Chapter 1: A Message to the Exiles
Of the New Testament epistles, Paul wrote all but seven. Those seven are called “general epistles.” They are the epistle of James, John’s three, Peter’s two, and Jude’s.
All seven of these epistles have been revealed in the last hour.
It started with the revelation from 1 John about the last hour. That revelation was delivered to the Church on May 5, 2001.
Since that time, the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg) has been following all of the prophetic events that have occurred in the last hour. It is stunning how these events have accelerated in such a short span of time.
But of these prophetic events, the most dramatic of all has been God revealing those epistles!
These seven epistles are the most urgent books in the Bible that God has revealed to the pcg so far. These biblical books are anything but “general.” They are actually the most specific, particular epistles you will ever read!
Introduction to James
The Apostle James was converted after his Brother had died and been resurrected. He was the brother of Jesus Christ, so surely he had a lot to say that should be of interest to us. He makes many statements that sound like they come right from the Sermon on the Mount.
James was the leader of the Church headquarters congregation in Jerusalem. He was martyred around a.d. 62. Tradition says he was thrown off the temple and killed. This was roughly during the beginning of the revolt in the Jerusalem area that resulted in its siege and eventual destruction in a.d. 70.
The International Critical Commentary says this: “That James the brother of the Lord did, in fact, hold an important place in the Jerusalem church of the first decades of the messianic movement is confirmed by the account of his death in the Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 20:200). … Josephus is describing events that took place in the interregnum between the procurators Festus and Albinus. The ‘rash and daring’ (20:199) high priest Ananus took advantage of the absence of Roman oversight to convene ‘the council of judges’ and bring before it ‘a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, along with certain others.’”
Josephus lived at the time these events unfolded, so his writings are an authoritative source from the world.
Why don’t people have more faith in Christ and the works of His warrior apostles? Even secular sources prove their existence and works.
That black period is a type of the tribulation coming upon us in this end time. Just as the siege of Jerusalem was imminent when this epistle was written, soon the nations of Israel will be besieged in our day.
When James wrote this book, many of God’s people were falling away; many were preaching another gospel (Galatians 1:6). James thought it was the end time—the time in which we live!
This epistle is an end-time book.
Just like today, God’s people stopped preaching the gospel around the world. Only a small remnant remained loyal. They were delivered to a place of safety in Pella (located in Jordan today).
This world is hopelessly confused about the epistle of James. Confusion has even prevailed within God’s own Church. One minister in the Worldwide Church of God (wcg) said James was the most secular book in the Bible. In truth, it is the opposite of that! It isn’t for secular people at all—it is intended for those of God’s people who can bring the greatest depth to it!
This epistle has been impugned by many men. Martin Luther called it an “epistle of straw.” As we study it, you will see why he said that: It’s because James speaks very highly about God’s law, which this world hates.
In this message, we will expose the errors that permeate the commentaries and will come to gain an extremely unique and far deeper insight into the book of James! The time has come for God to reveal a deeper understanding of this outstanding epistle for us. God is raining revelation into His loyal remnant today (James 5:7). Any place else you look, there is only spiritual drought.
James’s end-time orientation is evident throughout his epistle. James 5:3 issues a strong warning “for the last days”—which should actually be translated “in the last days”—the time in which we live. James 5:7 instructs, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. …” That’s talking specifically to those of us today waiting for His imminent return to Earth! The next verse says, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Yes—the Second Coming is very near!
You will see that this book is communicating to God’s people in the Laodicean era. It contains a strong message for God’s lukewarm Laodiceans as well as a dramatic message for us in the Philadelphian remnant of this era.
James discusses the deepest truth in the Bible. This epistle is not easy to understand! You will have to study hard and drive yourself for God to bless you with the understanding of this profound message.
Exiles From God
One commentary says that James’s introduction is unique among the epistles—and it is.
A tremendous amount of truth is contained within just the first verse.
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting” (James 1:1). “Greeting” could be translated “joy.” This epistle is about joy—but it’s also about the worst possible end-time crisis!
After that one word, greeting, James immediately begins talking about massive trials (“temptations,” verse 2). But they are not trials in general: James is describing a specific crisis in God’s own Church that you and I are living through right now!
Notice: After calling himself a servant of God the Father and of Christ, James begins addressing “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” We have to look at this spiritually: It is talking about the Church, or Family, of God being scattered all over the place! This is a monumental tragedy.
James is making an earnest appeal to these people of God—“my brethren”! After all, they are still part of the Family! (verse 2).
