John 3:1-3 KJV (1)Â There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: (2)Â 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)Â 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.
There is something happening with Nicodemus. He feels a need to go visit Jesus, at night, in the dark. There is something about Jesus, and he wants to find out more. He is seeking.
Romans 3:11 KJV (11)Â There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Luke 19:10 KJV (10)Â For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
This is the glory of the gospel and it warms the heart of those who are found of him.
Refrain: Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me; Buried, He carried my sins far away; Rising, He justified freely forever: One day He's coming â€” oh, glorious day!
God is at work in the heart of Nicodemus. But Jesus does not tell him how to be born again, because he has already quickened him; the man is rapidly coming to faith in Jesus Christ, saved and in his right mind.
John 3:8 KJV (8) The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Even a teacher in Israel could not fathom this mysterious saying. Nicodemus, the dead man, teaching fellow Jews but not understanding the basics of being born anew. Dead in his spirit, dead in his mind, dead in his eyes, ears - dead, a corpse. Bound in his will, could only do wrong. Cannot grasp the principle of substitution at the cross, or penal satisfaction, or Jesus dying in the place of sinners, or why Jesus said, "I lay down my life for the sheep." Does not see Jesus as the Lamb of God, a sacrifice for sin. What hope for a man like that?
Being born again is no simple affair. It is like the way the wind blows through the trees. You can hear a sound, but you don't know where the wind came from or where it is going next. Man has no control over this second birth, which is why there is no instruction on how to get born again in the Bible. It is all down to the sovereign will of the sovereign God. Without regeneration, no salvation. No quickening, no life. Just endless death, and blackest of darkness for ever - lost!
If I was to ask a multitude of souls from different backgrounds if they had anything whatever to do with their first birth, they would all with one accord say, "No!"
If I was to ask a multitude of truly born again Christians if they had anything whatever to do with their second birth, the majority would say, "No!" yet some would say, "Yes!"
What says the scripture?
John 3:8 KJV (8)Â The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
The SPIRIT is a PERSON, a person with a will. His will is the will of God, and he brings people to new birth; not because of anything they do, but according to the purpose and will of God.
Man could not be in a worse state. He is DEAD! Not physically dead, but spiritually dead, where dead means dead. What is dead? Dead is lifeless. Dead is deaf. Dead is blind. Dead cannot move, cannot speak, cannot understand, does not ever seek after God. Dead is a corpse.
So why would a dead man hear the gospel and believe it? He doesn't, he is dead. It is like talking to a corpse. He is lost, perishing in his sins, deservedly hell-bound, without God and without hope.
Let us consider the purpose of Jesus baptising his people with the Spirit.
In these scriptures, they are already disciples.
Acts 1:4-5 KJV (4)Â And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (5)Â For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
To what end?
Acts 1:8 KJV (8)Â But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Witnessing power, and also spiritual gifts.
Acts 2:3-4 KJV (3)Â And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. (4)Â And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
This is the baptism WITH the Spirit. Poured out.
But the SPIRIT also baptises God's elect into the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13
Next post I will teach concerning the new birth, and how sinful man has no say in the matter of either his first or his second birth. Reference: John 3:3-8
Ephesians 4:4-6 KJV (4)Â There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5)Â One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6)Â One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Here is the unity of Christians, and I am united with all other Christians, by the will of God.
One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all [his people].
One baptism. This is believer's baptism in water, in the name of the Trinity (which is mentioned in these verses). The baptism is a physical representation of what has already taken place inwardly, namely, total identification with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection. These inward events are not visible to anyone, but water baptism publicly testifies that this has occurred.
But before any of this can happen, what must take place in a sinner's heart?
John 16:8 KJV (8)Â And when he [the Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
The law is made for the unrighteous, and it must do its work in the heart. The law must convince sinners that they are sinners, that they are guilty before a holy God, that they are hell-bound, deservedly - lost, undone!
Many people get confused because of lack of care with words.
Matthew 3:11 KJV (11) I [John Baptist] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
John says that Jesus will baptise WITH the Spirit, he will pour out the Spirit upon his tarrying disciples, from heaven. This is for witnessing power and spiritual gifts. Acts 1:5, 1:8, Luke 24:49. It is an experience the disciples will know and feel. "...but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." They knew when they were baptised with the Spirit. Other scriptures testify to this pouring out: Proverbs 1:23, Isaiah 44:3, Joel 2:28-29, Acts 2:17-18
But there is another baptism:
1 Corinthians 12:13 KJV (13) For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
This is one church, comprising Jews and Gentiles.
In this baptism, it is the Spirit who is baptising, and he baptises into the body of Christ.
Along with water baptism, that makes three baptisms. And there are more.
