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James #3 - chapter 1, verse 18
The Book of James
Born to Holiness
James 1:18
I want to focus on one verse of Scripture this evening. 
James 1:18
Normally I would attempt to cover a larger passage than this, but this verse actually belongs with the previous verses and we just took a passing glance at it last time as we talked about the test of blame in temptation. 
And verse 19 and following moves on to another subject, so tonight we’ll spend some time with this one verse and see the final argument James presents to those who would blame God for their temptation.  And at the same time, this verse tells us a great deal about salvation. 
Now just by way of review, in verses 13-18 James is telling us, as believers, we are not to blame God for our sinfulness.  It is not God who tempts us to do evil.  God cannot and does not have any part in our sinfulness either directly or indirectly.  He then provides five arguments to support that statement. 
In verse 13, he talks about the nature of evil.  Evil is so far removed from God that God can’t be tempted by evil and He doesn’t tempt others with evil.  You can’t blame God for evil because God and evil are mutually exclusive. 
Then in verse 14 he mentions the nature of man.  Man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  The problem with man is his sinfulness. 
Then he talks about the nature of lust itself in verses 15 and 16.  Lust conceives and the child it produces is sin and when sin gets full-grown, it brings death. 
Then in verse 17, he goes back to discussing the nature of God and says anything good we receive is from God because every good gift and every perfect gift comes from Him and that never varies and there is never any shadow cast on that.  So you can’t blame God because his nature is to give only good things.  Only good comes from God. 
The final argument is found in verse 18 and that is
5.  The Nature of Salvation
The very design and nature of salvation is the exact opposite of evil.  God is out to change us to be like Christ.  The purpose of regeneration is to recreate us to do good and not evil.  So obviously God wouldn’t be involved in tempting us with evil.  That would be counter-productive to what He’s seeking to do with salvation. 
What does 2 Corinthians 5:17 tell us?  If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. 
Now for that to take place, a new birth is essential and that’s what salvation provides.  And in verse 18, James explains the nature of salvation by answering four basic questions. 
First, regarding salvation, he asks,
1. What is It?
Notice the phrase, “Of His own will, He brought us forth”. 
There we find the nature of salvation.  It is God bringing us forth.  He gave us a new birth.  HE produced a brand new being.  And because of salvation, you and I are not the same. 
By the way, the verb used here in verse 18 is the same as what we read in verse 15.  Just as desire, when it is conceived, gives birth to sin, God, in the same way, when He conceives brings forth salvation and life.  
Salvation or more specifically, regeneration, is God giving new life to man and at the same time, changing the disposition of that man to desire holiness.  That is a total transformation, or as we read a moment ago, the old has passed away and everything is made new. 
That means, as Christians, you and I possess the very nature of God.  As 2 Peter 1:4 tells us, we are partakers of His divine nature. 
Now, obviously we are not yet experiencing all that means in its fullness, but that new life principle is planted in us and alive and active.  We are now functioning under a brand new operational system.  We are now enable and driven to keep the law of God. It overcomes the deadness of sin and the deadliness of sin. 
Paul says in Romans chapter 6 that sin no longer has dominion over us.  We now follow a new master willingly and eagerly.
What do dead men need most?  They need life.  That’s exactly what Jesus promised in John 10 when He said, “I am come that they might have life.”
So what is it?  He brought us forth.  He gave us new life.   Second question,
2.  Who Does It?
Notice the phrase, “of His Own will”. 
He, being God the Father, mentioned in verse 17 as the source of every good and every perfect gift, brought us forth “of His Own will.
It couldn’t be any other way.  How is a dead person going to give himself life? It’s impossible.  The source of this brand, new life is God. 
If I am saved, and you are saved, who gets all the credit?  God does.  We praise him.  It was Jesus Who came to seek and save those who were lost.  It was God who chose us long before we responded to Him. 
There is a beautiful explanation of this process found in
John 1:12. 
So what’s involved in slavtion?  I believed and I received. 
But don’t separate verse 12 from verse 13. 
I believed and I received because it was the will of God.  On the human side of things, we believe and receive, and on the God side it was the sovereign, determinative, gracious will of God that brought us to salvation.
Think about it like this:  Using the words of James, we were brought forth, literally born of the will of God. 
Question:  did you decide to conceive yourself and be born into this world as a human baby?  Obviously not.  No child has ever been born into the world humanly speaking because he or she wanted to be born.  The birth of a child is strictly the decision of parents, not of unborn children. 
Spiritual birth happens in the same way.  It is the decision of the sovereign divine parent.  No man comes unto me Jesus said, except the Father draws him. 
As we saw in our study of Ephesians 2 recently, we don’t even have faith to respond to God’s grace unless God gives it to us.  So when we commit our life to Jesus Christ by believing in his death and resurrection and open our hearts to receive him and believe the gospel is all a result of His sovereign will.
Is that not an amazing thought?  Somewhere back in eternity, God predetermined to have an eternally intimate love relationship with you and me just because that’s what He wanted. 
John put it this way:  We love him because he first loved us.”
