Posts Tagged ‘James 1:18’

Christ has become firstfruits

April 19, 2017

The Verse of the Day for April 19, 2017 is found in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 in the New Living Translation:

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

The expression “He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” is translated “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” in the King James Version. The reference to “firstfruits” brings to mind the Feast of the First Fruits, one of the feasts associated with Passover, one of the three feasts established by God for the Children of Israel to observe when they left Egypt for the Promised Land. It was instituted on Day 14 of Nisan (the first month); the Feast of the Unleaven Bread was to begin the next day, Nisan15, and the Feast of the First Fruits to begin three days following Passover on Nisan 17. They are referred to as one feast.

Jesus Christ appears as a type, a foreshadowing of events to come, throughout the Old Testament, as in the case of the Passover Lamb and other aspects of the Seder, the Passover meal, Jesus was recognized as “The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” Those previous indications are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whom Paul describes as “our Passover.” Indeed, Jesus died at the very time that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the Temple.

First Fruits was a feast of a thanksgiving offering of the first portion of the harvest to God for His goodness in providing food from the land for the Israelites, acknowledging that all good things come from God and that everything belongs to God. Giving the first fruits was also a way of expressing trust in God’s provision; just as He provided the first fruits, so He would provide the rest of the crops that were needed. A first fruits ceremony is described in detail in Deuteronomy 26:1-11.

In 1 Corinthians 15:23, Paul refers to Christ as the First Fruits. The real point of the feast was looking to the resurrection of the Messiah. Jesus, the Messiah was our provision for spiritual welfare. Jesus was raised on the first day of the Feast of the First Fruits. Jesus said he was the Bread of Life. This was the last feast the Lord took part in while on earth.

The Feast of the First Fruits began the harvest. The offering to the Lord was the first of the grain that was harvested, and afterwards the harvest would continue. This is the symbolism of the First Fruit. Christ was the first as 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 states. Those who have and will believe in Jesus Christ for salvation since that time are the harvest.

The reference to “firstfruits” was also the inspiration for this poetic work:

Firstfruits

Of His own will He brought us forth by the word
of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits
of his creatures.
James 1:18

Transform and then so fashion our visage
To be like Christ, the brightness of your glory.
Fashion us in your fire that we might be
Reformed and cast in His express image:
As boldface type printed upon the page,
As a new coin minted in your treasure,
Stamped with the essence of your character
To convey the power of your message.
So saturate our spirit, heart, soul and mind;
Flaws and failures the Lord heals and restores
To permeate our presence that we might find
Our true calling as Christ’s ambassadors.
More than vessel, vehicle, or instrument,
Like Christ, we are firstfruits of God’s intent.

Steve McConnell offers “Firstfruits” a musical rendition of this celebration:

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Christ’s birth: a kind of first fruits

December 12, 2016

 

galatians-4-4-7

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for December 12, 2016 offers another passage related to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ taken from Galatians 4:4-5 in the Amplified Bible:

But when [in God’s plan] the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the [regulations of the] Law, so that He might redeem and liberate those who were under the Law, that we [who believe] might be adopted as sons [as God’s children with all rights as fully grown members of a family]. But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Apropos of the Christmas season, the passage also brings to mind the birth of Jesus Christ through whom we have the adoption as sons.  Adoption is a legal process whereby adopted sons had the same rights and privileges as sons who were naturally born into a family. Indeed, as legally adopted sons, believers have the right to our father’s inheritance and all that citizenship in His heavenly kingdom entails.

A similar expression is used in Romans 8:23-24 (NASB):

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

The reference to Jesus Christ as a glorious illustration of first fruits was the inspiration behind this poem with that title:

First fruits

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.

James 1:18 (NASB)

 

Ever transform, as You so fashion our visage

To be like Christ, the brightness of your glory.

In Your refiner’s fire melt us that we might be

Molded, our being cast in His express image:

As brand new boldface type printed upon the page,

As a double eagle minted in your treasure,

Stamped with the very essence of your character

To convey the awesome power of your message.

So saturate our lives: spirit, heart, soul, and mind,

Every fiber of my being, down to our pores;

Permeate us with Your presence that we might find

Our true calling as Christ’s faithful ambassadors.

More than mere vessel, vehicle, or instrument,

Like Christ, we are formed as first fruits of God’s intent.

Although as believers we recognize and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we also remember His birth is only the first part of his five-fold purpose: he was born; he lived and he died; he was raised from the dead; he ascended to his Father; and he shall return.

We, first of all, realize that Jesus Christ was born to die, for we cannot deny that he was also crucified, that he died, and that he was buried, but we also proclaim that “He is risen, indeed.”  In addition, just as Christ ascended to the Father, we also proclaim: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command. …And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive…will be caught up together with them…and so we will always be with the Lord.” All of this comes to mind with the birth of Jesus Christ.

