Alfred Place Baptist Church

1:22-25 The Way Of Blessing

James 1:22-25 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.”

In these words James is telling us how to know infallibly God’s blessing on your life. A certain man, whose life has been radically changed, is described for us by James, and then he ends by telling us that such a man “will be blessed in what he does.” The blueprint for blessing is laid out for us in this passage by James, and if anyone at all follows these counsels there stretches out before him, to the distant horizon, a blessed life. The alternative to this decision is unthinkable. Doing what James says is certain to result in true blessedness: it is divinely guaranteed. I can stand before you with all the confidence that the word of God gives me and I can assure every one of you that if you put into practice what James tells us in these words your future with be the most wonderfully blessed period you have ever known in your life. There is no other way to happiness, or self-fulfilment, or solid joy and lasting treasure than implementing what these words tell us.

James, you can see, is looking forward and making this prediction about this man and all who are like him. Of course, we can look back across the lives of multitudes of people who put into practice what James says, many being known to us, whose brief pilgrimage has now ended, and we can say about them, “they indeed were blessed in what they did. God kept this promise, and we were witnesses to that.” How does the blessing of God come to men ? Let us look first at this fact:-

1. God Has Given Us the Perfect Law of Liberty (v.25).

The Father of the heavenly lights, the God of creation, gives to mankind many gifts, and amongst the greatest is what James calls, ‘the perfect law of liberty.’ The Creator has revealed his will in the ten commandments – the law of Sinai. James appeals to two of the commandments without any qualifications in chapter 2:11, and applies them to these New Testament Christians, “For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a law-breaker.” So the ten commandments can be called the law. God also gave to his Old Testament people a whole body of legislation concerning how they were to live, and that also is referred to as the law. Indeed the entire first five books of the Old Testament, which were largely written by Moses, are also known as the law. But we can stretch out the meaning of this word ‘law’ further still when we point out that the entire Old Testament Scriptures can be referred to as ‘the law.’ For example, there are twenty-five references in Psalm 119 to ‘the law’ and the psalmist in every instance is referring by that term to all the Scriptures, because the entire Bible contains God’s will telling us how we should live.

But when James talks of the law in our text he calls it ‘the perfect law of liberty.’ This is a special designation of James’. No one else uses this phrase but he, and in fact he does so twice. James is referring to something different from those other uses. James is speaking of how the Scripture has been fulfilled perfectly by Jesus Christ, and clarified, and also changed. Some aspects of the law addressing Israel under the Old Covenant, with their instituted ceremonies and political, dietary, national and cultural requirements, were temporary enactments to instruct Israel in matters like holy living when they were like children. The symbolic meaning of those Scriptures was fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah, and in God’s movement away from focusing on one nation at the eastern end of the Mediterranean to the church in all the nations of the world. This ‘perfect law of liberty’ which James speaks of is the will of God for us new covenant people of God as we have been taken up into the great redemption which the Lord Jesus has fulfilled. It is the gospel of Christ and its requirements for Christians. It is the whole of the Bible seen through the finished work of the Saviour that James is writing about. It is the ‘old commandment, which we had from the beginning,’ and yet ‘new’ in Christ. Paul acknowledges that he is ‘not without law to God, but under the law to Christ” (I Cor. 9:21).

God has not left us Christians in a slough of situational ethics working out for ourselves rights and wrongs. He has given us this perfect law of liberty in such Scriptures as the ten commandments, the other statutes of Moses, the sermons of the prophets, the teaching of Jesus and in the New Testament letters. We have it – ‘the perfect law that gives freedom’ – we may hold this miracle in our hands. We can read it and hear it preached to us. It is spirit and it is life. It is the God-breathed word. It is also the “word of truth by which God chose to give us birth” (v.18). It has been planted in us at regeneration (v.21). This very letter of James is part of God’s perfect law of liberty. How privileged this congregation is to have ready access to it today. Martin Luther said, “I was twenty years old before I had ever seen the Bible. At last I found one in the library at Erfurt, and used to read it often with still increasing wonder.”

