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A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.
Wednesday, July 22, 1998

10 - Prayer for Wisdom

James 1:5 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:1 hr 8 mins 8 secs

Prayer for Wisdom
James 1:5

The Greek word HUPOMONE [u(pomonh], translated "perseverance," or "endurance," has the idea of a longstanding or continuous obedience in the same direction. This is the goal in the spiritual life. It is the key to growing to maturity through the filling of the Holy Spirit.

James 1:5 NASB "James 1:5 "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." The writer of this epistle recognizes that in our spiritual growth we advance through various forms of testing. As we go through these situations of tests we get an opportunity to apply doctrine, as we apply doctrine we then persevere and endure, and the result of that is that we progress towards maturity in our spiritual life.

We have a pastor teacher in the church because God realizes that among all of the jobs performed by the body of Christ somebody needs to have the ability to study the Word of God and to extract from the Word of God the principles of Bible doctrine and be able to communicate those to people so that they can grow spiritually, so they can see how these things apply to their life and they can begin to grow incrementally from infancy to spiritual maturity. God gave certain people the gift to do that. There are two communication gifts in the New Testament that continue through the church age. There is the gift of pastor-teacher and the gift of evangelist. These two have communication gifts and so it is necessary to recognize that those with the gift of pastor-teacher have been uniquely gifted to get into God's Word, study it, and teach the content of God's Word to people. This isn't just somebody who has been to seminary or Bible college, it is somebody who is specifically gifted in this arena. The average person is not gifted in this arena so the average Christian is not going to be able to extract from the Scriptures the principles they need to really grow to spiritual maturity.

The Bible refers in 1 Corinthians to the deep things of God. There is an analogy in mining. Just about anybody can pan for gold. They might find a little speck of gold dust and think they have found something, and it doesn't take a whole lot of equipment to do that. That is comparable to what the average Christian can do, but even doing that you have to know what you are looking at. How many would know how to distinguish between fool's gold and gold by looking at a bunch of gravel in the bottom of a pan? Not much. You have to know something even to use a pan to pan for gold. But then you get along to where you need to dig a little, so you now have a pan, a spade or shovel, a pick, and you start digging into the side of the mountain to try expose the vein of ore. That is about the level of a lot of Sunday School teachers, they have those kinds of skills. But then one man operating on his own can only do so much work and dig so much into the side of that mountain. Then what is needed? You have to bring in the heavy equipment, the mining engineers, the people who really know geology, who really understand how the rock is shaped and formed in that mountain, who can really blast their way efficiently back into that mountain to extract the really big chunks of gold ore. That is the pastor-teacher. He is the mining engineer.

A lot of times people think that because they happen to get their pan out and they discover a big nugget of ore here or there that anybody do this. But anybody can be lucky now and then. Under the filling of the Holy Spirit just about everybody can see some really great truths of Scripture now and then, but to really dig into the doctrines of Scripture, the meat of the Word, and to teach what is necessary for the growth of believers takes the special gift of pastor-teacher. 

So the pastor-teacher communicates the Word, and under the filling of the Holy Spirit this teaching is made understandable to the hearers. In this Newt Testament this is called PNEUMATIKOS [pneumatikoj]—spiritually understood data. It is transferred by the Holy Spirit to the left lobe of the soul, the NOUS [nouj]. This is nothing more than academic knowledge. This is a staging area, what we have to go through in order to get to the final product of application knowledge. When we receive it by means of faith the Holy Spirit transfers it automatically into the deepest recesses of our intellect, called in the Greek the heart, the KARDIA [kardia]. This is the right lobe of the soul, the innermost part of our thinking, where our deepest thoughts and convictions are held. There it circulates, and that process of circulation the Bible calls meditation.

Psalm 1:1 NASB "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!" Notice the progression. You see this in the life of the fool. Foolishness in the Bible is contrasted with wisdom and divine viewpoint. You see movement, and then you begin to slow down and stand, and then you just sit in negative volition. And there you stay!

