November 4, 2007
Some Christians may feel guilty over the amount of possessions they have, especially since there are so many needy people in the world. Alistair Begg teaches us that earthly riches are an expression of God’s kindness, but the Bible warns against the misuse of wealth. When we find security in our earthly treasures instead of our heavenly treasure, we have turned away from the only thing that will last forever: our union with Christ.
Sermon Transcript: Print
Now we read in the New Testament. James 5:1.
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.”
Incidentally, “the Lord Almighty” there is the NIV’s translation of Lord Sabaoth, of whom we have just sung: “Lord Sabaoth, his name.” And some of you probably said, “What is that about?” Well, we actually began with the very same phrase in our opening praise, “O Lord of hosts.” That is the same, Lord Sabaoth. He is the Lord of Hosts. He is the Lord Almighty—one of the most wonderful designations of God in Scripture.
“The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”
Well, thanks be to God for his Word.
A prayer, and then we’ll look together at the Bible:
We call upon you now, our gracious God and loving Father, beseeching you, because in you, all of the fullness of wisdom and light is found, and asking that in your mercy, you will enlighten us by the Holy Spirit, so that we might have a true understanding of the Bible. We pray that you will teach us by your Word to place all of our trust in you and to serve and honor you as we should, so that we might praise and glorify you in all things and we might also build up our neighbors by our good example. We pray that we might learn to render to you the love and obedience which children owe to their parents, since it has pleased you, heavenly Father, to receive us in Christ as your children. And in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Well, we continue our studies in James. I want to remind you this morning of something that is familiar to us but important—namely, that to think Christianly or to think biblically is not simply to think Christian thoughts or to think biblical thoughts, but it’s to think all of our thoughts from a Christian and biblical perspective. It is, if you like, to take a leaf from C. S. Lewis when he says, “I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising of the Sun, not simply because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else.”
And when a man or a woman becomes a Christian, then it alters one’s view of things. In some cases, it merely heightens an affection or a love. In other cases, it replaces it. Sometimes, it completely changes our view in relationship to a moral or an ethical issue. It certainly will have an impact on our view of time, of beauty, of prestige and significance, of what it means to be secure in our society, and certainly what the Bible has to say about poverty and about wealth.
And it is to this issue of wealth and riches that we now come in the course of our studies, reaching 5:1 this morning. And I’m inclined to the view that is offered by Calvin many centuries ago and other commentators subsequently: that James here is addressing primarily the unbelievers in this little diatribe and that what we have in these opening verses is akin to the kind of prophetic lament with which we become familiar in the Old Testament. We won’t belabor this; it isn’t worthy of it. But to understand what I mean by that, you could turn in your leisure to Ezekiel chapter 29, where the word of God comes to Ezekiel as follows: “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh …. Speak to him and say: ‘This is what [Yahweh] says: “I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, you great monster lying among your streams.”’”
So we have this prophetic word that is issued against Pharaoh and his forces. And although Pharaoh is addressed by it, the audience listening to it is not Pharaoh and his leadership team but the people of God, so that they might learn, so that they might be comforted by the awareness of the fact that what is in store for Pharaoh, despite all of his pride, despite all of his apparent forcefulness and enmity, is actually his overturning by the living God; so that the word is issued to Pharaoh in the hearing of God’s people, so that inferentially they may understand what’s happening to him, thereby encouraging them to recognize that although it appears that Pharaoh’s winning, “one little word shall fell him.”
You have, actually, the same mechanism employed by Jesus in the Gospels, where—for example, in Luke’s Gospel, in chapter 10, you can find it—he addresses the cities of Korazin and Bethsaida (I forget just exactly what they are) and he pronounces a woe upon them: “Woe to you,” he says, “because of what is coming upon you.” Once again, the inhabitants of those cities are not in earshot of what Jesus is saying. It is a prophetic lament issued against those places in the hearing of his disciples so that they might learn that those who are opposing Christ and his kingdom will finally be overthrown.