James calls it ‘perfect’ because it perfectly expresses God’s nature, and it perfectly addresses our needs. It is perfect because it is unchangeable, and permanent. “The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever” (I Peter 1:24). L.B.Cake wrote a telling poem called “The Anvil of God’s Word.”

Last eve I stood before a blacksmith’s door
And heard the anvil ring its vesper chime;
Then, looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.

“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so ?”
“Just one,” he answered; then with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”

And so the Bible, anvil of God’s Word,
For ages sceptic blows have beat upon;
And though the noise of Paine, Voltaire, was heard,
The anvil is unworn, the hammers gone.”

The Word of God is perfect because it is final and complete. It cannot be improved upon. Nothing can be added to it to make it more effectual: no extra stories, interpretations or duties will improve this perfect law at all. Don’t gild this lily. If you add to it the book of Mormon, or the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, or the traditions and encyclicals of Rome then immediately you detract from the Scriptures, and you are also giving extraordinary authority to those writings. Down goes the Bible, and up goes those writings. The Bible cannot be bettered because all by itself it makes men of God perfect. It tells us everything we need. What we are to believe, and what our duties are we will find here. It describes our state, opens up our responsibilities and unfolds our destiny. It speaks to us as sinners, but it reveals salvation and shows us how we may obtain it. It doesn’t shun the subject of death, but it opens a path to heaven. It shines the light of immortality into the grave. It makes our hearts burn within us, and illuminates our minds. It stoops to very plain language, and it soars to sublime theology. It refreshes us when we are weary, and cheers us when we our hearts are broken. It gives us peace on earth, and joy in heaven. It gives us strength to bear every burden; it hallows every relationship, purifies and intensifies every pleasure; it keeps us from pride in prosperity and bitterness in poverty. When we are dispirited it excites us; when we are perverse it sweetens us; when we are under attack it keeps us from retaliation. It is perfect because it comes from God; its spirit is love; its theme is Christ; its effect is life more abundant, and its end is glory.

And we have it – the perfect law of freedom. But how does it liberate men and women ? Remember the law which the Israelites were given at Sinai ? They had been slaves in Egypt for generations. Then they had no liberty at all. They did whatever Pharaoh and the Egyptians told them. They were under merciless masters, making bricks without straw. Then God came and liberated them from all of that, but he did not give them lawlessness, or that would have been anarchy, but he gave them ten simple commandments, boundary posts within which parameters they were to live their lives in freedom – the perfect law of liberty. If they transgressed – if they stole from someone – they had becme a slave to the sin of theft.

When people boast today of being free we have to ask immediately, “What are you free from ?” Are you free from lust, anger, unbelief, depression, fear, covetousness ? No ? Then are you free ? No. What are you seeking to be free from ? Duties, obligations, marriage vows, the voice of your conscience, the Bible, the claims of Christ, the words of the preacher ? Liberty has no meaning unless one knows what one has been liberated from. There were angels that rebelled against God because they wanted ‘freedom’ and they were cast out of heaven. They have all the freedom they can get within the length of their chains in the place of woe.

When I look at a congregation I see all kinds of men and women, young and old, in chains. Jesus, speaking of the devil, says, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armour in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils” (Luke 11:21 & 22). The Lord Jesus is showing us every unbeliever being kept in captivity by the god of this world. They wander about and are working on the grounds of his vast plantation. They boast to one another of their ‘radical individualism’, that they have total freedom to do whatever they wish – unlike those pathetic religious people in chains to God: “They have nothing better to do than to harass us. But we all have equal rights – homosexuals, soft drugs takers, abortionists, practitioners of euthanasia. We are all equal with everyone else. We can be what we want to be. We are free.” This fallacy dominates their minds, politics, literature, charity, and religion while they live, work, spend their whole lives until they die on that tiny plantation. That is their whole narrow universe. All they can see is the life of the plantation. Just let them try to escape and they will discover that their freedom is an illusion. They are doing and saying just what sin tells them ! They don’t pray. They don’t read the Bile. They don’t think of their souls, or of Jesus Christ. Their master tells them not to, and they obey, as good slaves.

They need true freedom. They need to be rescued from the outside. One who is stronger needs to get into the plantation, attack, overpower and tie up that strong man: “How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man ? Then he can !” (Matthew 12:29). That is what the Son of God has done, coming into the kingdom of this world, and overcoming the devil, and releasing his prisoners. It is only then that they discover true liberty. Christ makes them free to see what slavery is, free from the tyranny of selfishness, free to be good, free to do what they ought to do, and free to love doing it. Think of Paul and Silas. Even smarting in the dungeon in the Philippian jail they were free men in song. They were servants of Jesus Christ and could celebrate real liberty. They were expressing what they had become by the power of God, but the poor jailer keeping that prison was under a tyranny of fear. He was suicidal when the God of Paul and Silas came near to him. As long as a man is a slave to his own passions and emotions and desires he is not free. Is the President of the country that calls itself “the home of the brave and the land of the free” free ? All that has been disclosed about him in the past week tells us that he is a slave. To obey the Son of God – that alone is liberty. The man who loves the perfect law of liberty is free indeed. He can say no to the destructive power of sin.

2] All Who Neglect the Word Deceive Themselves

James is especially concerned about our response to the public reading of Scripture and hearing of the Word of God. You can see that from what he says, “Do not merely listen …Anyone who listens … not forgetting what he has heard.” James is not talking about reading the Scriptures – though what he writes applies to that too. He is troubled by the people who are in a state of self-deception because of their failure to respond properly to what they are hearing week by week. It is not that these people are sitting under false prophets. They are not hearing wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are hearing the truth, and they may be hearing it from superlative preachers. They are hearing the perfect law that gives freedom preached with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. James was writing at a vital period when many people were turning from idols and serving the living God, but there were many people going from the services who were absolutely untouched, but they did not realise it. They thought all was well; they were ‘deceiving themselves,’ James says. They were in the appalling condition of a false peace. But, they protest, weren’t they sitting under the best ministry possible ? Weren’t they constantly stirred by what they heard ? They were absolutely orthodox in their faith. They believed in the doctrines of the New Testament. They did not go away shaking their heads in disagreement. Yet they went away deceived. They sang the hymns, and they sang them wholeheartedly. They enjoyed seeing their friends there. But they were deceived. There will be people in a lost eternity who heard the greatest preaching in the world, and were stirred by it, yet their souls were lost. It would be a strange thing if that phenomenon no longer existed in God’s church. Can I be deceiving myself while I listen week by week to the Word of God ? What a searching question. How can I tell if I am being deceived ? Two ways, James says:-

1] When you merely listen to the word.

When I was in seminary there were certain courses which I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to hear certain lecturers teach, but I did not want to try the exams in those courses or gain any academic credits for them. So I ‘audited’ them. That is, I sat in on them and listened to the teacher. This is what these people were doing, but without my eagerness to hear men like John Murray and Cornelius Van Til. They thought they had a relationship with God merely because they got out of their houses and went to a meeting place and sat under the word. They watched the preacher; they sang the hymns; they listened to everything – but that is exactly how far it went. There is nothing wrong with sitting and listening to the Bible. It is good to be here every Sunday. What is wrong is basing your hopes of heaven on this fact. You remember the Lord Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount and ending with the parable of the two builders. One man hears everything that Jesus says but he does nothing about it, and our Lord says that he is like a man who builds his house on sand. It is a fine house. It is indistinguishable from many other new houses. There is no indication that it lacks a foundation. It is only when the storm comes that the whole house collapses. This was a man who had the name of a disciple, who sat on the mount and heard Jesus preach that sermon, but that is all he did. He wasn’t moved or convicted. He didn’t repent. He didn’t pray for mercy. He didn’t entrust himself into the safe keeping of Jesus Christ. The whole foundation of his safety was that he’d been there on the mount listening to Jesus. You meet people who want to tell you about some important event, “I was there. It was brilliant.” They have a delight at being spectators when history was being made. Christ is saying that all that might be very interesting, but being listeners and spectators at Christian services is the worst foundation for heaven. One day there will be that greatest of all the storms which we will ever meet as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Will we stand in that great day ? Will we have a foundation ? Or will all our lives be built on sand ?

It is not Christianity to plead before Almighty God that you were in a certain atmosphere, and heard and saw and tasted remarkable things. Remember there was a time when the Israelites thought that merely to be in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant was bound to put them on the winning side. So they carried the Ark into battle with them, but they were soundly defeated by the Philistines, and the ark was taken as plunder by their enemies and put in the temple of Dagon their god. The Israelites were rebels against God, refusing to listen to the Word of the Lord. They were doing what was right in their own eyes, but they thought that carrying about a religious talisman would bring them luck. That is magic. It is not Christianity. There is very little difference between that and basing your hopes of eternal life in being in a certain church at a certain time on a Sunday night and hearing a certain preacher. Mere listening to words, however true, never saved anyone and never will. It did not save Judas. He read the menu of the Bread of Life but he never ate that living bread himself. He had it in his hands, as it were, and rejoiced that it was so accessible to him, but he never ate the body and drank the blood of the Son of Man. Being present at the means of grace is not the sum of Christian duty. Never be satisfied with that. Yield your heart to the power of preaching. Again, you are being deceived:-

2] When you immediately forget the word.

James gives us this unforgettable picture of a person who glances at his face in a mirror, goes away and immediately and deliberately forgets what he looked like. He simply dismisses that brief self-examination. Is he saying, “Huh ! It is so ordinary that I don’t need to think about that.” Is he saying, “Ummm ! What a beauty !” But why bother to look in the mirror if you are not going to act on what you see ? Do you think you are unimprovable ? Or are you so perfect you can’t be bettered ? What if there are smudges to be cleaned up ? There may be a blemish on your beauty. Isn’t it worth knowing ? You have been sleeping all night, and your hair has to be combed. Look at yourself in the mirror. That need not be vanity. But immediately and deliberately forgetting what you see helps no one at all.

James is talking about the man who hears the word of God but does nothing about it. Part of true preaching is opening a window to heaven to see God in Christ, and part is holding up a mirror before a congregation and revealing to the people their own selves. They take a look at themselves; they don’t like what they see, and they walk away. There is a minister in town who preaches the gospel, and I was talking to one of his members who occasionally hears him. “I meet your minister in a prayer meeting,” I told him. “Oh, if you want to be depressed go and hear him,” he said to me, dismissing his preacher. He had the mirror of the word lifted up to him, and he could see that he was sinful – his face was dirty – then he went away and deliberately forgot what sort of person he is. He did nothing about what was shown to him about himself. The look in the mirror was useless; no change was effected. There was no repentance. He walks away and avoids the problem. Jay Adams says, “The consequence of this is that he dulls his conscience. Doing this again and again, after hearing the Word and reading God’s will in the Scriptures, eventually makes it possible for him to convince himself that he is all right after all. Thus, the inner process of deceiving oneself takes place. He builds from himself a very different picture of his life than others have. And especially, a very different picture of his heart (inner person) than God has” (A Thirst for Wholeness, p.98).

Of course there is another reaction possible, and that is to destroy the mirror. When the first missionaries were working in a certain area the wife of a chief came to the mission station. The missionary had hung a mirror on a tree outside his home, and the woman happened to glance into it. She had never properly seen the tattoos on her hardened features, and glancing at the mirror she was shocked at what she saw. “Who is that horrible person inside that tree ?” “There is no one there,” said the missionary, “A mirror is reflecting your own face.” She walked up to the mirror, and she looked behind it, and even took it down and gazed long at herself. “I must have this,” she said. The missionary did not want to part with it, but the chief’s wife was insistent. “What is your price ? she said. He finally succumbed to her demand and she took the mirror. She walked to a boulder and brought the mirror down on it hard, smashing it again and again into pieces. “I will never have that making faces at me again,” she said. People deliberately forget what they have seen in the perfect law of freedom for exactly the same reason. The word of God shows them themselves very starkly, and they do not like what they see. Some will seek to destroy the Word, or the spirit of this man who boldly holds the mirror before them. Others will find a distorting mirror which will flatter them (and there are many of those in religious circles). But the others, James is telling us, will develop a pattern of attendance at the services in which they deliberately forget what they have heard. “In one ear, and out the other,” as people say.

3] All Who Do What the Word Says Are Blessed

This is the heart of the matter. Warnings are over, and the way of God’s blessing resting on our lives is revealed. It all stems from your response to the word of God. “Look intently” into it, he says (v.25). In James’ day a mirror would be heavy polished brass and would lie on a table, so you bent over and looked down, and that is literally what this exhortation directs us to do. Pore over the word. The same ‘looking’ is used of the disciples peering into the empty tomb, searching every inch of it to see if there could be any clue as to what had happened to the body of their Lord. The action is used to describe the angels looking into all the aspects of the work of redemption – their Master becoming incarnate ? Tempted by the devil ? Falling down with anguish in Gethsemane ? Crucified between two thieves ? Lying in a tomb dead ? How they gazed at it all ! (I Peter 1:12).

“Look intently !” exhorts James. Think of a brain-surgeon’s examination of a tumour in a man’s brain, or a miner panning for gold as he looks at the grit and pebbles at the bottom of his pan, or an art-expert surveying an alleged old master recently discovered, or a mechanic looking at the engine of his own car which is mysterious malfunctioning – how steady and intense their gaze. Yet when the surgeon and miner and art-expert and mechanic look at the word of God, how cursory is their attention, as something unworthy of the thorough examination they will give to dust and ashes. But the blessed man begins by looking thoughtfully and carefully, taking time to discover all that God’s Word has to say about himself – he is prepared to hear the worst – and about the nature of the Lord Jesus – the best of all creation.

The Bible is full of exhortations to listen attentively. The Lord Jesus “in his teaching said: ‘Listen !'” (Mark 4:2 & 3). So does the apostle Paul: “Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said, ‘Men of Israel and you Gentiles, listen to me !'” (Acts 13:16). Or again the Lord speaks to the seven churches with the refrain, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:11). We are told that “all the people hung on his words” (Luke 19:48). They didn’t want to miss anything. One named Mary sat at his feet as close to him as she could in case she lost something. When his servants went preaching the gospel there was the same response. In Samaria we are told “they all paid attention to what Philip said” (Acts 8:6). Cornelius the centurion spoke on behalf of all the hearers when he said to Peter, “Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us” (Acts 10:33). So always attend to Scripture, but especially if a passage is being opened up by one of his servants, or if any matter touching your conscience is being referred to, or a particular sin troubling you is being addressed, or if there is unusual warmth of urgency in the preaching then pay heed to that. Always guard against wandering thoughts, and watch out for drowsiness

Look intently, James says, but then he adds these words, “and continues to do this.” There was the attention we paid our first love, but over the years we may have grown cold. Our heads are now buried in a newspaper, and our wives are talking and then they may sadly say, “Are you listening to me ?” We have left our first love. James is telling us to go on listening to the word of God for ever and ever. Go on meditating. Go on inquiring what it means. Go on looking so as to draw its virtue into your life. “We, with open face beholding the glory of the Lord as in a glass, are changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). Such continuous gazing brings the glory of the Lord into our hearts, as Moses’ face shone by talking with Jehovah. When we inter-react lovingly with the Word we may carry away the beauty and glory of it in our spirits. So continue ! Don’t be satisfied with a few verses, old cliches, and a thought for the day. Someone has said that the Lord doesn’t reveal the deep things to the casual Christian who drops in for a chat.

But then James adds something else, “not forgetting what he has heard.” Remember in the parable of the sower those men are commended who “with a noble and good heart, hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (Luke 8:15). Paul tells the Thessalonians to “hold fast that which is good” (I Thess. 5:21). To the Corinthians he said, “You are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (1 Cor. 15:2). In the preaching services held in the church of Samuel Annesley (John Wesley’s grandfather), St Giles in the Fields, Cripplegate, London ,Thomas Senior preaches a message on this theme, “How We May Hear the Word With Profit ?” and he warns of forgetting what we have heard, “Keep therefore the word in your hearts; ‘hold it fast,’ lest the devil snatch it from you. For, look as the fowls of the air follow the seedsman to pick up the corn as soon as he has scattered it, so the prince of the air, the devil, is at hand to take the word out of our hearts. ‘But when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts’ (Mark 4:15). Immediately, as soon as we have heard the word, the devil is at hand to take the word out of our hearts. Matthew says ‘he snatches it’ and if you would know why the devil is so hasty to snatch away the word, Christ tells you, ‘Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved’ (Luke 7:12)” (Puritan Sermons, Vol. 2. p.56).

