Our spiritual growth in God does not happen accidentally. We have a part to play. A seedling plant must strive to break free from the clutches of the clods of hardened earth to get to the light.
So it is with God’s offspring, you and I. To grow and to fulfill God’s purpose for each of us, we must first gain knowledge of his plan, and then execute it. He is “bringing many sons [and daughters] unto glory.”
How is he doing this? He has several spiritual programs to accomplish His will. They are laid out in black and white in the Holy Bible. The programs for our growth are hiding in plain sight. But you won’t hear about them in the church houses, even though the early apostles wrote glowingly about their secrets. Their pastors, priests and preachers have closed their eyes and ears to anything new. Yet God’s programs are full of “new creatures, new testament, new hearts, new lives, where all things are become new.”
Some of the Programs
We should not think that once we profess Christ, it is all done. The Apostles’ Doctrine, the title of my 2019 book, expounds on one of God’s programs that shows us how to become like the early church. The apostles walked in the seven teachings that Christ taught them. Their doctrine was Christ’s doctrine/teachings. To be like the early apostles, we need to do what they did; they “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine,” and then power was given to do mighty works in the land.
Another of Christ’s programs to help us grow spiritually is what I am writing now–The Additions to the Faith. We must add, through much study and prayer, certain facets of God’s divine nature to His faith that now resides in us. But we cannot add them if we have no knowledge about these attributes of God.
We have seen that in order to fulfill God’s purpose of fully walking in his divine nature, we need to add to our faith certain attributes of that very divine nature. We see that we are to add patience to temperance. The problem has always been understanding these English words. We are dealing with three words: patience, godliness, and wisdom.
They are all scriptural, taken from the King James Version. All three are difficult to comprehend because of man’s traditional definitions and connotations placed on them. To get a clearer picture of their meaning, we go to the Greek texts. “Patience” means endurance. “Godliness” means to love and revere God. Wisdom is to fear Him, or to be in reverential awe of Him.
We can all agree that we need more wisdom. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom…” (Proverbs 4:7). God has made it seemingly simple for us to get wisdom. Just ask Him for it, the apostle James tells us (1:5). But we cannot waver in unbelief (verse 6).
Why would we waver? Those that waver will not get wisdom (verse 7). I always thought that the wavering happened because of our weak faith in not believing at the outset that God would give us wisdom. But now I see that we waver when we don’t understand how overcoming trials produce wisdom. God tests our faith; going through these trials shows us just how awesome our great Creator is. We will see his great love for us in correcting us, getting us ready to sit with him on his throne. We have a lot of changing to do. Trials bring those changes about.
We still are talking about adding patience, and to patience godliness. Many early Christians had, no doubt, complained to James about the trials that they were going through. He gets straight to the point. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (1: 2 NIV). Joy? The heathen are hunting us Christians down like dogs. How do we see this as bringing happiness? At first glance, it is difficult to see, but a profound revelation hides in the shadows of our disbelief.
How Trials Bring Joy
How do trials bring joy? These trials test our faith. This testing of our faith “develops perseverance” (verse 2, NIV). It “works patience.” Trials of the faith develops endurance/patience/perseverance (verse 3). Overcoming trials develops spiritual muscle needed for us to endure all things thrown our way.
When our Father tests, chastens, and corrects us, we tend to not understand just how blessed we are. That is why we are admonished to “let patience have her perfect work.” In other words, we must allow endurance and perseverance do the job of bringing us to spiritual maturity. This is what the additions to the faith is all about: The spiritual maturity of becoming like Christ and his apostles. “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete” (verse 4 NIV).
It is here at verse five that we receive an astounding revelation. The previous four verses show us how God gives us wisdom. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God who gives liberally…”
But we must ask, “What does wisdom have to do with patience/endurance? What’s the tie-in?” First, we are admonished to ask for wisdom, not knowing how or from where it comes to us. God then gives us wisdom through orchestrating trials for us to overcome in our lives. These trials, as we have seen, produce endurance/patience. Then, on the other side of the testings and trials, we see that it produces in us a love and reverence for God in all His marvelous ways of creating us in His image. Love and reverence for Him is the very definition of wisdom. “The fear of the LORD, that is wisdom.” “Fear” in the Hebrew means “reverential awe.” Reverential awe of Yahweh, that is wisdom. Wisdom and patience/endurance combine to bring godliness to be added to patience. And the kicker is this: Godliness in the Greek means “a love and reverence for God.”
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Kenneth Wayne Hancock