Who Are God's "Firstfruits"?

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Who Are God's "Firstfruits"?

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The apostle James noted that God has "brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures [i.e., of those He's created]" (James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
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).

Paul well understood that those called and converted in this age between man's creation and Christ's second coming are the firstfruits of God's plan for the salvation of humanity. He referred to several first-century Christians as the firstfruits of God's calling in specific locations (Romans 16:5 Romans 16:5Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ.
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; 1 Corinthians 16:15 1 Corinthians 16:15I beseech you, brothers, (you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
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). Looking ahead to the resurrection of those who remain faithful to their calling, he said, "We also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption [that is, full rights of sonship], the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23 Romans 8:23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
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).

However, the firstfruits of God's plan, those who are called now, find themselves in a vastly different situation from that of those who will follow in the later spiritual harvest period.

Jesus said that those who are His followers in this age are not to be "of the world, just as I am not of the world" (John 17:16 John 17:16They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
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). They are called out of the world and are expected to develop the character of Christ, while the rest of mankind is deceived (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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) and following values abhorrent to Christ (1 John 2:15-17 1 John 2:15-17 [15] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [17] And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God stays for ever.
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).

The present evil age

The firstfruits—God's people—are called and strive to obey God while living in "this present evil age" (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
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), of which Satan is the actual ruler (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
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). The harvest of firstfruits is small, for at this time relatively few will accept God's calling, repent, be converted and remain faithful to His way of life. That is why Jesus said, "Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:14 Matthew 7:14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
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).

After Christ's return, which will usher in a new age, the world—society as a whole—will learn to live by the laws and values of God. In that age, God will bind Satan and no longer allow him to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:2-3 Revelation 20:2-3 [2] And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, [3] And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
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). Without Satan's influence, the world will at last come to know peace. Everyone will know the Lord (Hebrews 8:11 Hebrews 8:11And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
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).

Those who have not conformed to the world (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
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) will be those who assist Christ in bringing all nations to His truth (Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
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). They will have overcome the world just as Jesus overcame the world, and Christ will use them in bringing all other people to serve Him (Revelation 2:26 Revelation 2:26And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
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; Revelation 3:21 Revelation 3:21To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
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).

Gift of the Holy Spirit

God enables His people to fulfill His purpose for them. But how?

Significantly, God chose the Day of Pentecost to begin His Church in an important sense by sending the Holy Spirit to His few faithful disciples (Acts 1:15 Acts 1:15And in those days Peter stood up in the middle of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
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; Acts 2:1-4 Acts 2:1-4 [1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. [2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. [3] And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them. [4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
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). Many think of a church as a building. But the word translated "church" in the New Testament is ekklesia, meaning "called out (ones)." This Greek word was typically used to denote an assembly of people—those called out to meet together. The Church is the collective body of people who are called out of the world to serve God.

Through the Holy Spirit, which God gives to those who are part of His Church, members are empowered to overcome the world. It is through God's Holy Spirit that the Church can preach the gospel to the world and make disciples of all nations (Mark 16:15 Mark 16:15And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
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; Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 [19] Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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). It is this Spirit that enables a person to belong to Jesus Christ and be a part of the Church (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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). For the New Testament Church to exist, it was necessary for God to send His Holy Spirit.

The firstfruits of God's plan for salvation are those called to be in God's Church in this age. The Church, also spoken of as "the body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27 1 Corinthians 12:27Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
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), is made up of individuals in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. They have repented of their sins and turned to Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. They have committed themselves to obedience to His holy and righteous laws. They are willing to give up everything to remain faithful to Jesus Christ (Luke 14:33 Luke 14:33So likewise, whoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.
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).

Firstfruits follow Jesus Christ

Revelation 14:4 Revelation 14:4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
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speaks of God's people who are "firstfruits to God and to the Lamb." The preceding and succeeding verses provide insight into the character of those who are the firstfruits and why they accompany Jesus Christ.

Why are they so valued by God? They are described as having the Father's name written in their foreheads (verse 1); God is foremost in their mind and thoughts. These have not been seduced by a false religious system (Revelation 14:4 Revelation 14:4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
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), which is depicted as an immoral woman seducing humanity (Revelation 2:20-22 Revelation 2:20-22 [20] Notwithstanding I have a few things against you, because you suffer that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. [21] And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. [22] Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
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; Revelation 17:1-6 Revelation 17:1-6 [1] And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying to me, Come here; I will show to you the judgment of the great whore that sits on many waters: [2] With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. [3] So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit on a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. [4] And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: [5] And on her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. [6] And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
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).

The firstfruits have come out of and avoided the political and religious system that has dominated the world (see Revelation 17:1-6 Revelation 17:1-6 [1] And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying to me, Come here; I will show to you the judgment of the great whore that sits on many waters: [2] With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. [3] So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit on a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. [4] And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: [5] And on her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. [6] And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
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). When they were called by Jesus Christ, they understood that they were to come out of this system (see Revelation 18:3-4 Revelation 18:3-4 [3] For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. [4] And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.
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).

In addition, the firstfruits "follow the Lamb wherever he goes" (Revelation 14:4 Revelation 14:4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
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). They are faithfully devoted to Jesus Christ. They will allow nothing to entice them from their personal loyalty to Him. Since Jesus will use them to assist Him in teaching His ways to the world, it is vital that His firstfruits will forever be true to Him.

They "have been redeemed from among men" (same verse). They have been purchased by God with the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19 1 Peter 1:18-19 [18] For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; [19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
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). Having been bought by God, they know that their lives no longer belong to them, but rather to Jesus Christ, whom they are to turn their lives over to completely, body and spirit (see Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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; 1 Corinthians 6:20 1 Corinthians 6:20For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
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).

Also, "in their mouth was found no deceit" (Revelation 14:5 Revelation 14:5And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
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). They have learned to deal with the malice commonly found in the hearts of men. There is no deception, plotting or feigning in their actions or words. They have learned about the genuineness, sincerity and simplicity of Christ. They have, in short, come to grips with the deceit of their own hearts and have fully submitted to the pure and undefiled life of Christ dwelling in them. Forgiven of sins and having grown in godly character, "they are without fault before the throne of God" (verse 5).

Picturing the plan of God

This most important step in God's plan for the salvation of mankind is revealed in the observing of His Holy Days. Naturally, those who are of the firstfruits will be observing the very day that pictures the calling and harvest of the firstfruits of God's plan, the Day of Pentecost.

They will gratefully observe the very day that celebrates another milestone in God's great plan, the founding of the Church through the granting of God's Holy Spirit.

We now live in the age of the firstfruits, the time during which God is preparing a special, chosen people to reign with Christ in His Kingdom (1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
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). Are you part of that group? You will be if you heed the counsel of the apostle Peter when he admonished us in 2 Peter 1:10 2 Peter 1:10Why the rather, brothers, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall:
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to "be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure"!

 

[ Read the article: The Remarkable Lesson of God's Feast of Firstfruits ]