One of the popular songs of the Christmas season is the 20th Century spiritual “Amen” with lyrics that tell not only of the birth of Jesus Christ but give an overview of his entire life in a most memorable way. Here is Larnell Harris offering his moving rendition:

First fruits are first

April 19, 2016

 

1 Corinthians-15-Verse-20

The Verse of the Day for April 19, 2016 makes reference to “firstfruits” as found in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (Amplified Bible):

But the fact is that Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death]. For since [it was] through a man that death [came into the world, it is] also through a Man that the resurrection of the dead [has come]. For just as [because of their union of nature] in Adam all people die, so also [by virtue of their union of nature] shall all in Christ be made alive.

Actually, “Firstfruits” was one of the three feasts established by God for the Children of Israel to observe when they left Egypt for the Promised Land. Passover was instituted on Day 14 of Nisan (the first month), the Feast of the Unleaven Bread was to begin the next day, Nisan15, and the Feast of the First Fruits to begin three days following Passover on Nisan 17. They are referred to as one feast.

Jesus Christ appears as a type, a foreshadowing of events to come, throughout the Old Testament, as in the case of the Passover Lamb. Jesus was recognized as “The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” Those previous indications are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whom Paul describes as “our Passover.” Indeed, Jesus died at the very time that the Passover lamb was being sacrificed in the Temple.

Although generally mistaken for Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts seven days, while Passover is only one 24-hour period. When the Children of Israel departed from Egypt on the evening after Passover, God specifically told them not to allow their bread to rise, but to grab everything and leave in haste. There was to be no leaven or yeast to speed up the process of preparing the bread for baking, but God instructed them that no leavening should touch the bread: Just bake it and depart. God then told them that in the future they were to commemorate this feast by removing all leavening or yeast from their houses for seven days. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ makes a connection with this feast when He says, “I am the Bread of Life.”

“Firstfruits,” in its most literal sense, refers to the first portion of the harvest which belongs to God. In terms of time, this portion of the harvest comes first; it is a token or pledge dedicated or given to God in expectation of a greater harvest to follow. When the Children of Israel prepared to enter into the Promised Land, they were instructed to offer the first portion of their produce to God. The “first born,” whether human or animals, was also considered as God’s special possession and can be considered a type of first fruit. Just as Jesus Christ is described as “the “firstfruit “among those who died, so also are believers “a kind of firstfruits of His creation,” so described in James 1:8, which introduces this poem:

Firstfruits

Of His own will He brought us forth by the word

of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits

of his creatures.

James 1:18

Transform and then so fashion our visage
To be like Christ, the brightness of your glory.
In your fire refine us that we might be
Fashioned and cast in His express image:
As boldface type printed upon the page,
As a new coin minted in your treasure,
Stamped with the essence of your character
To convey the power of your message.
So saturate each spirit, heart, soul and mind,
Every fiber of our being, each pore;
So permeate our presence that we might find
Our true calling as Christ’s ambassador.
More than vessel, vehicle, or instrument,
Like Christ, we are firstfruits of God’s intent.

Steve McConnell offers a musical expression entitled “First Fruits.”

in His expressed image

December 2, 2015

Hebrews-1--1-2

The Verse of the Day for December 2, 2015 comes from Hebrews 1:1-2 but to apprehend more fully the essence of the message, let us take a look at Hebrews 1:1-3

The New Living Testament renders the passage this way:

Hebrews 1:1-3:

1Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.

2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.

3The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

As I considered deeply who Jesus Christ is and what he represents, I thought of the opening phrase of verse three “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God. . .” or as the King James states that Christ is “the express image of his [God’s] person.”

As believers our innermost desire should be that our lives become expressions of the character of Christ, just as Christ is the expression of the very character of God. References to our desire to be formed in the express image of Christ are found in this poem:

Firstfruits

Of His own will He brought us forth by the word
of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits
of his creatures.

James 1:18

Transform and then so fashion our very visage

To be like Christ, the full brightness of your glory.

In your refining fire so melt us so that we

Might be molded and cast in His express image:

As boldface type is stamped, printed upon the page,

As newly minted coins are placed in your treasure,

Precisely stamped with the essence of your character,

So that we convey the power of your message.

So saturate our spirit, heart, and soul and mind,

Every fiber of our being, your hand restores

To so permeate our presence that we might find

Our true calling as Christ’s faithful ambassadors.

More than any vessel, vehicle, or instrument,

Like Christ, the Lord, we are firstfruits of God’s intent.

“In Christ Alone” offered by Avalon is also an expression of where we take our stand as believers: