Amidst all the celebration in our church for what God has done the past twelve years, it is helpful to be reminded of the simple and sound message we proclaim. James recalls this message in one verse: the who, how, what, and why of the message we proclaim. Here it is: “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (1:18).
Who: “In the exercise of His will”
There are always debates about the role of God in regeneration. But this verse makes crystal clear who the agent of regeneration is: God. “In the exercise of His will.” God is the cause of regeneration, not man, not God and man, but God alone.
What: “He brought us forth”
By God’s will He “brought us forth.” Bringing forth refers to birth. Birth is used here, as a metaphor, for spiritual birth, the new birth, or regeneration (cf. John 3:3-8).
And receiving spiritual birth implies that we are spiritually dead. This is our deepest need. Humankind is spiritually dead and needs spiritual life (Ephesians 2:1-5).
How: “by the word of truth”
God regenerates people “by the word of truth.” What is the “word of truth?” It is the gospel. It is the good news about Jesus Christ.
Why: “first fruits among His creatures”
Finally, God regenerates people for a purpose. In this verse, the purpose is stated to be “first fruits among His creatures.” What does this mean? This means that Christians become the proof that God will one day restore all of creation. Thus, if you are a Christian, you are living proof that God has the power to one day make all things new!
God regenerates sinners by the gospel, which makes Christians living proof of His current and future restoration power.
This is the message we proclaim at Grace Community Bible Church. This is the message you proclaim to family, friends, and “all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Let us never cease to proclaim it. This message is simple and sound.