While it’s been freely given to us, we still need to receive it. Though we’ve got it, we still need to do something with it. While it’s true that it came with our being born again, it’s also true that, in order to be saved, we must activate it.
What is it? It is the implanted word.
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
(James 1:21 ESV)
I pull out my purple colored pencil and underline the verse. It’s a command to obey. Put away and receive.
But I’m struck by the fact that I am exhorted to receive something which has already been implanted. To take hold of something that is, literally, inborn. And I wonder afresh at the divine dynamic associated with the Word of God.
When I believed, the law of God was put within me; it was written on my heart (Jer. 31:33). When, by faith, I was adopted as a child of God, the Spirit of God entered, and along with Him, access to the thoughts of God (1Cor. 2:11-12). Access to the mind of God enabled by the Spirit of God, and that, through the implanted word of God.
When we taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8), it should create a hunger for more (Matt. 5:6). Having first sipped from the wells of living water, a thirst should emerge which drives us to want to drink deeply of the water Jesus said He would provide. Water that would forever quench whatever thirst we might know. Water which would overflow to the point that it would become within us “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:13-14). The implanting of the word seeding the divine dynamic of pursuing the word.
And it is this rooted word that is able to save our souls. Having already been saved by faith from the penalty of sin, we are continually being saved, by appropriating and obeying the implanted word, from the power of sin. We receive the implanted word and, through the indwelling Spirit’s active agency of renewing of our minds, it transforms our lives (Rom. 12:2).
As we determine, only through His divine enabling, to become “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22), we increasingly become imitators of Christ, and not just knowledge bearers of God. Having been freely granted a holy standing before God through the finished work of the cross, we should increasingly see a holy reality emerging in the lives we live before God because of the inborn word of the gospel.
But James also points out that there are barriers to the implanted word flourishing. Sin and pride.
Thus, we must put away all that which would defile, and reject all the evil our world is trying to tell us is good. And, we must deal with the self thoughts that would deceive us into thinking that our ways are higher than His ways. To recognize and confess the arrogance within us that causes us to say, in effect, that while He may have gifted us with the implanted word, we’ll still have the last word. Instead, with meekness–with humility and a disposition of gentle deference–we are to receive it. To take hold of it. To submit to it. To do it.
Thank God for the implanted word.
Might its roots go ever deeper that its fruit might be increasingly sweeter.
Only by His grace. Always for His glory.