July 15, 2013
Last week we defined and described the new birth, now we want to prove that this experience is demanded by God. Jesus said… ye must be born again (John 3:7). He did not say that the birth was worthy of ones consideration or that ones acceptance of His proposal would be admirable. No, He said… ye must be born again. Why?
First, we must be born from above or born again spiritually because, through our physical birth, we have inherited the Adamic nature. We are “chips off the old block.” Adam, as the head of the human race, passed on the “genes” of a corrupt nature to all his posterity. Paul spells it out clearly in Romans 5:12, 18, and 19. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned… Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one mans disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
We conclude, then, that every member of the human race inherited Adams rotten nature at birth, making each of us what our first dad was-a disobedient rebel. This old nature within us makes us lie, cheat, swear, and desire sin. One is not a sinner because he sins. He sins because he is a sinner.
Thats what the psalmist meant in Psalm 5 1:5 when he said, Behold, I was shapen in iniquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me. The sin in this text was not sex, for, Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled… (Hebrews 13:4). Instead, the “iniquity” refers to the old nature formed within one at conception. This old nature contains all the germs of every known sin. Thats why God declares in Psalm 58:3, 4; The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent….
In the light of this convicting evidence, only rebellious sinners would say, “I dont need salvation,” or “I am saved because I was born into a Christian family” God disagrees. He says …here is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not(Ecclesiastes 7:20). . . . there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Psalm 14:3). All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him [Christ] the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net (Micah 7:2).
Jesus said . . . none is good, save one, that is God (Luke 18:19). Paul also adds a stroke on the canvas of life by stating in Romans 3:10-18: There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth. There is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher [grave]; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the ways of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
What a portrait of every member of the human race without God. Sinners possess naught but depraved natures passed on to them from generation to generation. They now need a “born again” experience that produces a “new nature” through “regeneration.” No wonder Jesus said …ye MUST be born again.
Secondly the “born again” experience is compulsory if one is to understand God. 1 Corinthians 2:11-14 depicts this. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which mans wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing the spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. What a text! Lets dissect it.
No man is able to understand another man except by the human spirit commonly possessed. This human spirit makes daily communication possible with other members of the human race, Though human beings enjoy such privileges among themselves, they are unable to conduct intelligible conversations with the animal kingdom, because the human spirit is missing in birds and beasts. Supposing I went into a pasture and began reading Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet to Bozo the bull. What would his reaction be if I looked into his eyes and said, “Bozo, here is one of Englands greatest masterpieces. Are you listening? Oh, Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou, Romeo?” I think he might snort a little and give me a run for my money. In fact, I might fly over the fence faster than the Space Shuttle! The problem? A communication barrier. Now, Bozo might be the smartest bull in the herd and possess unusual qualities, but intelligible discourse would be an impossibility- hes an animal.
However, if a veterinarian were able to “transplant” a human spirit within the breast of the beast, communication might become a reality Of course this is totally absurd. It could never happen. However, by way of analogy there is something that occurs at conversion which makes good “horse sense.” The “new birth” allows humans to become partakers of Gods nature (see 2 Peter 1:4). His nature enters a believer immediately as the “Great Physician” performs the miraculous transplant. Because of it, MAN, now possessing Gods Spirit, can, for the first time, understand God.
From this point onward he is able to grasp the truths of the Bible. The Scriptures are no longer mythological legends or contradictory pronouncements. Gods Spirit, present in the “new-born” convert, makes spiritual truths unbelievably comprehensible. This is the meaning of the text which bears repeating. …the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which mans wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:11-13).
It is evident at this point that no human, regardless of I.Q., scholastic attainments, or academic degrees can by mere intelligence understand God. Thats why 1 Corinthians 2:14 adds, (Get it all you college students who have been brainwashed and misled by educated pagans) But the natural man [or unsaved man] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: NEITHER CAN HE KNOW THEM, because they are spiritually discerned (emphasis mine).
The lost, even those with PhDs, are hopelessly incapacitated when it comes to the Bible. They have no spiritual equipment to investigate the Spirits teachings. This takes a “supernatural” transplant by the Holy Spirit and is called the “new birth.” Then, the believer partakes of the “divine nature” and Gods Spirit within makes Gods writing understandable. You see, one must know the Author of the Bible to understand the Authors writings. Until then, the Bible is as difficult and dry as Egyptian hieroglyphics to a Chinaman.
Third, one needs a “new birth” experience to enter Gods presence. Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. And again, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3 and 5).
Is it any wonder that the Saviour vehemently says in verse 7, Ye must be born again. None will ever see the light of the Holy City who reject Christ as personal Saviour. Instead, unbelievers and Christ-rejectors join the legion of the doomed for all eternity! Revelation 21:8 states, But the fearful, and UNBELIEVING, and the abominable, and murderers, and whorernongers, and sorcerers and idolators, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN? He who has been born once dies twice, but he who is twice born, dies once. What strange language, you say? Not really If one is born but once-physically-he dies twice. First, the grave, then the lake of fire which is the second death (see Revelation 20:14). On the other hand, he who has been born twice-physically and spiritually-dies but once. For on such (the born again) the second death (lake of fire) hath no power! Will you die once or twice? Will you exit this earth instantly-via disease or disaster-and then enter the regions of the doomed forever? Why wonder? Why procrastinate? Eternity is ahead.
