RECEIVE WITH MEEKNESS THE ENGRAFTED WORD
Once more brethren and sisters, we find ourselves gathered together around these emblems of our Heavenly Father’s love. Once more we are reminded of the Love of our God, shown to us through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Shortly we will remember him together in the partaking of bread and wine. In memory of his sacrifice, but also importantly for us, in the promise of his imminent return, for therein brethren and sisters lies our hope. Now on account of that hope we read:
James 1 and verse 21:
“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls”.
Now within this verse brethren and sisters, the Eternal Spirit highlights for us two active verbs, the first negative and the second positive. These paired verbs indicate our role within the process of salvation, how we are importantly to receive and respond to the word of truth.
Philippians 2 and verses 12 – 13:
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”.
In applying the instruction in this verse from James we prove the atoning sacrifice of our beloved Master is indeed efficacious in our own personal lives. We also importantly witness to our Heavenly Father and indeed to one another that we truly value what has been done for us in Christ, what is YET being done for us by our Lord and what shall shortly be done at our Master’s return.
We are instructed firstly to “lay apart” (negative action) certain fleshly outcomes from our daily lives and then secondly we are asked to “receive” (positive action) the word of truth with childlike humility.
I am sure you will recognise that this action of laying apart is spoken of elsewhere in the sense of removing old clothing, so that new garments maybe worn. Of course this imagery of the changing of our garments, is speaking to us of our characters. So we renounce and lay apart our old fleshly character, because it “worketh not the righteousness of God” (verse 20).
Now in the Greek, this action to “lay apart” is one that has a daily impact. For this action is a principle of life for those in Christ that desire to be reckoned first fruits of his creatures (verse 18). Because as the Greek also makes clear here, this “lying apart” requires from us a daily conscious choice, it will not happen of its self. We must brethren and sisters expend the will power, the effort and the self-discipline that comes with such a choice.
So then brethren and sisters, how are we each doing at removing the old man of the flesh? Of divorcing our old character, such as the wrath we see in verse nineteen. What happens when someone speaks out of turn to you? Or what do you do when someone cuts you up on the road? Do we still respond angrily? Or are we able to let it wash over us and not bite back?
Our first instruction then if we want to be truly found a first fruit of his creatures, a son or daughter of God is to consciously and daily “lay apart”, “all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness”. I love the sound of that phrase the “superfluity of naughtiness”, it’s the King James’s majestic language, but what does it mean?
Well the first thing to note here is that little but important word “all”, let us not miss this crucial adjective, as it qualifies everything that follows it. So it is speaking of ALL filthiness and ALL the super abundance of malice in our daily lives’ brethren and sisters. All in the sense of each individual and every collective daily act that falls under this umbrella description of sin?
Now “filthiness” speaks “moral impurity” of anything vile, which “defiles or dishonours” us personally, as Jude records, “hating even the garment spotted by the flesh”. As we read elsewhere, “thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy”. Greek writers used this word to speak fascinatingly of dirty earwax!
Whereas “naughtiness” is speaking of “malice and wickedness”, which relates to how we deal with other people.
1st Corinthians 14 and verse 20:
“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men”.
The spirit word here covers every type of sin for us, here brethren and sisters, in that it gives us no wriggle room, and we are to consciously lay it apart every single day.
Now secondly note that the text also gives another description “superfluity” or “superabundance” to this term “naughtiness”. Rotherham has here an “overflow of baseness”, which is its self – highly descriptive for us. It conjures up in my mind an active bubbling sewage pipe.
Now before anyone objects and states that such a description is not true of them personally, let us understand brethren and sisters two things: Firstly the nature we bare, which is defiled and is always orientated towards self.
Then secondly as this idea of a superabundant overflow of baseness informs us. That there is within each one of us and importantly within each new day the abundant opportunity for us: To yes defile our selves and to dishonour our Heavenly Father, as well as also providing time for us to be malicious, wicked and generally evil to others.
Brethren and sisters let us accept and acknowledge the Eternal Spirit through James’ assessment of our nature and of our condition without the civilising effect of the word of God in our lives.
Matthew 6 and verse 34:
“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Same word as naughtiness in James 1)
Now if we balk in pride and refuse to accept these uncomfortable truths concerning ourselves brethren then we are honestly not behaving as the first fruits of his creatures. Indeed more than that we will be unable to apply the second of the two active verbs in this twenty-first verse, which must apply to each of one of us. Because again the Greek makes it abundantly clear that we must lay apart, prior to being able to receive, there is a sequence here, just as in changing our clothes.
Therefore having been exhorted and instructed to consciously and daily, as we read elsewhere “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us”. We are now exhorted and indeed commanded brethren and sisters to replace all that, which is fleshly and ungodly with a different spirit or character. Just as our Lord did, whom we shall remember shortly.
For as the record through James continues in this twenty-first verse, “and receive with meekness the engrafted word”. Here we are to receive the word of God, described for us in verse eighteen as “the word of truth”.
So if we are struggling to accept the instruction of the word of life here, let us acknowledge that – this word is true! In that what it states and informs about us, completely conforms to reality and the reality of our situation, whether we like it or not!
Let us beware here brethren and sisters that we do not fall into the trap of verse twenty-two, “deceiving your own selves”. Instructionally this word “deceiving” is also in the Greek an ongoing conscious choice! So then brethren who will we choose to believe and accept our Heavenly Father or our own selves?
For if we are to be part of the first fruits of his creatures let us be as verse nineteen exhorts us “swift to hear” that word of truth, “which is able to save your souls”. Indeed brethren and sisters how “swift or quick” are we personally to receive, to welcome as Rotherham has it or to embrace as the Diaglott renders it here, this word of truth?
