Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

James 2:14ff : Quick Rejoinder/Review (Post 7)

In the last installment we followed James as he first introduced in his epistle the idea of unrighteous activity, when full-grown or mature, producing physical death (James 1:14-15). I went through the context from 1:2 leading up to 1:14-15 to show James’ progression of thought. This is being done to show that the deliverance that James is talking about in 2:14ff is salvation from the deadly consequences of sin, and NOT eternal salvation (justification salvation/eternal life), as the traditional interpretation goes. It is essential background information to our study of James 2:14ff.

In the comments section of my last post someone objected to my interpretation and said the word “death” (1:15) is better taken as “spiritual” or “eternal” death. If you are, too, inclined to take this point of view, please read Post 6 in this series and then my rejoinder to the objector’s comment that I will paste here:

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The reason I started with verse 2 in James leading up to verse 15 is that verse 15 is part of the context of one's being in trials and TEMPTATIONS. In the context, it has EVERYTHING to do with the EXPERIENTIAL and TEMPORAL temptations that lead to temporal and experiential sin, which leads to temporal and experiential death.

This is the line of thought of James.

Verses 17 and 18 are a continued explanation that God does not tempt anyone to sin.

We are not to be deceived! Far be it from Him to do that! He does not tempt anyone to sin. Far from that, every good and perfect Gift comes from Him, an example of which is our regeneration!

You are failing to follow James thoughts from 1:2-18. He is talking to regenerate people concerning temporal trials and temptations, relating to them how one is tempted and sins, showing that the responsibility lies in them and NOT God, for God tempts no one with sin. The reader is not to be deceived! On the contrary, He gives GOOD gifts, of which, one of them is the regenerate nature that all James' readers have (see post 2 in my series).

Listen.

Sin merits eternal death at its first occurrence. It does not take sin to be mature, full-grown to merit eternal death! James later says whoever keeps the law and stumbles at one point is guilty of all. One sin alone is enough to commit one to condemnation and eternal death.

James point is not that! He is saying that FULL-GROWN sin produces physical death! Sin, when it has reached its MATURITY produces death.

Paul states, that by reason of one man's sin, Adam, even before the experiential acting out of our sin, we deserved eternal death.

James says that the extended sinning of the regenerate person, when it is mature and full-grown, will produce physical death.

Why does it take that long to finally merit eternal death?

Are you saying that I don't merit eternal death until my sins have reached maturity?
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In the next installment we will review particularly James 1:21, as it is the first occurence of "save" (Greek "sozo") in James' epistle, and we shall review how it is used. I may have it done today.

20 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Excellent reasoning. Superb post.

God Bless

December 14, 2005 2:16 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

You write, "Sin merits eternal death at its first occurrence."

I'm in full agreement. However, that's not the issue. James doesn't speak in terms of merit. Rather, he uses the "give birth" metaphor.

When all is said and done, eternal death is the result of a series of sinful decisions. Hell is the final consequence of a sinful lifestyle. This is why our response to trials and temptations is so important. Failure leads to eternal death. This is why the new birth is so important. Without it, we are doomed. Without it, this sin-birthed death is inevitable since we are guaranteed to fail when we face trials.

I understand that you insist that these trials are simply just temporal, experiential. I agree. However, I must insist that in the long run our response to the temporal will impact the eternal. That's the flow of the passage.

December 15, 2005 8:58 AM  
Blogger Earl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 15, 2005 9:42 AM  
Blogger Earl said...

...because of typos I deleted the previous comment of mine...

I'm new to reading all of your blog on James, so I may be missing a few things here.

Assuming you are correct that James' salvation is from premature physical death, I'm wondering about the various boundary cases. What about children who die from leukemia? Was it their sin that caused this? How does stand in contrast to others, like Hugh Hefner, who live longer into old age. Did their actions fit James' criteria for salvation?

As you see, I am a little bit confused. I'm sure you or others can illuminate this, because I'm sure you all and the commentators have thought of these cases.

Thanks.

December 15, 2005 9:45 AM  
Blogger Earl said...

Okay, you're talking about believers, so that rules Hugh Hefner out of this case. But what about believing children who die of leukemia vs. believers who live into old age who are rather bad sinners?

I see already I was not thinking of the correct case, where is my thinking wrong here?

Thanks.

December 15, 2005 10:36 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
Do you like me better now?
This is a great post. I am glad you are going throught the book of James. I am finding your studies to be very helpful.

December 15, 2005 12:54 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Earl,

Thank you for hanging out and reading. Before I answer, as I intend to, may I ask how many of my posts on James have you read?

You see, I think that maybe your questions could be answered indirectly by reading all 7 posts.

If at that time, you really can't figure this one out, I would be happy to discuss it with you.

BTW, your cordiality truly shows through. Thank you.

Antonio

OH, by the way. Although this is written to believers, I am certain that its applicability extends to all people. This is somewhat apparant in the text, but I could take us to Romans and make the case there.

Antonio

December 15, 2005 2:14 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

* the applicability of the mature sin producing death, and righteousness extending the life.

Antonio

December 15, 2005 2:15 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

I agree with Dys/Fund!
Excellent post!