B. McCausland wrote: John, means of grace in the RC sense is merit imputed unto one's account by a means of a rite, mass, penance, practice, pilgrimage, or relic, to gain favour against one's condemnation. What you are talking about is the dispensing of God's unmerited favour out of his kindness towards our sanctification or redemption. The angle differs See, 'Obtaining grace' is the biblical phrase for what you describe, 'means of grace' is the semi magical/mystical merit of RC man centered strategies. 'Obtaining grace' is God's centered, 'means of grace' is man-made devices or fabrications to 'benefit' from God Some reformers wrongly carried on the phrase means of grace into a mix pudding of infant baptism and the Lord's table which they continued calling sacraments as Rome had called them, as if there was something mystical attached to their performance. ... Trust this makes sense Kind regards
Thank you sister, yes. So it is not the facts concerning grace given by God to his people, but the wrongful use of the terms "means of grace" (and "sacraments") by certain Protestants, which hung over from Catholicism and ought to be rejected to avoid misunderstandings?
So this reference to the baptism with the Holy Ghost in Acts 1:5, 1:8 and Luke 24:49, do we know anything more about its purpose, say from the prophets of the OT?
When this event at Pentecost happened:
Acts 2:4 KJV (4)Â And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Simon Peter shows from the scriptures of the day (the OT) that this was prophesied by Joel, and what should transpire.
Joel 2:28-29 KJV (28)Â And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (29)Â And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Thusly, as well as witnessing power, to take the gospel to the world, as in the Great Commission, Joel the prophet instructs concerning spiritual gifts, which God would pour out upon his people. Not to make them his people, but to empower them and spiritually gift them for service, which Simon Peter proceeded to do and show. Acts 2:14 ff. ___________
Sister B, I've not forgotten your post and will respond ASAP, thank you.
Let us consider when Simon Peter was baptised with the Holy Ghost.
It was fifty days after the crucifixion of Christ. Passover and Pentecost feast days had antitypes (fulfilments) in the crucifixion of Christ and the baptism with the Spirit.
Acts 1:4-5 KJV (4)Â And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (5)Â For John truly baptized with water; but *ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence*.
Who was Jesus assembled together with? His believing people, including Simon Peter, who some time previously had confessed, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
What purpose this baptism with the Spirit? Jesus again:
Acts 1:8 KJV (8)Â But *ye shall receive power*, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
And again, Jesus said:
Luke 24:49 KJV (49)Â And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye *be endued with power from on high*.
It is most important to define terms, when mouthing off against certain forms of theology. For example:
A man who believes the favourite will win in the 2.30 at Newmarket could be described as a believer. If there are thousands of such believers, the odds for that horse will be very low.
Someone like J4 claiming to be a believer by his own will does not necessarily mean that he truly believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and is saved.
For example, the last time I tried to teach him, he would not accept penal satisfaction for sin at the cross. To my mind, that makes him an unbeliever. And an unbeliever does not have the capacity to believe these things. It requires a quickening by the Spirit, an enlightenment as to the truth. It is a sudden revelation, when the Bible quickly becomes alive, and the Lord Jesus becomes a great friend and constant companion through life. Salvation is then seen as a mighty work of the gracious God, the contrary will turned heavenward and changed, the new heart having new desires, a full salvation, rich and free, according to God's will and purpose.
B. McCausland wrote: Interesting John. However Ephesians 3:24 brings a different Greek word for grace, than Ephesians 2:8. **** As for the preaching of the gospel being a *means of grace* is another misconception rooted from the same cistern of Rome.
Thanks Sister B, I did wonder about the word grace in that verse, thank you.
Regarding God's chosen method of saving the lost, I think we have that spelled out for us here:
1 Corinthians 1:21 KJV (21)Â For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Now God saves people who believe the preached word, and they believe because of God's grace towards them. So is it not correct to say that the preached word is a "means of grace" if anyone is edified through it? I don't quite see how that equates to hanging on to a RCC false teaching.
For example, if a man ceases reading and studying his Bible, ceases attending a gathering of saints, and neglects the prayer meeting, do you believe he will still receive grace upon grace from their Lord? And will he then be as godly as he could have been?
Matthew 16:15-17 KJV (15)Â He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? (16)Â And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (17)Â And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
v17 Jesus answered Simon Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God. Not with a mere, "Correct!" Or a "Why do you think that?" But rather, the Lord informs him (because he didn't realise this yet) that the reason Peter believed that, is because Jehovah had revealed it unto him by his Spirit.
Note, a Bible teacher or preacher can expound the word of God all day long to an unregenerate man, and do this every day for months on end. But unless God raises that sinner from his spiritual death, and open his understanding, his eyes and his ears, he will never understand and turn, and be converted. This is because the sinner is in a terrible condition by nature: he is in Adam, blind, deaf, dead.
A man like Judas Iscariot can be with Jesus for three years and see all the miracles he did, and yet still not believe. Similarly, men can hang around with saints and never get saved.
