Thursday, September 22, 2005

James 1:21: Receiving the Word (Pt. 2)

James 1:21

"Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls."

To receive God’s Word we must reject sin, and accept the Word. And we must accept the Word in humility. This is in contrast with the prideful attitude of verses 19-20 that produces anger. Scripture is to be received in meekness. In fact, the only proper response to God’s Word is humble submission. But what does all this mean? To humbly receive the Word of God is to submit to the Bible as your authority, and welcome all that it teaches (even when it tell you that you are a vile sinner filthy like ear wax). We must have a self-less receptiveness to God’s word, not only putting away sin but putting away self. This is a similar principle to that of verses 5-8. There the doubting man cannot receive wisdom because he is not really looking for it. Here we cannot be impacted by Scripture if we are not willing to accept all of it. How can we submit to the authority of Scripture if our own opinions, and sense of fairness outweighs the content of the text (see Romans 9 for example). We must come to the Word of God in humility understanding that God’s wisdom recorded for us far surpasses our own understanding. We must come before God’s wisdom (the Bible) in humility, and readiness of mind disposed to learn from it. This is why so few people profit much from Scripture, because there are so few who humble themselves before it. Here is what Calvin said: “hardly 1 in a 100 renounces the stubbornness of his own spirit, and gently submits to God, but almost all are conceited [when coming before Scripture].”

We must humbly accept the Word which has been implanted in us. Those, who through the saving work of Christ, are already a part of the divine family need to continue to use the Word that saved them to shape their lives and keep them from sin. James command here is to let the Word that saved you influence every part of your life. This word will be just as profitable in your daily life as it was at your salvation. We who are Christians must act upon the Word we accepted at conversion; the Word that was implanted in us through the Spirit when we accepted Christ. James is not telling us to plant the seed of the Word (righteousness in our hearts). God has already planted that seed in those who have believed, and he brought them forth as a first fruit. Rather, James is telling us to accept the demands the Word implanted at regeneration require. We must receive the Word which - has been implanted in the hearts of believers - by letting it control and direct our lives.

Receive the Word because your soul depends on it:

James adds one last description of the Word in this verse; it is the Word “which is able to save your souls.” You may think that you have control over your life, and that everything is just fine. But let me tell you something, you are wrong! You must submit to the Lord, and you do that by submitting to his Word. It is His Word that brings salvation. His Word gives us that glorious gospel. Know this, in making the decision of what you are going to submit to (God’s Word vs. Self), you very soul is at stake.

Not only does God’s Word bring about initial salvation, but so too will it lead to our final salvation. Look at Romans 8:28-30:

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."

Our salvation is not a one time event. Salvation began before time with a calling, it was initiated in our life with a justification, and following justification begins the sanctification process which will culminate with our glorification. Our salvation is still being worked out. It is assured but it has not culminated into completion as of yet. God’s Word has the power to penetrate our hearts, save us, and preserve us until the eternal Kingdom.


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