Now, we wouldn’t want to make too much of this, but let me just quote Calvin as he opens up his remarks: James, he says, “has a [high] regard to the faithful, that they, hearing of the miserable end of the rich, might not envy their fortune, and also … knowing that God would be the avenger of the wrongs they suffered, they might with a calm and resigned mind bear them.” Whatever we have in these six verses, we have certainly a stinging condemnation of ill-gotten gain. And James is showing his readers the absolute folly of setting a high value on wealth, of envying those who are these rich oppressors, and of feverishly trying to obtain what others have.
And what he is doing here is he is making it clear that despite the fact that to all intents and purposes, the rich appear to have it made in the shade, in actual fact, they should be the ones who are wailing and moaning and groaning “because of the misery that is coming upon [them].” And in light of the fact that although they are enjoying sumptuous meals and living in self-indulgent luxury, what they are actually doing is fattening themselves, verse 5, for “the day of slaughter.” So in other words, his perspective totally alters the view of self-aggrandizement and the ability to secure for oneself that which classifies us in this way, in order that the readers may rest in the fact that God will execute his judgment in his time.
Now, the way that we get to this, of course, is in part because he distinguishes throughout his letter by the use of “brothers,” which we may legitimately translate “brothers and sisters.” So, for example, in 4:11, it is to the brothers and sisters that he says, “Do not slander.” In 5:7, it is to the brothers and sisters that he urges patience. Again in verse . Again in verse 10. Again in verse 12. But here, as, interestingly, in the previous paragraph that ended chapter 4, there is no such designation that heads it. And it would appear to be that James recognizes that the rich people who are addressed here, because there is no solution to their predicament, because he gives no hope or resolution for them, because it is only judgment and condemnation that awaits them… That is not true of a Christian. So while there is an inherent warning to the rich amongst the community that reads this letter, it is a warning against the sin of covetousness—a sin which brought down Ananias and Sapphira, a sin which revealed Judas Iscariot in his true colors.
So the warning sounds out clearly to all and any who are tempted to misuse the gift of wealth. The point is not the extent of one’s wealth but one’s attitude to the wealth we possess. That’s very important. Because some of us want immediately to use this as a mechanism for disavowing anybody further up the food chain than ourselves. But we daren’t do that.
My wife and I just came from Haiti this week. Adding to the confusion was a tropical storm and the devastation of people’s lives literally washing away in front of them—their homes just being wiped out before our very eyes. Walking through small communities with no running water, no sewerage, no electricity, no lights, no nothing at all. Beggars at every place. And there was no possibility then of me thinking somehow or another that “rich” did not fit me. Let me tell you, to quote Paul Simon, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.” And all of us here this morning need to take particular attention to what’s being said.
What we have, says Derek Prime, in these verses is “a burst of righteous indignation reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets.” That’s what I’m suggesting to you. “A burst of righteous indignation reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets.”
Now, it would be possible for us to go immediately into the detail of this text. But the more I looked at this and studied it this week, the more I said to myself, “I think it is vital that we have a more comprehensive understanding of what the Bible in total has to say about poverty and wealth before we come to this particular prophetic lament.” And so I began to write down things that the Bible teaches us concerning wealth and poverty, and I came up with eleven of them before I was finished. I stopped at eleven. And I’m going to give those eleven to you now.
I wrote in my notes that the heading for this morning would be “Listen, You Rich People.” I think I’m going to change that to “A Long Introduction to James 5:1–6,” because that’s really what this is. But this is not filler. This is not because I haven’t done the study. This, I believe, is foundational material, so that we might, if you like, have the tent pegs in place before we start to pull up the superstructure and before we pull on these ropes.
So, if you have an ability to take notes, you will be well served. If you don’t, then I hope you have a good memory.
