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E-zine Volume 3, Issue 3

Be a Light!

Let your light shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Every professed believer in Christ maintains a public testimony before others whether we realize it or not. How we choose to live our lives is always under public review. Our chosen lifestyle continuously sends a message to others reflecting our personal relationship to Christ. Our works speak words long before we ever open our mouths to vocally share Him with others.  To maintain a constant awareness that we are being watched and live a life filled with good works will always result in shining a bright light upon our heavenly Father and His gospel. However, it is always good to open our mouths and speak.  

We are excited about the seventh annual Glimpses of Grace Conference coming up at the end of the month. We hope you will join us for worship, praise and fellowship. See the flyer below for more information,

Continue to pray for Mike Moore – the editor of our Ezine magazine. He is fighting a battle to recover from a serious back surgery.

Links to articles in this edition of the Glimpses Ezine:

Ducks – Jessica Moore Otto, in her “Front Porch Living,” says we can learn a lot from a duck

Copy That – Danny Forrest’s second article in his Kingdom Stories: Guardians of the Gospel

Buckets of Grace – Tanya Moore shares how God has revealed His grace in her life through difficult times

Moore Thoughts – Mike Moore reflects on his recent surgery and hospitalization

The Church in Decline – Dick Hill says that many believers are not willing to invest in the time and teaching necessary for growth

Well Said– notable quotes

Glimpses Conference 2019– Register today! We hope you will join us May 31-June 1. 

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Credits:

Richard J. Hill, Editor-in-Chief

Michael L. Moore, Editor

Linda Hill, Design Editor

Contact Info:

Glimpses of Grace, 2587 Attala Road 1153, Kosciusko, MS 39090

www.glimpsesofgrace.org

(662) 347-8291 (727) 458-1813

Glimpses of Grace Board Members:

Richard J. Hill, Linda Hill, Danny Forrest, John Howell Jr., Quinn Hill, Michael L. Moore, Ken Sheppard

Copyright 2019 by Glimpses of Grace, a 501(c)3 ministry.

 

 

Born into God’s Kingdom

There can be no birth without seed. God has given us a can’t miss over the top object lesson of the only way to get into His kingdom.  How does one get into this world after God’s creation of Adam and Eve?  One must be born into it. One cannot get into this world any other way. God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply – and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). And they did and are continuing to do. So how does one get into God’s coming kingdom? As incredible as this may sound, one must be born into it. One must experience a new birth, a heavenly birth.   

Consider the now familiar conversation between an extremely religious and highly educated Pharisee named Nicodemus and a carpenter from Nazareth named Jesus.  It is true that familiarity may cause us to read over and miss the important meaning of some parts of this meeting. The scene opens with Nicodemus (from now on I will refer to him as Nick), a religious ruler of the Jews coming to visit Jesus for an evening chat.

Nick most likely chose to meet with this stranger at night, because as a ruler among the Jews he may have been more than just a little uncomfortable with the idea of meeting publicly with Jesus. What would people say if the two were seen together. What would Nick’s family, friends, and fellow Pharisees think?

After all, Jesus was from Nazareth, which was in this elite Pharisee’s thinking, a backwoods shanty area. Nick on the other hand was from Jerusalem, the capitol city of Judaism. Jesus was poor, a carpenter, the son of a carpenter. Nick was a wealthy aristocrat. Jesus had no religious pedigree or formal religious training of any kind. Nick was a highly decorated member of the religious establishment. To say that there was a social barrier separating them would be an understatement. It was more like a chasm.  Meeting under the cover of darkness away from any possible appearance of befriending and, perish the thought, supporting this strange character, appeared to be a wise move on Nick’s part. 

Nick broke the ice by flattering Jesus. “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher come from God, for man cannot do the signs that you do unless God is with Him” (John 3:1-2).

He called Jesus a rabbi, a teacher. It was as though Nick was conferring on Jesus some complimentary status. By his use of the words “we know,” he implied that his fellow Pharisees also recognized that Jesus was from God. The reason? No one could perform the miracles that Jesus was doing without God’s help.  This reveals that the religious establishment knew that Christ’s miracles were not fake. This was a good way to start this meeting. 

