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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

James 1:17, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lghts, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

This morning, we are drawn once again to some ofttimes misquoted verses. The point of this segment should never be (in its purpose or application) to make brethren "offenders for a word," but rather, it should make us exercise even more diligence when studying God's word. He saw fit to include the things contained therein, and He saw fit that they should remain so forever. (Psalm 12:6-7) Therefore, it behooves us to put forth due diligence to "get it right." My own experience is fraught with occasions where I go back and read something  and discover a quotation misquoted by me on repeated occasions. Such times are never pleasant, but they are needful to keep us humble and immersed in the study of God's rich Book so that we would be found in paths that are pleasing unto Him.

While there are many rich and powerful nuggets in this verse, we would like to focus the majority of our attention on the first clause of the verse. Most often, we will hear the verse quoted thusly, "Every good and perfect gift is from above." However, the verse reads this way, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above." The difference in the thought is that the misquotation groups all the gifts together without distinction between them. In that vein, a good gift is the equivalent of a perfect gift. But, the proper thought is that there are good gifts, and there are perfect gifts with a distinction made between the two. This is important for us to consider, for many times, we fail to address responsibility and credit as we should. An accountant with a ledger must get everything in its proper column. It is not enough that the final number matches, but all the entries must be filed in the right place. Therefore, we need to understand the difference between good gifts and perfect gifts to properly understand credit and responsibility.

Beginning with perfect gifts, we understand the Scriptures to teach two thoughts about the word "perfect." The word can mean either without impurity or complete. A perfect gift could have no errors or blights, or it could be a complete gift. Such examples in Scriptures would be the gift of the Son of God, eternal life, resurrection, etc. All the gifts that pertain to the salvation of sinners to heaven's pure world can be looked at as perfect in both senses of the word. There is nothing lacking in that gift as the Godhead fully agreed to complete every task without fail. Even though we do not yet see every aspect manifest (such as the  resurrection), we understand that God sees it as complete and final. (Romans 8:30)

We could also say that the gift of the church is perfect as well. While we must be careful that no one implies that there is a such thing as a "perfect church" (sinless members), we understand that the concept of the Lord's church is perfect. What He gave us is perfect and without error. The instructions to use (Bible) and the manner (order and practice of worship) are perfect in their design. He did not give the church some practice or function and then have to say, "I will take that back as it really had problems." No, beloved, everything He has set forth for the church in belief and practice is without problem. It is complete as well. For those that think the church stands in need of something in doctrine, order, or practice today that she did not need before, they unwittingly charge the Lord with  short-changing His bride all these years. To those that feel something today to be unnecessary, they unwittingly charge Him of over-burdening His bride all this time. But, the things He has given are all that are necessary to make us perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

If these things are perfect gifts, what is the difference between that and a good gift? A good gift is something that is either 1. not complete in its function and use, or 2. has imperfections in its application. A good example of a good gift is a minister of the gospel. He has a gift that comes from God to be able to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. (II Corinthians 4:7) This gift that the Lord gives to him is not a complete gift (he does not have complete knowledge and understanding), nor is its use without blemishes or mistakes (as  the preacher still errs from time to time). Whenever the minister is blessed to feed the hungry souls of God's sheep, that is a blessing from the giver of all gifts (including the good gift that the minister has).

Another example of a good gift (that goes along with the one above) is the gift of Spirit-felt and Spirit-filled  presence when worshipping in God's  house. This gift gets "used up" so to speak, and requires that we assemble again. While we understand that we must eventually go back into the trenches of life in the world, we need the little oasis stops from time to time to feel the Lord's arms around us. These  times are a blessing and good gift from God. They testify to us of the perfect gifts of God to us, but we need the good gifts continually. The Lord's mercies are new every morning that can fill these needs that our sin-sick souls have.

So, why the big distinction? Why bother to split the two out as James did by Divine Inspiration? The reason, in my opinion, is that for us to appreciate the blessing we need to understand the source of the goodness and the source of the shortcoming. In the sense of perfect gifts, we need not have to wonder where the credit goes. Since we had nothing to do with meriting our eternal life, all glory goes to Him. He is the giver of that gift, and we should not stoop to claim any of His rightful glory for ourselves. In the giving of His church, He was not required to give us anything in the way of knowledge about that first perfect gift. Since He has seen fit to give us a perfect gift to study (Bible) and perfect gift to meet with Him (His church in spirit and in truth), we again must bow in submission thanking Him again for His rich mercy unto us.

So, what happens when looking at the good gifts?  James goes on to say that all of these gifts (not some of them) come from God (Father of lights). There is no variableness or shadow of turning with Him.  Therefore, when we see a good gift come short (like a minister of the gospel stumbling), we cannot fault God for the minister's error. The minister is at fault for coming short, but God is responsible for the gift that he has to exercise. When a church service is spent, He receives all the credit for the blessing, but we must never charge Him with a "dry service."  Since He does not change, we must attribute the dryness to our own shortcomings in not preparing our ground for the service as we should. Thanks be unto Him that He does not change, and therefore we are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6) Therefore, these perfect gifts are perfect always. We can take that promise with us always. Finally, He has seen fit to bless us with good gifts when we follow after righteousness, and we can bestow honour and glory unto Him when we feel those gifts and lay our charges at self when we come up short of the glory of God.

In Hope,

Bro Philip