Orwell Bible Church


James 5

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

In verses 1-12 James encourages Christians who experienced pressure and persecution from unbelieving wealthy landowners. James wrote this for Christians to hear and not so much for their persecutors (OT prophets spoke of God’s judgment on ungodly nations oppressing Israel to encourage Israel that God would judge such). Also, verse 12 begins with “therefore…,” showing that verses 1-6 was written for James’ Christian readers.

In verses 1-6 James helps Christians see their situation from God’s perspective: He will completely ruin ungodly oppressors (vv. 1-3) as he sees all their deeds (vv. 4-6). In verses 7-12 James encourages Christians to persevere in the faith.

Those who have a living faith must look to the Lord in every circumstance of life (vv. 13-18). The “anointing with oil” (v. 14) could refer to medicine; it does not refer to a church sacrament; it was most likely done as a symbolic act, showing that the church really prayed for the sick Christian.

James closes his letter urging Christians to help, strength, and rescue doubting, wandering Christians with weak faith (vv. 19-20).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Faith is not a leap in the dark or just “believing.” True, living faith knows, loves, and submits to God’s truth in the Bible.
  2. A living faith believes that Jesus is coming again (vv. 7-8). Such faith is eager and patient, knowing that when Christ returns he will justly judge evil doers and establish his people.
  3. God “works” when godly Christians truly believe in and depend on him through prayer (vv. 16-18). Don’t let sin affect your relationship with other Christians, live a godly life, and pray!
  4. Christians are responsible for one another’s perseverance in the faith (vv. 19-20). God uses such efforts to help believers continue in the faith and thus avoid eternity in hell. How are you involved in your brothers’ and sisters’ lives?


This message, teaching through Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, was preached by Pastor Dan Greenfield during Orwell Bible Church’s morning service, October 9, 2022.

Here in Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, Solomon proves that living for yourself is not the meaning and purpose of life.

You can follow along with a sermon outline on the back of this week’s bulletin, here.

James 4

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

Here James addresses how a living faith in Jesus Christ responds to worldliness (being controlled by the sin nature instead of the Holy Spirit). Such worldliness is seen in self-centeredness (vv. 1-10), not loving other Christians (vv. 11-12), and ignoring God in daily life (vv. 13-17).

Over time, a believer’s love for Christ can cool (Rev 2:4) and lose sight of God’s holiness (2 Cor 7:1). A Christian can become focused and centered on himself and gratifying sinful desires. This is described in verses 1-5 and the biblical solution is prescribed in verses 6-12.

Christians can also forget how Christ loved them when they criticize and tear down other Christians (v. 11a). This happens by failing to believe and obey God’s law of love (v. 11) and taking God’s place as final judge (v. 12).

Last, Christians can ignore God in their daily lives when they make plans without God (vv. 13-14). This happens when Christians assume that tomorrow will be the same as today (v. 14a), thus forgetting how fragile and short life is (v. 14b). Instead, Christians should submit everything to God’s will (v. 15) rather than ignoring him, which is proud (v. 16) and sinful (v. 17).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. It is easy to think of worldliness in terms of external things. Truly, such can be evidences of worldliness, but the root is in the heart (Matt 12:34; Mark 7:21-23). One can have a worldly heart and yet look “righteous” on the outside.
  2. A critical spirit is easy to get, hard to lose, and is a mark of worldliness (being controlled by the sin nature rather than the Holy Spirit).
  3. There are aspects of God’s will that are known to us because he has told us in Scripture (this is called his declared will) and there are aspects of his will that are unknown to us because events have not yet occurred (this is called his decreed will). Deuteronomy 29:29 describes these two aspects of God’s will. What is your response regarding God’s declared will and his decreed will?

James 3

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

A living faith recognizes the power of the tongue (speech, vv. 1-5a) and the influence of an untamed tongue (vv. 5b-12, in other words, not controlled by the Holy Spirit). James’ test of the genuineness of a professing believer’s faith is addressed in verses 9-12—true believers must use their God-given gift of speech to both praise him and bless others. If only one of those happens, that is not a characteristic of true, living faith.

True believers are distinguished from false believers by their decisions and lifestyle (vv. 13-18). One should not say he’s a Christian if his lifestyle shows he is still controlled by the world, his sin nature, and Satan. Unbelievers are controlled (“hearts,” v. 14) by their own sinful impulses and orientation (“bitter envy and self-seeking,” v. 14), demonstrating they are characterized and controlled by the world, the flesh, and the devil (v. 15). Their sinful view and assessment of how to live (“wisdom”) is seen by the results and effects of their envious and selfish actions and decisions (v. 16).

True believers are controlled by the Holy Spirit (“from above,” v. 17). A Christ-like life is essential evidence that the Holy Spirit indwells and controls a believer (vv. 13, 17-18; cf. Gal 5:22-23).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Christians must be controlled by the Holy Spirit for their tongues to be controlled.
  2. The world considers God’s truth and godly living to be foolish.
  3. Everyone makes decisions based on what they believe; belief controls decisions, and decisions show belief. This is “wisdom.” The “wisdom” of the world, sin-nature, and Satan makes decisions from the perspective of this life. One controlled by God’s wisdom makes decisions from the perspective of God’s truth.
  4. True wisdom—the correct and skillful application of God’s truth to life—is only found in God (Job 28:20, 23), is given by him (1 Kings 3:9, 12; Jam 1:5-8), and is characterized by a reverent faith in Jesus Christ, exclusively loving, obeying, and worshiping him (the “fear of the Lord,” Job 28:28).

James 2

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

A living faith does not treat people differently based on externals (vv. 1-13). God gives salvations’ blessings to every person who believes in and loves him, regardless of their wealth or worldly position. Yet partiality and favoritism dishonors those whom God has chosen to honor, and honors those who dishonor God. Living faith obeys Christ’s law of loving others regardless of wealth, clothing, or status. anything less is sin which will be shown to be such at the judgment.

A living faith is a working faith (vv. 14-26). If one says he trusts Christ but his life is characterized by sin and disobedience he does not have living faith. Demons have a right knowledge and fear of God, yet they have no spiritual life and are damned. James is not saying sinners are saved because of or on the basis of works (which Paul deals with, Eph 2:8-9). James deals with the necessary and true evidence of genuine faith (which Paul also taught, Eph 2:10). A living faith is shown by works.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Salvation is received by faith that loves the Lord and submits to him.
  2. Judging people to be good or bad solely on the basis of externals is sin. God never does this, and those whom he graciously and mercifully saved must not either. Favoritism is just as much sin as adultery and murder are.
  3. Living faith is proven by concrete actions showing you love other Christians (vv. 15-16) and obey God’s every command (vv. 21-23). What does your life say about your faith?

James 1

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

James was Jesus’ half-brother (Gal 1:19) and here wrote to Jewish Christians who lived outside of Palestine (Jam 1:1). His letter focuses far more on how Christians should live than on what they believe. Both are essential. If the readers did have true, genuine, living faith, then that faith must and will be seen in everyday, practical life (2:17, 2). This is what James wrote about!

True believers respond to trials with praise (vv. 2-3), perseverance (v. 4), and prayer (vv. 5-8). They recognize the brevity of life and so do not put stock in externals but in the Lord’s promises (vv. 9-12).

In verses 12-18 James addresses when Christians are tempted to sin. Temptation is an allurement to sin arising from one’s sin nature. True faith endures rather than yields to temptation, not blaming God for being in an unavoidable circumstance.

Genuine, living faith is proven by how one responds to Scripture (vv. 19-27). A living faith eagerly accepts Scripture, exerts effort to learn and be transformed by it, and faithfully obeys it by loving needy Christians and living in holiness in the world (vv. 19, 21-22, 25-27). In contrast, a false faith merely hears and does not obey, being controlled by anger and sin, thus deceiving oneself by thinking they’re okay and don’t need to change.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Trials will come. It is part of living in a sin-cursed world. The issue here isn’t if or even when trials will come but how, Christian, will you respond to them? Will you stop following Christ because you think that will make your life easier? Note where your focus is then: on yourself! Look to Christ, trust in him, live by faith, not sight!
  2. Christian, you still have a sin nature and live in a Satan-controlled, sinful world. You will be tempted to sin! Don’t blame God and thus make yourself out to be a victim. Resist temptation, trusting the Lord for strength to do so (Matt 26:41; 1 Cor 10:13).
  3. Scripture is God’s tool showing you what you’re like now and who you should be like, the Lord Jesus Christ. When God shows you this, don’t get angry, be humble, grateful, devoted, and obedient.

Life in a Sin-Cursed World, Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

This message, teaching through Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, was preached by Pastor Dan Greenfield during Orwell Bible Church’s morning service, October 2, 2022.

Fallen man’s efforts cannot make lasting improvements to a fallen world, nor can fallen man’s wisdom provide a thorough understanding of life. Only when you trust in Christ do work and wisdom find its true significance.

