James 1b

v 4 – ‘Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be made mature and complete and deficient in nothing (not lacking anything)’.

Three words –

1. Mature

2. Complete

3. Deficient in Nothing

1. Mature

The word for mature means to get to the end of something. How many of you have that feeling in your discipleship, ‘I have actually got to the end of something’? Satan’s great role in life is to divert us from finishing what God has called us to, even in our temporary goals. I hope you fix aims in the Spirit? Do you aim at something? You’ve heard of the preacher of whom they said, ‘he aimed at nothing and hit it’. Satan never wants us to finish anything and the great cause of spiritual discouragement is because we never get finished what God wants to do in us. Yet the mark of Christian growth is that we should be moving from one degree of glory to another.

Some of you need to come to the end of the burden that you are carrying; you need to come to the end of the puzzlement that you are living in. Some need to come to the end of obeying the word of God, because God has a new word for you. The thing that really excites me in my Christian life is that I am always moving from one word of God to another word of God. Now, we don’t get it perfect sometimes, but praise the Lord, I can look back and I can see that we have accomplished something in Jesus. There isn’t a Christian anywhere that God doesn’t want to be an accomplisher, doesn’t want to get to the end of something. The reason that we have these difficulties, is not that it is negative, but so that we can see very positively where we have overcome in the power of Jesus.

You might say, ‘Oh, that’s a bit hard. What about all the destructive things like death and darkness.’ Yes, I have some dear Christian friends who have gone through that. Do you know the power of the witness of Jesus to the world at large when a Christian takes that kind of thing and allows God, in the power of the Spirit, for them to be triumphant in it, to be a witness in it? It’s amazing, it’s what the Coke-a-Cola advert says, ‘It’s what the world needs today – it’s the real thing.’

So often we are just like the world in our reaction to things. Got a headache; get an aspirin, got a bereavement; get buried into darkness, got a hurt in our spirit; get your blanket of self-pity (like Linus in the Peanuts strip cartoon) going around saying, ’Oh dear me, if you only knew …’. God knows and it’s time for men and women of God to stand up! I’m not being unsympathetic, I’m full of sympathy and God is full of empathy, God loves you. It’s not a matter of not being sympathetic, God’s love is so great but there is more than sympathy needed in discipleship. Too much sympathy turns everything into treacle. There needs to come a time when we stand up on our feet and we have the backbone of the Holy Spirit and people can see our deliverance as a clear sign of the goodness of God!

We are teleious, we are mature, we are the end of that thing and now we are at the beginning of a new thing! That is marvellous!

2. Complete

‘mature and complete,’ Do you know what this means? The word mature means to get to the end of something and to know that it is accomplished in Christ. The word ‘complete’ which is a modern idiom, means to be well-rounded. Not like I am physically but like how we are in personality – well-rounded. Not that we are lopped off to one side or off to the other. But when the Holy Spirit works in us through these difficulties that we face and we know the overcoming power of Jesus within them, it develops a wholeness, a completeness, a well-roundedness in our character!

Somebody, one day may nail you to a cross for being a Christian but what you don’t want to develop is a martyr complex before the event. Too many of us go into the world and we have a chip on our shoulder. Folk look at us Christians, especially charismatic Christians, I have to say, and they say, ‘They’re nuts!’ Now that is different from saying, ‘They’re fools.’ The Bible says you are to be a fool for Christ but it doesn’t say you need to be a nut!

The thing that distresses me, coming out of my Biblical background, my theological background, is when I go into what is politely and usually called charismatic religion, is the nuttiness of some of it. God wants us to be well-rounded! I believe that the world ought to be able to trust a saint! I believe the world ought to be able to go to a man of God for healing, for example, because I know his personality. I know that he is not kind of away over there (and I don’t mean nice, middle of the road ‘English’, of course. As a Scotsman I could never accept that as a Biblical text!) I mean in the spirit!

I believe this is what marks out real men of God in leadership for others. It’s not just their anointing or their preaching, because I know some people who are better preaching than some of those in public ministry in a big way, in terms of technique, etc. The thing that makes them powerful is their well-roundedness in the Kingdom! We need to understand this in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

What causes this well-roundedness? There is not a man who preaches about faith who hasn’t lived in faith. If you are preaching about real faith then you will have discovered how faith has overcome the difficulties and you can stand on the well-roundedness of that experience and expound it in the living power of the Spirit into other people’s lives!

It was an amazing experience running a college like Roffey Place Christian Training Centre. All these people coming for interviews and sometimes they think, that if they can take a course with us or learn a little bit in their head, that they will be ready to shoot out the other end as men of God ready to take the world by storm. The men whom God uses to bring revival, are men who have lived in the secret struggle with God and have known the overcoming victory of Jesus within their own lives and through difficulties. It is that process that leads them into the authority of leadership. Not a bit of paper. The great tragedy within the church today is that we feed them bits of paper but there is no well-roundedness in the things of God. And why we go through these things, says James is, ‘so that you may be mature and complete, well-rounded and you might be deficient in nothing (AV) – that we might lack nothing (NIV).’

3. Deficient in nothing

How does that come to be? Once you have trusted God in many situations and you have discovered His resources. And once you have discovered His resources, you know that you possess all things in Christ. And you know that when you possess all things in Christ, you can do all things in Him who strengthens you. To learn that, is that it is just not out of a Bible text, but it is to walk into life with God and put it into practice. ‘Don’t only be hearers of the word but be doers of the same.’

My aim in life is to see people filled out with God, understanding the resources and power of God in their lives and being well-rounded and deficient in nothing!

We are, today, in a state where we need a lot more than the gift of tongues to prove that we are Charismatic Christians. You will get that as a bonus to being baptised in the Holy Spirit. But it’s time that we had wisdom and knowledge and insight and all the other tremendous things that go for depth in the Kingdom. God’s people all around this nation and abroad today are waiting for that signal. They are fed up with trivialities and superficialities and all the other ‘alites’, they want depth and reality in the power of God and they will look to men who speak it and live it and who can demonstrate from their experience – that they have proved it with God in their lives.

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers.’

The world says, ‘Oh, why has it happened to me?’ But when we live with the Lord we don’t have a problem with that question because we understand God’s ways in our life. Sometimes you won’t understand the particular thing at that moment but as we look back and we understand that we have trusted the Lord, I want to tell you with a loving heart that there is not a man or a woman who has trusted the Lord and have found Him to fail. There is not one! There is not a man or a woman who has trusted the Lord and have found Him to fail! Some of you may be saying, ‘Well, I don’t know about that.’ All I can say is that your time scale is wrong. God is looking with a time scale of eternity and you are looking at it over thirty seconds – but God never fails! God never fails!