Jesus no doubt stunned the Pharisee with the very first words out of His mouth. “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”(John 3:3). To say it like many in the south, Jesus cut right to the chase. There was no recorded positive gesture on Jesus’ part to Nick’s compliment.  He did not thank Nick for his gracious words. This was not the time for politics. Jesus knew the value of this meeting – a meeting that would be reviewed and re-reviewed countless times down through history.

He knew that every word would be hashed over and over, again and again. Jesus told the very religious Pharisee that unless he experienced a new birth, he would not enter the kingdom of God. It appears at first that Jesus words were harsh and abrupt. His words were not abrupt if, in fact, Jesus knew that Nick had been thinking about God’s kingdom. How is this possible? John had just before written that Jesus had no need that anyone testify of man because He already knew what all were thinking(John 2: 24-25). Surely this included Nick. Jesus stepped right into Nick’s thoughts.

The Greek words for “born again,” are genesia anathen,or a birth that comes from above, or said another way, a heavenly birth. There may have been a sudden spike in Nick’s blood pressure. Not necessarily because of what Jesus said, but because of the fact that Jesus had read his mind.

Our Lord’s deep underlying point behind His born-again words is that a natural fleshly sinful person affected by the fall of Adam must be made a heavenly spiritual person in order to enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:14-15). 

One will never move from the realm of this human flesh and blood world into God’s spiritual unseen world without this birth. We are born into this world having a physical body.  Within our bodies God has placed an invisible soul and human spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The soul and spirit are the real “us” within our human frame. It is the part of us that no one can truly understand but us and God (1 Corinthians 2:11).

This human spirit is God’s image implanted within us. This invisible image remains locked in this earthly shell until we die.  One day we are destined to shed this earthly tent – this body – and be jettisoned from this earthly world to spend eternity in God’s kingdom or in hell – forever.  Our spiritual destination is determined by the truth unpacked by these powerful words of Jesus Christ. “Unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  

Overwhelmingly implied is that one cannot earn his way to God’s kingdom by becoming a better person, or keeping God’s commands, or joining a particular religious group, or having a religious experience, or giving money to the poor, or saying prayers, or doing many wonderful works. I mention these things because being a Pharisee, keeping God’s law, was never far from Nick’s thinking. He probably loved God’s law and was depending upon that love to get him into God’s kingdom.  

Expanding further on what many have come to believe will get us into God’s kingdom are the teachings of Islam, or Buddha, or becoming a devout Hindu, or a Mormon, or a Jehovah’s Witness, or even following the example and teachings of Jesus Christ Himself.

Nor can a person get in by joining a Baptist church, a Presbyterian church, a Catholic church, a Lutheran church, an Episcopalian church, a Pentecostal church, or the Church of Christ, or any church.  One must be born of God. This is precisely what Jesus said. He never misspoke. He never said a word that He did not mean. Christians are people who become connected to Christ by a supernatural birth.

Jesus is telling this very religious person that all of his human achievements – no matter how great – will not get him into the kingdom of God. There is only one way to get in and that is through a new birth – whatever that means. 

Nick was obviously amazed by the fact that this strange man had read his thoughts, but while he was trying to mentally recover, he responded the only way he felt he could. “What, can I enter a second time into my mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4). He had no doubt heard the word’s born againloud and clear. He quickly retreated to the only birth that he knew anything about.

Our Lord, a master teacher, was not trying to confuse Nick (John 7:46). In fact, Jesus had mentioned a truth that should not have been foreign to Nick’s thinking. Jesus was challenging Nick to stop thinking earthly thoughts and to begin to think heavenly.  He said that unless one is born of water and the Spirit, one cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “Do not marvel (be amazed) that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit.” This should not have been incredible to Nick. He needed to leave his earthly fleshly thoughts and concentrate on heavenly spiritual things. And so must we, if we are to be born of God.  

 

 

Powerful Seed

Christians are physical people who have been made spiritual people by means of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23). To become a Christian, one needs neither reformation nor religion. One does not need to follow the teachings of Islam or Buddha, to become a devout Hindu, Mormon, or Jehovah’s Witness, or even to follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. A person does not need to become a Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Catholic, or an Episcopalian. One needs to be born of God by hearing and responding to the gospel. 

The gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit, is the only power on earth capable of infusing spiritual life into the spiritually dead. The only place on this earth where this message is found is in the Bible. This is why the Bible was given to man. This is why Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ and why he called it “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

The Greek word for “power” is dunamis. It is where we get our English word “dynamite.” The gospel is the dynamite of God.

The gospel is God’s powerful seed planted by the Holy Spirit into the soil of the mind. When the Spirit germinates the seed, it results in faith in Christ and new life. The gospel has the power to break through every barrier, every objection, every human argument, and all the human rationalization that is thrown against it. The simplicity of the gospel insults both man’s intelligence and his pride. No amount of education, success, or wealth can give us a spiritual birth. Only the gospel wielded by the Holy Spirit of God can make it happen.

We have no control over God’s power to give the new birth. A great illustration of this is our human birth. God alone determined that we would have life and how and when and where this life would occur. He determined all of the various circumstances behind it. He made it happen.

The same is true with spiritual birth. The new birth involves hearing and believing the gospel. It also involves trusting in Jesus Christ, becoming connected to Christ by birth.The result is that the one believing in Christ becomes a child of God. But God does it all. God is in complete control of the whole process.

John was very clear on this. He wrote that all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ are given the authority to become children of God. He then quickly added that God’s children are born not from a physical genealogical line of human beings, as a result of human choice, or from the choice of any human father, but from the source of God alone (John 1:12–13). No power on earth or in heaven can cause God to give life or prevent Him from making it happen.

 

 

Regeneration and Seed

One does not have to be a Bible scholar or an expert theologian to understand how sinful people become Christians. All we need to know is a little something about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, and we are there. God is the great genius. He penned the Bible for ordinary people who are acquainted with His creation. Arguably the most amazing and powerful glimpse into the invisible world of God is the Bible’s teaching about regeneration. The science of biological regeneration is a God-ordained fact of life. In the beginning, God established this unchanging blueprint. After His initial creative act, God destined that all living organisms reproduce themselves. God ordained that both plants and animals procreate by making seed within themselves and reproducing more plants and animals according to their kind (Genesis 1:11–12).

Thus God commanded what scientists call “organic reproduction.” It is referred to as the cycle of life. He created trees that produce fruit containing seed, and the planted seed again regenerates the tree. Apple trees make apples and the seeds within them. Other fruit trees do the same. Corn seeds regenerate corn plants and then corn, and the process starts again. The seeds always produce fruit after their kind. James said that the fig tree does not produce olives, and the grapevine does not produce figs (James 3:12).

A seed can be stored away and lie dormant for years. It may give the appearance that there is no life within, but when it is placed into the ground, the whole of God’s universe springs into action to cause germination. The earth turns on its axis, and the seasons change, bringing the spring.

The sun, which is located some 93,000,000 miles away, warms the soil to just the right temperature. The tides move in with the pull of the moon, causing the warm air to rise from the oceans and to turn to tiny droplets of water. The wind currents move this moisture inland, producing condensation and the rain that waters the seed. The lightning flashes and produces the necessary nitrogen to fertilize the soil. The seed germinates, and another plant is born. This process has been repeated throughout history.

It is God who sends the rain from heaven and provides fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17). What an amazing thought! God is in absolute control of the whole process.

God also established the same biological regeneration pattern for the animal world. He created sea creatures and birds and told them to “be fruitful and multiply on the earth” (Genesis 1:20, 24–25). The phrase “according to its kind” is repeated over and over. There are obvious genetic changes within the plant and animal world. There are different kinds of plants and different breeds of animals, but there is no crossing over from one species to another. Plants do not reproduce animals, animals do not reproduce plants, dogs do not reproduce cats, birds do not reproduce fish, and so forth. God’s established order is firmly in place and He has an amazing purpose for this. God created it all to reveal to us His beyond this world plan. It is all a gigantic object lesson.

