Religion — Part Two
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Religion — Part Two

James 1:27  (ID: 2568)

James provided his readers not with a comprehensive description of true religion but with a concise test for the authenticity of our faith in Jesus: a controlled tongue, a compassionate heart, and a clean life. As Alistair Begg remind us, if we are God’s children, we ought to bear increasing resemblance to our Father, who has a special concern for the lowly and helpless. Our lives must be practically helpful and personally holy, balancing social involvement with a holy desire for personal morality.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in James, Volume 1

The Glory of True Religion James 1:1–27 Series ID: 15901

Sermon Transcript: Print

Now we’re going to turn back again to James tonight, as I said this morning, to James 1:26–27, and I encourage you to turn there. James 1:26:

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Well, that’s our challenge for this evening. We’ll ask for God’s help now as we turn to the Bible:

Father, we come just as much in need this evening, perhaps more so, than when we gathered in the morning hour to do the work of thinking and to ask for the work of the Spirit to be in our lives, illuminating the printed page to us and giving us clarity and an understanding of the truth of the Bible. So help us so that we don’t get it wrong, and help us so that we don’t merely listen to it but we believe it and obey it. And conform us increasingly to the image of your Son, Jesus. Help us to bear the family likeness in every proper way. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Those of you who were present this morning will remember that we said that James has not provided us here with a comprehensive statement of the nature of “pure and faultless” religion. He is telling us what religion is, but he’s not telling us everything that it is. He is providing us with a test regarding the authenticity of our professed faith in Jesus, and that test has three aspects to it, the first being a controlled tongue, the second being a compassionate heart, and the third being a clean life. We spent all of our time this morning on the first—a most uncomfortable talk on the pressing nature of what it means to have our tongues under the control of God, the Holy Spirit. And that was verse 26.

A Compassion Heart

We move from there, now, to verse 27 and to his emphasis on a compassionate heart. What we said this morning bears repetition now—namely, that if we are the children of God our Father, then we ought to look, in some measure at least, increasingly like our Father. We ought to bear the family resemblances. And one of the things that’s said about God throughout the Bible, and particularly in the Psalms, is that he is a God who is particularly interested in those who are orphans, those who are themselves fatherless.

And so, for example, Psalm 68:5—you needn’t turn to it, but I’ll just read it for you—makes this abundantly clear, where the psalmist says God is “a father to the fatherless” and “a defender of widows.” He is the God who “sets the lonely in families.” A wonderful picture of God. When people say, “Well, I’m not sure I know what God is like; I’m not sure that I want to know God,” we can say, “Well, God is someone who is particularly interested in those who are fatherless, those who are lonely, those who feel themselves to be left out.”

And there are many people in our culture tonight for whom “father” means very, very little, either because they lost their father at an early age or because they have lived in a house where there has been an absentee father. And to be able to introduce them to God, who is the Father of the fatherless, who is compassionate, who abounds in love, is a wonderful and compelling thing to do. The redeeming love of God as Father is, of course, crystallized in the giving of his own Son at Calvary: “For God so loved the world,” was so compassionate towards the world, “that he gave his only begotten Son.”[1]

God is someone who is particularly interested in those who are fatherless, those who are lonely, those who feel themselves to be left out.

Now, James is simply working this principle out and making it clear that it follows that his children, if they’re going to bear the family likeness, if we’re going to tell people that we belong to God as our Father, then we are to be those who are marked by a genuine concern for those who in society are themselves helpless. Helpless. And that, of course, is an immediate challenge. It’s a challenge to which James is going to return in chapter 2—a challenge that is represented in a congregation that is tempted to make much of those who fit the profile of their socioeconomic framework, to be able to welcome easily those who fit within the parameters of our accepted norms, to find it difficult to reach out and be kind towards those who are unlike a congregation, those who do not come in wearing gold rings and fine clothes but those who come in wearing shabby clothes[2] and who are so distinctly uncomfortable in a gathering marked by such material prosperity. James is going to drive this home in an unmistakable way in chapter 2. But for now, he simply introduces the theme. And as I said this morning, the three aspects that he raises in this test, he comes back to every one of them in the unfolding letter which follows.

