James 1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Receive it—this implanted word. In other words, if you treat the word of God like your kidneys, you are making a big mistake. Your kidneys are implanted in you by your first birth. But you do not go on “receiving” your kidneys. They just sit there doing their work, and you rarely think about them. You certainly don’t “receive” them. They are already there—firmly implanted.
But James says, “Receive the implanted word.” It is already in you. And you should receive it. It is rooted and planted in you. It brought you life. It is there sustaining that life by feeding faith in Christ.
But it is not there like kidneys. It is there like oxygen. It gives life and in giving life, it makes you breathe, and in breathing you receive oxygen. No one says: “I have oxygen; look how well it is working in me; it makes me alive; I don’t need to receive oxygen.”
The implanted word of God and the external word of God are so united that we live by having it already implanted and we live by receiving it. It is at work in us, as Paul says. And the work it does in us is it makes us want to receive it. Receiving the external word replenishes the power of the implanted word, and the implanted word creates the hunger to receive the external word. And then to make us very serious about this process, James adds at the end of verse 21 “which is able to save your souls.” What saves our souls? The implanted word which we receive.
In other words, our souls depend on the implanted word, and our souls depend on receiving the word. If you decide that you don’t need to receive the external word, you are like a person who decides he doesn’t need to breathe. If you are spiritually dead, you can carry through that decision. You can choose not to breathe. But if you are spiritually alive, you can’t. The implanted word is powerful; it produces life and breathing. It takes over the spiritual diaphragm and demands oxygen. It demands the life-giving external word. If the word is implanted in you, you can’t hold your breath forever. The implanted word will sooner or later conquer and be replenished. You will receive the word again. And you will love it.