In contrast [2] "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night." Notice, there is something positive, something effervescent, something enjoyable about that word "delight." He is excited about it. This isn't drudgery, he is enthusiastic and motivated about Bible study, about learning God's Word. His delight is in the law of the Lord, Bible doctrine. He meditates, focuses his thinking when? In his quiet time every other morning? No, that is not what it says. He meditates day and night. This is a figure of speech which means you take two opposites and mention both of them in order to pull in a totality. So day and night indicates two opposites, two extremes of the pole. What the psalmist is saying here is that His law, in God's Word, Bible doctrine, he thinks about it continually. Now that doesn't mean that when you are at work you quit thinking about what you are doing and think about what you learned at Bible class the other day. It means that as you go throughout the day you take time to focus on and remember what God's Word says, how you apply it in this situation. You focus on life as a test, as a string of tests, of opportunities to apply the doctrine in your soul. You are conscious about doctrine. As it is circulating in your conscious mind you are aware of it, you are thinking about it, you are focusing on it and you are letting God's Word sift through your mind continually throughout the day. You make decisions and you are thinking about what God's Word says about them and how you can apply God's Word to the situation.

So the blessed man, the man who has joy, true inner happiness and tranquillity, is blessed. He continually meditates day and night, and the result is stability. "He will be [3] like a tree {firmly} planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season [spiritual production]. And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers." This is not material prosperity. The idea is that you are successful. Why are you successful in the endeavours of life? Because you have doctrine in your soul you have wisdom that plays itself out in the decision-making process so that you do not make foolish decisions which end up producing calamitous circumstances and bring about self-induced misery. Instead, you make wise decisions and the result is that you have success in achieving what you attempt to do because you understand your limitations, you understand who God is, you are submitted to the sovereignty of God in the process, you are filled with the Holy Spirit, and you are following His leadership and are walking with Him. So the result is that you have success in your life. It is not success as man counts success, which is measured by your bank account or your position in the company, but it is determined by your spiritual health.

In contrast are the wicked. In contrast are the wicked [4] NASB "The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away." They are unstable. We see this same imagery picked up by James when he contrasts the one who asks in faith for wisdom. If he doesn't ask in faith then he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, "like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind."  

When we are persistent and endure in the spiritual life then ultimately it culminates in the adult spiritual life. We become mature; we become complete. That is when real life begins, not in the process of growth. Did you think you were in real life when you were nine years old? No, you wanted to be an adult because you knew that when you were an adult that is where you could really do things, that is when you could really produce things, that is where life was. Adulthood! But most Christians want to wander around with enough knowledge to be in kindergarten and they have no vision for getting beyond kindergarten, and they stay there. The goal is the adult spiritual life, maturity. Get to maturity and stay there. That is where you begin to experience the rich deep blessings that God has for us.

As we go through this cycle over and over again towards spiritual maturity, eventually the Lord takes us home. We are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord, and we have an eternal soul life in the presence of the Lord. At the Rapture or the resurrection of the church something takes place in heaven called the Bema seat, the judgment seat of Christ—1 Corinthians 3:12-17. The issue there is not to determine your eternal destiny, it to determine your position in heaven: rewards or loss of rewards. It is to evaluate your life on the earth, to evaluate how much time you spent under the filling of the Holy Spirit, how much divine good was produced, and that is what survives. The metaphor is of a huge purification fire when all of our deeds are added up and purified. That which is human good has no value, it is wood, hay, and straw and is burned up and gone. But that which has real value is like gold, silver and precious stones. It has eternal significance and value. Whatever is left over after the purification, after the judgment, is the basis for our rewards and our inheritance for eternity. It has to do with the capacity to enjoy and appreciate God and to have rapport with God for all eternity. This is our destiny. When you reach a certain level in your spiritual life you begin to get a sense of your own personal sense of eternal destiny, that everything you are doing right here and now has to do with where you are going. It is not just living life and that is it, and we are all going to end up in heaven and we are all going to get the same thing; but what I am doing now, the decisions I make, the priorities I choose, how I spend my time, will determine who I am, what I am doing, and where I am for all eternity. What are you going to do about your eternal destiny in heaven?