Paul declared a glorious truth in the book of Romans:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (Rom 1:16-17).”
Indeed, the gospel of Christ is the power of God to save all who will believe it, regardless of race, language, or demographics. It, and none other, is the source of true faith.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17).”
By the grace of God and His Son, we have the gospel given unto us. The man and woman who hear the gospel message have the obligation to respond to God’s calling through the gospel. What is the kind of person who will make the right response?
The Lord Jesus explains in one of His parables. “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8:15).”
This highlights the human responsibility in God’s plan of salvation. Never will God ever alter the heart of anyone against the person’s will. God has given to every one of us the capacity to respond. We can either respond in obedience or in rejection.
To be saved, we need to respond in obedience, humbly believing and doing what God requires of us without arguing, modifying or changing in any way the divine decree.
The Christian who has obeyed the gospel and added to the body of the Lord must keep constantly in mind that obedience is not a one-time act; it is a continuous act of conforming to the word of God. Obedience is the lifestyle of a child of God.
James in his letter gives us the attitude Christians ought to have of the Bible, and how we ought to approach it.
“Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (Jas 1:19-21).”
Let’s consider the first one: swift to hear.
Many of us during our schooldays have some teachers we appreciate more than others. We are usually more ready to listen to the teachers we appreciate more than those we do not quite appreciate as much.
This is not a good attitude to have toward our earthly teachers, so all the more we ought to be appreciative of the word of God. When we are appreciative of the inspired word given to make us complete (cf. 2Tim 3:16-17), we quick and ready to hear what God has to say to us.
Not only are we swift to hear, but we desire the word above all. The Lord said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Mat 4:4).” He also said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (Mat 5:6).”
Children of God desire to be filled with His word. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Col 3:16).”
The second is: slow to speak.
The wise man said, “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him (Pro 29:20).” It is not good to be hasty to declare our opinions of the Bible without a careful study and consideration of it.
Many false doctrines today are the results of hasty conclusions reached without a deeper study of the word in its scriptural context.
The third is: slow to wrath.
James explains that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” A quick temper will easily set our efforts in Bible study back. An angry word or an impatient remark is contrary to a spirit of humility so vital to be receptive of the word of God.
Building these traits will require our effort to put “away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness” and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Sin is the major obstacle to meekness. Sin is rebellion against the authority of God; whereas meekness is surrender to the authority of God. The two cannot be reconciled in any seeker of God.
Without meekness, any act of obedience is merely a show. Without meekness, there is no true submission to the oracles of God. Without meekness, we cannot truly receive the word of God and allow it to fill our hearts.
An honest and good heart is a heart of meekness. Only with meekness will we, “having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”