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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

James 1:18 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 11 mins 11 secs

Doc. of Regeneration; the Word of Truth; James 1:18


The doctrine of immutability

1)  Definition: The character of God is unchanging, eternally stable, and always faithful. He is neither capable of, nor susceptible to change. Immutability means that God always performs the same way. His character changes, He is absolutely faithful. Matthew 3:6; Hebrews 13:8.

2)  God is always characterized by all of the attributes in the essence box. They work together in conjunction with one another. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all share in each and every one of these attributes.

3)  Because God is immutable He always keeps His promises. That leads to the doctrine of eternal security. If God says He will save you He will keep His word. Romans 8:38, 39.

4)  Because God is immutable His love for us never falters, diminishes or increases. His love for us is always absolute, it can never be any greater; it is the greatest already.

5)  Immutability plus omnipotence equals faithfulness. E.g. 1 John 1:9.

6)  Lamentations 3:22, 23 NASB "The LORD'S lovingkindnesses [chesed] indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. {They} are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." Chesed always implies faithfulness, it relates to His love, and it is always based on His covenant with man. So it is God's faithful covenant love toward man, it will never change.


James 1:18 NASB "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures." So having focused our attention on the character of God and on His goodness, His kindness, on the blessing that He bestows upon us, James then shifts in verse 18 to take us back into eternity past to help us understand all that God is doing for us isn't just by chance. He is following a plan, a blueprint.


One of the first things that we ought to note in passing before we get into this verse is the pronouns that are used here. There are two pronouns here and they are first person plural: we and us. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth … so that we might be … first fruits among His creatures. The we and the us refers to who? The writer includes himself with those he is writing to. They are all referred to over and again as "my beloved brethren." So right there these two pronouns tell us that James is writing to fellow believers. He is not writing to unbelievers. Whenever someone in the Scriptures is writing an epistle and the recipients are believers then you know that the primary subject of the epistle is not what you need to know in order to be saved but what you need to know in order to grow in the spiritual life. This is very important to recognize at this point in this epistle, that we are dealing with believers.


The first phrase in v. 18 in the English is "In the exercise of His will." This reflects only one Greek word, BOULETHEIS [boulhqeij], one of the strongest words in Greek for will, volition, for making a decision. It is the aorist passive participle of BOULOMAI [boulomai]. A participle is a funny creature. It is a sort of verbal noun and depending on a number of grammatical factors it can function more like a noun or adjective or it can function more like a verb or an adverb. If it has a definite article with it in the Greek it functions like an adjective. It if doesn't have the definite article with it then it is anarthrous. When you have a preposition lacking an article that tells you immediately that it is adverbial, so it is going to modify a verb. There is a variety of options that you have for an adverbial participle but the ones that make the most sense here are either a participle of means, which is how the NASB translator has taken it, or possibly even an adverbial participle of cause. Aorist means that it has a past action to it, but because it is a participle its action is always related to the main verb. So that tells us that we have to find the main verb in the sentence. "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth," and there is our main verb. In the Greek it is APOKOUO [a)pokouw], aorist active indicative. Because the main verb is an aorist tense the action of the aorist participle precedes the action of the main verb. That means that BOULOMAI happened before APOKPOUO. BOULOMAI is referring to the volitional decision of God in the eternal divine decrees in eternity past, and that takes place before APOKOUO, which means to give birth. This is the same word we saw a few verses ago when we read, "when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin." Sin gives birth to death; God gives birth to life. That is the point that James is making. The past tense of BOULOMAI throws this into eternity past. It is passive, not because it is passive in sense but because when you have this OMAI ending on a Greek word that means it is passive in form but active in meaning. So this is translated as an active voice: "God decreed." So even though it has a passive form it is translated as active and it is a participle, it is means or cause. If it is means it would be "by means of His eternal decree." If it is causal it would have the sense "because of His eternal decree." There is a little bit of difference between the two but not a lot.