I suspect that if you are like me? In that there are parts of the word:
That we readily accept
That we provisionally or intellectually accept
That we struggle to accept
That we want to ignore or reject
James 2 and verses 10 – 11:
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law”.
Rather brethren and sisters let us be truly people of the book, who are not only swift to hear the word of life, but also to receive, to fully embrace and to unreservedly welcome it into our lives on a daily basis. Receiving it with the same godly attention and reverence as those noble Jews in ancient Berea.
Acts 17 and verse 11:
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”.
Here is the correct and childlike godly example set before us in receiving the word “with all readiness of mind”. Which is speaking to us of an inclining disposition towards that word with eagerness, even with zeal to test and apply it. We are to receive this word brethren and sisters with this “readiness of mind”, because of what is recorded through the Apostle:
1st Thessalonians 2 and verse 13:
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe”.
We are to receive the word brethren and sisters, because we believe it is the word of God. Indeed as the word of God, it is able to “effectually” work in our daily lives.
This word has the power to change our lives, to develop that godly character in our daily lives, after the example of our Lord. Not only making us wise unto salvation, but also making us complete and fully able to zealously perform all the good works our Heavenly Father desires personally and collectively of us, just like the Master.
Ephesians 2 and verse 10:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”.
But brethren and sisters, we can only perform those good works, which our Heavenly Father desires to do in and through us. If we believe in word’s transforming power and if we will fully receive and embrace it, exactly as our Lord did, as symbolised by the emblems before us upon the table.
Isaiah 50 and verses 4 – 5:
“Adonai Yahweh hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. Adonai Yahweh hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back”.
Returning then to James one and verse twenty-one, where we read, “and receive with meekness the engrafted word”. This word “receive” then is the second of the two active verbs in this verse, which we are to apply to our daily lives in order for us to show that we are indeed of the first fruits of his creatures. As we have seen the word means to favourably lay hold on something in this case the engrafted word.
Now in the Greek this verb to “receive” also has a daily impact upon our lives brethren and sisters. Whereas the previous verb to “lay apart” provided us with a principle of life to apply, this second verb is commanded upon us.
Our Heavenly Father informs and exhorts us here that it is absolutely imperative for us to continuously choose to daily apply this commandment if the word of life is to have any transformational effect upon us at all.
So then are you brother, sister receiving the word of truth daily? Do we open it, read it, spend time meditating upon it? Considering how we might apply it into our lives? Or do you just go through the motions, doing the readings, but no further interaction with that word?
Now our verse brethren and sisters provides’ us with a qualification to our receiving this engrafted word. In that it instructs us to “receive” the word “with meekness”. We have already highlighted our Lord’s example from Isaiah and that of the first century Bereans and the brethren from Thessalonika.
“Meekness” is a Christ like quality, a fruit of the spirit, even that teachable childlike disposition of character, which is above all submissive to the word of truth. It indicates a “spirit of mildness and gentleness”, which fully accepts our Heavenly Father’s dealings with us, as good for us, like a parent.
“Meekness” seeks not to resist or dispute that word received in childlike faith, we see then an absence of resentment, anger and pride.
If we are then to be truly part of his new creation in Christ, part of those first fruits of the Father brethren and sisters. We must endeavour to be obedient children receiving the word with meekness of wisdom (3:13).
This brings us to the final clause of this twenty-first verse in James one, which reads, “and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls”. Now in this last clause of the verse, we have a third verb, but this one is passive and comes as a direct result of us personally applying the other two previous verbs of “laying apart” & “receiving”.
This final verb is the phrase “to save” and it is speaking of our Heavenly Father’s part in the working out of our salvation. Rotherham renders it this way, “in meekness welcome ye the word fitted for inward growth, which is able to save your souls”.
1st Peter 1 and verse 23:
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever”.
Having had the word of life grafted or implanted within us, it behaves like a seed and grows only within favourable conditions. So when we apply the two previous verbs within this verse, which effectively are summarised in the final verse of the chapter, we provide those favourable conditions.
James 1 and verse 27:
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world”.
These perfect conditions release the power within the seed that brings about its growth. For the word “able” (verse 21) is one of the Greek words for power. The Greek here indicates that this power of God in his word is daily continuously released to achieve the result of our salvation. As long as the favourable conditions apply from us continuously performing the previous two verbs.
The resulting inward growth of that seed is the very character of Christ who we shall remember in a few minutes is formed within us brethren and sisters. The beauty of this – is in that it is growth from the inside out; namely it produces authentic godly character, which cannot be counterfeited.
No wonder the Diaglott renders the word “receive”, embrace and Rotherham, renders it “welcome ye the word fitted for inward growth, which is able to save your souls”. Brethren and sisters are you welcoming this word fitted for our inward growth? Are you providing the necessary conditions for that implanted seed to grow?
Because if we are brethren and sisters then we shall, as verse twenty-two makes clear, “doers of the word”, but more importantly than this we shall also be “a doer of the work” and we read on that “this man shall be blessed in his deed” (verse 25).
Let us recall the one, we are here to remember who was indeed blessed in his deed and shall be again, when he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. In that by the knowledge of him, shall my righteous sevant justify, bringing many sons unto glory!
Let us see in this bread the word of life modelled in our Master, which provides for us a fleshed out example of how to apply the word in our daily lives. Likewise in the wine let us understand the example of the one we remember now. Who was meekly obedient unto death, even the death of the stake, in order that we might become the first fruits of our Heavenly Father’s creatures in the new creation in Christ.
For our lord lovingly gave his life in complete obedience to his father’s will. Surely our only reasonable response for the love shown to each one of us is to follow the exhortation of the Eternal Spirit through the Apostle:
1st Peter 2 and verses 9 – 10:
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy”.