In the Gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus is talking with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. At some point Nicodemus says, ““Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Right away Jesus by-passes the statement and tells Nicodemus the following:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
So, right away Jesus tells Nicodemus that he needs to be born again if he even expects to see God’s Kingdom. This comes as a surprise to the Pharisee and he, right away, asks how can this be; thinking that being born again is a physical act. Jesus follows with this:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
The answer by Jesus is even more telling. Unless one is born again not only will he not see the kingdom of God but, he will also not even enter the kingdom of God. Think about that. If “you” are not born again you will never go to Heaven. It is that simple. This work of being “born again” is all of God. You cannot earn it, you cannot buy it, you cannot even demand it. Jesus makes this clear in His follow-up statement to Nicodemus:
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is the one who washes you and cleans you up, makes you new and puts within you a desire for repentance towards God and for belief and submission to Jesus. Just like it is explained, first in Ezekiel 36: 25 – 27:
25 Then will I pour clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: yea, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your body, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.
Second, from Romans 10: 8 – 10:
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
God puts within you a new heart, after cleansing you with His Spirit and with the Word of God, and with this new heart, a willing heart, you will be able to confess that Jesus is Lord (that is submission) and you will believe that He has been raised from the dead (that is trusting Jesus as the Savior) and this action is the outward sign of an inner conversion as a sign of you being “born again” by the work of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God.
How about you? Have you ever made this confession of Jesus as Lord with the belief of His being raised from the dead? If you have you have the evidence of assurance of the Holy Spirits’ working in your life and of being “born again”, having been washed cleaned and given a new heart to know, obey and love God.
If you have never done so, if you have never confessed Jesus as Lord then, not only will you never see the kingdom of God, but you will never enter into the kingdom of God. All you will have to which you can look forward is as follows in John 3: 18 & John 3: 36:
18. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
36. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
These two verses should scare anyone who has never bowed before Jesus in submission to His Lordship, and it should cause anyone to call out to God to come and work in him the miracle of salvation by the work of the Holy Spirit, and to wash him clean from all of his sins and to give him a new heart in the act of being “born again”.
The Kingdom of God or the pangs of hell. These are the only two results for any of us. If you are not born again, why would you want anything else? Will you not make that confession that Jesus is Lord? Remember the words of Jesus…
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God.”
If You Are Not Born Again….. now you know…..
As I write this it is Father’s Day. It is a day to honor Dads everywhere. The importance of a Father can be found no where better than in the Bible, and no one can be a better example of a child calling on His Father than Jesus.
On the day that Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest friends, and during the night before He was crucified, knowing what was about to befall Him Jesus talked to His Father. In Mark 14 we read:
32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”
35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
In the midst of great turmoil Jesus went to the one person who He knew was the only one He could call upon and depend on for doing what was right. Even though He knew what He had to do He still cried out, “Abba, Father”. Jesus wanted His Father. He needed Him and His Father was the only one who could take away from Him what He was about to face. Yet, in the midst of all of this He knew that doing the Father’s will, and not His own, was the best course of action for Him to take. He set aside His own will to do the will of His Father and, in doing so, He did the right thing in providing forgiveness for those who would be saved from having to pay the penalty for their own sins.
In the family, the Father, or a Father figure, is still the one person that a child should, at any age, be able to count on to go to when there are troubles or problems of any kind and be helped in making the right decision; even when that decision is not the one that they want to do. We, too, can call “Abby, Father”, not only to our Earthly Father but also to our Heavenly Father to help us in time of need, knowing that if we belong to Him He will guide us in to making the decision that will be the best one for us and one that will bring glory to our Father.
When we honor our Earthly Father in doing his will, if he is teaching us Christian principles, we often find that what he has taught us is, and was, the right thing to do. How much more, then, can we expect to be guided by our Heavenly Father to do the same? When we come to realize that our Heavenly Father, the same One to Whom Jesus called “Abba”, guided Him perfectly to make the right decision, we can be assured that His will for us is just as great and is just as perfect as it was in guiding Jesus.
A family without a Father, or a Father figure, is not one that God has designed for us to be in. Realizing that there are times when a Father is not present, a Father figure should be readily available for children to call upon for guidance. If Jesus needed to call upon God the Father, calling Him “Abba”, how is it that we feel that we do not need the same for us to call upon our Earthly Father or even our Heavenly Father for guidance as well?
