Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. (James 1:18)
When we are saved we have a new birth into the family of God. No child of God is born fully grown. We shouldn’t expect that, but, we ought to expect Christians to grow. Something is very wrong when you see a Christian who was saved years ago and they are still sucking on a pacifier, self-centered, demanding, and a cry baby! One indispensable need for growth to occur is nourishment from the Word of God. 1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, thirst for the pure milk of the word so that by it you may grow in your salvation.” (ISV). Let’s explore what James has to say on this subject in chapter one.
James calls for ILLUMINATION: Growing in Comprehension (v.18-20). Illumination is the work of the Spirit of God opening our minds to understand the Word of God. He alone enables us to understand spiritual truth–shining the light upon our thinking, lest we remain in spiritual darkness. James in verse 18 focuses on how the Word brings us into salvation. In God’s will He called us. By His Word He birthed us. To be remade in His image He regenerated us. This regeneration is brought to pass by the Spirit and the Scripture. This gives us the capacity to comprehend spiritual truth. When babies are born they instinctively hunger. Knowing what the Bible teaches is not enough, but we must start there. So, we are born again–we have a hunger. Yet, why do many Christians fail to mature? Verses 19-20 can help us. As a young Christian, I was swift to speak and slow to hear–and that is counterproductive to spiritual growth. You can’t teach someone who knows it all!
Beyond illumination, there is IMPLANTATION: Growing in Conviction (v.21). The Word of God is implanted in us at salvation. Then we are to receive it–to chew on it–to digest it, so that biblical convictions are formed. The Scripture renews our mind–causing us to think God’s thoughts after Him. Still after thousands of Sunday School lessons and sermons we may find that our minds are shaped more by Oprah than Obadiah and more by Dr. Phil than Dr. Luke! The problem is that we have not received the Word with a hungry heart. We must stop eating the Devil’s junk food (v.21a). That spoils our appetite. We must come to the Word in a spirit of submission. D.L. Moody said, “Either this Book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this Book.” James compares the Word to a mirror. We may wish to ignore what we might see, but that won’t help us.
From illumination and implantation, we come to INCARNATION: Growing in Conformity (v.22-27). The aim isn’t just to know the truth and believe the truth, but to be shaped by it into the image of Christ. The Word was made flesh in the incarnation, and it happens to us, when God’s truth transforms us (v.23-24). How quickly we walk away from the mirror on Sunday morning and forget what we’ve seen! Growth demands that one “looks” and “continues,” staying in front of the mirror until we are fixed. This changes our conversation (v.26), compassion (v.27a), and consecration (v.27b) and marks a maturing faith. Grow up!
Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.
This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings