In the Gospel of John, chapter 3 we read the following:
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “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.”
3Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
And in verse 5 Jesus said this:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
These phrases stump so many people. Can you blame them? Even Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, was stumped. Born Again? What does it mean to be “born again” and how does this happen? Well, these are very good questions and let us see if we can talk about this in basic every day language.
In Ephesians we read the following:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins
Basically, because of our sin nature we are spiritually dead towards God. All of us were born this way. In fact everyone down through the ages was born with a sin nature and spiritually are dead towards God. It is for this reason that we can read the results of being dead in trespasses and sins in this passage from Romans:
10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
Being spiritually dead in our sins separates us from God and unless we are “born again” in the spirit we will never see God, we will never want God and we will never enter Heaven. So, the need to “born again” is very important and that is the reason why Jesus started from this point with Nicodemus and to impress upon him the need for being so.
Knowing about the need for being “born again” is one thing and it can happen without knowing how it happens. In fact, it always happens without the knowledge of it actually happening until after it happens. A very good example of how this works actually comes from the Bible and it is something that Jesus did in front of many people, and this one time occurrence by Jesus is a specific and quite plain way of how being “born again” happens according to the Reformed view of salvation.
This one event by Jesus shows that He not only has power over life but life in a spiritual way as well. Both physical and spiritual life comes only by way of Jesus. Maybe that is why He said that “no one comes to the Father except by me”.
In John 11 we read the story about Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus, about he became sick and died. Then after he had been in the grave for four days Jesus finally came by to visit the sisters of Lazarus named Mary and Martha, and He had them lead Him to his tomb. Upon His arrival we read the following:
38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Now where Lazarus lay dead there were also other dead people in their graves around him. So, the first thing that Jesus did was to call out the name of Lazarus and command him to “come forth”. Had He not done so, everyone would have come forth out of the graves. But Jesus specifically called forth Lazarus; He chose Lazarus and no one else.
Now stop and think about this for a moment. When Jesus called out the name of Lazarus and commanded him to come forth was there anything within the body of Lazarus to allow him to respond? Of course not! For he was dead and there was no life within that dead body. Before Lazarus could respond in any way, shape or form he “first” had to have been given life in order to hear the command of Jesus and to obey that command to come forth.
The same is for anyone who needs to be spiritually “born again”. In John 8 you can read where Jesus tells the Pharisees that they cannot understand what He says, nor can they listen to Him as He speaks spiritual things and because of that they cannot “hear” Him, and the reason they cannot do any of this is that they are spiritually dead. They first need to be made spiritually alive to be able to respond at all.
In John 10 where Jesus is talking to the people about His sheep and how they hear His voice and obey Him to follow Him we read we read this about “why” they believe:
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
Lazarus was a sheep of Jesus. Just like all of us who are truly “born again” by the Spirit of God. Unless Jesus first gives us life, that is, unless we are “first” Born Again we cannot hear His voice and follow the command to “come forth”, we cannot understand what He is saying, since we cannot hear Him, and we cannot, and will not, believe in Him as Lord and Savior of all who will be “born again” because we are “dead in trespasses and sins and, in that state, we do not want God nor desire Him.
Being spiritually dead in our spiritual grave the first thing that must be done to us is to be given life, and that is the act of being “born again”. Once Jesus calls us by name, gives us life, then, and only then, can we hear Him, believe in Him and become willing to obey the command to “come forth”, and we do obey and we come forth gladly.
In short, faith in Jesus is the action of the heart, having first been quickened (born again) by the sovereign grace of God. That is why Jesus was so adamant about being “born again”. Without it you will not hear, understand, and obey the command to “come forth” and be given the right to enter into Heaven. How about you? Has Jesus specifically called you by name to “come forth”? Have you truly been “born again” by the Spirit of God?
As Jesus impressed upon Nicodemus about the need to be “born again”, I do the same to you. You must be “born again” if you want to enter Heaven.
I pray that today, even right now, that this wonderful phenomenon will happen to you in a most personal, knowing and loving way, and that you will “come forth” to be with Jesus.
Without sounding “churchy”, here is how I perceive things. There is relative truth and there is absolute truth.
Relative truth blurs the lines between right and wrong. Depending on the situation, depending on the person, what may be wrong at one time could be right another time. In this view, relative truth is based on the wisdom of man in any situation or circumstance in which they may find themselves. Basically there is no specific right or wrong in which a person can be guided. As such, relative wisdom is based in man’s wisdom.