Before we can call upon God the Father we must first become a member of his family. The Apostle Paul knew this when he wrote in Romans 8: 15 the following:
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
When we call upon God to forgive us for our sins, realizing that our sinfulness has condemned us already to spend eternity in Hell, and to believe in Jesus as the one who died for sins and proclaim Him Lord, and believe that God the Father raised Him from the dead, it is because we have been born again into the family of God; being adopted as such and because of us receiving the Holy Spirit at the time of our rebirth, we can than call upon God the Father and, as Jesus did, call Him “Abba”, as He is now our new Father. Jesus said that no one can come to the Father except by Him (Jesus).
Every child should be guided by a Father or a Father figure, as every child and adult should be guided by God the Father. By knowing and doing His will we can understand that no matter what it is that He may want us to do we can do so with the knowledge and courage that what we are doing is the right decision to make. And, if we falter, become scared or disillusioned, we know that there is one upon Whom we can call for help. All we have to do is to just look up and cry out, “Abba, Father”!
If you were to ask the average Christian, “what is it about you that says you are a Christian?” most would probably talk about how they go to Church, attend Sunday School, give to missions, etc., but does this really define them as being a Christian?
I used to be that kind of Christian and I was OK with talking about how I did all of these Christianly activities. It was rare that I would talk about my relationship with Jesus or about my faith in what He did for me, and when I did it was a quick, almost embarrassingly, mention of Him. You know why I never said more about Him, if at all? Because I really had ” no ” relationship with Jesus. You see it never dawned on me that being a Christian was all about Jesus and not about me being a Christian.
It took awhile for it to become clear that being a Christian is not about my good works but about my relationship with Jesus. I even began to wonder about whether or not I even had a relationship with Jesus. You know what I discovered? I never really did have a relationship with Jesus; at least not a close one. Maybe you don’t either.
You see for someone to define me as being a Christian should not come from what I say that I do, but about what, or whom it is, that is the reason for me being a Christian in the first place. It is all about the Person upon which I base my faith and why.
My relationship with Jesus, and my faith in Him, should come through by what I say about Him and not what I say about me. The closer I get to Jesus, the stronger my faith in Him becomes and the more I am willing to talk about Him, and my life should be a living witness to His work in my life. In fact, my life should be that just by listening to what I say about Him, and the things that I do in His name, should give evidence to anyone who meets me that it would be easy for them to believe that I am a Christian.
In short, my faith in Jesus and the relationship that I have with Him should be such that it would openly define me as a Christian without me saying that I am. The closer one gets to Jesus the more they are willing to talk about Him.
In Luke 9:29 we read the following quote by Jesus:
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his glory, and in the glory of the Father, and of the holy Angels.
How about you? Do people define you as being a Christian just by hearing about your relationship with Jesus, and the faith that you have in Him? Or, like me, you need to see that maybe you don’t even have a relationship with Jesus at all. Think of this – the strength of your faith in Him will determine how close of a relationship you have with Him. The closer your relationship the stronger your faith. So here is a quick and easy way of determining how close of a relationship you have with Jesus.
Think of the faith that you now have in Him, can the actions of your faith, in your relationship with Jesus, define you as being a Christian or are you just a Christian in name only?
It may be that you have no relationship with Jesus. If that is the answer then maybe you are not a Christian at all. It is better to find that out now and not later, after death, when it will be too late.
If you will just confess that Jesus is Lord of your life, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, is defining proof that you have been saved and are on the way of establishing a relationship with Jesus. If, however, you balk at that thought, if you feel embarrassed at the thought of publicly proclaiming that Jesus is your Lord, also is defining proof that you have no relationship with Jesus, and it may be that you are not saved at all.
Only God can show this to you and only God can open your heart to receive the truth. May this Easter season be one of raising you to new life in Jesus, just as He was raised from the dead to give life to all who have life in Him, and in experiencing the kind of loving relationship, resulting in strong faith, that only God can provide.
May your relationship with Jesus be such that others who will see you will say, “You are a Christian aren’t you.”
We have heard it time and again that God loves everybody, but does He do so literally or figuratively? How the Bible explains it is what we should believe to be the truth.
