TEXT: 1:16-18 (Read vv. 13-20)
READING: Romans 6:1-23
SUBJ: The gifts of God (especially regeneration) and the immutability of God
AIM: That we might grasp anew the fact and origin of regeneration
INTR: It is easy to quote verse 17 or 18 independently, but it is very rich when we take them together. This is much in the same sense of Philippians 2:12-14 12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
1. How easy it is to think of material gifts and/or those things that pertain to this life.
2. There is special emphasis given to this text in saying, “Do not err…”
3. There is never enough said about the New Birth. Regeneration is the first and essential gift and we would think upon its existence and source, the precedence of it and the nature of it manifested in the believer.
THESIS: God, for reasons known only to Him, has provided the gift of regeneration to undeserving wretches that we might be “firstfruits” unto Him.
I. The gifts and the Giver (v. 17)
1. There are two types of gifts.
1) Good gifts that come by virtue of His benevolence as creator and provider to His Own.
2) Perfect gifts such as righteousness, remission, adoption, regeneration, and eternal life. These are complete and perfect.
2. The source of both is from above; however, the perfect gifts are essential to salvation.
3. He is the Father of lights:
1) Natural light – Sun, moon, stars, etc. (Comment on created light)
2) And especially of Spiritual light: 1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. AND 1 Timothy 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. AND For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6).
4. He is unchanging as to His person, His purpose, His promise and His gifts (Rom. 11:29)
5. There are n shadows due to turning. (Ill. There are no shadows at high noon.)
II. The gift of regeneration (v. 18a)
1. This is the first gift. It is according to His Own will, and it is essential to all the rest.
1) It is instant (we are either alive or dead)
2) It is complete at the time of its occurrence.
3) It must precede any living act such as faith or repentance.
2. Compare here the language from v. 15 “brings forth” with “begat” in v. 18.
3. Begotten by the “Word of Truth,” that is the Gospel.
1) There is no “Gospel regeneration” here. That is regeneration does not originate from the preaching and/or hearing the Gospel. The Holy Spirit Regenerates.
2) But the Gospel is essential in bringing the knowledge of regeneration, salvation and experience to us. Cf. 1 Corinthians 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. (Paul did not save). Salvation is of the Lord!
4. The whole issue of whether salvation is wholly of grace or incorporates the efforts of men hangs on the proper understanding of regeneration. It is the “perfect” gift essential to the realization of all other “perfect” gifts. See: Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: AND 2 Timothy 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
III. The character of “firstfruits” (v. 18b)
1. Cf. the “spirits of just men made perfect” in Hebrews 12:23.
2. What were the “firstfruits in the Old Testament? Leviticus 23:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
3. It is possible that the writer is speaking of the earliest converts, but more likely of those who through regeneration become the “firstfruits” God. This is that which springs from the corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying – the Gospel of our Lord.
4. Christ is called the “firstfruits” of them that slept (1 Corinthians 15:20)
5. The idea is that such should show forth His praise (paraphrased from John Gill)
1) As separated and distinguished.
2) As preferred and made best by the presence of Christ.
3) As devoted to the service of God,
4) As formed for His praise and glory.