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Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace (Part 52) - Jam 1:18; Jam 1:21

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For a paperback book in outline form which addresses over 150 difficult verses that Arminians use against Sovereign Grace, check out: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace: Rooting Arminianism Out of Every Verse.

For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace

127. Jam 1:18
A. "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." (Jam 1:18)
B. Does this verse teach that God used the scriptures to regenerate us?
C. Of his own will begat he us...
i. To be begat is to be born again, regenerated, or quickened by God.
a. Begat - past tense of beget
b. Beget v.- 3. Theol. Applied to the relationship of the Father to the Son in the Trinity; also to the spiritual relationship of God to man in regeneration.
c. Regeneration - 2. a. In religious use: The process or fact of being born again in a spiritual sense; the state resulting from this.
d. Quicken v. - 1. a. To give or restore life to; to make alive; to vivify or revive; to animate (as the soul the body). b. fig. in renderings of Biblical passages, or echoes of these, occas. with ref. to spiritual life.
ii. God begat us (regenerated, quickened) of His own will and power.
a. God quickens whom He will (Joh 5:21).
b. God's elect are regenerated by the Holy Ghost according to God's mercy, not their works (Tit 3:5).
c. The elect are born of God, not of their will or another man's will (Joh 1:13).
d. The elect are born again by the Spirit of God when He chooses (Joh 3:5-8).
1. List v. - 1. impers. trans. To be pleasing to. me list (occas. listeth): I please, choose, like, care, or desire. 2. With personal construction. a. Const. inf.: To desire, like, wish to do something. b. Without dependent inf.: To wish, desire, like, choose. 1611 Bible John iii. 8 The winde bloweth where it listeth.
2. The elect are born again when God chooses, not when they choose to be.
e. The elect are quickened when they are spiritually dead in sins (Eph 2:1,5 c/w 1Pe 1:3) by the sovereign voice of Jesus Christ (Joh 5:25).
f. Therefore, the will or works of the elect, such as them hearing and believing the gospel, have nothing to do with their regeneration (Rom 9:16).
D. ...with the word of truth...
i. The word of truth sometimes refers to the gospel or the scriptures (Eph 1:13; 2Ti 2:15).
a. This cannot be what Jam 1:18 is referring to because passing from death unto life (being quickened/regenerated) precedes hearing and believing the gospel (Joh 5:24). (See Joh 5:24 - Section III)
b. He that believes the gospel which proclaims that Jesus is the Christ is already born of God (quickened, begotten again); he doesn't get born of God by believing (1Jo 5:1).
c. The gospel is foolishness to a natural man without a regenerate spirit and cannot be received by him (1Co 1:18; 1Co 2:14).
d. Therefore, the scriptures are not what God uses to regenerate His elect.
ii. Jesus Christ is also the word of truth.
a. Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh (Joh 1:1,14).
b. Jesus Christ is the truth (Joh 14:6).
c. Jesus, who is the Word, quickens His elect with the word of His voice (Joh 5:25).
d. Therefore, Jesus is the word of truth with which God begat us (Joh 5:25 c/w 1Pe 1:3 c/w Jam 1:18).
E. We are also said to be born again by the word of God (1Pe 1:23).
i. Jesus is called the Word of God (Rev 19:13).
ii. Jesus is the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever (1Pe 1:23 c/w Rev 1:17-18; Joh 12:34 c/w Psa 110:4; Heb 7:16,25).
iii. Jesus is the word of God which is quick (living) and powerful and who is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb 4:12-13).
iv. Jesus is the word of God which quickens (makes born again) us with the power of His voice (Joh 5:25 c/w 1Pe 1:23).
v. The universe was created by the same spoken word of God from the voice of the Word of God (Heb 11:3 & 2Pe 3:5 c/w Joh 1:1-3).
vi. The universe was not created by the Bible and neither was the regenerated spirit within each of God's elect.
vii. Jesus is the word which by the gospel is preached to us (1Pe 1:25 c/w 1Jo 1:1-3).

128. Jam 1:21
A. "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." (Jam 1:21)
B. Is this verse teaching that receiving the word of God will save our souls eternally?
i. No, it can't be because James wrote three verses earlier that the brethren to whom he was writing were already begotten by God (Jam 1:18). (See Jam 1:18 - Section III)
ii. Those who are spiritually begotten (regenerated) are already saved eternally (Tit 3:5).
iii. Furthermore, one must already be saved eternally to hear and understand (receive) God's word (Joh 8:47; 1Co 1:18; 1Co 2:14).
iv. Eternal salvation is by grace, not works such as repenting of sin and receiving the gospel (2Ti 1:9). (See Section II,7,A on Eternal Salvation)
v. Therefore the salvation of the souls in Jam 1:21 must be temporal, not eternal salvation. (See Section II,7,B on Temporal Salvation)
C. The engrafted word...
i. Engrafted ppl. - In the senses of the verb. lit. and fig.
ii. Engraft v. - 1. trans. To graft in; to insert (a scion of one tree) as a graft into or upon (another).
a. When a branch is grafted into a tree, there is hole made in the tree that the branch fits into.
b. In this case, the word of God is the branch, and the regenerated heart in the elect is the tree which is prepared to receive it.
c. When a branch is engrafted into a tree, it can then bear fruit.
d. When the word of God is engrafted into the regenerate heart, the person is able to bear fruit.
iii. In regeneration, God gives His elect a new heart capable of keeping His word (Eze 36:26-27).
a. In the new birth, God writes His laws on the hearts of His elect (Heb 8:10).
b. The law written on the hearts of the elect is like the hole made in the tree when it is prepared to have a branch engrafted into it.
c. The law of God written on the heart is like sockets engraved on the heart, and the words of the scriptures fit into those sockets.
D. ...which is able to save your souls.
i. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17).
ii. When a child of God hears the word of God and receives it with meekness, it is engrafted into the socket written in his heart and it resonates within him.
iii. The regenerate heart with the law of God written on it is like the good soil in the parable of the sower, which, when the word of God falls onto it, it brings forth much fruit (Luk 8:15).
iv. Just as a new born baby is made to be nourished by its mother's milk, and it recognizes it when it finds it, so it is with a child of God who desires the sincere milk of the word because his heart was made for it (1Pe 2:1-2).
a. He must first lay aside his sinful ways (1Pe 2:1).
b. Then the milk of the engrafted word will cause a child of God to grow spiritually (1Pe 2:2).
c. Growing spiritually by receiving the word of God will save our souls temporally (Jam 1:21). (See Section II,7,B on Temporal Salvation)
v. When the engrafted word is received and it abides in us, we can overcome the wicked one (1Jo 2:14).
vi. The devil can be resisted steadfast in the faith (1Pe 5:9), which comes by hearing and receiving the word of God (Rom 10:17).
vii. By the word of God, temptation and sin can be resisted (Mat 4:3-11) which will save a child of God from death (Jam 1:14-16).
viii. When wisdom and knowledge (the word of God - Pro 2:6) enter into our hearts, it will save us from evil people and the sins they would entice us into (Pro 2:10-16).
ix. It is in this way that resisting sin and receiving with meekness the engrafted word will save our souls in a temporal manner (Jam 1:21).

For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace