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Born Again

In the third chapter of the book of John we see a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night seeking answers as to who He was. Nicodemus recognized Jesus was from God but wanted to know more. Jesus then startled Nicodemus with a statement he had difficulty understanding. Jesus said in John 3:3 to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus not understanding Jesus statement asked in the next verse, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus then answered in verses five and six, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

At first Jesus said unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Then Jesus said, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. I believe Jesus was basically making the same statement, but rewording it a little for Nicodemus to better understand.

If we are alive today we were delivered from the water from the flesh as flesh. In other words we were conceived and formed into flesh in our mother’s womb and thus we were born. If we are born again we have been born of the Spirit of God. If we are not born of the Spirit of God we cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God.

The question that is now before us is, “How do I become born again?” The simple answer is, we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior by believing in who He is and the works He has done on the cross to purchase redemption. By grace we are saved by faith and not by works. (Ephesians 2:9-10).

Paul said in Romans 5:20, “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” In other words, regardless of how much sin we have had in our lives, God has more grace. Therefore, all our sins, regardless of how much, will be washed away if we place our faith in Jesus.

Paul then asks in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” Since God has more grace than we have sin should we just keep on sinning so God’s grace can increase? If we ever see yelling in writing we see it in Romans 6:2 when Paul said, “May it never be!” He then goes on to explain through the remainder of this chapter that those who are in Christ are dead to sin. They have died and have been buried with Christ.

For one to be born again he must first die; not physically but spiritually. One must die to his flesh, his hopes, his dreams, his goals, his ways, his ideas, his thoughts, and basically everything that has made him, him. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Jesus said that the requirement of following Him was denying yourself and taking up your cross. Remember that the cross is an instrument of death.

Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Paul’s hopes, dreams, goals, ways, ideas, thoughts, and everything that made Paul, Paul was no longer about him, for he denied himself, it was about Jesus. He was born again. He died to Paul and came alive to Jesus. How did he do this? He explained how in the second part of Galatians 2:20 where he wrote, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Far too many people have a fire insurance type of faith. They don’t want to go to hell but they don’t want to live for Jesus either. They are unwilling to turn from their sinful, fleshly, self-centered, and self-serving ways to truly live for Jesus. Remember, Jesus said, unless you are born again you cannot see, nor enter, the kingdom of Heaven.

To be born again we must die to the flesh and come alive to Jesus. Paul saw the love that Jesus had for him and the actions of the cross that demonstrated His love. With this in mind Paul said in Colossians 3:8, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” Paul realized that he, Paul, was not worthy to live for, but Christ was more than worthy.

Have you been born again? Jesus died for you to give you life. He gave up all so you could have all; all that matters anyway. Have you died to you and come alive to Jesus, or do you simply have a fire insurance policy? Romans 8:12-13 says, “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Life is in the Blood

             As we look into the Word of God we see how brutal and bloody the death of Christ was. People often ask, “Was this bloody brutality truly necessary?” I think that in part God was showing us how ugly sin truly is. However, everything Jesus did in His life, death, and resurrection had meaning. Everything was preplanned and very intentional.

Whereas death is the wage of sin, life is the required payment for sin. Leviticus 17:11 tells us that life is in the blood. For this reason in the Old Testament sacrificial system God required the life’s blood of animals to be offered as a sacrifice for sin. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”

While Israel was still enslaved to Egypt God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand he let God’s people go. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he refused. God sent nine devastating plagues on the nation of Egypt and Pharaoh still refused to let God’s people go. The tenth plague would however change Pharaoh’s mind. This plague would bring about the death of every first born male child in all the land. God told Moses to tell His people that they would be spared from this plague of death if they would sacrifice a lamb and place its blood on the doorpost of their homes. When the angel of death came, it passed over every home covered with the blood.

Sacrifice didn’t start in Egypt. It started when God Himself sacrificed an animal to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve after they had sinned. The life’s blood was taken from this creature not only to cover their nakedness, but also their sin. The giving of life’s blood was clearly the requirement of God from the very beginning of creation and passed down from generation to generation. Eventually it was commanded by God in the Law of Moses for Israel to abide by.

God knew that He would have to give His Son as a sacrifice for sin before He ever created Adam and before He ever laid down the foundations of the earth. Revelation 13:8 says, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” This verse does not mean that God predetermined whose name would be written down in the book of life and whose name would not be, as some would suggest. For God to create people He had no intention of saving would make Him an unjust God. This verse tells us that God foreknew whose name would be written in the book of life. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

The bloodiness of the cross was necessary for the salvation of mankind. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption of sins.” One of the cruelties of the cross was that those who were crucified died a slow agenizing and humiliating death as their life’s blood slowly drained from their bodies. They were literally bled out.

The blood sacrifices of the Old Testament were temporary and insufficient. For this reason the process needed to be continually repeated. I peter 3:18 says, “Christ also died for sins once for all,” and Romans 6:10 says, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all.” Jesus sacrifice was sufficient putting an end to all sacrifice. The Old Testament sacrifice only covered the sin causing God to pass over the sin while the blood of Jesus washes away the sin. I John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The blood of Jesus sets us free and releases us from our sins. Revelation 1:5 says, “To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood.” Having been cleansed by the blood we are also sanctified, made holy, by the blood, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood.” (Hebrews 13:12).

Just before Jesus breathed His last He said, “It is finished,” letting us know that all of the work for the redemption of sins was completed. Nothing else needed to be done. Christ work on the cross and the shedding of His blood is sufficient for salvation opening the door for whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. When Jesus breathed His last the word of God tells us that the veil that separated the outside world from the holy of holies, where the very presence of God dwelt, inside of the Temple, was ripped from top to bottom. Because of the blood we can now enter the presence of God. Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

The cleansing power of the blood of Christ is available to anyone that will turn to Him and believe on Him. But how will all know, unless we tell them?

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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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