“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16-18)
You see what God is up to here? He is not only eager to tell us earlier that He is not the author of temptation, He is eager to tell us what does come from Him – every good gift. Isn’t that kind of our Father?
“Every” because all and each thing we receive comes from Him.
“Good” because He is the author of all that is good, and is the definition of good Himself.
“Gift” because God is not obligated to give us anything, but He does.
Every…good…gift we enjoy, is a grace from His hand to ours, purchased for us by the blood of His Son. Do not be deceived friends, the good you enjoy does not come from you. Darkness, luring away, enticement, sin, and death come from us. Light, strength, hope, peace, and life come from Him. While we may constantly wander and be dark as night God alone is the Father of lights with no variation or change. He is the “King with no Shadow” breaking forth with light into our darkness. Just as God isn’t vague about what comes and doesn’t come from Him, the passage concludes in 1:18 describing the best of His gifts. “Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” To a suffering people, dispersed throughout the known world due to gospel persecution, God speaks a supremely loving Word – He has redeemed them.
3 things to note in James 1:18.
First, God redeems us by “His own will.” God remind these sufferers that He redeemed them sovereignly, that is, not by their will but by “His own will.” I remind you that if you call yourself a Christian today, and have in truth placed your faith in Jesus banking on Him for your salvation, God has redeemed you sovereignly as well, not by your will but by “His own will.” It is comforting to know this. It is comforting to read in the Bible the reason why we are what we are today. We are not Christians today because of the suggestion or persuasion of any preacher or evangelist. We are Christians today because before the world began God elected and destined a specific people for Himself. How encouraging would it have been to those suffering gospel persecution in James audience and how encouraging is it for us today to learn that though we may have only known Jesus as our Savior & Treasure for a few years, He has always known us, and for His glory He adopted us into the family. Before the world was He elected us and gave us grace in Christ 2 Tim. 1:9 says. You don’t need to understand this, but you must believe it.
Second, God redeems us by “the Word of truth.” God didn’t just elect us before the world was and had us pop out as infants in the Kingdom. Yes He is sovereign, yes He elected us, yes He predestined us to be in His Kingdom, but He accomplished this sovereign plan through something – the Word of truth. No one is born into this world as a Christian, but by re-birth. The text gives a picture of childbirth. God brought us forth by the Word of truth. This means that upon hearing and believing the gospel we were re-born. Just as Lazarus was raised by the power of Jesus calling out to his dead body, so too we are raised from our death and born anew when Jesus sovereignly calls to us.
Third, God redeems us to be “firstfruits.” Firstfruits are an Old Testament expression referring to the first and best crops that God commanded to be brought as an offering. Giving God the initial crop was a sign of thankfulness for God’s provision, and a sign of faith that just as He provided these crops, He’ll provide more. In the same way Christians are the first evidence to the world of God’s new creation that is to come. As He is redeeming and saving us, we rejoice to see Him redeeming and saving more and more and more into the family. We are only the firstfruits of the Kingdom.