“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (v. 18). As James thinks of the goodness of God, he naturally turns to an illustration his readers would understand. The phrase “brought us forth” translates a Greek word that means “to give birth.” What do we know about this divine birth?
It Starts with God.
The text says God saved us “of his own will.” Whatever else we can say about our “free will,” let’s be clear on one key point. Salvation doesn’t start with us; it starts with God. I’m reminded of the new convert http://www.besthookupwebsites.org/swinging-heaven-review who rose with great joy in a prayer meeting to share his testimony of how Jesus saved him. Afterwards, an older Christian, thinking to admonish him, said, “My brother, what you shared was wonderful, but you didn’t say anything about your part in salvation.” The new convert replied, “My part in salvation was to run from the Lord as fast as I could. God’s part was to pursue me until he found me and saved me by his grace.” James would agree with that answer. Salvation is of the Lord. We sometimes say, “I found the Lord,” which is perfectly true. But if the Lord didn’t find us first, we would never find him on our own.
It Produces New Life.
Why do we need new life? The answer is simple. We need “new” life because the “old” life we were born with is filled with sin and disobedience. As James has just said in verses 14–15, lust leads to sin and sin leads to death.Warren Wiersbe says it this way:
“By granting us a new birth, God declares that he cannot accept the old birth. He rejects your first birth (no matter how noble it might have been in the eyes of men), and he announces that you need a second birth” (Be Mature, p. 53).
That’s why Jesus said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). The new birth is not an option if you wish to go to heaven. Even the best among us need to be born again.It is a gift of God, given by grace and received by faith.
This is why we preach the Word!It is not our words that bring life. I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but my words can never give life. My words are human words. They have all the limitations that go with my flesh. My words use or comfort or anger or embitter. They may instruct or they may challenge. But my words in and of themselves have no power to give life.
Only God can give life
But the Word of God is different. Because it comes from God, it has ultimate authority. Because it is true, it is 100% reliable. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that the Word of God is “alive and active.” It is a sword that lays bare the hidden secrets of the heart. When we preach God’s Word in the power of God’s Spirit, it penetrates every heart, reveals every sin, exposes every excuse, shows us our need, and then leads us to the cross of Christ where we can be forgiven.
It Utterly Transforms Us.
The Jewish readers in the first century were familiar with the concept of “firstfruits.” Each year the early part of the harvest was set aside for the Lord as a testimony that the whole harvest belonged to God. To call us “firstfruits” means that we are a sign to the world that a great harvest is underway. God intends to use us to display his grace to the whole world. We are to be “Exhibit A” of what God can do in through fallible, broken people.You might say our job is to be fallible and broken. We’ve got that part nailed.God’s job is to show his grace through people like us. He’s working at that day and night.