First of all, the Bible doesn’t cast any aspersion or suspicion upon riches in and of themselves. The Bible does not cast any aspersion or suspicion upon riches per se. If it did, it would be surprising that, in a context in which he lambastes these rich oppressors, that he would use Job and God’s goodness to Job as an illustration. Because, as you know, Job was a really rich man. “Oh, but,” says somebody, “yeah, we know that, but he got it all taken away. And he had boils. And everything fell apart.” Uh-huh. But if you look at James 5:11, he says, “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.” “You’ve seen what the Lord finally brought about.” Do you know what the Lord finally brought about? Do you know the end of the story of Job?
Well, let me tell you it, and you can go and check it out for yourselves. Job 42:10: “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” “Twice as much as he had before”! You thought he had a lot when you start Job. You read the end of 42, you go, “Wow! Unbelievable!” And that’s exactly what James is saying: “You know what God did with Job, because the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” There’s no condemnation in it. It’s not “And you know what? After Job got a real good working over, he went back out, and he was an entrepreneur all over again. And you know what he did? He did it twice as bad as he’d done it before.” No! It says it is an evidence of the Lord’s compassion and mercy that when he had been through the wringer, he came out ahead of the game, twice as prosperous as he had begun. That’s the first point. The Bible doesn’t cast aspersions or suspicions upon riches per se, in and of themselves.
Secondly, the Bible consistently warns against and condemns the vices which are the snares of the rich. It warns against the vices which are the snares of the rich. First Timothy. At the end of 1 Timothy, Paul is giving to young Timothy all these instructions, and he gives instructions concerning those who are actually rich people in his fellowship. And he exercises a warning for them. And it reads as follows: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
In other words, the rich are not denounced for being rich, but they are warned about yielding to the temptations to which the rich are prone. Which are what? Well, all kinds of things: boastfulness, arrogance, control, a false sense of security, living as if “as long as my portfolio or my money is intact, or my little bag of gold or silver is in place and hanging on my belt, then I don’t have a care in the entire world.” Paul says to Timothy, “Warn people who are tempted to think that way.” There are peculiar vices that are the snares of those who have.
Thirdly, the Bible teaches us that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” We’re still in 1 Timothy 6. In fact, we’re quoting 1 Timothy 6:6: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Contentment is the opposite, if you like, of covetousness. Covetousness is a form of idolatry. Idolatry is sin. And in verse 8, if your Bible is open, you will see that Paul says, “And I can tell you what you need in order to be contented: ‘If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.’” “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
One of the loveliest things that happened on our trip—and we were traveling with a company of people—was to see a teenage girl, sixteen years of age, very American, at the end of a day, walking through these villages, reaching down and taking off her Nikes that had been purchased for her by her father in Nordstrom’s in order to go on the trip—taking them off and handing them to a girl of similar size and stature, who was a Haitian girl that she’d met in the village. It just suddenly struck her: “Why should I have all these shoes, and this girl walks in her bare feet? You can have my shoes.”
Incidentally, we may do a shoe drive for Haiti. I think we could fill up one unbelievable container. And frankly, I can take about a third of it just in my back hallway—which, it’s not because how many shoes… Nor is it on account of how many shoes my wife has.
You see how messed up we are? “If we have food and clothing, we will be content.” That is an alien concept, isn’t it? It’s an alien concept.
Fourthly, the Bible teaches us that riches are an expression of God’s kindness. They’re not the only expression of God’s kindness, nor even would we say they’re the supreme expression of his kindness, but nevertheless, they are. We saw that in the reference to Job there in James 5. And also, we picked it up, didn’t we, here, as he makes it clear that “God … richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment”—verse 17.
You see, if we get this wrong, we go severely wrong. We go severely wrong. It is an expression of God’s goodness to us that we have these things. And if we fail to recognize that, then we will become inherently masochistic, or we will deny the benefit of the things, or we will be constantly running down everything we have: “Oh no, this doesn’t mean anything to me. Oh no, I don’t want this at all. No, I don’t really enjoy this.” Tell the truth! Of course you do! It is lovely to have a nice meal. It is a wonderful provision of God. It is a peculiar thing to have running water, and for that we ought to be thankful. It is super to be able to live within the framework of these things. God gives us these things richly to enjoy, and more besides. God is not a killjoy in relationship to these things, and his perspective on wealth and goodness and provision is not marred by our inability to understand the framework of his purposes.
The God who sovereignly bestows things for us to enjoy may sovereignly take them away so as to teach us to enjoy him and not to enjoy them. He gives us them in order that we might love him. He doesn’t give us them in order that we might love them. And if we start to love them rather than love him, he may have to take them away so as to show us that ultimately our only joy is in him.
And I will trust in you alone
… I will trust in you alone
For your endless mercy follows me.
We can’t say that if we are trusting in something other than God. If we have food and clothes, if God blesses us and provides us with riches, we see it as an expression of his kindness.
Fifthly, the Bible teaches us that there is a peculiar responsibility that falls to the rich—that falls to the rich. We’re still in 1 Timothy 6: “Command them to [be] good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” And interestingly, verse 19: “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” It’s not our purpose to expound this, but it is interesting, isn’t it? What Paul is saying is that when we go into our earthly treasure and we take from our earthly treasure in order to benefit those who live with earthly impoverishment, while we are removing from the bank of earth, we are actually depositing in the bank of heaven.
Isn’t that what he’s saying? We take it out of here and give it there, and people say, “Are you crazy giving all that away?” You say, “No, you don’t understand. There’s a test at the end of this life. There’s a terminus to which we’re coming. There is a payday that will come. None of this will come with me in my coffin. None of it will come with me in my coffin. Therefore, I’m taking it now, and I’m giving it here. And in actual fact, I’m making a deposit there.” It’s nothing other than Jesus: “Lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, and you’ll have them eaten up for you. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, and you’ll find that they do not fade away.”
The responsibility that falls to the rich, then, is clear. Once again, notice that there is no insinuation to the least degree that it is evil or wrong for them to possess these things or that these things should be disavowed. If that were the case, then the whole letter would end in a different way, wouldn’t it? “Command those who are rich in [the] present world not to be arrogant [or] to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for [their] enjoyment.” “And command them to give it all away!” No, he doesn’t say that! He says, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds … to be generous and willing to share.”
Sixthly, the Bible teaches that it is difficult, but not impossible, for a rich man or woman to enter the kingdom of heaven. The Bible teaches that it is difficult, but not impossible, for a rich man or woman to enter the kingdom of heaven. Why is that? Well, you don’t have to think about it very much, do you? The more you have, the more credit they’ll give you. The more credit you get, the better cards you can have. The better cards you can have, the more you can take it around. And eventually, you have no credit limit at all! And you can have a black one, or a blue one, or a green one, or a red one, or you can have one with 007 on it, or you can do whatever you like. And you can go around, and it gets you most places. “Takes the waiting out of wanting.” “Improve now. Build later.” I think that’s KeyBank, on the way to the airport. “How am I going to improve now?” “Don’t worry about it. Your credit’s good with us.”
So the rich people figure, “Hey, I can get in everywhere. Do you take Platinum?”
“What? This is the gate of heaven, sir. No, American Express doesn’t work up here.” “Oh, it doesn’t? Oh, it’s Visa, is it?”
“No, we don’t use Visa either.”
“Well, I’ve been able to get in most places in my life. You telling me I can’t get into heaven?”
“Well, not on that basis you can’t.”
Then someone in the crowd called out, “Hey, Jesus, who can get saved then?” And Jesus says, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” And when I realize that everything that I hold dear and build my life upon counts for nothing before the entryway to heaven and that my credit is actually a debit, and I look, then, to find where the credit basis is found for entry to heaven, and I discover that it is in the person of the Lord Jesus… And Paul had to come to understand that: “All the things I counted as dear and as important and as relevant to me,” he said, “I now count them as loss for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.”