Let me remind folks that context is crucial; do not take verses out of context, but see them *within* their context.
Matthew 16:13-14 KJV (13)Â When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (14)Â And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
These Jews that the disciples were talking about, some claimed him to be John Baptist, some of them Elijah, some of them Jeremiah or one of the prophets.
So clearly, these Jews were unbelievers, even though they had the same privileges as every other Jew of the day. But they did not have the blessing Peter had. They had no revelation, no understanding, did not see Jesus as their Messiah. God the Father had revealed nothing to them.
Other Jews such as Simeon, full of the Holy Ghost, recognised Jesus as the Messiah even when Jesus was a newborn baby (Luke 2:26). To be filled with the Spirit is to have the revelation of God, it is God indwelling the soul.
Simon Peter was not the only Jew to be blessed by God and to see that Jesus was Messiah. God does this for all his elect, and those not chosen he leaves in their sins.
Sister B, I'm just trying to get my head around this, so please bear with me.
Acts 18:27-28 KJV (27)Â And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had *believed through grace*: (28)Â For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
Romans 10:17 KJV (17)Â So then *faith cometh by hearing*, and hearing by the word of God.
Combining these two texts, we have a joyous event of souls coming to faith, through the faithful and convincing preaching of the word of God, and all by the grace of God.
Now I have always been taught that the preaching of the gospel was a *means of grace* because God ordinarily made use of such in order to apply his grace and bring sinners to faith in his Son.
It is quite usual that where there is no preaching of the gospel, there are no converts.
I take it that you agree with me in saying that, so is it the expression *means of grace* and its association with the RCC that you have a problem with? And if so, do you agree that God's grace often comes through men and women like us? As in Ephesians 4:29? Thank you.
Matthew 16:17 KJV (17)Â And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
This text is worthy of extra care. Let us look at it carefully.
1. Jesus is speaking, and he is referring to Peter's confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
2. Jesus says that Peter has been blessed, inferring that the other Jews had not been blessed. [note, it is only God's elect who are blessed.]
3. Jesus talks about "flesh and blood" not being the source of the revelatory blessing. Meaning? It is not a man who had revealed to him who Jesus was. After all, the other Jews had the prophets just the same, and yet they believed Jesus was John Baptist or one of the prophets. Thusly, it must have been a spiritual revelation, deep, inward, in the soul. Every man needs this, or he will perish in his sins.
4. Jesus tells him it was his own Father who had revealed this unto him - from heaven. Note that, FROM HEAVEN.
This is basic Bible teaching, really quite self-explanatory. But without revelation, there is no understanding it nor believing it. The unregenerate man hates God's sovereignty, and so he will rebel against God.
Matthew 16:13-17 KJV (13)Â When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (14)Â And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. (15)Â He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? (16)Â And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (17)Â And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Jesus asks his disciples an unusual question. He asks them what others think of him, as to who he is.
They reply that some men think he is John the Baptist. Some men think he is either Elijah or Jeremiah or some other prophet.
How darkened is the mind of man!
Is Simon Peter a man just the same? Yes. Are you? Yes. Am I? Yes.
But Simon Peter makes a bold confession, that Jesus of Nazareth is The Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Now according to Jesus, Peter was *blessed*, unlike those other men. Jesus says that it was his Father who revealed that unto Peter.
Now check John 6:45, which shows that this revelation to God's elect was prophesied in the OT.
B. McCausland wrote: This is becoming as the endless argument..
Of course you can endlessly go on debating..
Greetings Sister B. From my side, I am neither arguing nor debating. I am simply expounding some scriptures for J4, to assist him.
"As Jesus wasnâ€™t knocking on his heart door saying let me in!"
Very good point concerning Lazarus, who was dead (the ideal picture of a spiritually dead sinner) and who needed the resurrecting power of the sovereign Lord Jesus Christ, who chose to raise him up from physical death, and who chooses to raise sinners (as Lurker has already mentioned, whom Father God had given to God the Son), from their spiritual death, which thing is detailed in Ephesians 2 and extremely clear to regenerate believers, but a total mystery to the unconverted.
Romans 4:3-7 KJV (3)Â For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (4)Â Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (5)Â But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (6)Â Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, (7)Â Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
v5 what does "worketh not" mean? It means that works are not involved in all of this. The keeping of commandments have nothing to do with justification.
v5 what does "believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly" mean? It means that when an ungodly man truly believes, God "justifies" him, that is, declares him righteous.
v5 what does "his faith is counted for righteousness" mean? It means that righteousness is *counted*, or *credited to* or *imputed to* the ungodly man who believes.
So, we can see that the ungodly man believed *before* he was credited with the righteousness of Christ. And besides, this imputation has no effect whatever on the man's character; it is for God, not for the man.