The gospel is "the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (Romans 1:16.) Salvation is available to all that learn, believe and obey God's will.  Before salvation can ever become a reality one must be willing to learn what God says and to do it.  "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority." (John 7:17) Only those that want to know what God says and are willing to do His will can please Him.


      Purpose of God’s word:  "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (James 1:18) The purpose of God's word is to bring about the salvation of our souls.  It was by "God's will" that salvation was made possible. "Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." (1 Peter 1:23) By following God's will Christians are "a kind of firstfruits of His creatures."


Power of God’s word: "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:19-21) Let all know that conversion is brought about by the power of God's word. In dealing with God's word let us be "swift to hear" because it is God's word. Until God's word is properly understood be "slow to speak" concerning it and always be "slow to wrath" in religious matters. Christians must always be “slow to wrath” when admonitions and reproofs are given concerning evil, or when sin is exposed. Any sinful thing must be removed from human hearts so there can be a re­ception of the word of God "which is able to save your souls.”


      Practice of God’s word: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.  If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." (James 1:22-27)


      The key expression is, "But be doers of the word, and not hears only". One is a "foolish man" who hears God's word and fails to practice it. (Matthew 7:24-27) Nothing is accomplished if one only reads God’s word but does nothing about what is read. God’s people must "continue" to hear and do the "perfect law of Liberty". James named three specific areas of practice: (1) Controlling your tongue (James 1:26), (2) Being benevolent to the widows and orphans (James 1:27), and (3) Practicing personal purity (James 1:27).


      It is not enough just to hear the truth. One must also practice what he has learned.  "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Matthew 7:21.) Are you a doer or a hearer only?  Have you heard the gospel (Romans 10:17), believed in Jesus (John 8:24), repented of sins (Acts 17:30), confessed faith in Christ (Romans 10:9-10), been baptized into Christ (Romans 6:1-4) and are you practicing pure religion (James 1:26-27)?  The person who learns and does what God says will be blessed in this life and in that which is to come. The person who fails to be a doer will regret it for all eternity.


By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA