Bible, of course, tells us that we know something of God, because he has revealed himself in creation.[5] And that’s why, if we’re honest with ourselves, and we look at the complexity of the universe, and we look at the detailed nature of even our own physical frame, apart from the solar system and beyond, if we’re honest in our heart of hearts, we know that it is only the foolish person who says in his heart, “There is no God,”[6] because creation compellingly speaks to the existence of the Creator.

He has made himself known also in our consciences, because we are moral beings. And that is why we have a sense of right and wrong. Secularists are hard-pressed to explain where we get this sense of right and wrong. We’re socially conditioned, they might say, or the externals of life have created this within us. But in actual fact, anybody who thinks for a moment or two about what they ought to do or what they ought not to do must find themselves saying, “Where does this sense of oughtness come from? Why is there any oughtness?” The answer is because God has revealed himself not only in creation but also in the fact of our conscience.

Well, in that case, isn’t there enough for us, then, simply to know God and proceed with our lives? No. Why? “Because,” says Paul—and you can check this in the opening chapters of Romans—“because,” says Paul, by dint of our rebellion against God and disinterest in God, our “foolish hearts” have become “darkened.”[7] “Darkened.” So that even though we can see something of God in creation and even though we know something in terms of God in relationship to our conscience, we only know enough to condemn us for our unbelief. But there is not enough there to save us.

“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” So that it is by the gospel, by “the word of truth,” that we are brought to an understanding of our situation: that we are unfit for heaven and unable to rectify our condition. That we are brought to an awareness of who Jesus is and what he has done: he has died for sinners, exchanging all of his righteousness for our sins so that all of our sins may be counted against him, and thereby we might know the freedom and forgiveness which is ours, available in the cross. And making it clear to us that this salvation which God has chosen to give us, he has chosen to give us; he has not asked us to earn. And he has given it to us as a gift,[8] so that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”[9]

Now, this is something that you’ll find at the top of the list, as it were, as you go through the New Testament. For example—and I’ll just give you two references points; you may want to make a note of these so that you can find them later. Paul writes to the Colossians, so grateful for their faith in Jesus and “the love” they “have for all the saints,” that “faith and love,” Colossians 1:5, “that spring[s] from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about”—where?—“in the word of truth,” comma, “the gospel that has come to you.” “Where did this hope come from? How did you hear about this? You heard about it in the word of truth, in the gospel that has come to you.” He begins his Ephesian letter in much the same way, and he says in Ephesians 1:13, “You also were included in Christ”—notice the phrase—“when you heard the word of truth,” comma, “the gospel of your salvation.”

We were not included in Christ when we joined the church. We were not included in Christ when we were baptized. We were not included in Christ when a religious professional did something religious to us. We were included in Christ, he says, when we heard “the word of truth”—the truth about ourselves and our need of a Savior, the truth about Jesus as our only potential Savior, and the truth about the fact that that salvation is not earned but is a gift from God.

Now, that takes us all the way around the cycle back to the original question that confronts the sensible: “Am I then described in this phraseology? Have I been included in Christ? Have I heard and responded to the word of truth, the gospel of my salvation?”[10]

Alec Motyer puts it quite masterfully when he explains the way in which we are made alive. Listen to this brief but profoundly helpful quote: “The Father uses the … gospel,” the word of truth, “in two ways: first, he speaks it, inwardly, to our dead souls, imparting life, bringing us to … birth; secondly, he presents the same word of truth to us as a preached gospel, to which the new life within … makes a personal and believing response.”[11] Did you get that? Because otherwise it would be our response that saved us, wouldn’t it? Not God who saved us.

You see, how can dead people respond? They can’t—unless they are quickened and made alive. That’s what Jesus is saying. That’s what James, the brother of Jesus, is reinforcing. He’s saying, “Think about this: he chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” We are, says Paul, “included in Christ” through “the word of truth” when we believe the gospel.

