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Archive for Born Again

Two Births

Each of us is born into Satan’s kingdom of darkness with Adam’s sin stamped indelibly on us (1 Cor. 15:22). We are born fleshly people, and we must be reborn into God’s kingdom of light to become spiritual people. Paul clearly divides all of humanity into these two categories: soulish people and spiritual people. He calls the soulish person a “natural man,” or unsaved.  This natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14). Why? He can’t. He cannot know them! Can’t implies ability! He does not have the ability to know the things of God because spiritual things are foolishness to him, or moronic. But could not this soulish man study and struggle and finally understand God’s truth? No! The fleshly person may study the Bible endlessly, dissecting every noun, verb, adjective and adverb, unendingly pondering over it, reading and rereading it, and still it would make no sense. It would remain folly or foolishness. Why? Because God’s truths can only be spiritually discerned or understood.

 

It takes a spiritual person, guided by the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, to begin to mine the treasures of God’s Word. In fact, the spiritual person rightly judges all things. Paul says the spiritual man – the pneumatikos man, the person having a living spirit – has the correct judgment of everything. He has a spiritual equilibrium. He has what I call the divine viewpoint – God’s viewpoint of looking at the world through the lens of God’s eyes. For this reason, this spiritual person cannot be understood or judged by fleshly people. Spiritual people do not fit in Satan’s world. To the fleshly person, the spiritual person appears to be a spiritual schizophrenic – sick, even from another world, which is absolutely true. We belong to Jesus Christ, who said to a religious crowd, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He,you will die in your sins” (John 8:23-24).

 

It’s extremely clear! The spiritual person is not of this world. This is why the fleshly person cannot understand the spiritual person. To the earthly eyes of the fleshly person, the spiritual person is just weird, from another planet. They become even more divided as the spiritual person grows in their understanding of scripture. Said simply, the spiritual person and the fleshly person live in the same world, but the spiritual person looks at it through the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said, “We (spiritual people) have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:15).

 

Notice that Paul called Adam a type of Him who was to come (Rom. 5:14) The Greek word “type” is tupos, meaning imprint. It would be like a hammer striking a wooden board. Though the hammer may not be visible, its imprint is there. The imprint reveals that the unseen hammer exists. The truth that the first Adam is a “type of Christ” is hidden in plain sight! The Bible speaks of two Adam’s, not just one (1 Cor. 15:45-49). What makes the first Adam an imprint of the last? They are both progenitors of a civilization of people: one physical, the other spiritual. They produce two different peoples through two different seeds – Adam the first, a corrupt spiritually dead people through his corrupt seed; Adam the Last, a spiritually living people through an incredible miraculous incorrupt seed called the gospel. “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible by means of the word of God which lives and abides forever. By this word is the gospel preached unto you (1 Pet. 1:23-25). God is the ultimate Genius, is He not? 

 

Through the seminally corrupt seed of the first man, a sinful people are being birthed – called the children of wrath, children of darkness (Eph. 2:1-4; 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:5). Adam’s corrupt seed is being passed family to family, generation to generation. Physical death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over all who had not sinned like Adam (Rom. 5:14). This means that death became the indicator that people are spiritually dead. Tombstones remind us! Later, God mercifully added His law through Moses in order that sin might be taken into account before death comes (Rom. 5:13). 

 

This is a horribly terrifying thought, but we actually live in a sea of living dead people. It sounds like an oxymoron, a self-contradiction, but I assure you it is not! This truth is written into the fine print of an incredible meeting of some wanna-be disciples and Jesus Christ. A zealous young man told Jesus that he would follow Him anywhere. The Lord reminded him that though animals had homes, he didn’t. It would not be comfortable to follow Him: no hotels, or hospitals, or restaurants, no comforts at all. The young man – seemingly interested, asked Jesus what sounded like a very compassionate request. He said, “First let me go bury my father, then I will follow you.)  Christ’s answer is absolutely jaw-dropping. He said to the young man, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:19-22). This does not mean that this man’s father was dead or even at the point of death. The disciple was wanting to return home until his father died and he received his inheritance, and then he would return and follow Christ with a bigger bank account. He was thinking about material concerns instead of his dedication to the Lord Jesus.