There is only one way to become spiritually born. That is . . .Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved… (Acts 16:31). Romans 10:13 adds … whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Do it now!
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
At Peace with Who I Am
Ill never forget meeting Phyllis.
We were at a college in Chattanooga, Tennessee, conducting a series of meetings with the student body. When I sing, I endeavor to establish eye contact with people in the audience, and as I looked over that large group of students, my eyes met hers. She was right in the front, looking up with an angelic face, totally absorbed in the words of my song. I could hardly take my eyes off her.
Phyllis had obviously been born with a defect that hindered her growth. Though she was an adult, she was the size of an infant. Her little legs were too small to enable her to walk well, so she got around by means of a small childs tricycle. She looked like a tiny doll, sitting on her trike, quietly listening to my song. I dont think Ive ever felt such an instant, deep love for anyone as I felt for Phyllis that day.
When the service was concluded, Phyllis asked a friend to bring me to her. Without any hesitation, I did what I had been longing to do from the moment I first saw her. I took her in my arms and hugged her.
Psalm 139:14 says, I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. As I talked with Phyllis this verse came to mind, and I was struck by the thought that the truth of this psalm applied to her just as surely as it applied to the psalmist, or to me, or to anyone else! God had fashioned Phyllis, and regardless of her appearance from our human perspective, He had not made a mistake.
I was particularly impressed by the depth of Phylliss quiet beauty. From what I could tell in that brief encounter, she had no self-image problems. To the contrary, she appeared confident, strong, and spiritually mature. As she shared the concerns of her heart with me so that I might pray with her, I noticed that not one of her requests was selfish. Phyllis asked me to pray for her roommates, for her loved ones, and about some problems she was aware of involving other students. She did not ask me to pray for her. Although her physical problems and the difficulties she had getting around resulted in very pressing personal needs, the focus of her concern was on the needs of others. When I gently asked what she would like me to pray for on her behalf, she smiled sweetly and said, “Oh, no, nothing for me!”
Phyllis had grasped a truth that most people completely miss-that we are created by God for His glory. Consequently, she was content with what she had and the way she was. She was fearfully and wonderfully made, and for someone of such small stature, she was touching a multitude of lives.
A designer original
In our society, self-acceptance is a rare reality. Although people today tend to spend a good deal of time thinking about themselves-ours may just be the most self-centered generation ever-most people simply do not like themselves and end up baffled and bewildered by their dissatisfaction. Such self-rejection is completely debilitating, for the one who is dissatisfied with himself has a more difficult time finding true fulfillment.
I believe Psalm 139 was written for those whose dissatisfaction is focused on themselves. Three truths in the psalm provide for the development of an individual sense of self-worth. We want to look at the first one this week and the next week we will cover the remaining two.
First of all, God made us. Verse 16 states:…in thy book all my members were written…when as yet there was none of them. Thus we see that God has not only made us, but He has made us according to a perfect plan. We are not accidents. Instead, as a special creation, each of us has intrinsic value. Regardless of our physical condition, appearance, or abilities, we are of great value to God for we were made to glorify Him.
Mary Crowley, president of Home Interiors and Gifts, Inc., of Dallas, Texas-a very successful businesswoman-has a motto, “Be somebody-God doesnt take time to make a nobody.” Mary, by giving unselfishly of herself, has earned the respect of the business and political world. She told me in an interview that she feels God has gifted her with the ability to motivate others. She works with the women she employs, helping them to build a strong self-image, with an emphasis on developing inner qualities of beauty. “My self-image is tied up in the character of God himself,” she said. “I want every woman to know that inside her, God has created the potential of genius.”
Contemporary humanity is obsessed with outward appearances. We tend to think that if something looks good it is good, and if it doesnt look good, it isnt. As a result, our focus is on externals-clothing, weight, the way we style our hair, and the way we make up our faces. I do not mean to imply that these things are not important. Looking good can make you feel better about yourself, and you may even act better because of it. What I am saying is that the emphasis too often is out of balance. The way we look must always take second place to the condition of the spirit.
Mary Kay Ash, founder of one of Americas most successful cosmetic companies, once said, “True beauty comes from within. You have to feel good about yourself.”
The myths of the advertising world
The advertising world constantly feeds our obsession about our looks with television commercials appearing to our inner cravings to be beautiful and accepted. They tell us diet soft drinks will ensure a slim body, that by using the right toothpaste we will have sparking teeth, and that a certain brand of shampoo will take care of our dandruff problems-people will reject you if they catch you scratching an itchy scalp. And on and on it goes.
Any thinking person should recognize that this is nonsense, but many are lured by promises into buying the products. One can be slim, beautiful, and young looking and still not be satisfied. The incidence of suicide among young models and movie stars is proof that externals do not satisfy.
Furthermore, putting sizzle into a relationship with exotic perfume and by dressing seductively is no guarantee of long-lasting satisfaction. The assault by the media upon our senses with images of gorgeous women and macho men who give every appearance of having attained the ultimate in satisfaction is a myth.
The list of gifted, creative, and attractive people who have killed themselves is long. These were people who had reached the top of the ladder. Supposedly they were successful and satisfied. Any such list is tragic. You may recognize some of these names: John Barrymore, Anne Sexton, Hart Crane, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Chatterton, and even Socrates. So it can be seen that unless a person has come to terms with himself, with his uniqueness as one of Gods children, no amount of money, fame, or effort expended on ways to change ones self-image is going to bring durable satisfaction. Ultimately, being baffled, bewildered, and befuddled can have tragic consequences.
The result of modern marketings emphasis on the external, the visible, is simply more self-rejection. Commercials are designed to make us dissatisfied with the way we are. Their aim, of course, is getting us to want their products. We are actually being programmed to be dissatisfied with ourselves. We are being taught to focus on the externals only. Consequently, many totally neglect the fundamental truths that God made us to reflect His glory and that how we look on the outside is of fleeting importance.
Looks change. Of all our temporal possessions, outward appearance is perhaps the one that fades first. It can be destroyed instantly by an accident, or it slowly deteriorates. No one stays young forever, and everyone who lives long enough will have wrinkles, a change in the color and texture of their hair or even baldness, and show other signs of aging.
On the other hand, Gods workmanship in us involves qualities of character He desires to build into our lives. For example, He wants us to be reflections of His love. He also desires that we exhibit integrity, purity, and holiness. He wants us to be patient, kind, and humble. None of these things can be accomplished by altering the way we look!
I had the delightful privilege of interviewing Dee Jepson, wife of then Senator Roger Jepson of Iowa. (She also served as Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison during the Reagan administration.)
Dee told me that a turning point in her life came when she realized that her career, her status in life, and her material successes were not what gave her life meaning. She saw that because she was a creation of a good and almighty and loving God, she had value as a person that would be there even if her career came suddenly to an end or if she lost every material possession. She said:
In a day and age when women are seeking their identity, I think that oftentimes they are looking in the wrong places. I think it is very important that they realize we need to find our identity in our importance as human beings just because we are. I think it is very important that we find our value and our identity in the fact that we are children of God.
I also feel that as women make their choices in life, if they choose to be a homemaker and stay home and contribute in that way, that is an immensely important role. If they serve their family, support their husbands career, make a house a home, shape and mold young lives, they are making a major contribution to society. They shouldnt feel any guilt or societal pressure to go out and make some kind of mark in the marketplace.
Dee is one of those people who exudes confidence, strength, and security. Her secret is that she does not base her sense of self-worth on anything that can be taken away from her. Her confidence comes from knowing the One who made her. She knows He loves her, and thus she can accept herself. As she puts it, “For me, Jesus Christ is the center of my life, and that is what life is about. If you are attempting to be, and willing to be, in the center of His will, it makes things so much easier because it sort of transfers the responsibility to Him”. This kind of attitude and understanding builds the kind of satisfaction that nothing external can ever take away.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Drs. Jack & Rexella Van Impe-
I just want to THANK YOU for preaching the Gospel as it is written. I thank God for you because you’re the only preacher I’ve come across to “tell it like it is” & quote everything straight from the scriptures of the Bible. You have a true gift that you can read so much & remember it all. I love that you’re a man of God & aren’t fearful to stand up to anyone. You take your orders from God alone & fear no man or corporation who tries to stop you from spreading the Gospel. Praise God!
I look forward to watching you & Rexella weekly to get my “fix”. Haha! My soul is hungry for the truth of the Lord & the two of you fulfill that void. I don’t know anyone who could possibly replace you if you ever decide not to preach.
My Grandfather used to watch & listen to you, back in the 60’s & 70’s because I remember him talking about you & telling us about prophecy. He gave out your Bibles as Christmas gifts. He too was a man of God. God bless his soul. He died in 1978, but his teachings to me from you, still are in place today as I also watch and listen to you. Praise the Lord!!!
Again, God Bless you both & thank you for using your gifts to spread the Gospel of our Lord & Savior to the world!
M. B. R.
I am a pastor, and I’m really thankful that you are taking a stand in so many areas. Keep up the good job!
Pastor Dan S.
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Rampant addictions; a sign of the times? Now you’ll understand how God’s Word previews the bondage of alcoholism and drugs, tobacco, pornography, gambling, and more that we see all around us today as a sign of the soon return of the Savior and the approaching Tribulation.
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