Seventhly, the Bible teaches that God hasn’t ordained equality of distribution of gift or possession. It is clear from the reading of the Bible that there is diversity physically, materially, spiritually, intellectually. When Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 4, “Who makes you different from [somebody] else?” the answer is “God.” When he asks, “What do you have that you did[n’t] receive?” the answer is “Nothing.” Therefore, we recognize that who we are and what we are and what we have achieved—whether we recognize the hand of God in it, whether we realize his common grace to us in the enduement of entrepreneurial skills or whatever it might be—we actually find ourselves in positions as a result of who and what we are. And when you read the Bible, it is obvious that some people were more capable than others of increasing their possessions.
Lydia is identified as a woman of prosperity because she was. How do you know she was a woman of prosperity? Because you find that out in relationship to people who were less prosperous. Ananias and Sapphira had particular abilities. Certain people had homes and dwellings and so on. And so the very fact of diversity and the inequality of the disbursement of stuff is something that has to reckoned with in the Bible. And the answer to it in the Bible is not some kind of artificial leveling process, some attempt to secure uniformity. No! Rather, it is far more revolutionary than that. It is for those who enjoy peculiar improvements in their life to be rich in kindness, to be ready to give to others, and to be willing to share.
The fact is that God gives some the ability to get wealth. Some people live, in economic terms, in poverty in comparison to the rich. And the call of God to his people is to take whatever we have been given richly to enjoy, but not to use it as self-indulgence, not to preen ourselves in the realm of frivolity and superficial luxury, but to take that which we have been given freely and to use it generously in the lives of others.
Jesus recognized this diversity. When the woman came, in the Gospels, and cracked the alabaster jar and washed his feet and dried his feet with her hair, and someone in the group said, “Hey, that’s a colossal waste of money! Why is somebody doing that with such a wonderful jar of perfume? That could have been sold and given to the poor.” And Jesus calls their bluff and says, “Hey guys, wait a minute! The poor you will always have with you. You’re not always going to have me with you. This lady has done a really nice thing. Leave her alone.” What was Jesus doing? Saying, “I don’t care about poverty”? No, of course not! He was simply acknowledging that in our fallen world, inequality is part and parcel of it.
Eighthly… Are you bored yet? Okay. Eighthly, the Bible teaches us that God has a peculiar, particular concern for the poor. That God has a peculiar and particular concern for the poor. In Psalm 68, he is described as “a father to the fatherless” and “a defender of [the] widows.” In Deuteronomy 10, he “loves the alien,” giving to the alien “food and clothing.” In Leviticus 19, when he marks out the strategy for his people to live as lights in the midst of the culture, he says to them, “And when you reap the harvest, do not go to the perimeters of your field. Do not go to the very edges. Leave the edges. And do not, whatever you do, go back through a second time to pick up the residue.” Why? “Because this will provide for those who do not have fields, who cannot plant fields, but who may be the beneficiaries of your largess.” He makes provision in recognition of the existence of those who are not in the class of field owners and field developers and entrepreneurs. He doesn’t disavow them. He makes special provision for them. Why? Because he is passionately, compassionately interested in those who are poor.
Ninthly, it therefore follows obviously that the Bible then teaches that God’s people are to be equally concerned for those who are poor. That’s why, in chapter 1, James has already said that one of the marks of religion is to care for the orphans and for the widows, isn’t it? In 1:27. “If anyone considers himself religious and … does[n’t] keep a tight rein on his tongue,” a controlled tongue, “he deceives himself … his religion is worthless.” “In fact, if you want to see religion in action,” he says, “faith in action, God the Father accepts as pure and faultless this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and make sure that you’re living a clean life before the watching world.” And that’s why, when you go to the passage in Deuteronomy 18, God says, “I love the aliens, and I give them food and clothing,” and in Deuteronomy 10:19, he says, “And you are to love those who are aliens, for you your[self] were aliens in Egypt.”