The concern that God’s children are to show is a concern which is moved by the needs of others and which reaches out to others without the prospect of anything in return. In other words, it fits in with what Jesus said about when you’re giving a banquet. Remember, he said in quite categorical terms, he said if you’re thinking of having a party at your house, don’t invite the people over to your house whom you simply anticipate will enjoy it on a normal basis and who will then in turn say, “Well, thank you so much for a lovely evening. How about you come back to our home now four weeks from Saturday?” “Don’t do that,” said Jesus. Instead, invite over to your home those who would not normally have the opportunity to come into such a home, who do not routinely enjoy those kind of meals, and who will not themselves be able to invite you back because they have no place where they can invite you back to.[3]

I hate to end a sentence on a preposition. That drives me nuts! But it’s done now. I hear Winston Churchill’s voice saying, “That is a preposition up with which I will not put.”

Jesus was striking in his condemnation for those who got this wrong. And that’s why he said to the Pharisees of his day that he condemned them, and he pointed them out as those—in Mark chapter 12—as those who “devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.”[4] These were the individuals who gobbled up the houses of the widows and who at the same time ostensibly enjoyed making these lengthy prayers, much like the Pharisee described in Luke’s Gospel who stands and prays, you remember, at the side of the road in the company of the publican.[5]

Now, what is James doing here when he identifies orphans and widows? Is he suggesting to us that orphans and widows are the only folks who are to be on the receiving end of the fatherly care of God expressed through his children? No, I don’t think so. I think what he’s doing here is he is identifying the epitome of human need. I don’t mean by this that we ought not to take at face value the emphasis on both orphans and widows, but that we would be wrong if we thought that all we had to do was to deal with orphans and widows—so that you wouldn’t have to deal with anyone who is suffering from AIDS, you wouldn’t have to deal with people who were paralyzed or whatever else it might be; all you have to do is deal with orphans and widows; if you do that, then you’re in the clear with everything else. That would be a very wooden way to interpret the Bible, wouldn’t it?

No, I think what he’s emphasizing is, here are the people in the time of James—a time that had no social structures that were organized for the care of the helpless and the poor, no social welfare programs in place—these were the people who epitomized what it was to be powerless, what it was to be without any kind of rights, what it was to live without any status at all. Those orphans and widows who were no longer on the receiving end of the support of a husband, which in the normal course of events would be the standard pattern, now provides, says James, a wonderful opportunity for the children of God to display one of the aspects of the family character—namely, “to look after,” or to visit, or to care for, “orphans and widows in their distress.” So this controlled tongue is to be set inside of the mouth—a mouth which is part of the head, which is attached to the rest of the body, which, at the control-tower level of the heart, is to be one that is marked by compassion.

Now, the word that is used here—and if you have a King James Version, you will remember this from growing up and memorizing this, that it reads something along the lines of “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their distress.” The Greek word is translated both “to look after” or “to care for” or “to visit,” and it is a word that appears not infrequently in the New Testament. Actually, this phrase is carved in stone over the archway of the main entrance of the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, Scotland. And when you walk in under that old main entrance, you read the words from Matthew 25, the words of Jesus, “I was sick and you visited me.”[6] “I was sick and you visited me.” And the word that is there for “you visited me” is the word episkeptomai, which is the word that is translated here in James 1:27, “And you look after these orphans and widows.”

Now, you remember that Jesus said that in Matthew 25, where, in a very demanding little passage, he reminded those who were his followers that they had—in the words of the King—they had seen him in prison, and they had visited him, and they had seen him in distress, and they had come to him, and so on.[7] And, of course, the reply on the part of the disciples is to say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you [as] a stranger and invite you in, or in needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” That’s that same verb again there. “And when did we see you sick and in prison and go and look after you?” And you remember Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”[8]

I remember on one occasion when I was the assistant in Charlotte Chapel—way back ’75, now, ’76—going in the course of the afternoon to visit a whole succession of elderly people. Some of them were in psychiatric hospitals, many of them were very impaired, and often, given the time I arrived in the afternoon, either as a result of the time of day and/or as a result of their medication, they slept through my entire visit. And I remember sitting and reading the Bible and praying with them and holding the hands of elderly ladies. And on one evening, driving to the Bible study with Derek Prime, I said to him, “You know, maybe I should drop some of the people from the list.”