We may be asking therefore, if we are saved because of His decree then what role does volition have? Remember that God is always the ultimate cause and is always the cause of regeneration, and that is the subject here. Regeneration is through faith but who is it that creates the human spirit at the point of regeneration. You don't do it by having faith; that is not what gives birth to the human spirit. By grace you are saved through faith. DIA [dia] plus the genitive is always means or agency. DIA plus the accusative would be case, but PISTIS [pistij] is not in the accusative case there, it is in the genitive case; therefore it is always through faith, never because of faith. So our passage should be translated, "Because of the exercise of His eternal decree"—all of that from this one word in the Greek. This takes us right back to the subject of divine decrees and the subject of regeneration. So the first two words in the Greek are BOULETHEIS APEKUESEN [boulhqeij a)pekuhsen]: "Because of the exercise His eternal decrees He regenerated us." Here we have two very important doctrines. First of all, because of the aorist participle we know that the plan of God comes first. That is the eternal decrees. The blueprint comes first, God doesn't just save you by chance. What God is doing in your spiritual life is not something that is just happening by chance. This is something that God set in motion in eternity past. This blueprint has three stages: justification, sanctification, glorification. This is the overall plan of God.


Sooner or later in your spiritual life you are going to start asking questions about the relationship of your volition to God's volition. Usually this is framed in the terms of divine sovereignty versus freewill.


The doctrine of divine decrees

1)  The divine decrees are the total summation of God's plan for believers designed in eternity past. This plan is the blueprint God has provided for taking a human being to God's intended goal, the image of Jesus Christ.

2)  The person of Jesus Christ is the center of that plan. Everything in the Old Testament looks forward to the cross and the coming of Jesus Christ, the unique person of human history. Everything after the cross looks back to the cross and also looks forward to the second coming and the establishment of the Millennial kingdom. 1 John 3:23; Ephesians 1:4-6.

3)  Entrance into the plan is based on the principle of grace. Grace is synonymous with God's whole plan. The sovereignty of God and the free will of man meet at the cross. In human history God designed His plan so that divine sovereignty and human volition would coexist throughout human history. The sovereignty of God provided the complete salvation package. Our volition looks to the cross and either responds positive or negative.

4)  God's plan was so designed in eternity past to include all events and actions related to their causes and conditions as a part of an indivisible system, every link being a part of the integrity of the whole system.

5)  The decree of God is His eternal, holy, wise, and sovereign purpose, comprehending at once all things that ever were or will be, their causes, conditions, successions and relations, and determining their certain futurition. There is nothing that is not included in the decree of God.

6)  Under His plan God has decreed to do some thing directly and some things indirectly through agencies. Without interfering with human volition in any way God has designed a plan so perfect that it includes every cause and effect, directive, provision, preservation and function for all believers. He has done it in a way that it can never interfere with the function of human volition.

7)  Within the plan of God there are first, second, and third level functions, but they all constitute one great all-comprehensive plan which is perfect, eternal, unchangeable, and without loss of integrity.

8)  The plan of God is consistent with human freedom and does limit or coerce human freedom. God has decreed that divine sovereignty will coexist in human history with human freedom. But we must make distinctions between what God causes (E.g. God caused the cross, salvation, the judgment on Christ at the cross) and what God permits.

9)  This demonstrates that man has free will and that God never condones or causes sin in the human race.

10)  Distinctions should be made between the divine decrees which are related to the plan of God in designing action and divine laws which regulate human conduct and function in the universe.

11)  God's decrees do not arise from His foreknowledge. The foreknowledge of God makes nothing certain, it merely perceives in eternity past the things that are certain. In foreknowledge God actually perceives what will take place in human history.

12)  Therefore we distinguish between foreknowledge and foreordination. Omniscience knows all the actual and all the possible. Foreknowledge merely perceives what will take place in human history. Foreordination decrees that that will actually take place in human history. The fact that God knew that we would have difficulties and trials is not part of the decree, but His provision of the problem-solving devices is part of the decree. He knew that we would have problems and He provided the solutions. He decreed provision that would take care of any and every problem that we would ever face in human history.

13)  We can conclude from this in relation to salvation that the elect are foreknown and the foreknown are elect. God knew from eternity past which way every free will would decide at any given point in human history.

14)  Since God cannot contradict His own essence He plans the best for the believer. God always seeks the highest and best for every single believer. God is perfect; His plan and provision is perfect. His plan and His provision includes that for believers in the church age they come to a knowledge of truth (salvation) and grow by means of the Word of God.


"He brought us forth by the word of truth." I doesn't happen apart from the Word of God. Isaiah 55:11 NASB "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding {in the matter} for which I sent it." God's Word will never return to Him without accomplishing its goal, and its goal was laid out in the divine decrees.