Humble Participants

Dan DeGraff

READ : James 1:19-27

And receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (v. 21)

One of the hardest doctrines to accept in the Reformed tradition is “unconditional election.” The term comes out of the 17th century Synod of Dort but has roots reaching all the way back to Augustine in the fifth century, and beyond that to Scripture itself. Unconditional election contends that God, before creation, chose (elected) certain people for salvation regardless of anything they would do (unconditional). We cannot earn our salvation; it is wholly the gift of our great God.

James challenges his audience to be “doers of the word,” but he doesn’t want them to see their salvation as something they have earned. Thus James prefaced his challenge by reminding them that every gift is from God (v. 17), and that they were brought forth—born again—“of his will,” not theirs (v. 18). But wait, doesn’t that mean it doesn’t matter what they do? James, like Paul in Romans 5–7, says that believers must not use God’s infinite grace as an excuse to sin more, because sin is death and we have been raised to life!

While we may be the firstfruits of God, our unconditional election must not lead us to recklessness or direct us toward sinning more just because God’s grace can satisfy all sin. Let us take confidence in the gift of salvation and push away all temptation to sin. Are you ready and willing to let the Word fully reflect in you?


Jesus, thank you for pardoning all my sin; may your Spirit dwell in me and make me obedient.