“Oh,” he said, “why is that?”

I said, “Well, nothing actually happens when I go. Many situations, they’re not even compos mentis. They’re not alert. I’m not sure they hear me.”

He said, “Oh, but do you know what you’re doing when you go?”

I said, “Yes, I’m visiting the old people.”

He said, “No, you’re ministering to the Lord Jesus. Inasmuch as you read the Bible and prayed with the elderly lady who never wakened up when you were there, ‘you did it,’ said the King, ‘unto me.’”

It’s a quite staggering thought, isn’t it? God is the Father of the fatherless.

Do you remember—and this is a real test of your memory—when we studied in Luke chapter 7, and we came to that wonderful moment where Jesus stops the funeral procession of the widow of Nain’s son, and how he goes up, and how the disciples must have wondered what Jesus is doing now?

“A large crowd” was “with him,” and “as he approached the town gate”—I’m quoting Luke 7 now—“a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.” That’s important, as it turns out. “The only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.” And “when the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’” In other words, he had a heart of compassion.

When you go to people in their helplessness, you do so bearing the compassion of Christ himself.

And “then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still.” And “he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’” And “the dead man sat up and began to talk.” And then Luke says—and this was the thing that struck us when we studied it—and Luke says, “And Jesus gave him back to his mother.”[9] That’s what Jesus was doing. He said, “This lady needs this boy. This lady is a widow. I will give her son back to him.” And, says Luke, “they were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people.’ [And the] news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country[side].”[10] Actually, in the King James Version, it reads what? “God ha[s] visited his people.”[11] And, of course, by now you know that that is the exact same verb. No surprise.

When they saw this impact on the widow, knowing that God is the Father of the fatherless and has peculiar concerns for the widow, when Jesus says to the boy, “Here’s your mom,” and says to the mom, “Here’s your boy,” the people says, “God showed up! God showed up!” ’Cause that’s what God is like.

Now do you get the impact? When the people of God, out of a heart of compassion, do what the Bible says in relationship to the needs of humanity, to the needs of our culture, then, in a graphic way, men and women may stand back and say, “God has shown up! God has visited us”—visited us in the compassion of your interest in the needs of the helpless and the hopeless. And those who around you, despite all of their outward signs being under control, you know to be helpless people; and when you go to them in their helplessness, you do so bearing the compassion of Christ himself.

You see, what we have here is what God has begun at least to nudge us in the direction of as a church family, and that is to remind us of the absolute necessity of keeping two things close together: the genuine proclamation of the good news and a genuine participation in good deeds. Good news and good deeds, emphasized not only by James but also by Paul when he writes to Titus; speaking of God, he says, “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do … good.”[12] “To purify for himself a people that are his very own,” and how will the purity of their life and the reality of their testimony become apparent in a society? Because they are “eager to do … good.” They are the epitome, if you like, of do-gooders.

When Wilberforce was converted in his middle twenties while a student at Cambridge University, he wrote in his personal journal, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”[13] You should understand “the reformation of manners” not now about which fork you use for your salad but rather the transformative impact of the gospel in a culture and in a community.

And here we are, two hundred years on from the historic parliamentary vote, which was actually in March of 1807, on the twenty-[fifth] of March 1807—two hundred years ago now—and that classic vote banned the transportation of slaves by British subjects. And if you’ve read of Wilberforce, and if you’ve read of Newton, you will have found there that, again, you discover the juxtaposition of good news and good deeds. In many ways, God raised up Newton—who was a slave trader, ironically—converted him, gave him a compassionate heart, made it possible for him to write hymns and to preach the Bible, to become, if you like, a proponent of good news, and to become one of the key influences in the life of William Wilberforce, who is epitomized by good deeds. And when you think about it, as God in the immensity of his plans and purposes from all of eternity causes the birth of these two little boys, one Newton and one Wilberforce—and the confluence of his redeeming purpose is to be found in this compassionate heart.

