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Wed, Jul 08, 1998

08 - Endurance in Testing

James 1:4 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 8 secs

Endurance in Testing
James 1:4

The doctrine of endurance

1)  The word HUPOMONE [u(pomonh] means endurance, strong endurance, fortitude, persistence in the face of all opposition. A good way to expand Verse 3 would be: "Because you know that the evaluation tests of the doctrine in your soul increases persistence in the face of all opposition." It means a continued unwillingness to give up or be deterred in the face of obstacles. We live in an age of quick fixes to everything. We can get on the computer anywhere in the world and download information we need, just like that. We live in an age when everything happens fast, but spiritual growth does not happen fast. Spiritual growth still happens the old fashioned way. It is hard, it takes slugging it out, day after day, week after week, studying and learning. In any given week we are bombarded with hundreds of thousands of times with the message of the world, and yet we are bombarded with Bible doctrine and we are reminded of divine viewpoint on just a few occasions—at Bible class and the times we read our Bibles. We are bombarded by the world and we have an internal enemy, the sin nature, that is attracted to that message; that is really what is wants to hear. So we are constantly fighting this battle and it becomes an issue of priority, and issue of always making Bible doctrine number one in our life. The sin nature always has an easy way out, an easy solution to the problem.

2)   Romans 5:3 NASB "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope." The word "exult" is not the Greek word CHARA [xara] which is our standard word for joy, but KAUCHEMA [kauxhma], normally translated to "boast." In most passages it has a very negative connotation indicating arrogance, boasting, conceit, self-absorption, self-interest. But it also in some passages picks up a positive connotation in a spiritual context of rejoicing in something, to exult in something, to express joy. So it has to do with an outward expression of joy, an inner happiness that is present because Bible doctrine is in the soul. We exalt in what? Our tribulations. Here in Romans it focuses more on the tests of adversity, and the result is that we are going to exult in them. Why? "Knowing"! We have the same grammatical construction as in James chapter one, a present active participle, but this time it is from the Greek word OIDA [o)ida]. It is an adverbial participle of cause, so again it should be translated "because you know." Notice the stress on knowledge. You are not going to be able to do what the Bible says to do, you are not going to be able to have joy or inner happiness and stability in your life unless you know some doctrine. That is the key. Then there is a doctrinal principle: "tribulation brings about perseverance." The word here for "brings about" is KATERGAZOMAI [katergazomai] and it means to produce, to bring about, to result in something. It is the same word as found in James 1:3. So it is the same concept that we find in James, and that is that testing or tribulation produces perseverance—HUPOMONE [u(pomonh]. So how do we get endurance/perseverance? By going through testing, by facing adversity. The results of testing is a tested or proven character; it develops a strength of character. The ultimate goal in the spiritual life has to do with character, with producing integrity and virtue in the life of the believer. This is done through the production of the Holy Spirit. As we take in doctrine and go through the process of applying doctrine in our life in rhe midst of tests, then the result is that the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our life. That fruit is listed in Galatians 5:20ff. What we are responsible for is a) learning doctrine; b) exercising faith and transferring it to EPIGNOSIS [e)pignwsij]; c) positive volition and application. As we apply that doctrine in those situations the Holy Spirit produces fruit in the life: "and perseverance, proven character." The thrust is to create in us the image of Christ. Proven character results in the final stage, "hope." Hope if the Greek word ELPIS [e)lpij] which as to do with confidence. We have a confident expectation because we know the truth. As our character develops and as we go through this process time and again of going through adversity, applying doctrine, and seeing how doctrine consistently works, then it develops our confidence. In fact, all of this is tantamount to bringing us through spiritual adolescence. A second passage is 1 Peter 1:7 NASB "so that the proof of your faith, {being} more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." The word "proof" is DOKIMION [dokimion], evidence, the evidence testing, the proof from evaluation. This verse is telling us that as we go through this process and as the proof of our faith is evident, and as this proven character is exemplified, it is more precious than gold that is perishable. It is what results in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ what counts in the proof of the doctrine in our soul that comes as a result of our passing evaluation testing.

3)  Perseverance is developed through learning doctrine. Romans 25:4 NASB "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." This reminds us of the key elements. Power option number one is the filling of the Holy Spirit; power option number two is the Scripture or doctrine. They always work together, you never have one without the other. The Holy Spirit never operates apart from the Word of God. The word of God, when it is utilized apart from the Spirit of God, always produces legalism and self-righteousness. The Spirit of God apart from the Word of God always produces subjectivism, mysticism and emotionalism. When the Spirit of God is working together in tandem with the Word of God, then there is always true biblical Christianity, there is always spiritual growth. Perseverance is the result of that, it is the result of studying and learning and assimilating into our souls that which was written before hand. The result of that, according to Romans 15:4 is that we have confidence, a confident expectation. Colossians 1:11, 12 relates it to the Holy Spirit NASB "strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light."

4)  Endurance is related to occupation with Christ. Hebrews 12:1,2 NASB "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter [completer] of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Occupation means that the focus of our mind, the focus of our thinking is on Jesus Christ. Notice how frequently certain words appear together: endurance, joy and focus (fixing our eyes). Is focus an emotional concept? No, it is a thought concept, cognition, thinking. Put the focus of your concentration, your mindset, on Jesus. Verse 3 NASB "For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Once again, the emphasis is on endurance, hanging in there. The evaluation of doctrine through testing is what produces or brings about endurance.

5)  Endurance has another consequence. James 1:4 NASB "And let endurance have {its} perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." This is a command. The word "perfect" is TELEIOS [teleioj]. In all of Greek literature it can have one of two meanings. It can have a qualitative meaning. Quality can be poor or good, imperfect of perfect. The concept of perfect is a quality term. Or it can have a quantitative meaning, which has to do with something that ism incomplete or complete. This is its meaning every single time the word is used in the New Testament. It has to do with something that has been brought to its finished result, its completion. So when we look at this passage it says, "Let endurance have its completed work." Endurance is going to complete something. What is it going to complete? Endurance is going to complete your spiritual growth. It is going to complete the fortress around your soul that protects you from adversity….. The more you do these things, the more you practice them, the more adept you will become at using them, and the stronger you will become in your spiritual life and the easier it will be to use these principles the next time. You will grow, and the doctrine and the endurance completes your spiritual life, completes that life. "…that" is a HINA [i(na] clause that introduces a purpose result clause. Both ideas are there. There is a purpose for this, and that is that is brings about a certain result. The result is that you may be "perfect." This isn't perfect, it is not moral perfection; this is the idea of completion, that you may be complete, a mature believer. "…that you may be perfect and complete." The word there for "complete" ("entire" in KJV; "whole" in NASB) is HOLOKLEROS [o(loklhroj]. It means that you will become complete and whole in your soul, you will be brought to spiritual maturity, "lacking in nothing." That is a powerful phrase, it means that if you move toward spiritual maturity you lack nothing. God has provided everything for you.

The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture

The doctrine of inspiration is found in 2 Timothy 3:16, 16 NASB "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." "All Scripture," every single word, the grammatical position, is inspired by God. The Greek word is THEOPNEUSTOS [Qeopneustoj], and it means to breathe out by God. The word "adequate" means complete, whole, everything you need. So the corollary for the doctrine of inspiration the sufficiency of Scripture. Sufficiency is defined in the dictionary as, "as much as needed." The doctrine of sufficiency means that God has given us as much as we need to handle any situation in life and that Bible doctrine is more than adequate for the task. Bible doctrine is sufficient for any problem. To say otherwise impugns the character of God. In eternity past God the Father knew every situation we would ever face, and He provided everything we are going to need in order to resolve that situation with tranquillity, contentment, stability and joy. Psychology is a competing system with the Bible. 

2 Peter 1:3, 4 NASB "seeing that His divine power has granted to us [didomi, to give, which always means grace] everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of {the} divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."

When we talk about "His divine power" we are talking about God's provision of the Scriptures—His ability to provide everything we need based on His omniscience and knowing everything that we would need. His divine power through God the Holy Spirit who breathed out the Scriptures. "…everything pertaining to life [zwh] and godliness [e)usebeia]." Life here has to do not only with eternal existence, but with a quality of life. If you want to have abundant life the source is Jesus, not Freud. Everything is in the Scriptures. To add to the Scriptures is to invalidate and blaspheme the God who gave the Scriptures. "Godliness" [e)usebiea] is an old fashioned word that refers to the spiritual life of the believer. How do we get this? "…through the true knowledge," EPIGNOSIS [e)pignwsij], full knowledge. This is what becomes applied toward spiritual growth by the Holy Spirit and produces spiritual growth. "For by these [His glory and excellence] He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of {the} divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." How do we escape the corruption? Application of doctrine: "His precious and magnificent promises." The point is, all you need is the Bible. That's it.