Basically, the idea that God loves everyone comes from what we read in John 3:16, which says:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The first part is from where the idea comes that God loves everyone. Specifically from the word “world”, for God so loved the “world”. Does this mean that it is talking about everyone, every single being, who has or ever will live?
From Strong’s Concordance we read the following concerning the word “world” as used in John 3:16:
Probably from the base of G2865; orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]): – adorning, world.
We do see the word “inhabitants” so it could mean each individual, if that is something about which Jesus was talking. Remember, Jesus had been talking to a Pharisees named Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews. the Pharisees and all of the Jewish people believed that God’s love, or God’s favor, was only for the descendants of Israel; the Israelites called the Jews.
During the conversation Jesus was talking about the need for being born again and that all who look to Him would be saved and have everlasting light. Nicodemus was only thinking that Jesus was talking about the Jewish people but Jesus had to remind him that this salvation, this eternal life, was for anyone regardless of their race, creed, religion or color. In other words, the offer of eternal life was for anyone, any inhabitant of the world, and Jesus was talking in a figurative way, not literally. Here’s why.
In John 12 we read the story of Jesus coming into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, what we call Palm Sunday. Many people were celebrating as Jesus was coming into town and the Pharisees saw what was happening. They knew about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and that He was starting to gather a great following. Finally , in John 12:19 we read the following:
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”
Again, the same word for “world” was used here. If the word “kosmos” in John 3:16 meant everyone, all individuals, then it should mean the same thing here, but it doesn’t. All it means here is the same as what it means in John 3:16, that it is talking about people of all kinds, that Jews and Gentiles alike, in general terms, were starting to follow Jesus. It did not mean that everyone was following Jesus because they were not, but many people of all kinds – who were in the world – were starting to become followers of Jesus
To support all of this, there are verses that talk about whom it is that Jesus does love. We’ll take a look a couple of them and you will be able to see that John 3:16 does not talk about individuals but people in general, that is Jews and Gentiles alike from all walks of like. Anyone can be born again and given eternal life and that it is these people who we will see are the ones whom God loves.
In John 13:1 we read the following:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
In this verse we see that the word “world” is the same word used in John 3: 16, but what we see different is that this verse speaks specifically who it was that Jesus loved while in this world (kosmos). The verse says that Jesus had loved his own who were in the world (kosmos), not everyone, but only His own.
Now in John 14:21-24 we read the following as more supporting verses about who it is that Jesus will love:
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
Do you see it? They who love Jesus and obey Him are the ones whom He will love and they are the only ones whom the Father will love, and they will make themselves known only to them. In addition, another follower asks Jesus why does He make Himself known only to them and not to the world? Again, the word “world” (kosmos) is the same word found in John 3:16. In fact this is so important that Jesus again says that “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him.”
Jesus is very specific in saying that the only ones whom He, and the Father, will love are they who love Them. And this means that anyone in the “world” (kosmos) no matter who they are, what their color, race, creed are, whether male, female, young, old or in between they are all given this offer.
Still not convinced? Let us look at one more verse. Actually what I would like for you to read is John 17. This is where Jesus gives His great high priestly prayer for all of His followers. Specifically, however, I would like for you to read the following from John 17:20 – 23:
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Very clearly Jesus prays for all who will believe and follow Him, and what He asks is for the “world” (kosmos) in general to know that God the Father loves all who will follow Jesus just as the Father loves the Son. Basically what Jesus is asking is for all unbelievers to know that God loves all believers of Jesus – they who follow Him.
In all of these verses, and there are more, what is specific is that God loves anyone, no matter from where they come or who they are, who will follow Jesus and be born again into the family of God.
So, have we all mis-understood John 3:16? The answer is an absolute “yes”…
However, the one thing that you should know is this. Whether or not you believe what the Bible says or what some preacher says, this one thing is very clear. It is not the verse where Jesus says, “For God so loved the world (kosmos)” upon which that we should focus… No, what follows next is the most important thing that Jesus says in John 3:16.
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
If you do not believe in Jesus, have bowed the knee to Him and proclaimed Him to be Lord, and believe that He was raised from the dead, it does not matter what you believe about who God loves, if “you” do not believe “you” will be among those who will perish and you will not have everlasting life.
