James reveals an early, if not the earliest, early Christian (post Jesus) understanding of “new birth” and “spiritual formation.” Notice how James thinks the community is to be formed spiritually:
“humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (1:21).
Notice that James urges that the messianists develop a disposition toward God’s word: humility and receptivity and vulnerability. It might be called “let it” disposition: let it do what it can do by letting it do what it can do.
Second, this “word” is implanted: here we have an early indication of what became the doctrine of the Spirit or the Spirit-in-Word doctrine. The word that has been implanted — look at 1:18 — is a word that is sitting there and ready to come to an active life of transformation.
Third, this “word” is connected in James to “law” (logos and nomos): cf. 1:22, 25. James’ piety is Torah observance.
Finally, this implanted word is capable of saving the person’s soul. I’m nervous about words like this because of a history of dualism and even gnosticism, but James belongs to the ancient Jewish world where humans were seen from various angles, one of which was their life-principle angle: the soul. James here is concerned with the whole life-principle of humans being saved. In other words, it is a holism instead of a dualism.