You can follow along with a sermon outline here.

1 John 4:19-5:21

One who professes to love God whom he hasn’t seen but doesn’t love Christians disobeys God’s command, thus proving his profession of salvation to be a lie. Those who are born again become God’s children and God’s children love their Father and one another and obey him (4:20-5:5).

True believers believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man (5:5-12). “Water” refers to Jesus’ baptism, and “blood” refers to his death. “Water” and “blood” are mentioned because Jesus’ ministry began at his baptism and ended with his death. Both symbols testify that Jesus was fully human and God. This is essential truth, because if Jesus had died only as a man his death would not provide atonement for sinners.

When Christians pray to God according to his will as stated in Scripture, they confidently pray that God will answer (vv. 14-15) Christians must pray that believers would persevere in the faith and thus not continue in sin. If a professing Christian leaves Christ and returns to a life character by sin, there is no longer a need to pray for perseverance as he did not.

Unbelievers are under Satan’s control, live lives characterized by sin, and worship and serve idols. Believers are the exact opposite because God gave them new life (“born again,” v. 18), and rightly see and discern truth from error (v. 20).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. John wrote this letter so that believers would know that they had eternal life (v. 13). Believers can—and should—know that they have eternal life. This is called assurance of salvation and considers God-given salvation from the believer’s perspective. Eternal security considers salvation from God’s perspective. The believer’s experience and assurance of his salvation may not be strong because of sin. John’s letter gives clear truth from God whereby believers can know. Do you?
  2. While living in a sin-cursed, Satan dominated, idolatry filled and devoted world, Christians must keep themselves from such and devote themselves entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 18-21).

1 John 3:24-4:19

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

Believers have the Spirit of truth and must distinguish between truth and error. The proof that genuine believers have the Holy Spirit is they (1) obey God’s truth (3:24) and (2) believe God’s truth (4:2, 6).

True believers have been loved by God, love God, and love one another (4:7-19).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Christian, you must discern and distinguish true Christianity from false Christianity. In Scripture Jesus gives the criteria by which you must evaluate (judge) false teachers: full belief in and confession of all Christian truth. A particularly essential aspect of such obedience is love for other Christians. Identifying errant, false Christianity does so to protect the church and honor Christ, and thus requires saying, “That is a false teacher” and having nothing to do with such a one (separation).
  2. Christians can and must be assured that they have eternal life. The evidences or tests of true Christianity that John gives here are: (1) right belief in Christian truth, 4:6, 15; (2) love for other Christians, 4:7-8, 11, 20-21; (3) the Holy Spirit’s internal testimony, 4:13; and (4) obedience to God’s commands in Scripture, 3:24.
  3. In 4:7-19 John touches on key, essential salvation truths. Listed in their proper order they are:
    1. God is pure spirit, invisible, 4:12
    1. God is love, 4:8, 16
    1. God loved sinners, 4:10
    1. God the Father sent God the Son into the world so that the Son became a man (incarnation), 4:9-14
    1. The incarnate Son died as a substitute for sinners, bearing/enduring God’s wrath they deserved (propitiation), 4:10
    1. God gives life to spiritually dead when they hear the gospel so that they turn to, trust in, and live for and like Jesus Christ (are born again), 4:7, 9, 15-16
    1. The Triune God indwells believers, 4:12-13
    1. Believers love one another, 4:7
    1. Believers have assurance of and confidence in God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, 4:17-19

1 John 2:28-3:23

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

True Christians look forward to Jesus’ return and demonstrate such  anticipation by living holy lives (2:28-3:3). Assurance of salvation is expressed three times here: (1) “is born of him” (2:29); (2) “everyone who has this hope” (3:3); and (3) now are we children of God” (3:2). The standard is Jesus Christ who is righteous (2:29) and holy (3:3).

True Christians do not live sinful, lawless lives but righteous, law-abiding lives. A life characterized by lawlessness shows that one is still under Satan’s power and authority (Satan is characterized by sin and lawlessness, v. 8). Unbelievers’ overall lives are governed by themselves and Satan, not God. Believers, however, have been born of God, who is sinless and righteous (v. 9) and thus live out that God-given, Christ-like life by obeying his commands so that their lives are characterized by righteousness.