When Wilberforce was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1833, seven years were to elapse before they put an epitaph on a statue in the Abbey, which some of you will have stood before and have read. I have it written in front of me here, in my own scribble, and I want to read it to you, because it is so profoundly moving. This is what you’ll find on the statue in Westminster Abbey:

To the memory of William Wilberforce (born in Hull August 24th 1759, died in London July 29th 1833;) for nearly half a century a member of the House of Commons, and, for six parliaments during that period, one of the two representatives for Yorkshire. In an age and country fertile in great and good men, he was among the foremost of those who fixed the character of their times; because to high and various talents, to warm benevolence, and to universal candour, he added the abiding eloquence of a Christian life. Eminent as he was in every department of public labour, and a leader in every work of charity, whether to relieve the temporal or the spiritual wants of his fellow-[man], his name will ever be specially identified with those exertions which, by the blessing of God, removed from England the guilt of the African slave trade, and prepared the way for the abolition of slavery in every colony of the empire: in the prosecution of those objects he relied, not in vain, on God; but in the [process] he was called to endure great obloquy and great opposition: he outlived, however, all enmity; and in the evening of his days, withdrew from public life and public observation to the bosom of his family. Yet he died not unnoticed or forgotten by his country: the peers and commons of England, with the Lord Chancellor and the speaker at their head, in solemn procession from their respective houses, carried him to his fitting place among the mighty dead around, here to repose: till, through the merits of Jesus Christ, his only Redeemer and Saviour, ([which], in his life and his writings he had desired to glorify,) he shall rise in the resurrection of the just.

Fantastic, isn’t it? A man of conviction. A man of great compassion. And two hundred years later, we are the beneficiaries of his willingness to combine a commitment to the good news that Jesus sets the captives free and that the implications of that transforming power in a culture cannot leave the least and the last and the left out absent the fatherly care of God.

Now, what Wilberforce did in the eighteenth century Spurgeon did in the nineteenth century. Spurgeon, on one occasion at their evening prayer meeting on a Monday, all of a sudden breaks into the events, and he says to his congregation, “We are a large church and should be doing more for the Lord in this great city. I want us to ask God to send us some new work.” And so all the people then, in the remainder of the prayer time, said, “O God, send us some new work.” And the new work that God sent them was the establishing of what became the Stockwell Orphanage and Spurgeon’s impact among the fatherless children of London.

And what Spurgeon did in the nineteenth century Moody did in the twentieth century. And if you read the work and the writings of R. A. Torrey and what Moody did, then you will know that he combined good news and good deeds. And it is imperative that the two are held together, for whenever the good deeds are disengaged from the good news, whenever the impact of a life is torn away from the compelling, transforming power of the gospel, then it eventually degenerates into pure moralism and nothingness. Social involvement dare not take the place of the gospel.

And I leave the remainder of this to you. If you take a concordance and look through it, you can go into the Old Testament, and you can go into the New, and see that the Bible is replete with references to this. You have it in Acts chapter 6, don’t you, where they had in the Jerusalem church already put together Meals on Wheels? Whether they were on wheels or not I don’t know, but they had a roster for the widows in Jerusalem, didn’t they? And that’s why the friction emerged. Because people began to say, “I’m not sure that our group is getting the… I think the meals are coming a little late,” or “I don’t think they’re hot,” or whatever it might be. And the apostles said, “What are we going to do about all this Meals on Wheels business?” And then they said, “Well, let’s get seven guys who really know what they’re doing, who’ve got God in their hearts and who’ve got a good head on their shoulders, and we’ll give them the responsibility of this. Because it wouldn’t be right for us to leave the preaching and teaching of the Bible to serve tables.”[14] You’ve got that wonderful division of labor, then. Very, very important that the apostles are not saying, “It wouldn’t be right for us to serve tables.” It’s always right for every one of us to serve tables. What they said is, “It would not be right for us to leave the preaching of the Word to serve tables.” They knew what their job was.

Whenever good deeds are disengaged from the good news, whenever the impact of a life is torn away from the compelling, transforming power of the gospel, then it eventually degenerates into pure moralism and nothingness.

If you go to 1 and 2 Timothy, the Pastoral Epistles, you’ll find that Paul is implementing the exact same program amongst the gentile churches in 1 Timothy 5. And if you read secular history, you read Eusebius, he will tell you that by AD 250, the church in Rome was reportedly supporting fifteen hundred destitute men and women and children on a daily basis. And you don’t want to hear again from me about how the place I grew up in Glasgow was formed by Dwight L. Moody and that it was customary for us both to feed the people from the streets, five or six hundred of them, before ever we got to any praise or worship on the Lord’s Day morning. They came in in dire condition off a Saturday night, in the early hours of Sunday morning, to be given tea and food and to have the Scriptures opened to them and to be provided for. Why? Because they were homeless, because they were helpless, because they were impoverished. Because they were without God and without hope in the world.[15] But don’t forget, the person on skid row is no more without God and without hope in the world than the affluent suburbanite on the east side of Cleveland.

A Clean Life

Finally, we’ll just say a word about the third area of the test. Part one, a controlled tongue; part two, a compassionate heart; and part three, a clean life. “Religion that God … accepts as pure and faultless” not only involves our controlled tongues and our interest in those who are so desperately in need, but also it demands that we “keep [ourselves] from being polluted by the world.”

In other words, not only are we to be practically helpful, but we are to be personally holy. Practically helpful and personally holy. We are to be identified with society in its need but not in its sin. Again I say to you that social involvement dare not be at the expense of moral purity.

Our friend John Dickson, in his commentary—which he so kindly sent to me with a letter when he found out my circumstances of the last few weeks—he argues quite strongly the case for this final phrase here in verse 27 as being a reference not, he says, to the pollutions of private immorality but to the socioeconomic persuasions of society. Sorry—the socioeconomic perversions of society. And so he says that when James says, “Not only should you have a controlled tongue and a compassionate heart, but make sure that you don’t get sucked into the polluted way that culture deals with socioeconomic questions.”

I want to say two things about this: one, this sounds like an Australian theologian; and number two, he is alone in making this case. He does make a good case. But I searched in vain throughout everywhere to see if there was another person in the entire universe who had ever suggested that the final phrase of James 1:27 had anything to do with socioeconomic perversions. Maybe John’s right and all the rest are wrong. But I think in this instance, we’re probably safer with the majority, which means that what James is urging upon us is spiritual watchfulness. Spiritual watchfulness.

His readers, then and now, are surrounded by all kinds of distracting, demoralizing, and even dehumanizing influences. They and we walk around in a world that is actually opposed to the standards and purposes of God. They, the initial readers, and we, reading it tonight, need to remind ourselves that the standards of our life in Jesus are heavenly and they’re not those of the prevailing culture. The fact of the matter is that we are different. We are different. I know it’s not uncommon for us to try and use as a sort of apologetic an approach that says to people, “You know, we’re just the same as you are.” What we can say in that is we pull our trousers on in the same way, or we share the same supermarkets, or whatever it might be. But the fact is, we are not the same as they are. We’re radically different from what they are.

And James and Peter and John and Paul, every last one of them, makes the point. I could keep you here all night quoting, but I won’t. I’ll give you just one. First Peter 4:3: “For,” says Peter to his Christian readers, “you[’ve] spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do.” What do they choose to do? “Living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” And “they think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” Why do they do that? I think in the King James Version the word is “profligacy,” which always struck me as a fascinating word; it’s like “obloquy” from earlier. You immediately need a dictionary. Incidentally, obloquy is simply opposition or abuse, isn’t it?

But what he’s pointing out is “You’re no longer what you once were. You are radically different. You live in a world”—and the “world” back in James 1 here is the word kosmos—“you live in a world, a world that is actually opposed to the lordship of Jesus.” And if you want to think about what he’s saying here, “to keep [your]self from being polluted by the world,” what he’s really saying is “Make sure that you don’t swallow everything that is at odds with the lordship of Jesus in your life.” Because remember, if you’re going to get down and dirty, as it were, in the culture, if you’re gonna invest yourself in that way, if you’re gonna make yourself vulnerable, if you’re gonna open yourself up to so much that is there, you better make sure that you’re controlling your tongue and that while you’re being practically helpful, you’re not neglecting to be personally holy.

See, some people have used the approach to practical help as a cover for their own personal immorality. “Why is it that you’re interested in going to the strip joints all of a sudden?” the man was asked. “Oh, well, these poor girls, you know, they need all the help they can get.” Yeah, but you might just not be the person to go there and help them. Have you thought of having your wife or your grandmother do that assignment?