Tenthly, God’s judgment falls upon his people for trampling on the heads of the poor. God’s judgment falls upon his people for trampling on the heads of the poor. Amos chapter 2: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath.” Why is that? “They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.” You need money? I’ll take your sandals. “They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and [they] deny justice to the oppressed.”
Now, we’ll be coming back to all of this. But let me just say these final three, and then one more. God, the Bible teaches us, has a particular concern for the poor. God’s people, the Bible teaches us, must be equally concerned. God’s judgment falls upon his people when we do not display that concern. And the Bible teaches us that it is sinful to show favoritism on the basis of financial or social status. It is sinful to show favoritism on the basis of financial or social status. That’s what James said in James chapter 2, wasn’t it? He said, “You imagine a situation where somebody comes in, and they are obviously very well put together, and someone says, ‘Well, we’d love to give you a very special seat here.’ And someone else comes in, and he’s in shabby circumstances, and the person says, ‘Why don’t you just sit on the floor?’ It is sinful to show such favoritism on the basis of wealth.”
Let me finish with a quote from Professor John Murray in relationship to this last point, because it is a significant challenge, isn’t it? He says, “Perhaps few weaknesses have marred the integrity of the witness of the church more than the partiality shown to the rich. The church has compromised with their vices because it has feared the loss of their patronage.” “The church has compromised with their vices because it has feared the loss of their patronage.”
Loved ones, we have a long way to go in all of this. I know that this challenge comes home heavily to my own heart. But I do want to assure you of this, for those of you who don’t know: that on this final point, there is no peculiar patronage that exists at Parkside Church. There’s no money for arms here. There’s no one seeking to use finance as a mechanism for involvement, or for leadership, or for manipulation, or for control. I can guarantee you of that. That is not to say that there are not those who have and do give with extreme generosity in relationship to all that God has provided for them. But to a man and to a woman—and I know only of a few. Most I know nothing about. But to the few that I know, there is no sense whatsoever in which there is anything other than the open-hearted, open-handed bringing of resources to the feet of the elders, as it were, to entrust to those in leadership with the solemn responsibility of making good use of that which such individuals, on account of their generosity, have been able to bestow. And in actual fact, whether it is ten dollars in relationship to an income of three hundred dollars, or whatever the proportion may be, the principle remains throughout.
But rest easily in your beds on that last one. And let us ask God to write his Word in our hearts, in case some more of us need to be taking off our shoes and giving them away—and not because of a tax write-off but because it is the only compassionate thing for a child of God to do.
Let us pause for a moment of prayer—to take a moment to cast ourselves down before the majesty of God, asking him to forgive our sins, to renew us in the image of Christ, to write his Word on our hearts, to fulfill his purposes in and through us.
 Martin Luther, trans. Frederic Henry Hedge, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (1529, 1853).
 C. S. Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry?,” in The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 140. Paraphrased.
 Ezekiel 29:2–3 (NIV 1984).
 Luther, “A Mighty Fortress.”
 Luke 10:13 (paraphrased).
 John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of James, in Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, trans. and ed. John Owen (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1855), 342.
 See Acts 5:1–11.
 See Matthew 26:14–16.
 Paul Simon, “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor” (1973).
 Derek Prime, From Trials to Triumphs (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1982), 124.
 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV 1984).
 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV 1984).
 Stuart Townend, “Psalm 23” (1996).
 1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV 1984).
 Matthew 6:19–20 (paraphrased).
 Matthew 19:25–26 (paraphrased).
 Philippians 3:7–8 (paraphrased).
 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV 1984).
 See Acts 16:14–15.
 See Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–38.
 Psalm 68:5 (NIV 1984).
 Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV 1984).
 Leviticus 19:9–10 (paraphrased).
 James 1:26 (NIV 1984).
 Amos 2:6–7 (NIV 1984).
 James 2:1–4 (paraphrased).
 John Murray, Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), 90.
Copyright © 2023, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.