The remarkable truth made known is that God’s words – all 774, 646 of them – are His incredible seed, His sperma(1 John 3:9). This seed is in the form of the good news of the origin, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:23-25). This seed is being used to birth a new generation – a heavenly generation after its kind(James 1:18).  It is spiritual seed, therefore it produces a spiritual product, a spiritual birth (John 1:13, 3:6). God’s seed is guided by Him – generation after generation – all over the earth reproducing a heavenly people that will one day occupy a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). God sends His seed to accomplish His purpose, and it never fails. There are no miscarriages (Isaiah 55:11). Wow!  

Bible People

Image result for bible imagesThe very first time the word Christian is found in the Bible is in the book of Acts where it says that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). King Agrippa said that Paul almost persuaded him to become a Christian (Acts 26:28). Peter said that if anyone suffered as a Christian, he should not be ashamed but should glorify God (1 Peter 4:16). That’s it. Those three references are the only times in the Bible the word Christian is mentioned.

What does the word Christian mean? It means “belonging to Christ” or “connected to Christ.” Some of the most exciting glimpses into God’s invisible domain are the ones that teach us exactly how we are connected to Him.

True Christians know quite well that we are connected to Christ by faith and faith alone (Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 4:4–5). Some still erroneously believe that to be saved, human works must be added to faith. This is not the case. We receive God’s gift of forever life by placing our faith alone in the person of Christ alone.

First and most importantly, Christians are Bible people. For most readers, this would appear glaringly obvious. “Well, of course,” you might respond. “What else would we be?”

Then again, you may not understand exactly what I mean by Bible people. Christians believe the Bible to be God’s inerrant, infallible Word. Christians are to be faithful to study the Bible, seeking to find the correct interpretation so we can do what it says and teach it accurately. There is much more to the Bible than most people understand.

There are books considered by many to be holy books, including the Hindu Veda, the teachings of Buddha, the Muslim Koran, the Book of Mormon, and the Bible. People become Hindus because they are taught out of the Veda. Buddhists study and attempt to follow the teachings of Mahatma Buddha. Muslims believe and follow the teachings of the Koran. Mormons form their beliefs from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

However, there is no book equal to the Bible. There is only one God, and He has spoken to us only through the Bible. The apostle Peter said, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20–21).

The teaching contained in the Bible is not a record of man’s thoughts about God. It is, in fact, God’s Word about Himself. The Bible says that all Scripture is inspired of God. The word inspired means “God breathed.” Every word recorded in the Bible is the very breath of God revealed in written form (2 Timothy 3:16). Since this is true, the Word of God is living and powerful. The words are spiritually alive, and when wielded by the Holy Spirit, they make a spiritual impact upon readers (Hebrews 12:1–2).

The Holy Spirit moved special men to write down God’s Word as He dictated it to them. The writers’ human minds were active, but the Holy Spirit was in complete control of everything they thought, spoke, and wrote. They used their own words, but their words were guided through the directing hand of God.

God used forty different writers to pen His Word over a period of some 1,600 years, yet it tells one story from beginning to end. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, with a short portion in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek. The Bible has been translated from its original languages into many languages, allowing God to speak to many nations and peoples around the world. From Genesis through Revelation, God’s Word, the Bible, is complete and completely truthful. God preserved and protected His Word and brought it safely down to us today.

The result is that the Bible that we hold in our hands includes all the words with all their proper meanings that God intends for us to have. Every word matters. The Bible in its original language is inerrant and infallible. Every noun, verb, adjective, adverb, participle, infinitive, conjunction, and prepositional phrase is in the Bible by God’s design. The Bible contains 1,189 chapters; 41,173 verses in the Old Testament; 33,214 verses in the New Testament; 593,393 words in the Old Testament; 181,253 words in the New Testament; and 774,646 total words.[i]  The longest chapter is Psalm 119, and the shortest is Psalm 117. The longest book in the Old Testament is Psalms, and the longest in the New Testament is Luke.

Let’s ask a most searching question. Why did God choose to make His Word known to us? It is because no other book on earth can do what this book has the power to do. Stay tuned!

 

[i]Roy B. Zuck. The Speakers Quote Book.Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997, 33.


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