Our Question Box

Dr. Leonard Greenway, pastor of the Riverside Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids. Michigan is in charge of Our Question Box. This department is for everyone. Questions from all ages are welcome. No signatures are required and no names will be published.

From a reader in the Grand Rapids area:

Question: I am having difficulty understanding the meaning of James 4:5, “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy,” and would appreciate your comments on these words.

Answer: I notice you follow the King James reading which I do not believe is the preferable one. Some years ago the great Princeton scholar, Benjamin

B. Warfield made a study of this text, and you will find his comments in his book, The Power of God unto Salvation , pp. 121–148. Warfield prefers the translation, “That Spirit which He made to dwell in us yearneth for us even unto jealous envy.”

The Holy Spirit is represented as yearning for our undivided and unwavering devotion. He, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, loves us as much as God the Father and God the Son love us. We usually do not think of Him that way. Yet, He is one with the Father and the Son. He loves the Church with the same fulness and tenderness that characterize the love of the other Divine Persons. True, in the work of redemption His functions arc more subjective and occupied with human experience. It is not outside us, but within us that He operates. Not forgetting Pentecost, we still may say that His work is not so much a spectacle to be contemplated (as Bethlehem, the Transfiguration, Gethsemane, Calvary, the Open Tomb) as an inward process to be felt. Nevertheless His work is the work of Divine love.

It would be spiritually profitable to us, if we adopted the suggestion Warfield makes in the above-mentioned study, and occasionally say to ourselves as a devotional exercise: Herein is love manifested. that the Spirit of all holiness is willing to visit such polluted hearts as ours, and even to dwell in them, to make them His home, to work ceaselessly and patiently with them, gradually wooing them through many groanings and many trials to slow and tentative efforts toward good; and never leaving them until, through His constant. grace, they have been won entirely to put off the old man and put on the new man and so stand new creatures before the face of their Father God and their Redeemer Christ . Surely herein is love!