Born again?

Sunrise w man B&W

John 3:4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

What a strange thing to be born again, what does this mean?  Jesus tells us we “must” in order to see the kingdom of God but what is He talking about?  We certainly cannot enter the womb a second time so we surely understand this is not a physical rebirth.

Jesus goes onto say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  John 3:5-6

Is Jesus telling us without a water baptism one cannot see the kingdom of God?  Many believe this but we know that Jesus welcomed the thief on the cross into the kingdom and he certainly was not baptized nor was he capable of any sort of works.  What does he mean by being born of water?

John Calvin gives a simple answer:

By water, therefore, is meant nothing more than the inward purification and invigoration which is produced by the Holy Spirit. Besides, it is not unusual to employ the word and instead of that is, when the latter clause is intended to explain the former. And the view which I have taken is supported by what follows; for when Christ immediately proceeds to assign the reason why we must be born again, without mentioning the water, he shows that the newness of life which he requires is produced by the Spirit alone; whence it follows, that water must not be separated from the Spirit  Calvin Commentaries 

Jesus affirms the doctrine of human depravity (Romans 3:10-12, Genesis 6:5), as he explains that in the flesh we cannot see the kingdom.  Again, there must be a newness of life (2 Corinthians 5:17), a change that is recognizable to us and to the others around, a newness that produces a difference.

This newness of life is generated or I should say regenerated by God’s Spirit.  The natural man is dead in sins and trespasses, all of humankind is dead from the moment they are born and without God’s work we will die in our corruption, and we are under the power of Satan.  (Ephesians 2:1-2)

Unless the Spirit breathes life into the dead… we will remain dead.

The word Spirit is pneuma a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind.

If one is to truly comprehend the magnitude of this miracle it must be understood that God does the work in the heart of sinful man.   Mankind cannot save himself…  Many or I should say “most” will say, what do I need to be saved from, I’m not that bad.  I’m a “good” person.

Unless you’ve been morally perfect your entire life, you are not a good person.  You might be a good person by your standards, or even by the standards of comparison against others in the world, but if you hold your life up to the perfect standard of Christ you are incapable.

Have you ever told a lie?

Have you ever stolen anything?

Have you looked lustfully at another person?

Have you loved God with all your heart soul and mind?

This is the standard by which you will be judged and no man has met this perfect standard.  In order to receive the Spirit you must recognize your need for the Spirit.

James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

If you’ve broken any of God’s law you are guilty of breaking it all.  This puts you in the same class as the worst villains in all of history.  Do you understand this; is it something you can really believe?

If you can recognize your sin you have an opportunity to be saved, to be born again.  Jesus tells us we must receive the Spirit, but how?  What causes His Spirit to come to us?

Repentance!

Acts 17:30-31 “Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Repent is the Greek word: metanoeō – to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction): – repent.

This is a complete turning from who you were to receive a new life in Christ, recognizing the need for a Savior, calling out to Him, the only One that can save.  To recognize your sin has separated you from God and that separation has you dead spiritually.  There must be a newness of life and a change of direction.

If this is new to you I ask you to consider the words of Christ.  They are the words of life and without them you will not see the kingdom of God.  That’s clear.  Isn’t it?

Kevin

What did you say?

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Have you ever been told something that seems completely unbelievable?  I don’t mean William Shatner is the son of an alien like you would see on a supermarket tabloid headlines.   I mean something that just really blows your mind…  You just can’t grasp the meaning of it.

Imagine if you were the foremost expert in brain surgery and you go to meet the new intern surgeon because you hear he is pretty bright and doing some good things and he begins to tell you every way you’ve practiced brain surgery in the past is completely wrong.  Then this new intern goes on to say to you, do you mean you are supposed to be the world’s greatest brain surgeon and you don’t know these things?

In an instant he destroys everything you ever thought about your system of brain surgery.

Can you imagine your reaction…?  How ridiculous does that seem?

This is exactly what happened to Nicodemus as he came to Jesus one night.  What did Jesus say to him that seemed so hard to believe?  Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews.  He was at the top level of Judaism and Jesus blew his mind.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus knew the Law of Moses better than anyone, he was a teacher of the law, he had the books of Moses memorized.  Can you imagine memorizing all those begots?

This is a big question for all of those who don’t understand what Jesus meant by being born again.  This is a common term among Evangelical Christians and I would guess not many truly understand its meaning and implications.

I know I didn’t.

First of all Jesus says this must happen for you to see the kingdom of God.  This is very clear right?  “Most assuredly”, the King James Version says “Verily, verily”, which is the word amen.   This is a word of Hebrew origin which means we are in agreement with it, that it is trustworthy, and sure.

Jesus says this must happen or one cannot.

How few messages in Christianity stress this point today!  How few people are having their minds blown to their present situation!  How many people will not see the kingdom of God (heaven) because they never knew they “must” be born again?  There are only two choices, heaven or hell.

I hope you will meditate on this today.  Next time I want to discuss what happens next, how can one be born again?  “Can you enter the womb a second time and be born?”  That’s also what Nicodemus asked Jesus.

Kevin

 

God is love

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Recently I wrote a post about the wrath of God.  Scripture has clearly defined that God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11).  Understand if you have not been morally perfect your entire life, you are wicked.   If you have not been redeemed by the blood of Christ and turned from your sin, you are wicked.  Wicked is not only Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Dr. Evil, or your favorite villain.

This is not an easy concept for the unregenerate to grasp.  “What wicked… evil… That’s not me… “

In order to be saved you must first understand this is you or it’s impossible to be saved.  Us reformed types are most often accused of being unloving and too dogmatic, too harsh about the things of God.

“Where’s the love man… “

I am as dogmatic about God’s love as I’m dogmatic about His wrath, about His wisdom, about His sovereignty or any of His attributes.  I want you to know that I believe with all my heart God is all these things wrapped into such an incredible being that we can’t even begin to comprehend His majesty.

God has given us the gift of His word to show us who He is.  So to deny any of these attributes or put more emphasis on one than the other is not presenting the full counsel of God.  The difference in emphasizing the wrath of God in preaching over the love of God is simply that sinful man cannot grasp love until he grasps his dire situation.

There is no doubt God is love, you can’t miss this if you tried.

Wayne Grudem – Systematic Theology [1994] Love.  God’s love means that God eternally gives of himself to others.  This definition understands love as self-giving for the benefit of others.  This attribute of God shows that it is part of his nature to give of himself in order to bring about blessing or good for others.

How does God give of Himself for others?

Romans 5:6-8 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.    

There’s a catch to this verse.  Who is the “us”?  Many want to claim this verse and verses like John 3:16 or Jeremiah 29:11 that God loves you and has a plan for you.  There are whole radio stations dedicated to this concept.  But to gain the benefit of the love you must know God.   Not a “god” of your own design but the One True God as defined by the Holy Scriptures.

You must understand you are helpless to save yourself.  Ephesians 2:1

You must believe in Jesus Christ.  Acts 16:31

You must be born again.  John 3:3

You must repent and turn from your sin.  Repentance is an ongoing act of turning away from your former life and embracing your new life in Christ.  Matthew 4:17

You must seek holiness.  1 Peter 1:16

You will then seek fellowship, growth and protection from the church.  Ephesians 4:11, Hebrews 13:17

That’s the “Gospel”, the “Good News”

Some may consider it unloving to tell someone they are separated from God because of their sin.  That separation will condemn them to hell upon their death if they don’t turn to Christ in faith.  That seems judgmental and unloving.

I couldn’t think of anything more unloving than to not tell them.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Kevin