Of His Own Will Begat He Us
“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:18
We are born again because God desires us to be saved and to know Him in the power of the Holy Ghost. For this purpose, He has made the Word of truth available to man. He desires that men should know Him and in knowing Him be transformed by His power.
There is no exclusion of certain groups or individuals from those who can be saved. The Word says that whosoever will, may taste of the water of life. Whoever wants to be saved and live forever in the presence of the Lord certainly can. They simply must submit to the plan as it is written in the Book. It’s not hard, not exclusive, not prohibitive, and it is open to all.
God in His goodness has made available to mankind the plan of salvation. It is open to all, and all can read it in His Word. All that is required is that we believe what is written in the Book and that we respond to it. And yet some are still not willing to submit to the Word of God’s truth. If we will be born again, it is because we are begotten according to the Word. There is no other way to be born again – it must be according to His Word. Jesus said the new birth consists of water and Spirit, didn’t He? Why must men attempt to bargain with God when He offers a free gift?
Our Attitude toward God’s Word
James goes on to mention four attitudes toward God’s Word that we should cultivate. We should be careful to respect it. We should be eager to receive it. We should be anxious to respond to it. We should be diligent to remember it.
A) Careful to Respect It
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20
We are careful to respect the Word by being:
- Swift to hear it.
- Hesitant to speak our own theories and ideas.
- Slow to become angry.
In every question, every doctrine, every philosophy, we should be careful to respect God’s Word. Hear what the Word says about the subject first. Don’t spew your own ideas and theories. This causes people to become entrenched in their own positions before hearing the facts. Don’t get fuming mad when someone disagrees with you.
God’s Word should not be fought over. There would be much less contention in issues of faith if folks showed more respect for God’s Word. God is the final authority. He has spoken on almost every doctrinal issue facing us. If you don’t know what God has said on a given issue, why not be swift to find out before telling everyone else what you think?
B) Eager to Receive It
“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21
We must also be eager to receive the Word of God. Verse 21 gives us a two-fold process of receiving the Word. We must first “lay apart” some things before we can receive the Word.
The laying apart or putting down those things in our lives that are not conducive to receiving God’s Word is a difficult concept for many to receive. And yet it is impossible to eagerly receive God’s Word while your fists are full of wickedness or foolishness. We must lay down our filthiness and prevailing naughtiness before we can grab a heapin’ handful of the Word.
There must be an emptying out before we can receive the engrafted word. The reason for this is that God’s Word is not a possession that we put in our pocket but a quality that is grafted into our spirit. We do not take the Word into our possession, but we receive it into our personality. We do not seize the Word into our command, but we accept it into our character. It is engrafted into our very essence. And thus, it can save our souls.
C) Anxious to Respond to It
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22
We must be anxious to respond to the call of God’s Word. The call of the Word is a call to do and not to hear only. The call of God’s divine bugle is a call to act and not just passively believe.
Please notice the deception attached to the practice of hearing without doing. Those who get into the habit of hearing without doing are easily deceived into thinking that nothing more is required. They have heard the preaching and agree with what is said. They understand the gospel and consider themselves part of the Church. They can quote the Scripture and give the correct reference. They will even tell you that they believe, yet their belief is of the passive variety.
The perfect gift of God’s Word deserves more than passive acceptance and perhaps mental observance. This good gift requires that we respond in positive affirmation and with active faith. Hearing alone is not enough.
D) Diligent to Remember It
“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:23-25
We should be diligent to remember God’s Word by actively practicing it! The practice of hearing without doing is compared with one who observes himself in a mirror and then forgets what he saw. If you see yourself in the mirror and then go out without combing your hair and brushing your teeth, don’t be surprised by the looks you get!
The Word of God is a mirror. It shows us as we really are. If you take a peek and then go out without doing something about it, you are not too smart. That is what people who hear but don’t respond are really doing. Those who hear without doing soon forget what they have heard. The image of self that is portrayed by the Word is soon forgotten and they believe that they look like Mr. or Ms. Universe. But those who investigate the “perfect law of liberty,” see themselves, and then react by doing, are different. They are diligent to remember by obeying. They will be blessed in their deeds and indeed blessed.
There is much teaching about faith that is completely against the Scriptural teaching. Biblical faith requires a response. Those who hear but don’t do, are deceiving themselves. Perhaps that is why the Epistle of James has been reviled and ridiculed by “reformed” theologians since the dawn of the reformation. The way the Word of God is retained in our memory is by placing it into practice and in our manners.
Do not err concerning God’s goodness. He blesses you because He loves you. He gives you good gifts because He wants you to bless others and to be blessed.
He conceived you with the Word. The most precious gift He could give you was given to you freely. This same wonderful gift, the gift of eternal life through the Word, is available to all.
We must be careful in our attitude toward God’s Word. We should be careful to respect it. We should be eager to receive it. We should be anxious to respond to it. We should be diligent to remember it.