True Christians love one another with the same self-sacrificing love that Jesus had in dying for sinners (3:10-23). Not loving is the same as murder (v. 15; cf Matt 5:21-22). Assurance of salvation is expressed three times here: (1) “we know that we have passed from death to life” (v. 14); (2) “by this we know that we are of the truth” (v. 19); and (3) “we have confidence toward God” (v. 21). Genuine Christians have an inward conviction (vv. 20-21) that they are born again that is evident by a life characterized by answered prayer, obedience, faith, and love (vv. 22-23).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. One can and must know whether he is a Christian or not. Many times in this passage John spoke with confidence that one is/is not a child of God. These “test” that distinguish between believers and unbelievers enable Christians to know they have ternal life and to identify who does not (false teachers are primarily in view here). 
  2. Jesus is coming again at any moment! Are you looking forward to that? how does the character of your life prove your profession?
  3. When Jesus considered sinner’s great need of salvation, did he “show love” by merely expressing concern and sympathy? No! When we were helpless and powerless he did not close his heart toward us but gave himself, sacrificing himself to save us from sin, Satan, and death. Christian, that is the way you must love your brothers and sisters!

1 John 2:3-27

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

True Christians are described as those who “know him,” having the “truth in him,” having “the love of God perfected in him,” being “in him,” “abiding in him,” and being “in the light” (vv. 3-11). The test John gives here by which one can know if he is a Christian is obedience to Christ’s commands. He also says that Christians are known by who and what they love (vv. 9-11) and do not love (vv. 15-17).

John teaches the readers about false teachers that troubled them (vv. 18-27). During the future seven-year Tribulation Satan will empower a man called the Antichrist who will deceive the world and demand that everyone worship him. Today’s false teachers are also directed and controlled by Satan (“spirit of Antichrist”). These deny Christian truth and are a great danger to Christians.

The Holy Spirit enables Christians to correctly believe, grasp, and apply Christian truth (“anointing,” v. 27) and thus see false teachers for who they really are. Christians thus must persevere in Christian truth.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Christ’s commands that genuine Christians obey are given in the NT. Not just the very words of Christ that he said while on earth, but also all the truth he gave through his ambassadors, the apostles (2 Cor 5:20). Jesus told the apostles that he would give them more truth through the Holy Spirit after he ascended to heaven (John 14:26; 16:13-16).
  2. Christians can identify and spot false teachers by the following tests: such depart from true churches (v. 19); the Holy Spirit enables true Christians to discern them (v. 20); knowledge of the truth enables the ability to perceive denials of Christian truth (vv. 20-23); and continuing to persevere in the Christian faith instead of leaving it (vv. 24-26).
  3. The Holy Spirit enables Christians to believe, grasp, and correctly apply Scriptural truth to their lives. This doctrine is called illumination (John describes it here as “anointing”). The Holy Spirit illumines the believer, giving him light to see God’s truth for what it really is. The Holy Spirit works in believers’ lives through the Word, so the more you learn and obey Christian truth, the better the Spirit will illumine you to see the significance of God’s truth for your life.

1 John 1:1-2:2

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

The apostle John wrote this letter to Christians whose faith was unsettled. False teachers had bee namong them (2:18-26; 4:1-6), promoting heresy about who Jesus Christ was and how Christians should live. Though the false teachers had left, the believers were shaken.

John wrote to equip these Christians to resist false teaching by contrasting true from false Christianity. In this letter John gives a series of tests that would help the readers—and Christians today—know they were in Christ (1:4; 2:1; 5:13).

As these Christians had correct beliefs and lived Christ-like lives they would be assured that they had eternal life. This would help them resist the doubts the false teachers created by wrong doctrine and practice. John does not move in a straight line, from one subject to another. Instead, he moves in a spiral through several cycles, repeating and developing subjects and themes.

John begins by showing that true Christians believe in the incarnation (vv. 1-4), that the eternal Son added a genuine human nature to his eternal divine nature. Then John teaches that genuine Christians demonstrate a holy character (vv. 5-7) and thus have a right response when they sin (1:8-2:2).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. People look to so many things for joy. True joy that is complete and full is found in genuine faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ! The more you learn from the Bible about Christ and how to live, the greater your joy will be (1:4)!
  2. True Christianity is according to truth from God (1:5, 6, 8, 10:2:1), the gospel message of the NT. True Christianity is not what people think it should be but is only what God has said it is. You must always and only believe and live by what God has said in the Bible.
  3. True Christians love holiness and righteousness because they love the Lord (“fellowship,” 1:7). When they sin they are grieved by it and confess their sins to God, repent of them, and rest in his forgiveness provided through Jesus’ death. (“Propitiation,” 2:2, means that God’s holy wrath toward believers’ sin has been turned away by Christ’s sacrifice.)
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