Sunday Service at 9 and 11 am

Deleted Scenes: Firstfruits and You (James 1:13-18)

A Note From Craig...
I frequently hear from people how they’re struck by the depth and riches in the Scriptures. Guys at our early morning men’s group are amazed that we can spend a full hour talking about a few verses. Someone said on Sunday they were impressed that we took four weeks to go through Daniel. (Quick fact check on that one: we took six weeks to go through half of Daniel, and I felt it was a bit rushed.) It took us about two years to go through Acts. The point is, we never exhaust the riches of the Word of God. That’s partly why I do this “Deleted Scenes” blog every week. It gives me an opportunity to explore something from the text I wasn’t able to give more attention to the previous Sunday.

There’s a phrase from James 1:18 that I paid zero attention to on Sunday. In that verse, James says that God gave us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

The big question for us city people is what are firstfruits? In the Old Testament, that word described the first part of the harvest. If you had barley fields, the firstfruits were the first stalks to ripen. (Does barley have stalks? Do they ripen? Probably? As a native Manitoban, I’m ashamed of my barley ignorance. My barlignorance.) You would then take these firstfruits and offer them to God as a sacrifice. The idea was to provide a physical reminder that what you have ultimately comes from God. The offering of firstfruits is also an anticipation of the abundance that is to come. It is trusting that what God has done in part by giving you this initial harvest, He is going to bring about on a larger scale in the future.

The firstfruits language in the Old Testament is literal when it comes to crops and harvests. However, the New Testament takes this language and applies it metaphorically to followers of Jesus. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul says that “God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” Revelation 14:4 speaks of the people of the Lamb (Jesus) as “purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.” And again here in James 1, we are “a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

Remembering the Old Testament meaning, what does this mean metaphorically? It means that those who have become a new creation through the Gospel are the initial sign of what God wants to do for all of creation. We see in our lives just a glimpse of God’s renewing power- His ability to take what was dead and make it alive, to take hard hearts and make them soft, to take deaf ears and make them hear. Now, all of creation belongs to God (like the harvest in the OT), and so the firstfruits language means that our renewal is the sign of what He is going to do across the board. He is going to make all things new, creating a new heavens and a new earth where there is no more curse, no more mourning, no more pain (Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-5).

You see, Christian faith is so much more than individual souls getting a ticket to some ethereal afterlife. It is participation in the Christ-centred redemption story that God is writing, not just for us, but for all of creation. Add that to the list of things God says about your identity in Christ. You are firstfruits.

- Craig

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