 

But what did Jesus mean by “Let the dead bury their own dead”? How is it possible for dead people to bury dead people? It’s sounds harsh, but it is real. The spiritually dead continue to bury the physically dead all over the world and will continue to do so. Satan is attached to the fallen seed of Adam because he was the culprit who made this death happen. Satan is now using Adam’s fallen seed to erect his kingdom – the kingdom of darkness. Through the seed of the last Adam – the antitype, which is the spiritual seed of the gospel – God is regenerating a new people, a people born dead in sin but who are being reborn spiritually alive. These become the part of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of light, the kingdom of life, real life.

 

Blessings!

 

Baptized into Christ; Born Again into His Kingdom

We are connecting dots. One may ask, “Connecting dots to what?” Paul’s teaching of our being “in Christ” is the very basis for who we are as Christians. Bible teachers through the years have called this “positional truth.” God’s payment for sin is death – spiritual death (Rom. 6:23). This is true for everyone – everyone. Every sinner must die. Because Christians are baptized into the one who bore all our sins in His body on the cross, we die in Him. We pay our sin debt of death in Him! This is what baptism is all about. The baptism that saves has nothing whatsoever to do with H2O. Real baptism is beyond the visible, or audible; it is beyond anything that has ever even entered into the minds of human beings (1 Cor. 2:9; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). At the moment that our faith is placed in Christ, we are immersed into our King. Paul’s words now take on incredible meaning: “I have been crucified (past tense) with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live I live by the power of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Rom. 6:1). Our debt for sin was paid in full – in the King. We are positioned in the One where the fires of hell have already burned. Now what about the issue of being born again into Christ’s kingdom?

Here is another of God’s unseen, unheard, and unimagined truths (1 Cor. 2:9; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). All are born physically into this fallen world, the dark kingdom of the first sinner – Lucifer (Col. 1:13). It was his temptation of Eve and the sin and fall of the first man, Adam, that plunged this world into darkness. Our first human father’s death seed continues to spread the gloom and doom of sin worldwide (Rom. 5:12-14). Satan told Christ that power had been given to him to give the kingdoms of this world to whomever he chose (Lk. 4: 6-7). Jesus did not dispute his words. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, or he would not enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3–6). The famous conversation is all about being born into a kingdom – the kingdom of light.

God called the first Adam “a type of Christ” (Rom. 5:14). The Greek word “type” is tupos, meaning imprint. It would be like a hammer striking a wooden board. Though the hammer may not be visible, the imprint is there. The imprint reveals the hammer. The truth is hidden in plain sight! The first Adam is an imprint of the last Adam – Christ?  The two Adam’s produce two different seeds – Adam the first, a corrupt seed; Adam the last, a living seed. Through the seminally corrupt seed of the first man, a sinful people are being birthed – the children of wrath, children of darkness (Eph. 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:5; Eph. 2:1-4).

In like manner, through the living seed of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, a new people are being born, a people of righteousness; children of light. Through the first man judgment comes; through the second man, life comes (Rom. 12:15-19). Peter continues the contrast. “Having been born again (past tense) not of corruptible seed; not of Adam’s corrupt seed, but incorruptible (living seed) through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:23). James said, “Of His own will He birthed us by His word that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His people” (James 1:18). Firstfruits is a synonym for a new heavenly people. Again, why the new birth? Peter wrote, “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away” (1 Pet. 1:23-25). All of man’s amazing achievements, including his high tech world, are going to fall away. Life is short! James said the same thing. “Life is like a vapor that appears for a little while and is gone” (James 4:14). Life is short! This is why the ancient words of Jesus to Nicodemus shout louder today than ever.

Peter said that it is through God’s word that the gospel is preached (1 Pet. 1:25). This makes the picture crystal clear. Adam the last, the Lord Jesus Christ, is birthing a new kingdom, a kingdom of light through the gospel. The gospel impregnates fallen minds and, energized by the Spirit, has the power to conceive a new birth, a new life, a spiritual life. Dead human spirits are “made alive” (Eph. 2:1). Human beings born into Satan’s kingdom of darkness are reborn into God’s kingdom of light. The moment that one is born again, God moves that one from Satan’s kingdom of darkness into Christ’s kingdom of light. This is what happens in God’s invisible world when a sinner trusts in Jesus Christ. These amazing events – baptism and the new birth – occur in an instant. And John said that God’s seed – the gospel – remains in us (1 Jn. 3:9). And oh, by the way. This makes it impossible to be saved without the gospel. God is an absolute Genius! Absolutely! Blessings!

 

Christ Died for Our Sins

I am going through the entire passage found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. Verses 3-4 say: For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” We have covered the first part of Paul’s declaration of the gospel, “the Christ.” Today we look at the second part, “died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” My absolute go-to passage on this truth is 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He (God the Father) made Him (God the Son) to become sin for us (on the cross He became my substitute) in order that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
The sin of Adam’s rebellion was placed on Christ at the moment He cried out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me.” At that moment, God the Father separated Himself from God the Son for the first time (Matthew 27:45-46). Jesus first died spiritually, and then He died physically (Matthew 27:50; John 19:30). At that very instant Jesus Christ became a type of the first Adam, by becoming the last Adam (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49). As the first Adam died because he sinned, the last Adam died as a substitute to pay for his sin. The first Adam started the fire of sin burning, and the last Adam put the flames out by the washing of His blood (Roman 5:19). Jesus Christ died for our sins. He did not die as a martyr to teach us how to give our lives for Him – He died on the cross for sins. He did not die simply to show us how much He loved us – He died on the cross for our sins. Well this begs the question, for how many sins did He die? The answer is quite clear. He died once for all (Hebrews 10:10-14). He died for all sin – past, present, and future. He died for the sins that we have already committed, and for the sins that we will commit today, and for all of our future sins. How many does that leave the sinner to pay for? The obvious answer is none. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.
This gospel is often presented today in a way that leaves the sinner confused. The gospel is presented in a clear way – that the God/man came into the world, lived a perfect life, died on the cross to pay the entire debt of sin, and then….. human works are tied on at the end of the presentation, leaving the sinner confused. It leaves one believing that Christ’s cross work was not really finished. It will not be finished and sufficient until I add my human work to it – such a walking an aisle of a church building, such as turning from all my sins, or joining a particular church, or being baptized, or reforming my life. As I said in an earlier post, all these things are good to do but only after one comes to Christ by faith and is born again.
To add human works to the finished work of Christ just confuses the gospel – it clutters the gospel. Does the reader truly understand this? If one could do anything – anything – to add to Christ’s work on the cross, no matter how sincere or well-intended, that would really imply that Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross really did not do enough to save me by faith alone, in Him alone. What is often subtly suggested by sincere people is that Jesus paid for all our sin, and He said that it was finished – but it really was not paid for in full and it really was not finished – until I pay it off and finish it myself.
Presenting the gospel on God’s terms and then making it available on man’s terms is not biblical and will not save. Paul then proves this by saying “according to the Scriptures.” I think he means the Old Testament Scriptures – like “we have all like sheep gone astray and have turned everyone to his own way but the Lord has laid on Him to iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Isaiah further writes, “He has born our griefs, and carried our sorrows, He was wounded for our transgressions. . .For the transgression of my people He was stricken (Isaiah 53:6-10). Psalm 22 is a clear prophecy of the crucifixion in detail. The Lord Jesus died for our sins is a crucial second part of the gospel. Halleluiah! Stay safe and stay tuned!