The Companion Bible and Revised Standard Version translate “scattered abroad” as “in the Dispersion,” which refers to the Diaspora, when the people of Israel had become scattered abroad among the Gentiles. That expression often means exile. That is exactly what has happened spiritually in our day: The vast majority of God’s people have been exiled from the inner court! Revelation 11:1-2 show who exiled them, or cast them out: God.
Laodicean ministers led the people astray. In Ezekiel 34, God specifically condemns “the shepherds of Israel” for scattering His flock. Ezekiel, whose book is for the end time, says of the shepherds: “neither have you brought again that which was driven away” (verse 4). The sheep “were scattered” (verse 5) because they had no shepherds to unify them around God, who would have protected them physically and spiritually. These poor sheep have been devoured by “the beasts of the field”—by Satan and his demons. “My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them” (verse 6). The sheep have been scattered spiritually, away from God. Their shepherds only “feed themselves” (verse 2).
God says that He is “against the shepherds.” Woe to those sinning ministers!
James instructs us on how these shepherds, or masters (teachers), receive greater condemnation (James 3:1).
Beware Laodicean Ministers!
James and Ezekiel 34 are discussing the same problem. Ezekiel dwells more on the sinning ministers.
James tells us in chapter 1 how and why the Church was scattered. He also tells us how we can unify around our loving Father.
Malachi’s Message was written and delivered when God’s Church was falling away—a definite period of time that has now passed.
James’s message is also intended for a specific time period: after the Church has already split apart in this end time. The Laodiceans are now firmly established in their rebellion.
James didn’t refer to himself as an apostle as the biblical writers often did. Why? Because these rebels he addresses know about God’s government and have rejected it. God was trying to get them to remember the Family gospel, which they had forgotten. Without that vision in their minds, the Laodiceans today will never submit to God’s government.
However, government is implied in the vision. The Father is the ruling Head of His Family, and Christ is the absolute Head of the Church. So there is a subtle warning in this vision.
James was the servant of the Father and the Son. That means that James was doing the God Family work. The Laodiceans should be reminded that this is where they failed.
Barnes’ commentary says of James 1:1, “The phrase ‘the 12 tribes’ became also a sort of technical expression to denote the people of God—the church.” Even worldly commentaries can see that.
This is the tragedy James is addressing prophetically: God’s people being exiled from God.
How could such a thing happen? Why are God’s people so hopelessly scattered in this end time?
In introducing the book with this trial, James shows us why the Church is scattered. He also provides the solution to the problem!
James also introduces this book with the Family of God—the Father, Son and “my brethren”—in the first two verses. That is the gospel—the extremely good news about the coming Family of God, which administers the government of God.
The Laodiceans must see this Family vision to endure what lies ahead. They can endure anything with this vision etched in their minds.
It’s all about the God Family—family, family, family!
This introduction is so important. Perhaps no one in the Bible cuts straight to the core like James does.
A Slave of the God Family
Notice again the first words of this epistle: “James, a servant of God [the Father] and of the Lord Jesus Christ ….” James brings the two members of the God Family into the picture right away and identifies himself as their servant.
James mentions the Father first. God the Father is the Head of the Family. There is government in that Family, with the Father at the top, and then the Son. Jesus Himself repeatedly said as much (e.g. John 14:28). The Father is the one who begat us—not Christ (John 6:44).
Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church—the Husband of the Bride.
The understanding of the God Family is at the heart of our doctrines. If you know God the Father and Jesus Christ and if you understand the difference between the two—and if you understand the government of God that they embody—then, you really know God’s Family.
Deserting that foundational Family doctrine is the very reason the Laodiceans were scattered!
James gets very specific in the first verse: The Laodiceans do not understand the Family of God, and they must gain that understanding in order to solve their problems. Malachi 1:6 says they don’t honor their Father. In fact, they have gotten so far away from Him that they don’t even know God the Father!
The whole world is deceived about the Bible (Revelation 12:9)—and that includes the Laodiceans! They don’t know the Father and the Son!
There can be no greater catastrophe than to be exiled from the Father and the Son. To be cast out from that Family is to lose everything! The Laodiceans no longer have a Father or a Husband; they have no spiritual Family; no spiritual country. Most of God’s people have rejected their Head, and, at the same time, their understanding of the Father.