Absolute truth is where there are specific rights and wrongs; do’s and don’ts I guess you could say. With absolute truth to guide you no matter what the circumstance or situation is in which you find yourself you are guided by these truths so that you know how life should be lived guided by what you know to be right and wrong. Absolute truth can be found in God’s word the Bible.
So, basically one is guided either by man’s wisdom which is based in relative truth or they are guided by God’s wisdom which is absolute truth. However, even true Christians can be tempted by, and give into, relative truth, which is a wrong as seen by absolute truth, because at that moment it seems right to them, but they will not stay in that wrong because God will show them the wrong they are doing and bring them out of it.
The problem is that there are many people who are Christians in name only, because they have no root grounded in the Bible because they have never experienced being “born again”, and when they do fall into the gray area of relative truth it seems right unto them and there they remain with the feeling that all is OK.
Then there are those who are not Christians and they will look at the world through the dark glasses of relative truth and most anything looks good to them, even if they would not participate in it themselves. It is not for Christians to judge them but a Christian does have, and should have, the right to say that in God’s wisdom a certain activity is wrong and should not be done.
In short, morality is based either in God’s wisdom or man’s wisdom. God’s wisdom is the basis for absolute truth and man’s wisdom is the foundation of relative truth. A true Christian will find themselves on the side of God’s wisdom and non-Christians will see things through man’s wisdom, and that is just the way things are as man’s nature is bent towards that way.
Having tasted Christianity you might remember the verse that says:
“But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
1 Corinthians 2: 14
Relative truth or absolute truth, where does your wisdom lie? Before you answer remember this from 1st Corinthians 1: 19 – 21 and I pray that God will open your understanding to receive these verses and apply them to your heart:
19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
May you be among those whose heart God will change and bring you into the Kingdom to be included with those who believe; disciples of Jesus and followers of the way.
Almost daily you will hear or read about someone who has died and there will be those who will say something like, “Well, they are in a better place now.” even though there has not been one bit of evidence of them ever being someone other than a “good” person.
Being just a “good” person will not get you into Heaven. What you may not know or realize is this:
10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10 – 12
No one is good, not one of us. In fact God looks at our “righteousness” – that which makes us look good – in this way:
6 “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;” Isaiah 64: 6
God knows that we are not good. We have no righteousness of our own. There is nothing we can do to deserve to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. We all belong in the trash heap of life called Hell.
However, God has made a way for one to be allowed into Heaven, to spend eternity with Him and to enjoy what He has done for us. As the God Man, whose name is Jesus, God told us plainly what is needed for anyone to enter into Heaven:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3: 3
For anyone to be able to see and to enter into Heaven all that is require is to be “born again”. Basically what this means is that we must turn away from our present self-righteousness and to believe in and to submit to the Lordship of Jesus, who has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves – be found worthy of entering Heaven for all eternity.
Think of this. No matter what religion to which one belongs, even if you belong to no religion, unless you are “born again” you will not go to Heaven after death, and you will spend eternity in Hell. When you really give that some thought, just think of all of the people who has ever lived who has not been “born again” who will be spending eternity in Hell. God has provided us with only one way for us to be found “qualified” for Heaven and that is only by being “born again” by the Spirit of God.
So, how does one know if they have been born again? It is very simple and it is something that we do in response to the Spirit’s working within us in giving us a new heart, in washing us clean of our sinfulness, and in applying God’s forgiveness to our lives.
In Romans 10: 8 – 13 God tells us:
“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. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
You see, we cannot work our way into Heaven, we cannot “accept” that Christ died for us, we cannot rely on what our family has done for us in order to be given the right to spend eternity in Heaven. Only by what Jesus has done for us will we be granted this right. Only by God’s mercy on our souls is this made possible, and we show this be admitting that we are sinners in need of being forgiven for our sinfulness, believing in the fact that Jesus died and rose again (bodily) from the grave and by submitting to Him as Lord of our life, and by showing our willingness to do His will in working in us what He wants for our good and for His glory.
You can know if you have been born again, and you can know this right now. Can you cry out to God to be forgiven for your sins? Can you confess, right now, that Jesus is Lord of your life and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to become the person that God wants for you? Do you believe that God the Father has raised Jesus from the grave? If you can then you have all the proof that you need that you have been born again by the Spirit of God.
Won’t you do this right now? Remember what God has promised… “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”… Will you not call upon Him right now? I pray that God is working in you right at this very moment and is leading you into that glorious place of being forgiven and of being “born again” into the Kingdom of God.
For the Christian prayer is an important avenue to God. Actually, prayer is only for the Christian as they are the only ones who stand before God forgiven for their sins, and have been given the right to come directly to God with our petitions. All other people are still under God’s wrath and God’s condemnation. So, being a Christian allows us a way to talk with God anytime anywhere for any reason.
