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 (ESV)
Firsts have always been important to God. He commanded Israel to consecrate to him all the first born of man and beast (Exodus 13:2). We also read in the Old Testament about several feasts that God commanded the nation of Israel to observe. One of those feasts was the Feast of Harvest. It was also known as the Feast of Weeks and Day of First Fruits (Exodus 34:22). Later the early church referred to it as Pentecost because it occurred fifty days after Passover. During the feast Israel was to offer the first fruits of their barley harvest as a free will offering to the Lord (Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10).
In writing to the Corinthian and Roman churches, the apostle Paul referred to the early converts as first fruits of his labor (1 Corinthians 16:15; Romans 16:5). Once a person allows the redeeming work of the blood of Jesus to take affect in his life he becomes a first fruit of Christ’s labor.
John witnessed in heaven the four living creatures and twenty-four elders fall down before the Lamb and heard them sing a new song saying, Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:8-10 ESV) The Greek word John used for “ransomed” in verse nine means “to go to market, purchase, or buy.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth (the market place if you will), lived a sinless life and died a sinner’s death. He took upon himself the sins of all those who believe on him, becoming a curse for them (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13). Christ purchased a people with his blood (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Notice that James said, Of his own will he brought us forth. All of us had sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Since sin leads to death (Romans 6:23) we were all dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:5). A dead man does not have a will, therefore had God not willed to bring us forth or purchase our souls we would be left in our dead state. The first step to becoming a first fruit is to acknowledge Jesus’ work on the cross for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 10:43), consent to his Lordship and allow him to take possession of our lives (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Peter 2:9).
As Christians our lives are not our own, we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). We have been redeemed from among men and are first fruits to God (Revelation 14:4). The Greek word for first fruits used in the New Testament means “a beginning of sacrifice.” Paul exhorted the Roman Christians that it was their spiritual worship to present their bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). A sacrificial life is characteristic of those who have been redeemed and have becomes first fruits to God.
Have you been redeemed by the blood of Jesus? Is your life “a beginning of sacrifice?” Are you a “first fruit”?
Scriptures for meditation:
2 Thessalonians 2:13