This is one of the strongest warnings in the Bible. When you get exiled from the inner court, you are in serious, serious trouble! A monumental catastrophe has occurred—95 percent of God’s people have lost their Head. It’s a terrible trial—but for 50 percent of the Laodiceans, God will turn it around. He will wake them up by using the worst crisis in human history, and begin to teach them again the depth of God. The Great Tribulation is the golden trial that saves them from the lake of fire!
The Hebrew word translated “servant” means slave. “I am a slave to the Father and the Son,” James wrote. That must mean he knew both the Father and Son deeply! How could you be a willing slave to someone and not know Him? James was a slave not just to one, but to both members of the God Family. His grasp of the Family vision was deep. We must have that understanding!
The Father and Son are one (John 10:30; 17:21-22). God’s people should be one like that. Though the Philadelphia Church of God is scattered physically, we are unified spiritually. But outside this Church, God’s people are a squabbling, fractured picture of division!
The Greek word for “servant” is doulos, which means literal bondage to the authority of another.
This is where the Laodiceans and the world are deceived. They don’t know the Father, the Son or the God Family because they won’t submit to God’s government.
If you deeply understand verse 1, you will know where the God Family is. At this point in time, this verse is a mystery to the whole world and the Laodiceans.
We must deeply comprehend this truth before we will ever be in God’s eternal Family. This is the deepest truth in the Bible. This is the foundational message that God is going to teach the world.
James and his followers were slaves to the Father and Son. So there must be a James-type group in this end time who also are slaves to the Father and Son.
James is addressing two groups primarily. One group—the majority—has taken over the Church and turned it away from God. But there is a tiny group that came out of that super-disaster and is doing God’s Work. That is the best news in this end time!
James jumps directly into his message with extreme urgency. I want to talk to you about a vision that caused you to be scattered, he is saying to the people of God. I am a slave to the Father and the Son—but you’re scattered all over the place, because you don’t even know them anymore! You have totally lost the God Family vision!
Right from the beginning of his epistle, James points to the Laodiceans’ biggest flaw: They do not honor their Father. In a sense, James is a New Testament counterpart to the book of Malachi. I believe James and Malachi are two books that will be passed around a lot during the Great Tribulation. As we will see, both of these biblical books direct people back to the end-time Elijah. People will want to get their hands on that instruction in the Tribulation because it is their only hope! God will provide them that hope when they most desperately need it. Of course, we hope many of them will study this message now, submit to God and be protected from the Tribulation.
God’s very elect are a small little remnant of people who know a lot about the Father and Christ, and who want to be a slave to both of them. This is a bondage of love. We love being in bondage to God.
The understanding about the God Family is the deepest knowledge there is in the Bible—the most profound part of it! If you’re wise enough to understand this, then you know exactly where God’s very elect is. Astoundingly, this truth is shrouded in mystery even to most of God’s own people—“my beloved brethren”!
How much do we really understand about the Father and the Son? Don’t think you know everything—we all have a lot to learn about the Father and the Son. God is revealing this truth from James not only to teach the Laodiceans, but to teach the remnant of Philadelphians as well.
The devil hates this truth intensely. How do you explain 95 percent of God’s people turning away from Him so quickly and radically, unless there is a devil? God never said, This day you are my son, to Lucifer. He only says that to men! What does that mean to you and me?
God’s people are here to teach the world, and this is what we’re going to teach it: the incredible God Family truth contained right here in James 1:1! We’re going to teach all men and women about the gospel—the Family of God—the Father and Son, and what they need to know about both, and how to enter into that Family.
How can we possibly teach them if we don’t know ourselves? Teaching this truth is a big job—and the time to do so is almost here!
God’s family government is the greatest mystery both in the world and in the Laodicean Church. The only way any of us will understand it is by becoming slaves to the Father and Son.
We should ask ourselves, Do people view me as being a slave to the Father and Christ? Is that how those closest to me—and God—see me? Are you really a slave to God and Christ?
James is essentially talking about two groups: one small James group; and the other—the majority of God’s people—“the 12 tribes”—spiritual Israel. James says explicitly, You either get this, or you have no future—you will die forever!
The Laodiceans are committing a monstrous crime against God. They think they have wealth, but they are poor! (Revelation 3:17). They talk about Jesus and nothing else—and they don’t know God and the God Family! They don’t know the Father and Christ! God makes it painfully clear where they are headed because of that disaster.
First we must honor the Father, then the Son. Then we must also love our brethren and do all we can to get this message to them!