Now, I must leave it here, but I must say again to you: Do you believe this? Is this you? This is the vital question of life. There is no more vital question. None at all!

I’m almost finishing the autobiography of John Paul Getty, which I’ve been reading all week. Fascinating! But looking in vain—in vain—for any sense in the man’s journey of being confronted by “the word of truth” and the need for salvation. Amassing billions, influencing millions, establishing an empire of unparalleled significance, but apparently without God and without hope in the world.[12] What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?[13] Or what will a woman give in exchange for her soul?

The Intention God Has

The initiative that God takes, the instrument that God uses—“the word of truth”—and thirdly, in the verse, you will notice the intention that God has in doing this. He intends that we might become like him—that we might offer our lives in the way in the Old Testament they offered the firstfruits of the harvest to God as an expression of their gratitude; so his intention is that we will offer our lives as an expression of our gratitude for all that God has done.

He uses the Word to bring about our spiritual birth, and then, going into verse 19, you will notice that it is by this same Word that he enables us to grow spiritually.

The similarities between the beginning of James and the beginning of 1 Peter are striking. For example, 1 Peter 1:23: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” It is by the Word of God that you’ve been brought to faith. “And this is the word that was preached to you.”[14] Straight into chapter 2: “Therefore, rid yourselves of … malice, … deceit, hypocrisy, envy, … slander of every kind,” and “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” See this? The same process he describes, using different language but getting to the same point: it is God’s Word that not only gives us life but also transforms our life. God’s Word gives it, and God’s Word transforms it.

Now, when you get to verse 19, with this very straightforward call to “listen up, my dear brothers. Take note of this. Listen up!” you will see that he then calls for us to do three things in relationship to the Bible, to “the word of truth”: first of all, that we should be found listening to it; secondly, that we should be found receiving it; and thirdly, that we should be found doing it. Listening, receiving, and doing. We will only have time for two at the most.

Listening to the Word

First of all, listening. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” What a challenging little statement! And it’s only the first of a number that James is going to bring to bear upon us in a way that will make many of us squirm under the impact of its truth—forgetting that we have been given two ears and only one mouth so that we could listen twice as much as we talk. But some of us have a real problem with this.

Over a hundred years ago, one pastor addressed his congregation as follows. And I was reading this just yesterday, and I thought I’d share a wee bit of it with you, because it was so challenging to me. This is how he writes: “There are some people who are always talking.” That’s challenging enough in itself, isn’t it?

They cannot think, and it is a relief to them to hear the sound of their own voices. Just as women who are in ill-health find a welcome relief in sewing or knitting, and sew or knit just to pass the time, there are some people who find relief in talking; and by their incessant talking they disable themselves from thinking. They also disable themselves from listening. They lose the power of grasping the real meaning of anything serious that is said to them. Their minds are like reservoirs with a large leak and a small supply of water; everything that comes into them runs off at once, and they[’re] always empty. Incessant talking, without careful and earnest listening, makes them utterly frivolous, reduces them almost to a state of idiocy. And further, this habit prevents them from listening even to God’s word and from thinking about it. They are not accustomed to listen or to think, and so when the divine word comes to them they cannot really listen to it, and they cannot [contemplate what it says].[15]

Well, I don’t know about you, but I find that just cuts a little bit too close to the cloth. And what is true in terms of interpersonal relationships, whether it’s around the dining room table with friends that we’ve invited to our home who came over to eat but not to listen to us talk; or whether it’s at Starbucks, where we can’t wait to get the first opportunity to read all the tidbits that we’ve found in the Wall Street or the New York Times; or whether it is since we’ve just read the autobiography of J. Paul Getty, we can’t wait to tell everybody everything that we now know about John Paul Getty—whatever it might be, most of us do far too much talking.

 If all that we say
 In a single day,
With never a word left out,
 Were written each night
 In clear black and white,
It would make strange reading, no doubt.