Therein lies the reason for prayer.
God knows our needs even before we think of them and come to having a desire to call out to Him. Our prayers cannot change God’s will nor can it bring anything to Him that He does not already know and for which He has not already a planned response. So, if God knows all things and controls all things through His direct and permissive will, then why is there a need for prayer? Why should we pray if we cannot influence God or change His will in any manner shape or form.
Because prayer is not for us to bring God around to our way of thinking. Prayer is for our benefit. Through prayer we can, and will, grow in our reliance upon and trust in God. You see, prayer allows us to come to God and tell Him all about our problems, our concerns, our joys and our sorrows. We can tell Him what we would like, how we think the results should be in a given situation, why we need the things for which we ask, in short, we can bare our souls desires to Him and let Him know what it is exactly what “we” want and yet, be completely reliant upon Him for the answer, no matter what it is, knowing that He has our best interest at heart.
We may not get the answer that we want, but can rest assured that we will get an answer. How we respond relies upon our trust in Him for knowing His way is always the best way.
For instance, we know what it is that God tells us in Romans 8: 28:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
All true Christians are the “called” of God and since we are called by God to be His children do we not think that He will take care of us in the best way possible? That is what prayer is all about – trusting in God and relying upon Him for our care while in this life.
As this trust and reliance upon God grows we will find how much at peace we can be no matter what the situation is in which we find ourselves.
In Philippians 4: 6, 7 we read:
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.
We can pray to God for any and all reasons and, if we do so with an understanding of how God responds and how we find our faith, trust and reliance upon God growing, we can have a peace no one else in this world will ever know. We can have much or we can have little, we can even be in the worst of times but we can still have this peace, a peace that keeps us in God’s will and love knowing that what is happening is for God’s praise and for our good.
So, dear Christian, pray always. Actually prayer is nothing more than talking with God, not some ritual that we must repeat or go through every time we want to come before God. He knows you, He loves you and He is always there whenever you want to be with Him. What I like is that we can talk with Him whether we have a need or not. Just to talk with God about anything is the greatest feeling there is, but only if we grow in our trust in Him and in our reliance upon Him for responding to us in a way that is good for us. The peace that follows is something that this world does not have nor will it ever know or experience.
So, what is a good reason for prayer? Anything at all and the peace that we can find within it. And, remember this. The more you pray, or talk, with God the more your trust will grow and you will become more reliant upon God for being there at anytime you want to talk with Him. The result is peace of mind and peace of heart, and feeling the love of God fill you with joy unspeakable no matter what the situation is in which you find yourself.
Oh, one more good reason for praying is the fact that God wants to hear from you, but He will only listen to you if you are a Christian. So, why not submit now to Jesus as Lord of your life, confess your sinfulness and you will find that Jesus is also Savior of your soul. He is the only way to the Father and only through Jesus, and no one else, can we have access to the throne of God.
Peace is waiting for you, and you can find it in Jesus through your prayers to the Father.
I do not know of any religion that does not acknowledge Jesus in some way or another. He might be called a good man, a great teacher or even a prophet. And, as far as I know, none of them will admit that Jesus has risen bodily from the grave. They cannot do so because, if they did, they would then be calling their own religion false. Only Christians believe that Jesus has risen from the grave and only they believe that He is God.
However, what if all of these religions are correct? What if Christians are wrong? What if Jesus is not risen from the grave?
The Apostle Paul explains what this would mean in his letter to the Corinthians. In chapter 15 verses 12 through 19 we read this:
12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
Yes, we would be seen as all other religions, as just one of many faiths – all false. For which one would be true? Jesus would be seen as one who was a liar in that he said, “no one comes to the Father except through me(Jesus)”. If Jesus is not the way then what is the way?
That is something about which we do not have to worry for as Paul goes on to say, “20 But now Christ is risen from the dead… ”
The tomb in which Jesus was placed after His resurrection is empty. The reason being that Jesus has risen from the grave and He is alive for evermore. With this truth we have this hope from Hebrews 6: 19, 20:
19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever…
With the resurrection of Jesus from the dead we have this hope that we too can have eternal life. Life that is found only in Jesus. If Jesus is not risen then we have no hope, but the Word of God is very clear that Christ Jesus has risen from the dead, Christianity is the one true religion, nay even more so, it is the one true relationship that God has made between man and Himself confirmed through the resurrection of Christ.
