Bringing faith to completion through perseverance

The trial and proof of your faith are one and the same.

James 1:2-4, 12 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. … Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

According to the first verse in this epistle, James is writing to the twelve tribes of Israel in the Dispersion. These are the scattered Israelites who were the descendants of those who had been taken captive during the Assyrian and Babylonian campaigns to overthrow Israel roughly six hundred years previous. Some of them had attempted to maintain their Hebraic identity, but most had been assimilated into the cultures of the nations to which they were taken. James is writing to them as a believer in the Messiah; this is a call to return to the faith of their fathers with the fulfillment of the restoration of Israel through faith in Messiah.

In living among the pagan nations, they experienced many trials in attempting to live as Hebrew believers in the one true God. James addresses this as the primary issue they faced, but he does so in a way to encourage them that these trials actually demonstrate the truth of their faith. Though their faith was being tested, it was also being proven. The word for testing also serves to illustrate the proof of that faith. As they remained vigilant and steadfast in their faith, the quality of their faith was being proven to those around them.

This steadfastness of faith is a term derived from the original Greek which means “to remain under.” It is sometimes translated as endurance or perseverance. It illustrates that their faith was being proven as they remained under the pressure of the trial.

This is a similar characteristic that the apostle Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthians.

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.

James takes this endurance a step further by saying that the endurance or perseverance during trials provides a completeness to one’s faith; it’s as if the faith is lacking something until it actually undergoes a trial to see if it is genuine. In doing so, one receives the crown of life, the reward of the victor through conquest. In the culture of the day, the wreath or crown was only awarded to the athlete who endured through the contest of strength and overcame the adversity by persevering above all others. However, in the spiritual contest of the new believers in Messiah, their reward was life itself, not just a wreath to adorn their heads.

We today are in a similar situation as those scattered Israelite descendants of long ago. We have echoes of a spiritual heritage that has become enmeshed with the culture around us. Yet, through the same faith in Messiah, we are tasked with demonstrating a perseverance in that faith which results in a continuation of that same life that has been provided throughout the intervening millennia, “the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Vigilance in remaining pure

After coming to the truth, we need to continue in the truth.

2 Peter 3:13-15 – But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…

This admonition of Peter to “those who have received a like faith as ours,” (2 Peter 1:1) is to remain vigilant in pursuing a spotless and blameless life, and by remaining on guard to not be carried away by rebellious men.

The spotlessness he speaks of hearkens back to the idea of the perfection of the sacrificial animal who was to be entirely clean and whole, or without defect.

Numbers 6:14 – “‘He shall present his offering to Yahweh: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering…”

This motif sets the principle in place that the believers were to view themselves as set apart like the sacrifices of the old covenant, remaining acceptable to God because of their wholeness in purity.

Other examples of this type of purity were encouraged by Paul to Timothy, along with the apostle James.

1 Timothy 6:12-14 – “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Messiah Yeshua, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Yeshua Messiah…”

James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

1 Peter 1:18-19 – “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah.”

So Peter says the believers were to be found spotless, without any spot, stain, or blemish and also to be blameless. This can also be translated as unblameable, in the sense that their lives should be so exemplary that they could not be truly accused of defilement at any time. They were to be diligently pursuing this spotlessness and unblameable-ness so that they might be living in peace or tranquil assurance of their position before God.

Can that be said of believers today? Are we in vigilant pursuit of keeping ourselves from being stained by this world as James admonishes? If we were to be a sacrificial animal in ancient Israel, could we be selected as a substitutionary sacrifice because of our wholeness and purity?

Some might say, “I am in Messiah, therefore I am holy and blameless in him.” That may indeed be the case; however, that reality for believers today is not without responsibility to also continue to diligently walk in paths of undefilement and to remain in that state since we have come to know him and believe in him.

2 Peter 3:17-18 – “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand [i.e., that the patience of the Yahweh is salvation], be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of rebellious men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Yeshua Messiah..”

Too many people today claim to know him and yet don’t walk after him, believing that his cleansing of our sin is all they need and they can continue to live as they choose, or they excuse their licentiousness with false grace. These are those who have been “carried away by the error of rebellious men” as Peter concludes, and no longer walk according to the whole truth, only the part they want to, because it suits their preferences.

To those who have dropped their guard and fallen from steadfastness, who believe they are justified even in their continued waywardness and lack of discipline, I can only present the words of Yeshua:

Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Faithfully representing the compassion of the Father

The children of God should act like their Father.

Matthew 5:48 – Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Yeshua’s admonition to his disciples is to strive to be perfect, that is fully mature and needing nothing else to be complete, just as God is perfect.

The apostles Paul and James also taught and urged believers to be fully mature and complete in their faith.

Colossians 1:28 – We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Messiah.
James 1:2-4 – Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

If we are to be mature and complete, just as our heavenly Father is, then there may be some wisdom in learning his characteristics of this completeness so we can mimic these characteristics and strive to incorporate them in our lives, as well.

Psalm 145 carries many of these characteristics of God that can provide insight into his nature, and by extension, the types of things that we should be seeking to represent with all others.

Yahweh is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love.

Yahweh is good to everyone; his compassion rests on all he has made.

Yahweh is faithful in all his words and gracious in all his actions.

Yahweh helps all who fall; he raises up all who are oppressed.

All eyes look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.

You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Yahweh is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all his acts.

Yahweh is near all who call out to him, all who call out to him with integrity. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry for help and saves them.

Yahweh guards all those who love him,

but he destroys all the wicked.

Psalm 145:8-9, 13-20

Reflecting on these characteristics of God, we can see that they revolve around compassion and mercy, helping those who are looking to him for help. He is always near to those who are sincerely seeking him, and he is a protector of the faithful. These are ideals that we can easily relate to, as they are centered around “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

However, this psalm also mentions how God is steadfastly firm with those who are “wicked, guilty, and criminal.” The destruction of the wicked is spoken of as a future event, implying that, should they remain in their guilty, criminal state, they will be destroyed. This ultimate destruction is alone the right of God to perform (because he is fully perfect and completely just) while we are only striving for this completeness. We are not qualified for the actual destruction of anyone.

Romans 12:18-19 – If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Yet, as we grow in maturity and completeness, we have the duty to defend and stand up for what is right, and to destroy those ideals and concepts which are promoted by those who are wicked. This is also an act of compassion, as representing the truth to all provides a pathway for the rebellious to return to him.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Messiah.

To be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, then, is to extend compassion to all men, and yet to remain firm on godly principles, even while loving those who could be considered enemies. This is the role of the believer in this world: representing the characteristics of our heavenly Father by being compassionate and extending love, and the fullness of his truth, to all.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.