More thoughts drawn from Sunday before last's sermon on James 1:17-20:
James 1:18a: Of his own will begat he us with the
word of truth….
This statement addresses the work of the Father
of lights in salvation.
Notice what this verse does not say. It does not
say, According to the free will decision of man, begat he us….
The stress here, as always in the NT, is on the
sovereignty of God in salvation: Of God the Father’s own will, begat he us….
This is the same thing John recorded in John 1:13 when he wrote that the redeemed “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of
the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
And it is exactly what Paul declared in Romans
9:16 when he wrote, “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,
but of God that sheweth mercy.”
Notice three more things that are said here about
First, notice the language of begetting: “begat
he us.” God the Father of lights made us, by grace, to become his sons and
co-heirs with Christ. We are begotten of the Father, born from above.
Second, notice the pronoun “us.” Who is
encompassed in this? James the apostle, the first recipients of this letter,
the “brethren” (vv. 2, 9, 16), and all other Christian readers down through the
ages. If you are a believer James is addressing you!
Third, notice the divine means of God bringing
about salvation for us according to his will: “the word of truth.”
This could be a reference to Christ, who is
described by John as the Word (logos) (John 1:1) and who declared
himself in John 14:6 to be the truth.
It could also be a reference to the apostolic
preaching in the apostolic Scriptures which point to Christ. See:
1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we
God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye
heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth,
the word of God (logon theou), which effectually worketh also in
you that believe.
Of course, these two things do not need to be
mutually exclusive. How does the Lord save men in this age? By the preaching of
Christ as he is set out in the Gospels and in the writings of the apostles.