This month we are looking at "Salvation". The first two weeks were spent addressing certain foundational concepts that will help us understand Salvation in-depth. Last week, we began bringing Resolution to the Doctrine of Salvation by separating out Reward, sinning against people, and the Salvation process under the Law. This week we will fill in the Doctrine of Salvation according to the New Testament.
In the previous post, we saw that grace removes dust and helps convert us from a natural person to MORE of a spiritual person. This is the process of Salvation. Today, we are going to look at the FIRST event that begins this process.
John 3 (ASV)
"1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 the same came unto him by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him."
(This critical chapter in The Gospel According to St. John began with a Pharisee admitting that THEY KNEW Jesus is a teacher that had come from God. WHY? FOR no one could do what Jesus was doing EXCEPT God be with Him. Already, this chapter was loaded with revelation. The Pharisees knew Jesus was a teacher from God because God flowed through Jesus...grace! Also, this chapter was beginning with a discussion from the perspective of KNOWLEDGE...)
"3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
(The gospels consistently documented that Jesus actively looked for opportunities to teach. He would do this by meeting the person where they were at and then extending their analogy/experience to a spiritual perspective. The woman at the well talked about physical water...Jesus talked about spiritual water. The crowd talked about physical bread...Jesus talked about spiritual bread. The Disciples talked about a physical temple...Jesus talked about a spiritual temple. This conversion from physical to spiritual was a theme that we will see Paul focused on during next month's study on I Corinthians.)
(Getting back to what Jesus was teaching the Pharisee: Jesus was stating that the first step for one to take in order to have God flowing through them was they must be "born anew". Other versions used the words "born again". This is where we get the term "born again". Jesus was blatantly stating that except someone did this, they couldn't see the kingdom of God...they couldn't attain Salvation.)
"4 Nicodemus saith unto 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?"
(The Pharisee was led by Jesus to ask: What does it mean to be "born anew" or "born again"?)
"5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God!
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew."
(What does it mean to be "born again"? In verse 6, Jesus began to bring Resolution to the question: there are two perspectives we can operate in! Flesh and spirit. Remember how Paul concluded Romans 7 when he explained there is a struggle within him to do right but it doesn't always come out? "25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." Paul made the distinction that WITH HIS MIND (because he was a believer) he served God, however his flesh (which was separate from his Mind) served sin. Jesus was making the same distinction: that which is born of flesh is flesh...you need to focus on that which is born of the Spirit. What did "born anew" mean?)
(Joel Swokowski taught me the answer to this question months ago, so here it is in his words using the KJV which stated "be born again": "be born" in this verse came from the Greek word gennao which meant "of men who fathered children; to be born", this was not particularly suprising to me. On further research I also looked up what "again" meant. "again" in this verse came from the Greek word anothen which meant "from above, from a higher place; of things which come from heaven or God.")
(Being "born again" meant "to be born from above"...to be spiritually born. There are only two possible births. The first birth is physical and everyone on earth goes through this. The ONLY other birth left is the spiritual birth...it comes from above...it is of the Spirit...and NOT everyone goes through it. Once a person goes through this second birth...there is NO MORE births to go through because the Spirit doesn't die once it is born. The spirit will exist forever. The flesh will not. We will look at this point later this week. For now, realize Jesus just told the Pharisee that having God flow through you ONLY occurs once the person is born of the Spirit. Jesus had completely separated the flesh from the spirit. Next He was going to teach much deeper...)
"8 The wind bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?"
(Jesus was using a natural example to make a spiritual point: you know the wind exists even though you can't see it or control it. The Spirit is the same way. Spiritual birth is just as real as the natural wind. Also, remember the analogy from the Brain Series? The Holy Spirit is the wind. If this was all a person needed to be able to do this, then this conversation should end. However, the Pharisee was asking for MORE information. The Pharisee asked HOW. The Pharisee was trying to UNDERSTAND. Was Jesus going to end the conversation and walk away? Was Jesus going to tell the Pharisee he shouldn't need a logical explanation and keep appealing to the Pharisee through emotion...through effects..."Just do it and don't ask any more questions!" Was Jesus going to reinforce that the Pharisee ought to UNDERSTAND? Take a moment and decide what Jesus was going to do...and decide how you have seen others handle this discussion...Have you seen people use Jesus' comment about the wind to PROVE that the process of Salvation is a mystery "like the wind"?)
"10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou the teacher of Israel, and understandest not these things?"