 And then just suppose
 Before our eyes would close,
We had to read the whole record through,
 Then wouldn’t we sigh,
 And wouldn’t we try
A great deal less talking to do?

 And I more than half think
 That many a kink
Would be smoother in life’s tangled thread
 If half what I say
 In a single day
Were to be left forever unsaid.[16]

Now, I think that James here has in mind something more significant than simply our interpersonal relationships. Because remember, he has introduced us to the thing we’re supposed to be listening to—namely, “the word of truth.” We are, in verse 21, to “accept” this word. In verse 22 and following, we are to “do” this word. And I think that James has expressly in mind the peculiar danger of being too quick to proclaim the truth to others before really paying proper attention to it ourselves. I think that’s the warning in 3:1: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Well, we can be sure that while we’re doing all the talking, we’re not listening. That’s as true in relationship to the Bible and theology as it is to anything else. Because we know that the individual who talks a lot gets in trouble. The individual who talks a lot is often opinionated beyond what is acceptable. The individual who talks a lot and is opinionated beyond what is acceptable is very likely to become animated in his opinions or her opinions. And when they get animated and heated up in their opinions, if somebody doesn’t seem to be adopting their opinions very quickly, then the chances are they’re going to get very angry about the fact that people are not as animated as they are about what it is they’re so opinionated about and wanted everybody to hear. You might have met someone like this. I don’t know. I really don’t have to go very far at all to meet someone like this. I don’t have to leave my own bathroom. But the fact of the matter is we dare not assume that our heat and our passion are expressions of fidelity and usefulness. They may simply be heat and passion. And our very forcefulness may be a cause of stumbling rather than a cause of helpfulness.

You see, the anger of man isn’t going to bring about the righteousness life that God desires. Our intensity, our focus, our emphasis, whatever it might be, does not ultimately work God’s righteous purposes. If it did, I think Jesus would have operated in a different way. And that’s why, isn’t it, that the cleansing of the temple is so striking in all of the life of Jesus that we have in the Gospels. Why? Because it is such an unusual expression of righteous anger. But in the main, Jesus is not known for such displays. His anger was legitimate. But it still stands out.

We dare not assume that our heat and our passion are expressions of fidelity and usefulness.

Einstein on one occasion defined success as a; a, he said, is a success in life. And he said if a is a success in life, then a equals x plus y plus z, with x being work and y being play and z being “Keep your mouth shut.”[17] It’s pretty good. I try and remember it, but it’s hard.

I have a friend on the West Coast—actually, she’s a friend of my wife and I. And on one occasion in Washington, DC, in a conversation that went along these lines that fell into the realm of personality types and all the psychological profiling about whether you are an a, a b, or a c, or an f, or whatever you were, we agreed that we weren’t dissimilar from one another, and she said she would send me some stuff to help me and try and make me a better person. And you can imagine what a large amount of information that was. But actually, she gave me one particularly helpful little piece that I keep with me all the time, and it gives me a drill for each day of the week. And I’m supposed to put a check mark every time I’ve completed my drill for the day. If you were up close, you could see that there are no check marks on this at all, because I’ve never been successful in doing this. Let me give you just some indication of it.

On Monday, my drill is “Don’t interrupt anyone today, don’t finish anyone’s sentence, and avoid speech-hurrying.” Okay, usually by about seven thirty Monday morning, I completely blew that one out.

Tuesday: “Be aware of how pleonastic you are today.” Well, first I needed a dictionary for that. I went to it, and I discovered that pleonasm is the use of more words than is necessary in order to give the sense of something. Violation number two.

Wednesday: “Avoid all lecturing and pontificating. Don’t tell anyone what to do or how to do it.” “Would you please just keep closer to the inside lane, Susan? Thank you. Oh! There goes Wednesday!”

Thursday: “Don’t contradict or correct anyone today. Don’t be argumentative.” Forget Thursday!

Friday: “Avoid being overdefinite in how you state your opinion.”

