The Implanted Word


[A response to an email]  

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.—James 1:21

You asked about James 1:21, which is a verse that I believe encapsulates the entire nature and effect of the gospel of Christ. Because while it is most certainly true that Christ lived, died and rose outwardly as a sacrifice for sin, and to open the door of eternal redemption, it is only by receiving Him as an implanted Word (or Seed) with meekness that He actually begins to save our soul, that is, to remove from our soul every form of evil, blindness, deadness, and enmity with God. 

So, in answer to your question, it is indeed correct to say that this implanted Word is Christ, but knowing that this expression of James refers to Christ, and experiencing Christ in the way that James is describing, are two very different things. It's one thing to know that Christ is the Word of God, it's another thing to experience the Word of God (that is to say, the living communication and manifestation of God) actually putting off from us everything in our heart, mind, and thoughts that is contrary to Him, and clothing us with an entirely new nature. Christians often fall very short here, satisfying themselves by confessing and professing what they do not really possess. 

The truth is, that this implanted Word is just another form of expressing the heavenly gift that comes from above, and works in man (when not resisted and grieved) by the life, will, and power of God. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do”, etc. Almost all of the parables and sayings of Christ speak of this gift, which is nothing more or less than a measure of His light, life, grace, or power that is sown into the heart by the Spirit of Truth. This heavenly gift has many names, illustrations, and descriptions throughout Scripture, not because it is complicated, but because it does so much in man to bring about the work of God, and because no single name or figure captures all that it is or does. It is called a seed or grain of mustard seed because it is alive, grows, and produces an increase of its kind; and also because it needs to be received and protected in good soil. It is called throughout the New Testament the Word of God (or the “implanted Word,” or “Word of faith,” “Word of His grace,” “Word of life,” “living and active Word.” etc.) because it perfectly communicates or reveals the mind, purpose, and knowledge of God, and because we can only hear it with circumcised ears. It is called a talent or mina because we need to handle or manage it as our greatest treasure, as our riches and our recompense, and not bury it in our earth; then it increases and brings joy to our Master. It is compared to leaven because it grows, fills, and changes all parts of man, all three measures of dough. It is called a hidden pearl or treasure because of its great value, and because it is impossible for a man to find and buy it when he clings to self and the things of this world. It is compared to heavenly bread or manna, because it must be taken and eaten, and must become the true inward food of every day, etc. etc. 

All of these names or pictures (and there are many more) speak of the same GIFT of God that is offered to man in his fallen condition, which (as James says) “is ABLE to save your souls.” I stress the word ABLE because though this living, implanted Word is certainly able, and very desirous of saving our souls (that being the will of God towards all men), it appears inwardly (just as Christ appeared outwardly) in a form that is easy to despise, overlook, resist, and reject.... even while we quote His words and sing His praises. This is precisely what the Jews did in the first century with His outward appearance. And (sadly) this is what many Christians do today with His inward appearance. Though the Jews believed in a Messiah, knew the Scriptures concerning Him, and built their lives around the words that described Him, yet they missed His coming and rejected His offer of true salvation. And though many Christians today believe that He has come, and quote the Scriptures concerning Him, and build their lives around church beliefs and activities, yet they do not “receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save their souls.”