Sunday, February 03, 2013
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Scripture Reading: John 3:1–15
John, the beloved apostle, rejoiced over the good news of God’s love for people as revealed in their obtaining divine sonship as a present possession. He saw this assurance of divine sonship as one of the expressions of God’s great love for sinners (1 John 3:1).
John rejoiced in a precious gift from God that is a present possession. He rejoiced in the glad assurance that eternal life had come to himself and to other believers through faith in Jesus Christ. This great joy of knowing that you are a child of God is made possible by the birth from above, the birth of the Spirit.
1) The must of the new birth.
When Nicodemus, the ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus, he discovered that to truly be a child of Abraham and a child of God, a person must experience a birth from above, a birth of the Spirit (John 3:1–7). Nicodemus had labored under the mistaken impression that to be a citizen of the Jewish nation automatically made one a child of Abraham and a child of God. Jesus shocked and disturbed him with the news that Jewish citizenship was not adequate for a person to enter into the kingdom of God as a child of God. Jesus informed this outstanding Jewish religious leader that obedience to the law and a life of excellent moral behavior did not equip one for citizenship in heaven. Jesus affirmed that a spiritual birth must take place within the heart if one is to receive spiritual life and become a participant in the work of God on earth.
People need a new birth from above because of their sinful nature.
Since the fall of humankind, each descendant of Adam has received a nature that makes it natural to live a life of sin rather than a life of righteousness. In the natural state, people are not fit for heaven. In the natural state, people would not be happy in heaven if they could go there at the end of their earthly lives.
God’s holy nature requires that we experience a new birth.
God is holy, righteous, and pure. God is love. For humans to have fellowship with God, they must have a nature similar to God’s. This new nature is received in embryonic form in the spiritual birth experience by which believing sinners put faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
Apart from a spiritual birth, people do not enjoy divine sonship. Instead, they are the children of the evil one (John 8:44). This may be a shocking truth for some to discover. People need to recognize that they do not receive the divine nature in the physical birth. They are, however, made with a capacity to experience the divine birth and to receive the divine nature.
2) The marks of the new birth.
As children bear physical features and characteristics similar to those of earthly parents and grandparents, even so children of God will receive a new nature that will make it possible for them to experience and manifest the nature and the characteristics of the Father God.
A new appetite for righteousness.
Until people have experienced the new birth, they have no intense hunger and thirst for the things of God. Once they have been born into the family of God, they have a hunger for the things of God (Matt. 5:6). As a newborn baby hungers for nourishment, even so the new child of God will hunger for the truth about God and for fellowship with God.
A new adoration for God (1 John 4:19).
Until they have experienced the new birth, people may fear God and resent him as they rebel against him. Once the Spirit of God has brought about the miracle of the new birth within, there comes with it a love for the Father.
A new attitude toward sin (1 John 3:8–10).
Sin has been recognized as that which is destructive. It is that which brings harm and hurt into one’s life. It is that which grieves the heart of God. Newborn Christians have within their hearts turned from the love of sin. They want to do the will of God. They want to avoid that which is displeasing to God.
A new affection for the people of God (1 John 3:14).
Those who have experienced the new birth now have a love for the church, the people of God, that they did not have before. They recognize in their fellow believers their brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. They discover that there is a tie that binds their hearts together in Christian love and fellowship.
A new desire to do the will of God (1 John 2:17).
Instead of revolting against the will of God, newborn Christians discover that the will of God is the road map to the highest possible happiness and to the greatest possible achievement in life. Obedience to the revealed will of God becomes the normal pattern for their behavior once they have experienced the miracle of the new birth.
3) The means to the new birth.
Our sonship with God is a spiritual relationship. It is the result of the creative activity of God’s Spirit.
Our sonship is divine. We become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). The very nature of God is planted in the life center of the soul when we become new creatures in Christ Jesus.
In this experience, God becomes our Father. He knows our needs and our problems. He responds to us in love and mercy. Thus Jesus Christ becomes our Elder Brother. He is not only our Savior, but he is our Leader and Guide.
Now in Conclusion
We do not obtain this experience of the new birth as the result of strict obedience to the law of God. Jesus Christ is the only one who has ever kept the law of God perfectly.
We do not receive the new birth as a result of great benevolence and faithful service. The new birth is a divine spiritual change that is wrought in the heart and life of a person when he responds with faith to the Christ who was lifted up to die for the sins of us all. As the Israelites looked with faith to the brazen serpent and were healed of the malady that was bringing about death, we must look with faith to Christ who was crucified that we might receive forgiveness and obtain the gift of eternal life (John 3:14–15).
The new birth is the divine side of the experience of our conversion. The human side calls for us to turn from the life of self-righteousness and sin and turn to Jesus Christ, trusting him and him alone for the forgiveness of sin and the gift of new life. This response on our part to the good news about God makes it possible for God to bring about within us the miracle of the new birth. Once this has happened, we can join with the apostle John in saying, “Now are we the sons of God.”
God bless you, Pastor Mike