Mar 10

Session 4 Recap: Carson, “The Saving Word” – James 1:12-25

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Clarus 12

Editor’s Note: Tim Ragsdale is Pastor for Local Missions at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, NM. This post is a summary of D.A. Carson’s message from Saturday morning, March 10, “The Saving Word,” from James 1:12-25.


Dr. D.A. Carson, in his message “The Saving Word,” drew from James 1:12-25 to teach about how Christians are to respond to trials and suffering. We were introduced to a pair of contrasting English “chaps.” The first was a gifted preacher and communicator who, over the years had committed adultery and lost his pastorate on multiple occasions. If pressed on “how could you do this?” he would simply quote 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it,” and claim “I could not endure it, therefore God is a liar!” The second chap was a faithful man who had tragically lost each of his children and finally his wife to Alzheimer’s disease. When testifying to God’s grace, this man never demonstrated any bitterness.

We will all face trials, temptations, persecutions, and other suffering. How do we face it faithfully?

1. Remember the Christian’s goals.

If our goal is a life free of pain, any and all suffering will result in bitterness. If our goal is maturity in Christ, we will endure suffering gracefully, knowing that such testing refines us leading to “the crown of life” (v. 12; cf. Revelation 2:10).

2. When you confess God’s sovereignty, don’t misunderstand His motives. 

God does not tempt us, but He does test us. Temptation is an impulse to sin –something God is not susceptible to in the least. Equally absurd is for us to infer that God would have any motive to lead us into sin. Sin is a product of our own hearts (v. 14). God’s sovereignty is not threatened (theologically) by human responsibility.

3. When you feel abandoned and crushed, remember that God is good.

In verse 18 we see God, “brought us forth” (ESV), or elsewhere translated, “begat … us” (KJV), “gave us birth” (NIV). This is not merely physical birth, but the new birth brought about by “the Word of Truth,” that is, the Gospel (cf. Ephesians 1:13). The gospel is the ultimate example of God’s goodness. Don’t doubt God’s goodness!

4. When you hear gospel instruction, do not merely listen to it. 

Don’t just listen and fool yourself. Don’t listen to Gospel proclamation as though it is simply for the unbeliever. The word of the Cross is the power of God to those of us being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). Salvation extends beyond justification (forensic declaration) to sanctification (life-long process of becoming more like Christ), and ultimately to glorification (Romans 8:29-30). We cannot underestimate the centrality and importance of the Gospel in our sanctification. It is the Holy Spirit that transforms us (crushing pride and fostering humility) and empowers us unto obedience.