Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
Let us consider —
I. THE AUTHOR:
II. THE NATURE:
III. THE INSTRUMENT: and
IV. THE END OF THE GREAT CHANGE.
I. WE HAVE GAINED THE SUMMIT OF THE MOUNTAIN OF TRUTH WHEN WE REACH GOD. What wonders, majesties, mysteries, lovelinesses centre in that name! He is the blessed and only Potentate on whom eternity and creation and redemption repose. How God as a sovereign works the salvation of a soul from the slavery and death of sin, in conformity with the laws of free agency and responsibility, may be incomprehensible to us; but surely there is nothing unreasonable in affirming that infinite perfection works out everything in the highest scale of moral excellence, and in accordance with the designs of Divine wisdom, justice and love, amid a world full of sinful but accountable creatures
III. IN FREE, RICH, AND SOVEREIGN GRACE, THEREFORE, THE LORD BEGETS US. And the outcome means life — spiritual, heavenly, Divine. It is not a mere polishing of the human spirit, or the giving of a right direction to its faculties only. The grandeur of the change is implied in such phrases as, being born of God; passing of death to life; a new creature; quickened with Christ from the death of sin; the washing of regeneration; and the new heart, out of which proceed thoughts, affections, principles, desires, and hopes — all new. The day of its occurrence is called a day of power; a time of refreshing; a springtime of grace. God draws and renews the soul in mercy and truth, and re-traces on it the lines of His own likeness in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. It must not be forgotten that a moral life, however estimable in the sight of men, is not acceptable with God unless it be the offspring of the new birth, By no means can a dead soul please a living God. The tree must be made good by the omnipotent workmanship of God, or the fruit will be apples of Sodom. The necessity of life from God is proved by such varieties of evidence as bespeak the greatness of the gift; and show at the same time the criminal nature and heinous guilt of unbelief. The perfect law of liberty demands a pure heart that loves God with all its strength and mind and soul. From every throne and crown of glory and harp of gold in heaven there flashes the demonstration that a sinful man must be born again before he can enter the gate of the golden city.
III. "THE WORD OF TRUTH" IS THE INSTRUMENT OF CONVERSION. Truth is God at work on a human spirit, for its rectification and investiture with His own perfection and beatitude. The gospel derives its power from the image of God which it mirrors forth; from the knowledge of sin and wrath which it communicates; from its professed design to set forth the propitiation and grace of the Lord Jesus, to make men partakers of the Holy Ghost, of God's righteousness, and the sunshine of His favour. More glorious than the law, and revealing life and immortality, it moulds men into saints, and constrains them to love and obedience. The gospel is all grace. Invented by God to communicate this blessedness and glory, its excellency is infinite. It civilises, it moralises, it converts. It is the glory of Jehovah that He gave the gospel; of any people, that they possess it; of a soul, that its unsearchable riches are his own; of heaven, that it is the field where its wealth and its wonders shall be displayed; of eternity, that it alone can contain all its magnificence.
IV. THE DESIGN OF GOD IN REGENERATION IS TO MAKE US "A KIND OF FIRSTFRUITS OF HIS CREATURES." The incomparable excellence of the new life is seen in the formation of holy character in the sense of duty, which is power. Believers feel themselves to be the property of the great High Priest who bought them; in everything they are desirous to please Him. Under the imperishable principles of the living Word, they are shaped after the Divine likeness in bliss, purity, and moral greatness. It was a law in Israel that the "first fruits" should be offered to God; and preceded by an oblation for sin, they were accepted by God in worship as a grateful acknowledgment that the riches of the harvest and the beauties of spring and the products of the vegetable and animal kingdom are His. And so it is that ransomed souls in whom the Divine life is, are claimed by God; and, devoted to Him, are, through the expiatory sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, most acceptable in His sight. I have redeemed them, and "they are Mine": I have made a covenant with them, and they are Mine: and they shall be Mine "in the day when I make up My jewels." Furthermore, "the firstfruits," ripened by sun, earth, and air, have the beauty of maturity in their fulness and bloom, and were thus an appropriate offering to Infinite perfection. In the mode in which they were offered we are taught the duty and the privilege of all living souls to dedicate themselves to God in faith, fear and joy. For there is great dignity and excellence about the righteous man. He has better principles than others; a better heart; better affections; better dispositions; and better prospects. He is a son of God; one with Christ; righteous in the Just One; a peculiar treasure to the Majesty of Heaven; a king divinely born; and oh! wonderful, partaker of the Divine nature by grace, and destined to be filled with the fulness of God! The sons begotten of God are the firstfruits of His creatures. That is, the regenerated of the human family are the promise and the seal of the great and glorious change that awaits creation.
(W. Magill, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.