The Sufficiency of the Scriptures
The Book of James certainly reveals the value and virtue of the Word of God As a writer he was saturated with the Scriptures, and not only does he make mention of vivacious personalities and various passages of the Old Testament, but also periodicals of his times such as the Apocrypha. Reading it through one does not need to be a scholar to see how easily and clearly it reflects the Sermon on the Mount. It is no wonder it is given the Canadian title, “Faith in Overalls,” and the Southern U.S.A. title, “A Belief that Behaves.” There are four titles in James 1:18-25 revealing the systematic and experimental fullness of the Bible.
The first title is most suggestive in bringing before us two words, “Logos” and “Truth”. It is not the regular word used for articulation but a divine title of revelation concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. How blessed to note here Christ is the alphabet of God, the Spokesman from Heaven, the transmitter of the truth of God. The original language reveals that the word “Logos” is made up of three letters, “D. B. and R.” The first means door and Christ was the Door to the Living and True God opening up the way to the understanding of the Father’s Heart. He was the One who came from heaven as told out in the second letter meaning “home”. Finally the letter “R” is the symbol of the head and suggests the mind and will of God. The word truth is also most suggestive in the Hebrew tongue. It contains the first, the last and middlemost letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The truth is first and will be last, and combines all extremes and unites all ends. It is easier for the heavens and earth to pass away than for one tittle of truth to fail. Christ came into the world and announced He was the Truth and apart from Him there is no going, knowing or growing in the fulness and finality of truth.
The second title used by James is the word “engrafted” which is rendered “implanted”. The Word of God is likened to a “seed” with its life-giving power to produce. The context reveals that there must be suitable soil for the seed. We must lay aside “all filthiness and abounding wickedness” and this can only be done by the infusion of a new power, a new life. The stem of our old natural Adamic life is not suitable to God. He must engraft His Word and thereby infuse His divine life. The world implanted teaches us the inwardness of the operation of the Word and work of God. His Word is life-giving in power. Not only is it living but powerful, or able to save the soul. The Word of God effectually operates in the soul of the one who believes reproducing the very life of God. The Word of God becomes flesh and expresses itself in word and deed in a world of dead sinners. Oh! to be like the early Christians and receive it with meekness, following on to practice it in doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:41, 42).
The story is told of a missionary who dropped a small mirror in the African jungle. A member of a primitive tribe picked it up and eagerly took it home, gazing into it all the way. “Why,” he exclaimed to his wife, “I’ve found a picture of my father just as he used to be years ago.” His wife took it and looked into it. “This isn’t your father, it’s a very ugly woman.” In the Bible we see ourselves as we really are.
“It is not enough to remember what we hear, and to be able to repeat it, and to give testimony to it, and commend it and write it, and preserve what we have written; that which all this is, and which crowns the rest, is that we be doers of the Word” (Matthew Henry).
The next reference to the Bible is the hearing and doing of the Word of God. It is not enough to hear only. We must practice the truth of God. The Bible is to become our measure and model of character and conduct. Many in James’ day were accustomed to listen to lectures in the public squares or in the Greek schools of learning. Various topics of the day were discussed, but they were quickly forgotten. However, one may easily lose the fleeting impressions and words of a speaker, yet to forget the words of God is to be in jeopardy of losing life. Man is so constituted he cannot possibly live by natural bread alone. He needs the Bread of God which alone can originate, sustain and satisfy eternal life. James warns that we are not to be deceived by failing to apply the truth of God to our own personal lives. It has been said: “Some books inform, others reform, but only the Bible transforms.” When a man refuses to put into practice what he has been taught He is like a man beholding his face in a looking glass and immediately forgets what he saw. The mirror shows what is wrong and that something must be done. We are not to come carelessly or casually to the Bible, but with concentrated gaze prove what Paul taught: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The last picture of the Bible in this illuminating passage is the “perfect law of liberty.” The Word of God is likened to a mirror. The Old Testament was God’s voice to the nation, but it was weak through the flesh, (Romans 8:3). In the New Testament age of grace we have the Holy Spirit who has come to convict and comfort. The Word of God is given also to convict, convert, cleanse, consecrate and comfort. What was impossible under the law is now able to be performed according to the Spirit. What a paradox we have here! Law imposes restraint. Yet here we find the phrase, “law of liberty”. While the Spirit of God constrains, He also restrains. Not only does He direct, but deters and drives as we see in the life of our Lord (Luke 4) and in Acts 16. Not only do we have the motivating, refraining influence of the Word of God, but we also note its perfection and authority in the words of this title.
“Behold the Book whose leaves display
Jesus the Life, the Truth, the Way,
Read it with diligence and prayer,
Search it and thou shalt find Him there.”
In summing up, how blessed to see we have legacy, life, light and liberty in Christ through the Scriptures. The Bible is a revealer of God, self and stewardship. It is to be our moulder and model in Christian character and conduct. For time and for eternity our attitude should be receptive, reflective and retentive, that heavenly precepts may be turned into daily practice as long as life shall last.