Saturday: “Avoid all polyphasing when someone is talking to you, whether in the telephone or face-to-face.” In other words, don’t be multitasking when someone is talking to you. Look at them in the eye and stay focused. Don’t be here, there, everywhere, going making notes and stuff. Saturday’s a bad day.

And Sunday: “Speak in an unhurried, even-paced way, avoiding rapid, dysrhythmic speech.”

See why there’s no check marks? I don’t know why you’re all looking so smug. I know some of you as well!

Receiving the Word

Listening to it and receiving it. And with this we finish. Receiving it.

How are we going to listen to God’s Word if we’re always talking? How are we going to listen to God’s Word if we have angry hearts? If you’re an angry person, you don’t hear what’s being said to you. Angry people are not listening; they’re just rearranging their prejudices. They don’t listen to arguments. They don’t process information. They simply become increasingly recalcitrant. And I lay it to you as an absolute definite that if you’re angry with me or angry with anybody else that’s ever in this pulpit, frankly, you might as well go work in the nursery—except that you’ll be a jolly nuisance in the nursery. Because the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. That’s why you can’t be angry in the pulpit with the Word of God, and you can’t be angry out of the pulpit listening to the Word of God.

If anger needs to go, so does moral filth. That’s what he says. Here is a second barrier to listening to the Bible and profiting from it. If an angry mind will spoil it, so will a dirty mind. A dirty mind. Hence the issues of prevalent evil, as he mentions it here, which in the King James Version, I think, used to be, or was, or is, a “superfluity of naughtiness.” I remember as a boy reading that and thinking, “I probably know a lot about a ‘superfluity of naughtiness.’” And now I’m fifty-four, and I also know about a “superfluity of naughtiness.” I’m not unaware of the evil that is so prevalent around me. I’m not unaware of how easy it is to sin very quickly with my eyes, how easy it is to sin in my mind, how easy it is to get myself in a complete tied-up tangle and mess. And it is ultimate naivety and stupidity on my part to think that all of the absorbing of moral filth can be flushed away by a thirty-minute sermon once a week by well-meaning people coming to try and fix themselves up and go out and fight the battle all over again. It won’t happen. It just won’t happen.

Now, you will notice, he doesn’t say, “Pray about it.” He says, “Get rid of it!” “Get rid of it!” How am I going to get rid of it? By the enabling power of God. How does he enable me? He enables me by his Spirit through the Word. That’s why [Job] says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes that I will not look lustfully on a woman.”[18] “How will a young man keep his way pure? By taking heed according to your word.”[19] The Word acts as a purifying instrument. But our part in preparing to hear it is to make sure that we do not come angry and we do not come dirty.

Every so often someone will say to me, “What were you leaning against?” And I’ll say, “Why?” And they’ll say, “Well, look at your jacket,” or “Look at your coat. It’s clear that you’ve been leaning up against something.” And just in the same way that we may very quickly become physically dirty, and sometimes even inadvertently, so we may become morally messed up. Be careful what you’re leaning against. I want to be careful about what I’m leaning against.

You see, if you think about it, here I preach, Sunday by Sunday—and others do too—to this congregation. Some people in the congregation grow and mature, and some don’t. Is the problem with the message? Well, you could say yes, if nobody grew and nobody matured. You could say, “Well, the message is no good. It’s not possible. We don’t learn anything, we can’t grow, we can’t mature.” But if some grow and mature and others don’t, what does it speak to? It doesn’t speak to the seed; it speaks to the soil. And some of us have acidic soil in our hearts—the acid of anger—or the clay of living compromised to prevalent evil and to moral filth, or the weeds of being willfully disobedient: “I am not going to do this. I don’t care what it says; I’m still going to divorce her. I don’t care what it says; I’m still going to sleep with him. I don’t care what it says; I’m still gonna fiddle on my income tax. I don’t care what it says.” Well, you cannot, you see, act in that place of instability and expect, as James told us earlier on, that we will receive anything from the Lord. Such a man is unstable in all of his ways.[20]

Well, what are we to do? In a phrase, “Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” “Humbly.” “Humbly.” “Thank you. Thank you. I didn’t get it all, but I got something. Thank you. I didn’t understand everything, but I did understand this. Thank you. I believe that you knew all about me this week, and you spoke to me through the Word of Truth. Thank you.”

