Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 93 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading James 4 today and our focus is on We Do Not Know The Future! . We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Stuttgart, Germany, South Africa, London, UK, Indianapolis, Indiana, Akron, Ohio and Terre Haute, Indiana. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan
The fourth chapter of James contains what I think to be one of the top 5 most challenging Scriptures in the Bible – especially to Christians living in our current age.
4 You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. James 4:4
Of course, James does NOT mean that we should hate the world and the people of the world, but he is most certainly, under the authority and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, calling us to not be worldly and follow the ways of the world. This echoes an almost parallel verse in 1 John 2:
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15
It also comports with what Jesus taught about His followers not being of this world:
19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. John 15:19
I think that worldliness probably represents the greatest temptation to modern Christians living in the West right now. There is great pressure to conform to the ways of the world, and great calls in Scripture that warn us away from doing such a thing.
Let’s shift gears to our main focus with a question: Who knows what the future holds – the answer, as I am often reminded, is practically nobody. I was listening to a very good church leadership podcast episode that was recorded in May of 2020, and they were talking about how the pandemic seemed to be winding down, and was almost over, and things were almost ready to go back to normal. There is a lesson in that for us, I think – God knows the future, and we don’t! This is one of the challenging truths that we will encounter in James 4 today, and James is going to express it in his trademarked, in your face sort of way:
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. 15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. James 4:13-15
Let’s read the whole passage and then discuss some of the implications of what James is teaching us today.
So – God knows what is coming, and we do not, and James instructs us today that we must be careful to live and act according to the truth that God is in charge, and we do not know what is coming yet. This is a recognition of His sovereignty and our many limitations, and it should thus humble us – especially when long-term-planning. Spurgeon says:
This should be your general mode of speech. The mere use of the letters D. V. is an evasion of the rule: to live hour by hour, as those who will soon give an account, is the true mode of living…MEN to-day are just the same as when these words were first written. We still find people saying what they are going to do to-day, to-morrow, or in six months’ time, at the end of another year, and perhaps still farther. I have no doubt there are persons here who have their own career mapped out before them pretty distinctly, and they feel well-nigh certain that they will realize it all. We are like the men of the past; and this Book, though it has been written so long, might have been written yesterday, so exactly does it describe human nature as it is at the end of this nineteenth century.
The text applies with very peculiar force when our friends and fellow-workers are passing away from us. Sickness and death have been busy in our midst. Perhaps in our abundant service we have been reckoning what this brother would do this week, and what that sister would be doing next week, and so on. Even for God’s work we have had our plans, dependent in great measure on the presence of some beloved helpers. They have appeared amongst us in such buoyant health, that we have scarcely thought it possible that they would be struck down all in a moment. Yet so it has often been. The uncertainty of life comes home to us when such things occur, and we begin to wonder that we have reckoned anything at all safe, or even probable, in such a shifting, changing world as this. With this in full view, I am going to talk about how we ought to behave with regard to the future, and attempt to draw some lessons for our own correction and instruction from the verses before us.
Following the line of the text, and keeping as close to it as we can, we will notice, first, that counting on the future is folly. Then we will observe, what is clear enough to us all, that ignorance of the future is a matter of fact. In the third place, I shall set before you the main truth of this passage, that recognition of God in the future is wisdom, our fourth point shall be, that boasting of the future is sin; and our final thought will be, that the using of the present is a duty.
C. H. Spurgeon, “God’s Will about the Future,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 38 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1892), 61–62.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 744.
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
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