James mentions Christ here in verse 1, and again in chapter 2—only two times in the whole epistle. The Father is mentioned considerably more than that. James was commissioned to declare the Father—as his brother Christ did! (John 1:18). This is where the Laodiceans faltered.
One commentary called the introduction to James “unique.” The commentary was referring mainly to the first two verses.
The epistles of John are about this same time period. John discusses “that antichrist” (singular) and “antichrists” (plural) who fall away from God’s own Church and then fight ferociously against Christ. Members have always fallen away from God’s Church. But have they ever become antichrists and actually fought against Christ? Certainly not with this ferocity and in such large numbers. Satan has been cast down in this end time. He is using these antichrists as never before. They are filled with Satan’s worst wrath (Revelation 12:12).
The Bible doesn’t discuss God’s own Church members becoming antichrists any place else in the Bible—only in John’s epistles.
It appears that Satan has never been able to turn saints into antichrists as he has done in this last hour.
James and John were both discussing the same problem of extremely rebellious saints.
James begins his book by showing how God’s Family has been almost totally destroyed—95 percent of God’s people have fallen away.
He writes about the 12 tribes in the dispersion. That is most of God’s people—there are only 12 tribes of Israel!
Only a small remnant is left to deliver James’s condemning message.
We, like James, are slaves to the Father and Christ. We get out the God Family vision. Of all God’s people, only we have not become an adulterous bride. Only we declare the Father. Only we have kept the Family gospel.
Christ has a critical role as the Husband and Head of the Church. But the Father is the Head of the God Family.
A Message to Deliver
Lange’s Commentary says that James 1:1 is “indicative of a reconstruction of the Church.” This commentator can see that there is something wrong here—something that needs to be reconstructed! James was a part of that reconstructing, and so are God’s very elect today. God has commissioned us to raise up the ruins (Amos 9:11)—to build God’s Work the way it was done in the past.
We also have the great honor of taking this message of James to the Laodiceans—which is also a part of the reconstruction effort.
This verse is directed “to the 12 tribes which are scattered abroad.” It is addressed to them. This message must be delivered to the Laodiceans in the Laodicean era.
Who delivers this message? God proclaims the message through a small remnant, the Philadelphians. These members held fast to the instructions revealed to Herbert W. Armstrong. (For more information, request our free book Malachi’s Message.)
James watched the Ephesus era, of the first century, collapse and stop preaching the gospel around the known world. He saw the a.d. 70 holocaust coming and thought it was the end of man’s rule on this Earth. But it was only a type of that end—our time today.
In this age of mankind, God doesn’t deliver His message primarily through angels. He delivers it through men. That means that those men and women who deeply love God’s message teach it to the Laodiceans and the world.
The Laodiceans don’t honor their Father (Malachi 1:6). So God uses the small remnant of people who do honor Him to deliver this message.
This remnant must also understand about the 12 tribes of physical Israel. So you would expect them to have a book like The United States and Britain in Prophecy in this end time.
God led Israel anciently. God leads spiritual Israel, or the Church, today. The very elect must have a profound understanding of the 12 tribes—physically and spiritually.
We are doing a job that only God’s loyal sons could do. Let’s not overlook the role of God’s most honored sons on Earth in James’s message.
Does God love His very elect? His Son is about to return—the most spectacular event ever to occur in the universe! And God has chosen His most loyal little flock to introduce Christ to the world—and reintroduce Him to the Laodiceans.
Nothing is so wonderful as loving and being loved by God. That is the ultimate relationship on Earth by far.
Anybody can prove where God’s very elect are.
An article on the wcg website quoted Joseph Tkach saying this about the name “Worldwide Church of God”: “Our current name does not properly represent us for several reasons. Numerous older sources continue to address the former doctrinal errors of the wcg under that name, even though we have long since been delivered from such errors.
“In many ways, the name Worldwide Church of God is in effect ‘poisoned,’ similar to the way the German word führer (leader), though innocuous in itself, is no longer usable in any normal sense because of its associations with a negative history. The negative associations with Armstrongism that are connected with the name Worldwide Church of God tend to hamper our effectiveness in proclaiming the gospel. A name change could give us a greater opportunity to tell the story of our transition” (October 2005).
It is the wcg that has been “poisoned” spiritually. Their use of the word führer, with its depraved implications about Mr. Armstrong, shows us the depth of their satanic evil.
Is there any hope for the reprobate minds who implemented these changes? The book of James must be delivered to all of the Laodiceans. James has one of the strongest warnings in the Bible. This is by far the worst crisis on Earth. Eternal lives are at stake.
