What God Has Done and What God Will Do

What God Has Done and What God Will Do

James 5:8 – You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 

Life on planet earth is so brutal that no one makes it out alive.

One of the first things most people wish as soon as God saves them is that Jesus would return – soon! Some folks get so frustrated waiting for Jesus that they get caught up in end times Bible study and trying to figure out how long they’ve got to hang on to the knot they’ve tied at the end of their rope. God is not slow, but He is patient and asks us to also be patient. He’s still got people to save and work to do before the end comes, and until then, how we live determines the harvest of rewards we have in the Kingdom.

In our Bible study, it’s often helpful to think in familial terms. The Apostle James is a concerned, loving, fatherly pastor. If we fail to see the book of James in this light, the kind of life James calls us to will seem like burdensome obligation. Theologically, these distinctions help us understand the different between the “indicative” and “imperative.”

The New Testament writers often use indicative statements to reveal a fact. Things like what God has done for his people, such as save them from their sins, in Jesus, or the things He will do for them, in the future, like give them eternal life. The New Testament also uses imperative statements as a way of commanding an appropriate response. Indicatives of Scripture (what God has done) make it possible for hearers to obey imperatives of Scripture (what they should do). When we misunderstand these distinctions, the believer’s obligation to obey can become a cold, dutiful checklist of do’s and don’ts.

James’ words are saturated with the indicatives of what God has done and what God is going to do in the future. He will return, and patience comes from living a life that looks foward to this reality. James gives three examples of patient endurance—the farmer (v. 7), the prophets (v. 10), and Job (v. 11).

The humble servants of God will remain patient when worldly people indulge themselves or cause trouble, because our Lord is coming. We have seen His compassion and mercy. We know His faithfulness, and He will bless us if we remain steadfast. But this is not a return to self-reliance, as if God is calling us to faithfulness in our own strength. Jesus, the unbreakable “anchor of the soul,” has been cast into our boat to hold us steady (see Heb. 6:19). When we feel doubt or fear pulling us away from God, remember that He who holds us will not let us go.

What suffering is hardest for you to patiently endure?

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Mark Driscoll
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