A child gives love to a human parent as a response to parental love and care and the life they gave that child.  And because God has willed to save us, because God has willed to give us new life and a holy nature, it is absolutely impossible, James says, that He could ever lead us into sin. 
Who does it?  God does it! 
Third question,
3.  How does it happen?
Here we come to the phrase, “with the word of truth or literally, by truth’s word. 
So what is “the word of truth?  Well, that’s the Bible.  He’s talking about Scripture.   God regenerates us and washes us and cleanses us and gives us a new inner person and plants a new spirit in us through the power of His Word. 
Men are born again by the power of the Word.  If you don’t hear the Word, you don’t hear the message of salvation. 
Listen to what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 as Paul comments on how the Thessalonians have  responded to the preaching of God’s word. 
1 Thessalonians 2:13
It is the Word that works with a believing heart.  God initiates salvation, sovereignly moves to redeem, a person responds to the exposure to the word with faith and salvation takes place. 
That’s the process and it’s always the process and it’s the only process that results in genuine salvation.  God’s gift of salvation is brought to the heart of a person through an understanding of the word mixed with faith.
Now I want to go a step further and just add that the “word of Truth” implies a presentation of the gospel. 
That is the specific word of truth that must be heard. 
Romans 10:17 reminds us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  That is the summation of a pssage that begin much earlier. 
Verses 13-15
It’s talking about we have to someone to proclaim the gospel.  How are people going to hear if they don’t have a preacher?  How can we send anybody if there is no one to send?  People have to have a preacher and the preacher has to proclaim the gospel, literally a speech about Christ.
Faith comes by hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  So salvation requires that God do it, but that takes place when a person comes to hear and understand the gospel and it is mixed with faith and that brings about the new birth. 
What is it?  It is total transformation.  Who does it?  God does it by his own sovereign will.  How does it happen?  By hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ that he died on the cross and rose again, that comes through the revealed word of God. 
Now that leaves us with one final
4.  Why is it done?
What is the purpose of making us new? 
Notice what we find at the end of vese 18. 
“that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.”
To put that in simple terms, God is going to make a new kind of creation and those who are saved are the first fruits of that.
Now if you’re like me, I’m saying, “That’s great, but what are first fruits?  Well, if we had time and we won’t take the time, we could study several Old Testament passages like Exodus 23:19, Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy chapters 18 and 26 and we could find out a lot about first fruits. 
But just to boil it down, when the Jews planted a crop, God said, “I want your first fruits.”
Now first fruits meant two things. First, it meant in order of appearance, and second, it meant the best. 
So God was saying, “When you harvest a crop, bring me an offering of the first product of that harvest.  That will demonstrate that you live by faith.  The tendency of a farmer was to take the first of the harvest and set it aside as seed for the next planting.  But by giving it to God, he was saying, “God I depend on you.”
And God says, “Bring the best you’ve got because I deserve your worship and if you’ll honor me, I’ll bless and honor you.”
So first fruits meant to bring the first and the best and give it to God. 
So what does James mean when he says we are a kind of first fruits of God’s creatures.  He is saying we are the first and the best of a whole crop that’s coming later. 
The Bible tells us that the Lord will recreate this earth.  He’s going to burn up the odl and recreate something new and everything will be born again.  People and dirt and hills and valleys and water and grass and plants and animals and everything.  In fact, we are told that He will make a new heaven and a new earth.  There is coming a whole new creation and the folks that He has saved are the first evidence of that fact.  Just like He’s done with us, He’s goin got do with everything!
That’s kind of exciting, isn’t it? You and I are samples of what’s coming.  We’re the first look at the new creation.  You want to know what the future is going to be like?  Look in the mirror because it’s going to be like us.  We are just the first fruits. 
We are promise of the full crop.  What a thought!
As far as the world is concerned, the church means nothing to them.  Those out-of-touch Christians gather in their churches and talk about stuff that means nothing to the them.  They have no idea who and what we are. 
But James is telling us we are the first fruits of an incredible new creation that God is going to bring about when He recreates the whole heaven and the whole earth? 
Romans 8 says this old world is groaning under the load as it awaits the day God will recreate it.  At the same time, we are groaning a little ourselves.  We are anticipating a day when our old bodies will catch up with our souls and we will be remade also!
This new life we have in Christ is just a taste of future glory when the whole universe will be recreated.  What is it?  It is a brand new creation brought about by the will of God!  Who does it?  God does it!  How does it happen?  It happens by the power of the Word of Truth!  Why does He do it?  He does it to give a living examples of where this world is headed when He recreates it.
That’s what it means to be born again and we have much to praise God for. 
Now just to go back to the original reason James is writing, do yo mean to tell me that God wants us to sin?  If you believe that, you’ve got a screw loose!  There is no way God wants you to sin, no way He is pleased with your sin. 
He created you to be a model of a sinless world!  So when you sin, don’t blame him.  Put the blame where it out to be and come to God for forgiveness instead of blaming Him for your sin. 
Let’s bow in prayer. 
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