The other day, I was sitting in the waiting room of a hospital with a friend while his wife was having a heart-cath. He is a member of our congregation, and of course, we were talking freely about biblical subjects.
One of the many discussions we had was about how it is that there are so many differing beliefs concerning how one is born-again. Especially, when we are all supposedly reading the same bible? [particular translations aside].
The one thing we do know is for any answers concerning the bible, the best place to look is in the bible itself. I believe the bible to be God’s Word and authority on this subject. I believe the bible to be true and accurate; it is man’s understanding or interpretation of it that we have to call into question.
Having said that: In John 3, Jesus was having an interaction with one of the top religious leaders of the day whose name was Nicodemus.
John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Please notice Jesus is speaking here and since He was the one sent from above to fulfill the will of the Father in coming to redeem mankind; do you think we might want to pay attention to what He said?
I guess the first thing we should note in V1 is: you can be religious and NOT be born-again in the eyes of God. This tells me that NOT all ways are valid avenues if we expect to enter God’s Heaven. Note also in V3, Jesus says, if we want to enter into God’s Kingdom; “WE MUST be born-again; according to His Way”.
I believe if Jesus says we must be born-again, then there is a certain clear path. A right way and a wrong way and as we will see; Jesus is God’s Way. I have to add here if we choose any other path; whatever heaven we create in our own minds; will still be hell as far as God is concerned. The Bible gives us that clear path. God made it so easy anyone can do it, but there always seems to be those who know better than God.
Those who choose a path other than the one God has established will have no one to blame but themselves for their error. Salvation is a personal choice and we should choose wisely, because our eternal destination depends on it.
What is the path? Most people have been exposed to the bible verse: John 3:16. Whether at a football game or some other means, but I believe we should never make it a standalone verse without including verses 17 and 18.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
In this verse, there are three main players. God, Jesus, His only begotten Son, and whosoever.
What it is telling us is that God has provided a goal, a prize, an end result, if you will; which is eternal or everlasting life. (It should be noted here, this life spoken of is spiritual, not physical. No one lives forever physically. (more on that in another blog).
Our verse tells us: “God” is the benefactor, “Jesus” is the path, and “whosoever” is the recipient. What one must do to receive that prize or end result is follow the path God has provided. One does that by believing by faith in God’s path. “…whosoever believeth in him [The Son] should not perish, but have everlasting life”. And all this took place because of God’s love for mankind.
Many I have encountered through-out the years, think God is some big ogre who is just waiting for you to mess up so He can punish you but this is NOT what the bible reveals. While judgment will come eventually, at an appointed time, God did not send Jesus into this earth to judge, or to condemn us, but to save us.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
These 3 verses combined give us the good news and the bad news. The good news is God has provided a way (Jesus) for whosoever to be (saved) born-again. To be born-again is to be reconciled with God; restored to a right relationship. The bad news is if we don’t do things His way; we will enter into His Kingdom.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
But what we find in these verses is we [the whosoever] choose our own destination. God provided the path and the means is by one key word mentioned several times in these verses; “believe”.
Here is the simplest way to say it. Believe and you will be saved; don’t and you won’t.
There are those among the religious ranks who like to argue various points of scripture, sometimes over semantics, mostly over stupid stuff. But nonetheless, they just like to argue.
Here is why I bring that up. While it is true, there are scriptures that say “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”; what is it we are to believe? This is where the argument usually comes into play.
If I bring up Romans 10:8-10 some get quite upset and argue “that is that Lordship doctrine, we are saved by faith alone”. I agree with both of those statements. Jesus is Lord and we believe by faith. The issue is they try to separate the validity of other scriptures that give more information and detail into spiritual matters.
For instance: Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
The “it” we preach is the word of faith. But do we just mentally assent to it or do we have to believe it a little deeper than that? Continuing on scripture says,
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For some reason, this is where people get upset. My question is WHY? These verses are just giving us more detail on how to be born-again.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
V10 tells us how it works. V11 -13 brings us right back to the “whosoever”. That God will save those who call upon His name and that is done by confessing with the mouth and believing in the heart.
There is so much more we could say here but the bottom line is this. Every man, woman, and child born into this earth, needs a Savior if they want to enter into God’s Kingdom.
God has provided a path, a way, and that way is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No other way is ok with God, regardless of our doctrines or belief systems; aren’t these two scriptures really saying the same thing; just expanding the definition of what faith is?
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