Isn’t it interesting that as they totally rejected the name Armstrong and almost everything associated with it, we changed the name of our educational institution to Herbert W. Armstrong College? The omnipotent God is combating their evil schemes!
God wants to speak to the Laodiceans—but they are “exiled brethren,” terribly scattered. Spiritually, they are in a chaotic state of disunity. That fact alone shows that there is a big job to do. Who is going to take this message to them? A message cannot deliver itself. It won’t mysteriously appear in their lives. It must be delivered!
No one on Earth will deliver God’s message in this end time except God’s very elect! This is a commission in and of itself.
“My brethren,” James says. The only ones God can entrust with this commission are the closest Family members! They must be the saints who love God and His Family most of all, and whom God loves most of all. You could never expect those in the outer court to deliver the message—God doesn’t even dwell among them! Christ resides in the inner court—that is where He is speaking to His people today! (Revelation 11:1-2).
Many signs prove where the remnant is that is going to the Laodiceans and to the world. God’s very elect receive revelation from the third heaven. They hold fast to the truth about the 12 tribes of Israel—whereas most of the Laodiceans don’t even want The United States and Britain in Prophecy, the book that Herbert W. Armstrong wrote explaining that doctrine. The mention in James 1:1 of “the twelve tribes” links this prophecy to Mr. Armstrong, who distributed 5 million copies of the book that explains their identity and opens up a third and more of the Bible that is prophecy.
God led Israel anciently, and He leads spiritual Israel today. We are the most honored kings and priests on Earth! What dignity God has given us. When James talks about the law we administer, he calls it the “royal law,” because it comes from the royal God! Our responsibility to complete God’s Work is truly the greatest honor on this planet! We have the privilege to go out to the world and speak for God!
Nobody else in the world can do that because the most inspiring part of James’s message is hidden from them.
Does God really love you? If you are doing His Work, He has given you the most important job there is! He has charged you with introducing Him to the world! He has graced you with the opportunity to take His secrets to this world!
How special are you if God reveals His truth to you? Who are you that the great God would reveal His secrets to you? That is mind-staggering! God doesn’t do that to people He doesn’t love supremely!
The Bible is a coded book—and today, James is being decoded!
“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3, Revised Standard Version).
Here James makes it intensely personal—“you know” and “your faith.” God is giving you these trials to perfect your faith! This applies to every individual in God’s Church. God is building character in each one of us to get us into His Family forever. So we should greet these trials with pure joy.
James has a different idea about how we achieve happiness. As we rejoice in our trials, God rains down all kinds of new revelation.
God does try our faith! He does that for a beautiful purpose. James says we can trust God that the trials we face are necessary and for our ultimate good.
The word patience in the King James Version should be translated staying power—or steadfastness, as the Revised Standard says. Trials make us steadfast! When we conquer our weaknesses, we become more closely connected to the great God—to the point where nothing can break us away from Him! This is a righteous trait God can build within us by trying our faith.
When Mr. Armstrong died, the Church fell apart. The people didn’t handle that test well. But God didn’t die, and the Laodiceans should have stayed with Him. They must build more staying power to ever make it into God’s Kingdom.
Patient endurance proves that we have quality faith and love.
Even in the midst of terrible trials in the Church, the “sons of Zadok” have real staying power (Ezekiel 44:15; 48:11; read our free book Ezekiel—The End-Time Prophet for more information). The more God tries us, the more we should trust Him!
“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:4). At this time, we are incomplete. Perfect is mentioned twice in this single verse. God truly wants to complete us! Even our trials can be counted as joy if we have this understanding.
James tells us at the beginning of this book that joy and suffering really go together. Even our suffering should bring joy. We should rejoice in our trials, because they are more precious than gold. If we don’t receive joy from our trials, then we will actually end up in the lake of fire. We must endure the refining process of difficult trials before we can enter God’s eternal Family.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (verse 5). Mr. Armstrong said at one time that wisdom was the number-one need in the Church. A lack of wisdom can cause us to make many serious mistakes. There is much more to wisdom than we normally think about, and we all need more of it.
Proverbs 9:10 tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. This we could call “cosmic wisdom”—wisdom that originates from the cosmos. That is the type of wisdom we need in order to govern within the God Family. Can you imagine a king ruling the Earth without wisdom? God’s people are being prepared for kingly rule! We don’t have much time left to prepare for those positions, so there is real urgency in James’s appeal to overcome our lack of wisdom!