(Ouch! Jesus BLATANTLY asked how a person whose job it was to TEACH, why he had NO UNDERSTANDING of these things! UNDERSTANDING was HUGE to Jesus! In fact, UNDERSTANDING is necessary for Salvation! We will look at that point in depth tomorrow. For now, watch how much time Jesus was going to spend EXPLAINING Salvation...its purpose...how it is rooted in history...the process...even why UNDERSTANDING itself is important. Notice this is going to cover the most popular New Testament verse!)
"11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that which we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12 If I told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?"
(This was BRUTAL passage...Jesus was saying that WE (disciples) speak that which WE know. He was STRESSING the importance of THINKING. He also said that WE bear witness of physical things...things they have seen and the Pharisees didn't believe it. Jesus then said if you don't believe us when we talk of physical things, HOW can you believe if He told us of spiritual things. Basically, Jesus was saying that if you DON'T have the capacity to understand logical things that are provable, there is NO WAY for you to believe spiritual things. Notice, some people think they are MORE able to believe spiritual things because they have NO understanding of physical things...they are MORE able to believe spiritual things because they aren't logical. This passage had Jesus saying the EXACT OPPOSITE! You need to have the capacity to think and be logical in order to believe in spiritual things.)
(In June of 2012, we did an entire post based on this passage and support by many other passages that the Supernatural (spiritual) was "beyond the Natural"...meaning that ALL of the miracles were done with Natural causes that resulted in something MORE NATURAL than what would have been expected. Nowhere is the misunderstanding of the Biblical definition of Supernatural more apparent than in fantasy stories like The Harry Potter Series and The Chronicles of Narnia. What they present is ACTUALLY "Unnatural". Here's the link to that post: Supernatural.)
(We did an entire series on The Importance of Thinking. We found that there are two ways to think: according to the flesh (like an animal) and according to God. We found that it is IMPOSSIBLE not to think, so ANYONE who is telling you thinking is bad is ACTUALLY encouraging you to think according to the flesh because THAT type of thinking happens automatically...it is in our nature. Jesus stressed the importance of thinking. If you don't believe this, please click the link in this paragraph and follow the series on how God made and intended our brain to work.)
"13 And no one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up;
15 that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life."
(First of all, realize these verses were NOT stated by Jesus! These verses were stated by John the author of this gospel and showed that he had written this gospel account AFTER Jesus had returned to heaven...otherwise, Jesus would be saying He was BOTH on earth and in heaven at the same time...which would create many contradictions especially whenever Jesus was surprised or amazed while He was on earth. In fact, the rest of the passage quoted in this post ALL came from John the author of this gospel account.)
(As for the content of this passage, we will look at it later. For now, realize Jesus just said that if you can't understand the physical example, you will not be able to understand the spiritual. Did people have to recognize the serpent that Moses lifted up one time or EVERYTIME they were ailing? Is Salvation a one time event or a continual process?)
"16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.
17 For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him."
(It seems people love verse 16...the "comparative" purpose for Jesus' coming to earth: Salvation. However, John BLATANTLY linked this very famous and oft-quoted verse to the "contrastive" purpose for Jesus' coming to earth: NOT to JUDGE. Didn't we see this in the Romans series? Do you think we will see this at a deeper level in the I Corinthians series?)
"18 He that believeth on him is not judged: he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God."
(This is the verse that gave some of the HOW of the process of Salvation. Believing on Jesus causes the individual to avoid the judgment that leads to eternal punishment. When we don't believe on Jesus, then we are headed for eternal punishment and don't have "Salvation". Notice this point immediately followed the "contrastive" purpose for Jesus' coming to earth...the part that most "Christians" can't quote and DON'T follow...)
"19 And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God."
(John gets VERY SPECIFIC as to what the judgment was: light (spirit) had come into the world and men loved darkness (dust/flesh/leaven) and the result was they had evil works. John was stating that works are an EFFECT of whether the person believes on Jesus...whether they are walking in the spirit or walking in the flesh. In the Book of Romans series we saw that we aren't to judge the person because we all have effects come out of us that are evil...because we all are operating in some part of the flesh. We ought to actively look for good effects, also known as Righteousness, that come out of the individual. In Romans 2, Paul stated that judging people opens us up to a double judgment because we also have bad effects due to the flesh that hasn't been converted AND we are hypocrites because we are acting like we don't have ANY bad effects. Remember, we ALL have flesh/dust that needs to be removed and this is a constant process...a constant statement of our will...which can only be done by taking increasingly more direction from God.)
"Born Again" meant to be born from above. This is a spiritual birth that occurs once and then we spend the rest of our earthly lives either walking in the flesh and covering up our spiritual person or walking in the spirit and continually removing dust/flesh.
We saw that NOT judging is a part of the Salvation process. We also saw that Jesus considered understanding to be a vital part of the Salvation process. Tomorrow we will get more understanding on this passage...