You may know John 3:16 but do you know John 3:35 & 36:
35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
My friend, believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved. Then, and only then, will you be able to truly say, according to the scriptures that we have seen and read, that you are among those whom Jesus and the Father loves. For God so loved “me”… Now that is nice, and that is only for the believer in Jesus. More importantly it is also scriptural…
So many people, who call themselves Christian, have been led to believe that they have been saved, that is born-again, by choosing to be saved of their own will. They mistakenly believe that by having “accepted” Jesus as their personal Savior they are now forgiven and are on their way to spending eternity in Heaven. Little do they know that they may be among the group of people that was brought up by Jesus when He said in Matthew 7:21:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
To be saved by one’s own will or of their own choosing is not taught in the Bible. Unfortunately too many people have been told that it is. Everyone knows John 1:12 which says:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
But few know what the next verse says. In John 1:13 the how of believing is clearly stated. We read:
who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Basically both verses, together, teach that those who have been born again, by the will of God (and not of man’s will) are those who are able to believe in and receive Jesus into their life and believe that He died and rose again for their sins. Similarly in Romans 9 ware are told the same thing, that it is by God’s will that we are forgiven and not by our own will choosing to be given mercy and be saved. In Romans 9: 10 - 18 we read:
when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
Clearly these verses tell us that it is by the will of God that one is born-again, saved by His choice, and God does so not basing His decision on what we may have done or not done but on His choice to do so. God has mercy on whom He wills and whom He wills He hardens, or passes over.
When man is born-again of the Spirit of God it is done based on God’s will and not on man’s will. You see, when one is born-again they become alive in their spirit and it is at that point that man sees his sinfulness, cries out for forgiveness in repentance and confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes that He has been raised from the dead.
So, for us to say that we have been born-again by the choosing of our will we deceive ourselves and deny God His place in saving anyone. We are born:
not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, and it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
Maybe this is why Peter wrote the following in 2 Peter 1: 10, 11:
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This is why I can say that I have been born-again, not of my will, but of God’s will. How about you. By who’s will have you been born?
How often do you pray?
Read the following from Philippians 4:6-7:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Do you remember the song, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”? Here are just a couple of verses from that song:
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Do you see the connection? Peace and prayer go hand in hand. Prayer is the greatest weapon all believers have at their disposal. It can be done anytime, anyplace, anywhere. It soothes, it calms, it gives reassurance. In short, prayer gives peace.
No matter what the problem or situation is in which you find yourself, prayer can bring peace in the midst of the storm, but there is a catch. In praying do not just rely on your prayer. Instead, your prayer should lead you into trusting in Jesus for the answer no matter what the answer might be.
You see, prayer is not about just getting the result that “you” want, no, it is trusting in Jesus to provide the answer that He wants to give you. The peace from your prayer comes in the knowledge that you have given over your worries, your concerns, your desires, even your joy’s – with thanksgivings – to the only One Who can take your prayer and turn it into something that not only brings praise to the Almighty but is also something that is in your best interest.
When you worry, when you’re anxious, when you need relief and don’t know the answer take these concerns to the Lord. Let Him know what is bothering you, tell Him your thoughts and thank Him for the privilege of being His child and that you trust Him for the answer. It is when you know that the Creator of the Universe has it all in control and that He knows how you feel and sees you trusting in Him, by the prayers that you give with thanksgiving for the answer, is when His peace will come upon you and He will guard your thoughts and quiet your heart and give you such a peace that it will be hard to understand how He can be so loving and caring about you.
Why bear the pain or forfeit peace, you can know and feel the loving hand of God upon your life, and He will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
This new year start it off with prayer. Start each and everyday with prayer and as you lay down to sleep at night talk with God and thank Him for your day. let Him know that you trust in Him and are very grateful for Jesus being in your life. Prayer, with trust, can bring peace to your heart and what a way to start the new year.
If you know Jesus, you can know true peace. It is just a matter of talking with Him and then trusting in His answer. There is no greater peace than in knowing that Jesus loves you and will provide for you with what He knows is best for you. You really can know the true peace given to you by God Himself.
How anxious are you? Ask yourself that question again after you pray – you just might be surprised at the answer… :-)