The question of “what if Jesus is not risen?” is one about which we do not have to worry. For Christ is risen and has become first fruits of eternal life that we, who are followers of Jesus, can have the same hope of one day being able to attain eternal life through the resurrection of our own bodies. There is no question about the resurrection of Jesus. There are too many proofs of His resurrection and in His resurrection He has become not only the Giver of life but also the One who assures eternal life for those of us who belong to Him.
Because of this we, too, can say along with the Apostle Peter as he says in 1st Peter 1: 3, 4:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you(us),
For Christ Is Risen! ….. He Is Risen Indeed!
On the 3rd of January in 1969 I met Mary for the first time. Sixty five days later we were married. It has been forty-six years now since that day took place and it was the best decision I ever made.
As God has stated and as Jesus has confirmed, marriage was ordained by God to be between one man and one woman.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
God speaks in praise of a wife as we read in the following verses from Proverbs 31 and Proverbs 5.
10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
19 And always be enraptured with her love.
My wife can definitely meet these statements, and more. I am more in love with my Mary now than at any time from when we first met back in 69. We have had our ups and downs, have been in sickness and mostly in good health, and we have even experienced poverty and in being in a state of not wanting or lacking anything that we needed. Even the desires of our hearts have been met as God has seen desirable to fulfill them.
When we put ourselves in the hands of God, and do as He says regarding life, much can be said of His blessing on the people who are willing to be obedient to His ways. God has given us His guidelines for what a marriage should be and anything outside of those limits He will not bless. For how can God go against His own laws of living life as He wills. To do so is to make a mockery of His knowledge and wisdom. Can man be more wise than God? Then why are we willing to seek what we want and not what He says is the right thing to do.
God put Mary and I together those many years ago and He has kept us together all along the way. We have been blessed by Him, guided by Him and loved by Him. What God has joined together, as He has with us, let not man separate.
I am still in love with the wife of my youth and I am still enraptured with her love. Her beauty is still as the first day that we met and my love for her is greater than ever. Yes, I have found a “virtuous” woman and I have been blessed with love far greater than anyone could dream. In fact, she was, and still is, the girl of my dreams.
My wife does fear the Lord, in ways that pleases God, and for that she does deserve praise. That is the reason for this post. As it is indeed written to be in praise of my wife…
Ah, February! The month of Valentines and the month of love. What better way of celebrating this wonderful emotion than by looking at the moment when God planted the seeds of love in mankind.
During creation, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1: 27, 28
In Genesis 1 God gives us an overview of His making of the male and female persons to populate the Earth and that they were to have dominion over it. Then in Genesis 2 we are told “how” God made them.
Genesis 2: 7, 18, 21
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
When God created man he was not meant to be alone. He needed more. He needed someone to stand by his side to share life and to enjoy each other in ways that were only meant for a man and a woman. Their differences were such that coming together was natural and pleasurable both physically and emotionally. Knowing that a relationship of this nature could only be truly realized as a lifelong union, God created and ordained a covenant for them so that only through this ceremony could the two of them find true happiness and love.
In doing so God created marriage and we read what God’s purpose was for this union in Genesis 2: 24, 25:,
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
The nature and makeup of a man and a woman is such that they can come together in a natural union, not only for procreation, but for the pleasure and enjoyment, both physically and emotionally, that only these two can experience. A man and a woman’s body were designed for this coming together in a natural and normal way.
Even Jesus knew this – as he is God in the flesh – and in Matthew 19: 4 we read where He says this:
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Even in Mark 10:6-8 Jesus tells us this:
6 But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Jesus knew that the true physical and emotional well-being of a man and a women could only be found in each other. Jesus not only affirmed this, but He also confirmed that God created a man and a woman to come together in one flesh, to bring life into the world and to enjoy each other in the confines of a marriage agreement between the two of them.
By God’s standards, a marriage is to be between a man and a woman. No matter what man says or does it can never rise to the level of being accepted by God, nor can God bless what He has not ordained should be. To do otherwise is just to make a mock-marriage and indulge in mock-sexuality.
I understand that you may say that God never meant for marriage to be this way. You may even say that you do not believe in God and will only do what “you” will.
You may even believe that God will bless some other union as long as “love” is involved.
If “love” is your answer, if “love” is the action upon which you make your decision, remember these sayings of Jesus. From John 14: 15, 21, 23. 24
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
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.”
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.
You want to make “love” your guiding means of obedience? Jesus said:
“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Who’s “love” will guide you, man’s or God’s (Jesus)? God knows what is best for us, and it is His will and command for marriage to be between a man and a woman. Anything else will never receive the blessing, understanding or love of God. The question you should answer is – who do you love more?
Yes, marriage is a gift from God, and God created the ones who will benefit from it. He created them male and female and blessed their union.