You see, that’s why the way in which we come to the preaching of the Word is so vitally important. If we don’t prepare and deal with our anger and deal with our moral filth and deal with the junk that’s all in us, we’re like individuals eating Snickers bars on the way home from the nine o’clock service, so that by the time our mom serves us up our favorite lunch, we’ve got no appetite. “But don’t you love this? Isn’t this your favorite meal?” “Yes!” “Well, how come you don’t want to eat your favorite meal? You’ve been eating something else, haven’t you?” And then she goes in your pockets: Starbursts! You’ll find all my sins eventually: Snickers. Those long packets of peanuts that you can put the whole opening in your mouth and just chug the whole thing. No surprise. You’ve filled yourself up with junk, and you’re not ready to eat what you love. It makes perfect sense physically, and it makes equal sense spiritually.

The way in which we come to the preaching of the Word is so vitally important.

Why is it so important? Because it is as we humbly accept the word that is planted in us that we’re saved. That we’re saved. The Word saves us. Saves us from what? Saves us from ourselves. Saves us from our sin. Saves us from our secrecy. God comes and saves us from sin’s penalty. One day we will be saved from sin’s presence; that’ll be heaven. And in the meantime, we’re being saved from sin’s power. How? By the work of the Holy Spirit through the Bible.

Read your Bible,
Pray every day,
And you’ll grow, grow, grow.
And you’ll grow, grow, grow.
And you’ll grow, grow, grow.

Read your Bible, pray every day,
And you’ll grow, grow, grow.

That’s what we’re teaching the children back here. And we’re just overgrown kids. The lesson’s the same.

Father, thank you for the Bible. Thank you that it’s clear. Sometimes the preacher can be unclear, and we can be vague in our response, but we pray that beyond the voice of a mere man we may hear your Word, that Word of Truth. I pray for some who do not as yet believe, who are not yet included in Christ. I pray for your work within their hearts, that inward work of the Word, bringing them to new life, and then enabling them to respond to the gospel as it’s preached, calling them to faith and trust in Jesus.

Be with us in the hours of this day and in the days of this week. Help us as we come together tonight in anticipation of our worship and our study, as we gather round those who will follow you in baptism, as we look forward to the event, and we pray that you will order our minds and our steps.

And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God our Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one who believes, now and forevermore. Amen.


[1] See Ephesians 2:1.

[2] John 3:2 (NIV 1984).

[3] John 3:3, 7 (NIV 1984).

[4] James Grindlay Small, “I’ve Found a Friend” (1866). Lyrics lightly altered.

[5] See Romans 1:20.

[6] See Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1.

[7] Romans 1:21 (NIV 1984).

[8] See Ephesians 2:8.

[9] Romans 6:23 (KJV).

[10] See Ephesians 1:13.

[11] Alec Motyer, The Message of James: The Tests of Faith, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1985), 59.

[12] See Ephesians 2:12.

[13] See Mark 8:36; Matthew 16:26; Luke 9:25.

[14] 1 Peter 1:25 (NIV 1984).

[15] R. W. Dale, The Epistle of James: And Other Discourses (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1895), 38.

[16] Grace W. Castle, “Suppose,” Christian Century 29, no. 3 (January 18, 1912): 16. Paraphrased.

[17]Attributed to Albert Einstein in Alan J. Friedman and Carol C. Donley, Einstein as Myth and Muse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 75.

[18] Job 31:1 (paraphrased).

[19] Psalm 119:9 (paraphrased).

[20] See James 1:8.

Copyright © 2021, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.