The Gift of the Word
Last week we saw the truth spoken by James. God is never responsible for evil. Because of God’s very nature it is impossible for Him to have anything to do with sin…except punish it.
James shift gears and begins to contrast the statements that people were making. Instead of blaming God for evil, James shows us what God is responsible for.
James 1:16-18 (ESV)
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation.
Then there is the other side of human depravity. Not only do we like to blame God for evil thereby eliminating our guilt but the other side is we like to take credit for God’s free gift of salvation. We want credit for that. As one of the old preachers said, the will of God is opposed to the merit of man.
James immediately says, Do not be deceived.
We must get the idea as far away from us as possible that somehow I can do something to cause God to do something. If we are going to get our arms around this short but vital passage this morning we must think biblically.
God moves according to His good pleasure. God does what He does because He wants to do it. There are not external forces that motivate God to move or perform a certain action. What does motivate the Almighty is His glory.
Ephes. 1:11-12 (ESV)
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,  so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
While God must never be blamed for evil He must always be credited with good. Everything God does is good. Nothing done by God has been motivated by external forces and nothing is bad or evil.
1- God is the Author of Good (vs.17)
 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
A- God is the Giver of Everything Good
James tells us don’t think for a second that God is responsible for evil. But what God is responsible is every good and perfect gift. Everything good that we receive has come from God. Ultimately the gift James has in mind is none other than the gift of salvation.
B- God is the Creator of Everything Good
He says these perfect gifts come down from the Father of lights.
What does he mean by the phrase, Father of lights?
In the language of the day, Lights referred to the heavenly bodies such as sun, moon, and stars. This is the imagery James is referring to.
If we were to say the same thing today we might say the Father of creation. Here’s the idea, The God who created every planet and every star is also the same God who delivers perfect gifts to His children. God delights in creating. After creating everything God said It is Good.
We see these massive heavenly bodies in orbit and think that they are stable and unchanging. The truth is they revolve and orbit and are always changing. As the earth rotates on its axis we have day and night. As evening comes the shadows grow taller and taller.
C- God is Reliable
God the creator never changes. That’s why James says, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
God isn’t subject to rising or setting but is always exactly the same. Our God isn’t moody or undependable. He doesn’t oversleep. He doesn’t change ever. He is the Father of lights. With this statement also comes a sense of relationship. Father shows the type of relationship we may have with God..
Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
James makes his point. Evil originates from man. Goodness originates with God.
2- God is the Author of Grace (vs. 18)
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation.
A- God’s Decision in Regeneration
Again James is emphasizing God’s goodness. God was not pressured in any way to give us this gift, Of his own will. It came about from pure motives and not a hidden agenda. Before time came into being God had already decreed that He would lovingly reclaim His own children.
Who is responsible for the new birth, God and God alone. The good and perfect gift comes to us from the Father of creation. Important to notice that this God who created everything and has the right to either exercise His judgment or His mercy, chose mercy. God extends to His children unmerited favor…grace is given to his children because of the sinless perfect Savior Jesus Christ. It is wholly God’s work. The only thing we bring to the table is our sin and dead hearts. For most that is the struggle. Submitting to God as Savior and Lord is very hard for most. We want to pat ourselves on the back and feel like we accomplished something great.
This attitude is seen in this week’s edition of Newsweek. In an article on the subject of spirituality in America we read:
Sociologist Alan Wolfe of Boston College suggests that the current American search is about the empowerment of the self. “Rather than being about a god who commands you, it’s about finding a religion that empowers you.”
We want to be empowered rather than humbled. When God alone is seen as the giver of grace and salvation He is exalted and we are humbled.
B- God’s Instrument in Regeneration
brought us forth by the word of truth
The Word of Truth is a declaration of God’s will. In salvation it is the truth that God will only save through the means He established, namely through the Mediator Jesus Christ.
Jesus clearly states, I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except by Me.
God spoke in the ancient days and brought forth the universe and everything in it. The only instrument appointed by God to bring forth life is His Word.
-God’s Word creates Physical Life
Genesis 1:1-3 (ESV)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
God speaks and dead things have life. God creates with His Word. His word breathes life into everything living. God’s Word brought forth the universe.
Ezekiel 37:1-10 (ESV)
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.  And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.  And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”  Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.  And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.  Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
-God’s Word creates Spiritual Life
As God’s Word was preached life came. His Word creates. It births. What does James mean when he says that God brings us forth by the word of truth?
he brought us forth by the word of truth. God brings forth children by the Gospel. There is a birth that takes place.
John 3:6-8 (ESV)
 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
If you are converted this morning it happened based on the Word of God.
Word of truth is the utterance of God. It has in mind Scripture. It was and is a synonym for Scripture. God delivers us to life by His creative Word, which James calls the Word of Truth.
Just as light overpowers darkness, just as water puts out fires, so God’s Word of Truth overpowers death and creates life.
It gave life to a dead planet. It gives life to dead hearts. It converts from death to life. If you want to be brought to life it will only happen from the effect of God’s Word.
God’s Word is the instrument of regeneration. This humbles the pride of men. We understand that if anyone is to be converted it is an act of God.
As God asked Ezekiel, Son of man, can these bones live?” He may be asking us the same question about those around us without Christ. People of Chillicothe, can these people live? Or even closer to home, can your neighbors be converted?
Could the dead planet bring itself to life?
Did those dead, dry bones have any power within themselves to come to life?
Could Nicodemas rebirth himself?
How does the new birth happen?
Ephes. 2:8-10 (ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are His POEMA- epic poem. Created with the word of truth.
This Word of truth used by God to bring about life is none other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sin entered into the heart of Adam & Eve by the word of the Devil, grace enters into the heart by the word of God. Sin entered because of a lie, Grace enters because of truth.
Jesus said, you are clean through the word I have spoken to you (Jn. 15:3).
The Gospel is the instrument God uses to bring us from death to life.
The Gospel unlocks the prison doors and removes them from their hinges. No earthly power can create spiritual life. Spiritual life can only happen as a result of the life giving Word.
Regeneration happens when God gives birth to a new spiritual life. The Spirit of God is implanted into a person and the governing disposition of his life changes. The Spirit now operates the controls of the person’s life.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 (ESV)
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
What is the Gospel?
It is an unearned gift that is freely given by the Father of creation. This Father of lights as James declares can be trusted. There is no danger of this Father ever changing His mind or taking this free gift back.
–We are sinners and we don’t even understand where to turn for help.
Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)
as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
— As a result we deserve not God’s mercy but death
Romans 6:23 (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
–God has a way
Romans 5:8 (ESV)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
— The Gospel
Christ Died for sinners
He was buried
He rose again
He is seated at the right hand of God the Father
Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Do you believe this?
John 1:12-13 (ESV)
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
That’s the simple gospel message.
Where are you in all this? Have been born again by faith in the work of Christ? Do you believe the word of truth?
Is the Lord at work in your heart?
If He is, praise God for making His Word known to you. Millions sit in darkness, but the Lord has made known to you His will by the word of truth.
Glorify God in your life. As the word of truth is at work in your life, let others see your new birth by the way the Spirit is working. A born again person now aims at the glory of his creator…the Father of Lights.
We should prize the word of truth and bless God for it. God gave us the perfect gift of the Word, which reveals the other perfect gift Jesus Christ.