How may we remember it ? Repeat it in your families. Talk about it as you go home – didn’t the two on the road to Emmaus say, “Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures ?” (Luke 24:32). Say to the children in the car, “That was an interesting children’s address wasn’t it, about the dandelion seeds ?” Or raise an incident in the sermon, say, about the conversion of C.H.Spurgeon. By listening yourself and talking warmly about it as something very important you create in your children’s minds an attitude of respect for the sermon. Never criticise the preaching before the children. During the sermon if the preacher is saying something particularly to children nudge the kids to listen carefully. It is not all right for children to tune out during the services. It is not good to have your only aim keeping children quiet; you have to pray for them, and devise ways of training them to worship. Think of the old settee and how on that you could drunk Ribena and lie out with your shoes on, but you don’t do that on the new couch. So training children for worship is like getting them accustomed to a new settee – or a new car. Doing old things in a new way is not easy at first, but not impossible, and certainly worth doing. And pray to the Lord that he would preserve the word in your hearts by his Spirit. As David prayed, “O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the hearts of thy people” (1 Chron. 29:18).

Finally, do it. It is the great theme of this passage, and the way to the blessed life. “Do what it says;” (v.22) and again (v.25) “But doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” That is how this section begins and ends. “Doers are the best hearers,” says Thomas Manton. A student says to me, ” ‘I spent fifty minutes this morning reading the Bible – and I can remember what I read. It was a super, uninterrupted time.’ And James would say, ‘Well done ! But now, what about obeying the word you read ? Have you actually changed your mind so that now you hold to be true what you learnt in the word ? Have you (and are you) redirecting your imagination and your eyes and your thoughts so as to live according to the standards of the word ? Are your relationships different, as the word instructed you they should be ?’ – and so he could go on. We must be doers of the word” (The Message of James, J. Alec Motyer, IVP p.70).

We are blessed in what we do, James says, not we are blessed in what we feel. In every sermon there are truths to be obeyed. The blessing comes in the doing not in the feeling. Don’t wait for the feeling to obey the word. “This is an important principle of the inner dynamics of Christian motivation. Motivation must come from a basic, underlying gratitude and fundamental desire to please God, not from some specific feeling preceding each individual act of obedience. Once begun, however, new feelings often arise and the blessing or joy of obedience will be experienced. But you can never experience this blessing ‘in the doing’, apart from the obedience from which it flows …When that Word is obeyed, it produces a joy in us which we do feel; we are blessed. Moreover, we know that God is pleased and that brings joy. In that way the Spirit brings blessing (or happiness) to us” (A Thirst for Wholeness, Jay Adams, p.101). The act of obedience carries blessing.

A man got out of his seat on a Sunday morning and as he was leaving the church said to someone, “Well, that’s over.” “No,” said his friend, “this is where it begins.” There is an old proverb: “I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.” Ask yourself at the end of the sermon what you are going to do about this passage ? How does God want you to change ? What must you do to bring about change ? What’s the first step ? Where will you begin ?

The blessed life is the life that obeys the word. Who are those who enter heaven ? Those who do the will of our Father in heaven. In other words, there is a serious endeavour to do whatever the Lord says. You know that you are being blessed by God when week by week you do what the Lord says. That man is a Christian: he shows that he knows and loves Jesus Christ by doing what His Saviour tells him.

Many a minister will look down from his pulpit in the middle of a sermon, and he will look at many many of the congregation and he will be thinking, “What I am preaching he lives, and she lives it out day by day. They do put into practice all I say, and much more consistently than I do. And this church is blessed because of their obedience.” Many gospel ministers will think like that. They are not preaching theories about religion but the Word of God which has enriched the church abundantly.

GEOFFREY THOMAS September 20 1998