Cain and Abel: Darkness and Light

Cain and Abel launched the human race into a fallen world created by the sin of Adam. Their characters were symbolized by their offerings. They were the product of the same home, brothers made in God’s image. They both sensed the value of bringing a sacrifice to God. They were, no doubt, taught to do this by their parents, and they had certainly heard the story many times of how their fallen parents covered themselves with fig leaves, but God had clothed them with animal skins. His requirement is a blood sacrifice. They understood the meaning and clearly knew what God required. But the two men were very different.

When the time came, Cain rebelled! It’s that simple. He brought the works of his own hands as an offering to God. He brought “fig leaves.” It was as though he was saying in a quiet way, “I remember that you, God, covered my parents with animal skins. You demanded a blood sacrifice, but I’ll come to you my way. I’ll bring my own offering.” Satan’s venom was pulsating through his veins. His offering was a product of his pride. It’s as though he was saying, “Look what I have grown myself.” 

Abel, on the other hand, was different. By faith, he brought a blood sacrifice to God. He knew that God required death, which was symbolized by the shedding of blood. He had a spiritual nature, a spiritually fertile mind, that Cain did not have. God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s (Hebrews 11:4). No surprise!

Cain became furious. God gave him every opportunity to make things right, to bring the right sacrifice. At this point Cain knew precisely what God required. God told Cain that sin was waiting at the door to devour him, but it was not too late to offer the right sacrifice. Cain had no excuse at all. However, he wanted to do things his way. His rebellion ultimately led to murder. Rebellion and murder were already in his heart.

John pulled off Cain’s mask and revealed his true identity. Cain rebelled against God and killed his brother because he was of the evil one (1 John 3:12, NASB). John’s words are clear, powerful, and cannot be misunderstood. John clearly spelled out the major difference between true brothers.  In fact, Jesus called Abel “a prophet.”

 

Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. (Matthew 23:34-35)

 

A prophet is one who speaks for God. What did Abel say? Nowhere in Scripture do we find any words ever spoken by Abel. He spoke with his actions. He brought the right sacrifice. Cain was from the source of Satan, the seed of Satan, and Abel was of God. Jesus confirmed the truth that Satan’s seed is alive and well on this planet. He spoke these powerful words to the Pharisees.

 

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:44)

 

As amazing as this must sound, every human being comes into this world under the power of darkness.

 

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:79)

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”  (John 8:12)

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46)

I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. (Acts 26:16-18)

 

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

 

God must remove Satan’s blindness and allow the gospel to penetrate the mind.  Satan’s world is in rebellion against God (Romans 3:10-18). The entire human race is spiritually dead and yet blind to this fact. God is in the process of calling some, like Adam and Eve and Abel, to Himself. If He did not, none would come (1 Corinthians 2:14; John 6:44, 65). Salvation is of God!

Cain’s rebellion led to the murder of his brother and the retributive judgment of God.  Cain went out from God’s presence (Genesis 4:16). This is an ill-omened statement. It becomes the seed truth for life without God, the root of secular humanism. Secular means “not religious,” and humanism is the belief that man has the answers to his own destiny.

This entire scene points clearly to the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only means of forgiveness. Just as Cain clearly knew, so do we. No one can ever receive forgiveness before God except through the offering made by Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

 

 

Peter Shouts to Us

Every living thing came to be because of seed. God vividly illustrates this to us through the birds, the bees, the flowers and the trees, everyday things all around us. This is true also with the new birth. Without seed, there can be no new birth. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Unless you are born again you will not see the kingdom of God.” He was telling Nicodemus what he had to do in order to get into the kingdom of God.

The apostle Peter shed more light on what it means to be born again. He was encouraging believers to obey the truth of the Bible, love fellow believers, and keep themselves clean before God. Then he focused in on the one single act that made this possible – the new birth.

“Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the word of the Lordendures forever.” And this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”(1 Peter 1:23–25)

Let’s unpack the meaning of this passage one layer at a time.