Especially:

Listen.

Sin merits eternal death at its first occurrence. It does not take sin to be mature, full-grown to merit eternal death! ...

Are you saying that I don't merit eternal death until my sins have reached maturity?


This line of reasoning is very helpful.

Daniel, if I could comment, I'm glad you don't brush off Hodges. I hope you continue to take a closer look at Hodges views on James, as I think you are by reading this series.

However, I must insist that in the long run our response to the temporal will impact the eternal. That's the flow of the passage.

It seems to me that while, 'in the long run our response to the temporal will impact the eternal' is a biblical, very much Grace emphasized teaching, it doesn't seem to be the flow of this passage.

It'll be interesting to hear more of your interaction with Antonio as the series continues into James' examples of dead faith, which seem to underline temporal Christian living rather than our eternal destiny.

Hi Earl!

I'm still figuring out blogging myself.

My evolving understanding of what the Bible says on sin, and what it causes, is that it teaches several themes that don't at all contradict...

Sin in the fallen world causes suffering and death in general. God sovereignly uses this type of general suffering to precisely work out his purposes.

Also: We 'reap what we sow' because God created a world with cause and effect. (I believe this is James theme.) Cause and effect seem to be what proverbial wisdom concerns itself with.

Also: In a personal way, God actively judges sin in believers and unbelievers in this life.

And finally: An individual's suffering is definitely not necessarily due to an individual's sin! His refinement of His people is not always due to sin in our lives as I think is starkly taught in the story of Job.

I'm still foggy on whether the categories overlap. I think cause and effect may also be God's wrath. Or maybe it isn't cause and effect at all but God's personal interaction with the world. And perhaps proverbial wisdom is the observation of how that anger can be counted on to be expressed, almost like clockwork.

So it's an important topic I think.

It's probably glossed over partly because the Epistle of James is so radically distorted!

Take care, Earl,

Warmly in Christ,

HK Flynn, aka Jodie Sawyer

December 15, 2005 8:07 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Dear H.K.,

I am just really amazed at your intuitive perception and grasp of issues. This post of yours, especially the part pertaining to Earl is most wonderful. I glean so much from your wisdom!

Thank you for your participation on this blog. You definitely fill in where I lack!

Antonio

December 15, 2005 9:14 PM  
Blogger Earl said...

H.K.

Thanks for the clarification. Antonio, I understand how frustrating people like me can be, jumping in the middle of something and not taking the time to read the whole series. Also, you may know I don't subscribe to this view of James, but I am not interested in arguing against it, but understanding it. For the purposes of this discussion, I am assuming this viewpoint of James is true. So, H.K., and others, rest assured I am not trying to push my agenda on this.

H.K., what you seem to be saying is that James' talk on salvation is similar to Proverbs on the results of good living -- the usual case is that you will live a long life. There are always other things to factor in on this so that this rule is not absolute. Am I reading you correctly?

By the way, if I am interferring with the discussion, let me know, I'll be happy to not to make comments.

December 16, 2005 9:11 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Earl,

I know that you do not subscribe to this view. But if you took the time, to be open-minded, and read the posts, maybe something in them would persuade you. If you want to learn more about it, just catch up reading. It really wouldn't take you that long, maybe 15 minutes or less.

With all the books you probably read, it would be a breeze!

Antonio

December 16, 2005 12:58 PM  
Blogger Earl said...

Antonio,

I've been reading your blog and associated comments for a couple of hours and have not finished. This isn't a 15 minute job. Your thoughts are subtle and require careful thinking.

I have a better understanding now. I really appreciate your stance on free grace. I'm understanding your hermeneutic better now. I think you do hit the mark on some Reformed theologians positions, although Reformed Theology is not one monolithic view. There is a raging controversy within Reformed theology on the place of works. John Piper and Douglas Wilson are on one end of it and some of their works reflect what you talk about. Pink needs to be read with care.

Works righteousness, wherever it shows up, is a hideous thing -- especially within Reformed theology, because of their very foundation of monergism, should be opposed to it.

Your critique of this stream of Reformed Theology is on target. But that is not the whole story of Reformed Theology. Others, such as Michael Horton, and others from the radio/internet program, The White Horse Inn, can and often present the free grace side of Reformed Theology -- different from your take, to be sure.

You are doing a good service. Keep it up. I'm still gathering information on your approach, there are aspects that I can't go along with as I understand your approach better, but I think you are providing a good service for the Kingdom of God.

December 17, 2005 6:15 AM  
Blogger -mike- said...

Hey. That's all. Great Site. Bye.

December 17, 2005 11:28 AM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Hi Earl!

Hey, I'm glad you can appreciate some of Antonio's critique, and that his blog is making a contribution to the Lord's work.

In your post you said:

H.K., what you seem to be saying is that James' talk on salvation is similar to Proverbs on the results of good living -- the usual case is that you will live a long life. There are always other things to factor in on this so that this rule is not absolute. Am I reading you correctly?

I wasn't really talking specifically about James, because I wanted to see how Antonio continued to flesh that out. I was focused more on the general biblical teaching that we reap what we sow in this life.