You better make sure that while you’re being practically helpful, you’re not neglecting to be personally holy.

See, “Be very, very careful,” says James, “that you don’t get this thing all messed up”—that out of a genuine desire, a compassionate heart, to be helpful to the needs of others, it doesn’t become a smoke screen for our own personal immorality. Because the world, dominated by Satan, is opposed in spirit and in attitude to the things of God, and there is a clear line of demarcation between the two. We’ll come to that in James chapter 4 when he says in verse 4, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward[s] God?” “No,” he says, “I want you to be found without spot.” And the word is aspilos. It’s the same word that you get—spilos, at least—in Ephesians, where the bride of Christ is coming down, prepared for her husband and without spot or wrinkle or blemish or any of those kind of things.[16] It’s the same word that is used in 2 Peter chapter 3 when, in relationship to the return of Jesus Christ, Peter urges his followers, “Make sure that as you anticipate the return of Jesus Christ that you will be found aspilos—that you will be found without a spot.”[17]

And it’s not surprising, then, that by the time Paul is writing to Timothy as a young man and urging upon him the vital importance of running the race and keeping the faith and finishing the course, he says at the end of 1 [Timothy] 5:22, in just a phrase, “[Timothy,] keep yourself pure.” That’s it: “Keep yourself pure.”

One of my friends—who will be known to you, because he’s heard every day on the radio—when I was in his company not so long ago and we were talking together and praying together, he said to me—and this man is just a few years older than me; he may be sixty-one or so, I’m not sure—but he said to me, “Alistair, you know, one of my daily prayers is simply this: ‘Lord, don’t let me become a dirty old man.’” “Don’t let me become a dirty old man.” I admired his honesty. I’ve thought about it often since. I guess the way to become a dirty old man is to be a dirty young one, and a dirty middle-aged one, and who, when the Bible comes and says one of the tests of the authenticity of your faith is that you “keep [yourself] unspotted from the world,” is to say, “No, I don’t think that really applies to me.”

“Well,” says somebody, “what a test! I’m not sure what I got on the test, and I’m not sure what I should do. If I prepare for this test, what am I supposed to do?” Well, James has actually already told us what to do. The answer to all of this is a steady recourse to the Bible: “Get rid,” verse 21, “of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” You have it all here, right in the Book. “Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you”—saves us from our selfishness, so that we reach out with compassion; saves us from our hasty outbursts and our sullen verbosities as it controls our tongues; and saves us from walking through the world and just becoming filthy as it purifies our minds and constrains our feet and keeps our hands in our pockets and turns our gaze again and again to our heavenly Father.

Well, let’s pray together.

Eventually, you’ll know all the choruses that I know from Sunday school as I turn them into prayers, but I want to use a Sunday school chorus as our prayer. I say it in the first person; make it your own:

Cleanse me from my sin, Lord,
Put your power within, Lord,
Take me as I am, Lord,
And make me all your own.

[And] keep me day by day, Lord,
Underneath your sway, Lord.
[And] make my heart your palace
And your royal throne.[18]

For the sake of your Son Jesus we ask it. Amen.

[1] John 3:16 (KJV).

[2] See James 2:2.

[3] See Luke 14:12–14.

[4] Mark 12:40 (NIV 1984).

[5] See Luke 18:9–14.

[6] Matthew 25:36 (paraphrased).

[7] See Matthew 25:34–36.

[8] Matthew 25:37–40 (NIV 1984).

[9] Luke 7:11–15 (NIV 1984).

[10] Luke 7:16–17 (NIV 1984).

[11] Luke 7:16 (KJV).

[12] Titus 2:14 (NIV 1984).

[13] William Wilberforce, quoted in Robert Isaac Wilberforce and Samuel Wilberforce, The Life of William Wilberforce (London: John Murray, 1838), 1:149.

[14] See Acts 6:1–5.

[15] See Ephesians 2:12.

[16] See Ephesians 5:27.

[17] 2 Peter 3:14 (paraphrased).

[18] R. Hudson Pope, “Cleanse Me from My Sin.” Language modernized.

Copyright © 2024, 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.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.