James 1:18 – Born of God

In this verse James deals with the new birth. The Bible makes it clear that we were set apart and chosen by the Lord, born again, and adopted into the family of God of His own choosing. He sought after us, not us after Him. It was only by the exercise of His own will that we were brought forth, born of Him, and are living for Him today.

James 1:18 – “Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with Him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:1-8).

Of His Own Will

Romans 3:11 – “There is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God.”

John 6:44 – “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”

Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.”

John 15:16 – “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and ordained you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.”

Ephesians 1:4-6 – “According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”

Romans 9:15-16 – “For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

John 1:12-13 – “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Is that great or what? He chose us before the foundation of the world, before the world ever existed or was created to be His own, the first-fruits of His creation. God, in His infinite wisdom, foreknowledge, election and predestination, looked through the corridors of time, saw us, chose us to be His own and adopted us into His family. Glory be to God!

God sought after and chose us and not the other way around. He pursued us until He had apprehended us. Much like Paul described Jesus’ apprehension of himself saying, “I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).

Someone may say, “But that’s not fair, God didn’t choose me.” Well, if you accept Jesus, you’ll discover that you were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. But you say, “I don’t want to accept Jesus into my life.” Well, I guess you weren’t chosen then!

Someone put it this way, God votes for us, the devil votes against us and we cast the final ballot. I’m not sure that adequately explains it, but it’s something to consider.

The whole thing dealing with election, predestination and man’s free will can be baffling to many or if we are honest, it perplexes most of us with our limited, finite understanding. Many claim they understand it but that is merely pride talking.

None of my children chose to be born prior to their conception. They literally had no choice in the matter. They had nothing whatsoever to do with their birth or to whom they would be born. It is parents who choose to have children and not children who choose to have parents.

Paul spent two chapters in Romans 9 and 11 explaining God’s sovereignty, predestination and election. In Romans 10, right in the middle of explaining it, Paul throws man’s free will into the mix and totally confuses everything. In Romans 11:33 he says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” He is basically saying, “I just thoroughly explained it all to you, but I’m here to tell you I really don’t get it.”

God is God! God’s total sovereignty, predestination and election are true and man’s free will is absolutely true as well. Both are true! When dealing with an infinite God, some things simply boggle our finite minds. Let’s just rejoice in the fact that God chose us.

It was in the exercise of His will that we were born again into His family. When we receive Jesus we discover that He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. We have been chosen by God! God is even now, through the Holy Spirit, calling you to come to Christ. Will you accept Jesus and invite Him into your life? He’s standing at the door of your heart, knocking and anxiously waiting for you to invite Him in.

With the Word of Truth

The Word of God is the means by which one is born again. We must never shy away from using the Word when endeavoring to win souls and lead someone to Christ. To assure a person has a true born again experience God’s Word must be utilized.

It’s when the scripture is used that one is convicted of sin, their need of a Savior and turn to Jesus for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit takes the Word, convicts of sin, and convinces a person of their need of salvation. Jesus said, “When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on Me” (John 16:8-9).

It’s the preaching of the Word that brings the lost to Christ. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher” (Romans 10:13-14)?

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).

Once the Word is proclaimed, whether through one on one soul winning or by the corporate preaching of the gospel, then the hearers must be given the opportunity to respond and surrender to Jesus. On the day of Pentecost while Peter was preaching,

“They were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37-38).

“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).

It’s the proclaimed Word that gives the hearers faith to believe. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

No new birth is legitimate apart from the Word of the Lord!

First-fruits of His Creatures

Every Israelite was to bring to the Lord the firstfruits of the harvest and present it to God in hope of a full and plenteous harvest (Deuteronomy 26:1-11). This was to be done with all they received, grain, corn, fruits, cattle, and even their first-born children, showing their consecration, commitment and trust in the Lord with all they had and would yet receive (Exodus 22:29, 34:19). Consecration, is however, the first in priority.

This is the same as the tithe. Whatever we possess, receive and earn must be given to the Lord revealing we trust Him with all that we have and we are therefore consecrating it to Him. We are to “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10). We consecrate it to Him!

First-fruit and firstborn is also applied to Jesus as being the first to rise from the dead never to die again. Paul wrote concerning Jesus, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: And He is the head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:15 and 18).

Firstborn was a title of preeminence and first in order or sequence. Firstborn here does not refer to Jesus as being the first created being as some cults would have you believe. Context is always imperative. Verse 18 defines firstborn as the first to rise from the dead. He was the first to rise from the dead never to die again. He is the first-fruits afterwards those who belong to Him at His return.

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

Three-Fold Observation of Firstfruits

  1. Consecration. This has to do with self-surrender, dying to self at the altar of the Lord. Surrendering fully to Him of all that we are. This has to do with the surrendering of our total self to Him, our plans, goals, personal ambition, self will, and in His service (Luke 14:25-33; Romans 12:1; Philippians 2:17).
  2. Expectation of the harvest to come. When they gave the first-fruits to the Lord, it was in anticipation of what was to come, an even greater harvest. There’s a great harvest on the horizon. We must expect that when one gives their life to Christ, more are yet to come. This was so with the woman at the well. She came to the Lord, then those from the town she lived in, then Jesus turned to His disciples and said,

    “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

    When we lead someone to Christ, we must expect an even great harvest yet to come. Acts 2 was the first-fruits of the church where 3,000 were saved, and it continued to snowball until what we have today. I’m here to tell you, that if 3,000 were saved then, at the beginning of the last days, as we rapidly approach the end of the last days, we should expect an even greater harvest in our day (Joel 2:28-32). Praise the Lord!

  3. Participants in the harvest. First-fruits suggests multiplication. When we surrender to Christ, we are the first-fruits of what is to come. Multiplication is a given. Once we have committed our life to Jesus, we should go on to bring others to Him, train them, and they in turn would to the same (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 2:2). This was the New Testament norm and should be for us as well.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for reaching out to me and choosing me to be Your own. Please come into my life and heart, forgive me of all my sins, and help me to live for You. I choose to surrender all of myself to You and ask You to make me merely the first-fruits of the harvest to come. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

With over 40 years of church planting and ministry experience, Dr. Linton’s passion is to equip, encourage and strengthen pastors and their churches. Watch his latest messages on YouTube.