The Bible does teach that sin causes physical death and not just spiritual death, even if that theme isn't emphasized in Evangelical publishing and preaching.

Another place to find this theme, besides Proverbs, is in the Psalms, where David looks for salvation from physical threats to his life and physical threats to Israel.

But your original question was narrowly concerned wiht James, you wrote:

Assuming you are correct that James' salvation is from premature physical death, I'm wondering about the various boundary cases. What about children who die from leukemia?

And you went on to list other grey areas. I would say that with children it would be clear that God is not judging them for their sin.

But about adults I believe considering the possibility that an illness is caused by sin is wise. In chapter 5 James even gave the church a form for sorting through that painful possibility:

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Notice that James isn't saying all disease is sin-related, he uses the word if. But he states that some illness is sin related, and in those cases, vulnerable praying and confessing with the church leaders will be 'wonder-working'!

Hope that clarifies...

Lord bless you.

HK

December 18, 2005 4:17 PM  
Blogger Earl said...

H.K., thanks for your comments. I agree with what you've said. Thanks.

December 19, 2005 12:00 PM  
Blogger Ephraim said...

Antonio,

I have been reading through your series on the letter from James. I didn't see the salutation at the begining of his letter in any of your posts. I think it is important to include, considering your desire to demonstrate the proper applicability of scripture to the correct audience.

Jam 1:1 Ya`akov (James), a servant of God and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, to the twelve tribes which are in the Diaspora: Greetings.
Jam 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations,
Jam 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

It would seem that his teaching is for the members of the twelve tribes which did not reside in Judaea. Sure, anyone can learn from what was written, just as anyone can learn from studying Torah. But just anyone isn't to whom the letter is addressed. Care to comment on why James would confine his words to that specific group of people?

Thank you.

December 19, 2005 4:14 PM  
Blogger Ephraim said...

Antonio,

Yes, I did read Post #2 entitled, "Who was James Writing to?". From the associated comments it would appear that there are some who seem to think that you have answered the question satisfactorily. I don't.

In fact, it is my contention that you have completely missed not only who the letter was written to, but why.

You say:

"My contention is that there is not a single letter in the New Testament that was not written specifically and only to be applied for those who through faith in Christ have been regenerated."

Are you then saying that James had this in mind when he wrote his letter? If so, why didn't he say so. Or did he intend to indicate that the twelve tribes scattered abroad were "regenerate" as you use the term? Or perhaps that some portion of those tribes were "regenerate" and the rest (the "unregenerate ones") would have to be content to look over their shoulders as the "regenerate ones" read the text? Which might cause one to speculate about how involved the "unregenerate" members of the tribes were with the "regenerate" members.

Or are you thinking that the "regenerate ones", when they became that way through faith in Messiah, ceased to be members of the twelve tribes and instead joined the "church"?

What does this have to do with your perspective on sin?

It appears that you have chosen to believe that YHWH has designed sin into His creation and that our relationship to it is not at all what scripture says, but rather, that we are innocent of any wrongdoing, any trespass, any guilt.

If that is your position, then I quite understand why the confusion about who is "regenerate" and who is not.

So my original question remains, why did James confine his teaching to the twelve tribes scattered abroad?

December 20, 2005 3:07 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

My post #2 shows certainly that the intended audience of the epistle were regenerate. There is an argument presented there. Please refer to my argument and tell me what is your contention with it. I do not wish to go over ground in which I have already. The beloved brethren in which he speaks of hold faith in Jesus Christ(2:1) and have been born again (1:18). But again, refer to my ARGUMENT there and contend with it. For that is where I made it and do not wish to restate it here in the comments section.

Antonio

December 20, 2005 6:37 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

"James 2:14ff : Quick Rejoinder/Review (Post 7)", December 14, 2005 2:05 PM and comments.

About plausibility. Often, we want to give a reason for why we think a verse means such and such. We have an idea in our heads of what it means -- never mind how it got there, it's just there, whether true or false.

Then, we state the idea. For support, we add the following: "that is why the verse says ...."

Then, someone reading what we have written sees our idea, and reads the verse, and says, "hmm, I can see how those two things fit together." Then, if we are not careful, we feel like we've come to a logical conclusion. But we haven't.

What happened? Let's call the verse "V", and the idea "I." Then the person advocating the idea I says "That is why V."

When the person says "That is why V," they are saying "V is true, because I is true." They are saying that I implies V. And we read both, and realize that I does imply V.

Does that prove I? No.

The classic example involves it being dark outside. In our analogy, that would be the verse V. It is incontravertible that it is dark outside, that V is true. Then someone says "that is why it is midnight."

It may be midnight, of course. If it were midnight, that would imply that it is dark outside.

I is a plausibility. Let's not be fooled into thinking that the verse or verses prove(s) it.

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When all is said and done, eternal death is the result of a series of sinful decisions. Hell is the final consequence of a sinful lifestyle. This is why our response to trials and temptations is so important. Failure leads to eternal death. This is why the new birth is so important. Without it, we are doomed. Without it, this sin-birthed death is inevitable since we are guaranteed to fail when we face trials
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December 23, 2006 2:55 AM  

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