Smooth Stones by Joe Coffey

Smooth StonesSmooth Stones by Joe Coffey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an excellent primer on getting started in apologetics and dealing with some of the most common questions regarding Christianity. Questions such as ‘is there a God?’, ‘is the Bible authentic and true?’, science and faith, religious pluralism (don’t all religions lead to God?), ‘the question of evil and suffering’, and ‘is Jesus for real?’. Answers and examples were given for dealing with each of these issues in a loving and respectful way. The importance of apologetics in our postmodern world is quite clear and this book offers a way to get one’s feet wet in defending the faith.
“Christianity is the only religion in the world that has a God who will suffer for you and then enter into the midst of your pain and sit beside you. And weep.”
“…if what Jesus said about himself in the Bible is true, then his is the most important message mankind could ever hear.”
Recommended for those who see the need for apologetics but aren’t really sure where to start or how to defend these questions.

*I received this book free from the publisher Cruciform Press in exchange for my review.


James Chapter 2

Thoughts on James chapter 2

-Judging with evil motives
-Law (called royal law) – love neighbor as yourself

Showing favoritism is a sin
Mercy triumphs over judgment
1 transgression – guilty
Faith and works – work together
The works are what perfects faith
Comparison to body without spirit
Faith without works is useless

Key words:

From the Bible Knowledge Commentary:
 – works is the finality of faith
 – verb eteleiothe – carry to the end (was made complete)
 – Abraham “justified by faith evidenced by what he did”

Tests of true religion:
 – bridles his tongue
 – visits orphans and widows
 – keep oneself unstained from world

Main point in verses 1 – 13: Love your neighbor; do not show partiality

Reasons for not showing partiality
-Faith in Jesus
-Judges with evil thoughts (Matthew 7; Luke 6)
-Poor are those God has chosen
-Dishonors poor
-Rich are the oppressors
-Rich blaspheme Christ
-Committing sin, breaking the law

Compares to being double-minded, confusing our worldly values with heavenly
We will give account/be judged for our actions – yet Christ’s righteousness has been placed on us – opening freedom to live for God rather than sin
Judged without mercy if we show no mercy

Main point in verses 14 – 26: Faith without works is not true faith
(Galatians 5:6 – Paul) – Faith through love
(1 John) – Faith evidenced by practicing righteousness and loving our brother
(Matthew 7) – Fruit of person shows whether they are false or true
Faith is proven through our actions.

James Chapter 1

Studying James with a friend (working on chapter 4 this week)

Chapter 1 thoughts – trials are equated to testing of faith – ask for wisdom is in the context of trials
Doubting – double-minded
Comparison of poor and rich
Pursuits of riches – fade, pass away
The path from temptation to sin:
1. Enticed by lust
2. Lust conceives
3. Lust gives birth to sin
4. Sin brings forth death
But God gives good things
Anger doesn’t produce righteousness. Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger
Humility – receive word of truth
Doers not just hearers – application; look intently at law then abide by it
Contrasted; forgetful hearer vs. effectual doer
tongue must be bridled or religion is useless
definition of pure and undefiled religion according to God is:
-visit orphans and widows in their distress
-keep oneself unstained by world
Interesting note: Greek for trial and temptation is the same
Response to trials is to consider it joy – meant to produce endurance, to make them perfect/complete
Cross-references (from NavPress Lifechange series on James): Matt 5:11-12 (Beatitudes-blessed are those who are persecuted; rejoice); Rom 5:3-5 (tribulation brings perseverance/endurance, turns into character), Heb 2:10 (Jesus perfected thru suffering)
Trials cause us to turn to God, rely and trust in Him which increases our faith
V. 4 – lacking in nothing
v. 5 – but if you lack…wisdom – needed for enduring trials
Example of trials – humble circumstances; rich – doesn’t stay, not something to rely on/fades away
If you do persevere – reward is crown of life
Reminder that trials/temptation – God doesn’t tempt evil
God’s gifts are good – even trials; the goal is first fruits, character; be complete. End result is outward example; putting away filthiness/wickedness; receive the word of truth humbly
Practice what you learn/hear – another example: controlling the tongue, helping those in need; remain unstained by world.