Having been born again.

The Greek wordanagenao is a past participle of the verb “to be.”This means that Peter intended to make clear that he had made this new birth trip. What Jesus had told Nick he had to do, Peter had done.  He also assumed that his readers had been born again. Then he proceeded to explain how this birth actually happens.

Not of corruptible seed 

Peter explained first how this birth does not happen. This birth is not associated with physical human birth from our biological parents. This is what Nicodemus wrongly thought that Jesus was speaking of. The physical birthfrom Adam’s fallen seed, far from giving us life, brought death to us. Well, if this new birth does not happen from physical seed, then how does it happen?

But incorruptible(seed)

Peter plainly stated precisely how we are regenerated, or born again. We are born again with seed that has not been tarnished with death; it is living seed. What is this living seed? Recall that God allowed two seeds to pass through the Fall and not be corrupted. One was the amazing seed planted in the womb of the virgin Mary that led to the birth of our Savior, the God-Man. Jesus Christ missed the universal death seed from Adam because He was born in the spiritually sterile womb of the virgin with no human seed added. This meant that our Savoir came into the world of sinners, but He himself remained free from sin. He could then go to the cross and bear the sins of many as a free born man. The other seed is now explained.

Through the word of God

The other seed that God allowed to miss the sting of death through Adam the first was the Word of God. We are born again through the incorruptible (living) Word of Godplaced into the soil of our sinful minds. No seed, no birth!No seed, no regeneration! The seed that brings the new birth is the seed of God’s living Word.

Peter was careful to make abundantly clear the contrast between seed that is corruptible (physical and stained with death) and that which is incorruptible (spiritual and living). “Seed” is the Greek word spora,the fertilized and mature ovule of the flowering plant, which enables the species to perpetuate itself.

Now we understand why God gave us His Word. It is not the corruptible physical seed of Adam’s fallen race that produces this new birth. The Fall made this impossible. Corruptible physical seed is producing a fallen civilization that is destined to die and perish – after its kind. In contrast, God is using the imperishable seed of His Word to germinate new lives  – after its kind. What kind of seed is the Word of God? Peter was quick to add a most important component of this living seed.

Which lives and abides forever

God’s Word, like Himself, is eternal. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).David wrote in the Psalms, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89-93). By the use of the words “settled in heaven,” David meant that God’s Word has been written in eternal stone; it can never change. David said that it was by God’s precepts that life came to Him. “For by them[God’s words] You have given me life”(Psalm 119:93). God’s living seed is like all seed. It produces “after its kind.” Because this seed is an eternal seed, what it germinates lasts forever. It results in a life that is eternal. Peter explained why this new birth is necessary. He quoted from Isaiah 40:6–8 to prove that this new birth is not optional, it is crucial.

All flesh is as grass

Every human being is like grass. Grass dies. Likewise, it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

And the glory of man like the flower of grass

All that sheds light upon the human race’s amazing accomplishments in the tech world, art, medicine, military, etc. is like the flowers of grass. These achievements bring favorable attention to the genius of man and his scientific discoveries.

The grass withers and the flower fades

Both the grass and flowers will wither and die. James said that human life is like a vapor. It appears for a little while and then vanishes. All members of the human race birthed the old-fashioned way are like the grass. All are destined to wither and die. Both life and fame are fleeting. All of man’s accomplishments will wither and be gone.

But the word of God endures forever.

What a tremendous contrast! The Word of God lasts forever. Peter finally threw back the curtain, so we can view in all its amazing splendor, the very seed of God.

And this is the word which by the gospelwas preached to you.(1 Peter 1:23–25)

There can be no new birth without God’s living seed. The Word of God that gives life to the spiritually dead is God’s living seed packed as the gospel. The gospel is at the very heart of the Bible. Gospelmeans “good news.” The gospel is wonderful news beyond anything that our human minds can grasp. It is the gospel that gives life.

“Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures”(James 1:18).