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-7). Wavering faith won’t get a response from God. That is a strong statement! It requires real faith to weather the storms in life, but weather them we must.
Consider the storms that tossed the Church away from God! People were driven and tossed away—and God just let them go! Does it make any sense for people to leave the truth so quickly after dedicating their lives to it? Many of them had clung to that truth their whole lives, and then let it be swept away from them so quickly! That is spiritual madness. God is very strong in His response: I will have none of that! He says. You are going to have to do better than that if you expect to receive anything from me! I refuse to allow you to teach the world! How could God be much stronger than that?
“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (verse 8). This is precisely the trap so many of the Church leaders fell into: trying to please the world and God at the same time. They are double minded, and God condemns them for their instability. Lange’s calls this man “a seditious disturber of peace”—which is a very accurate description of the men who destroyed God’s Church. They have become unstable in all their ways.
Lange’s has a good translation. These people were not just weak—they were active in hating God’s Work and disturbing God’s peace. They were dangerous rebels who seriously hurt God’s people who failed to flee a rebellious Church.
“Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways” (verses 9-11). This is the first mention of a theme James develops throughout his epistle: condemning the “rich man.”
God certainly isn’t against rich men—like Abraham and King David—who use their blessings to serve God more abundantly. But He has strong words for those who put their riches before Him! That is exactly what the Laodiceans did. They became “rich, and increased with goods” (Revelation 3:17) as they betrayed God. So God had to start a new group with people who were rich in faith!
We must always keep our priorities straight. Never allow the physical things to supersede the spiritual! Life is ephemeral—nothing but a fading flower. We don’t even have real life: We are simply heading toward death. That is all this physical existence was ever intended to be, and nothing more. The greatest things it has to offer mean nothing if our life is not lived in service to our Creator! Eternal life is at stake!
The Fading Flower Versus the Crown of Life
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12). What a promise God has given us! The crown of life!
James is contrasting this eternal reward with the fading flower of human life. What a powerful contrast! God wants you to carefully compare the fading flower with eternal glory! If you get wrapped up in this life, you are like the flower in the field. The crown of life, however, is given to the one who wins the victory! This is a promise from God—He will crown you forever! You don’t have to worry about growing old or any other trial associated with this fading flower of a life because God the Father is going to crown you a king and a priest!
Would you prefer the life of a fading flower? Why give up a future of eternal splendor for money or anything else this world has to offer? God promises the crown of life to those who love Him! He wants to give that to you! If you love God—and that means you love His law and the government that teaches it—then God says I made that promise to you and nobody can break it!
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (verses 13-15). Sin brings forth eternal death. God says that 50 percent of His people are going to die forever! Do we realize how horrendous sin is?
In these verses, James paints a picture of an individual seized with lust. On the spiritual level, we have seen the Laodicean woman (which the Bible uses as a symbol of a church) lusting for another husband—a husband other than Jesus Christ! They have been seduced by the devil and drawn away from their true Husband.
Some Laodiceans have used the excuse that, because they have remained loyal to “God’s Church,” it’s not their fault if it goes astray. That kind of reasoning will bring forth death—eternal death! God isn’t interested in us being in a certain church. He wants us to be a slave to God the Father and Jesus Christ! It isn’t about men—it’s about the Father and Son, and the Family they are inviting us to be a part of.
Lust brings forth sin, and sin brings forth death. The Laodiceans are dying! And half of them will die eternally in the lake of fire. Christ died because of sin, and He will not pay the price for someone who keeps sinning!
“Do not err, my beloved brethren” (verse 16). Don’t err about this, James tells us! Don’t make a mistake about eternal life and death. Don’t be deceived about dying eternally!
James loved the people who turned away from God. He called them “my beloved brethren.” And we must love the Laodiceans—show them our love by getting this message to them. James put his life on the line—and they threw him off the temple because he was trying to turn people back to God. Are we willing to go all the way, as James did—to serve God to the death, if necessary?
A stark choice lies before us: the fading flower versus the crown of life. The stakes couldn’t be of a greater magnitude. There is no other crown—this is the crown of life!
Don’t give up that crown for anything! Remain steadfast! Cling to your calling and your crown! “[L]et patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (verse 4). Endure to the end, and you will end up with a seat next to Jesus Christ as His Bride!
That is a marvelous truth. But it is at this point in the epistle that James discusses something that will truly stagger your imagination. We will examine that in the next chapter.