The Lord’s Message August 2, 2015
Intro: What always amazes me and I am humbled is that the Lord always affirms the messages He gives us for our food Sunday after Sunday. Sometimes I can’t help the day after to ask whether that came from Him or from me. Then I am reminded that the message He gives me to preach is in answer to our Prayer Warriors prayer when we meet every Wednesday. Sometimes the Lord already gives me a leading on the topic and then after the prayer meeting it is developed like adding the right ingredients and marinated in more prayer until the food is complete and ready to be served. Last Thursday I already started writing down the message then the next day I got the affirmation from two devotionals I read the next day. Since the message is the Lord’s it is always about Him to His glory.
So what motivated Jesus to do and obey the will of God in everything? “…but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31
Jesus chose to do the will of His Father which I quoted in last Sunday’s message. After he pleaded with His Father if there was another way to avoid the cross but did not get an answer He yielded to His Father’s will. Did Jesus have “free will?” Of course He did. He is the only one of all born of a woman who had free will since birth because he was born without the sinful nature and He never sinned till His death. There was another man, the first one created by God who also had free will and that was Adam. He was created perfect, pure without sin and his will was free to obey God’s first commandment given to him. And the Lord commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Gen 2:16-17
Did Adam have a choice? Yes he did. But when he chose to disobey God’s will, he sinned by breaking the only command of God and God is true to His Word, his spirit died and if God did not by His grace provided an animal sacrifice by the shedding of blood he would have gone to hell forever, but God saved him and Eve. The Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Gen 3:21
The garment represented the righteousness of Christ and the blood for the forgiveness of sin. So we will see Adam and Eve in heaven. But what happened to his children and all the descendants of Adam? They all inherited his sinful nature. This has now become the condition of all of his descendants. “Therefore, just as sin entered through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.” Rom. 5:12-14
Here now is God’s solution to save spiritually dead sinners. “But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” Rom. 3:21-24
This is explained further by Paul identifying who Adam was who brought sin into the world and passed his sinful nature to all and who Jesus was as it is written: “The first Adam became a living being; the last Adam a life giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” 1 Cor. 15:45-47
So we see here that God the Son came down from heaven and took on flesh to give life to our dead spirits. So how does God do this? By giving life to our dead spirit.
“How this New Birth came to be.”
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not know him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:10-14
When you were born in the flesh did you have any active part in your birth? Did you even have a choice whether you want to be a boy or a girl? Then what happened after you grew older were you obedient to your parents? When our parents tell us not to do this or that, how did we respond? Did we choose to obey everything they said all the time? Were we not stubborn and defiant and sinned by breaking the fifth commandment? Why did we choose to disobey? Because we were born with a sinful nature and our will was prone to sin. Can we change that nature? Impossible! It is like changing a goat to become a sheep.
Here’s the most controversial theological issue on the use and understanding of “free will.” Does everyone have free will? Meaning, am I free to do good or to do evil, to obey the commandments of God or to disobey? As far as being moral or immoral, yes. Do I have free will to choose to be saved or not? This now pertains to the salvation of one’s soul? From our text, the answer is No. Jesus explains this to Nicodemus who came to Jesus wanting to know how to get saved. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.” John 3:5-7
So then, one is not saved unless he is born again, clear and simple. This new birth is spiritual and why did Jesus call it born again, because after our first sin, our spirit died. There are three truths from our text that cannot make one born again
To be born again is “not by natural descent” meaning this not inherited from parents who are born again. No matter who your parents may be, even the children of Billy Graham cannot inherit his faith, the same as children of pastors.
To be born again is not by “human decision.” No one can decide for himself to be saved. This is where his will is not free. It does not depend on his will. In the same way that no one can decide to be born. Why is one not free to be saved? Because his spirit is dead. A dead spirit cannot respond to the gospel nor even seek God for the right reason to be saved. Here’s what Paul wrote quoting from the Scriptures. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Rom. 3:10-12
Then a husband cannot will his wife to be saved and born again and vice versa. No matter how he forces her, she might just agree for the sake of peace that he might not leave her. This easily happens to husbands giving in to their wives.
So how then can one be save when he cannot decide for himself? Only God decides who He chooses to give this new birth, “Born of God”, in the same way that you and I did not choose to be born into this world. This is where God chooses whom He saves, and this goes way back before the creation of the world. And those whom God has chosen to save, they will hear and listen to the gospel. This is because the Holy Spirit has given them life referred to as “Regeneration.” “But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Eph. 2:4-5
This is entirely by God’s will. He chooses whom to save. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Eph. 1:4-5
One is made alive first in order to respond to the gospel by repentance of sins, believing, trusting in Christ’s finish work and by faith in an unseen Christ through His word. The chosen of God will believe the gospel because he is now alive. “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48
And because they believed how did they respond? “When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18
Appointed and granted, both of these acts are from God by His grace. So where is man’s free will and part in his salvation? None! These responses came when God at His appointed time drew His chosen ones to His Son to be saved. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44
Then those who believed and received Jesus as their Lord are now His disciples. “If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
The truth Jesus is referring to here is the gospel that saves one from the penalty of sin and the power of sin and is now spiritually alive to follow Jesus. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
He now has free will to follow Jesus. So will he follow Jesus? Yes, because he is born of God. The Spirit that was promised in the Old Testament is now in play. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to follow my laws.” Ezek. 36:26-27
It is the Holy Spirit who will move and empower us to follow Jesus. Is this automatic? No again. A newly born again Christian does not yet know how to follow Jesus, that’s why he needs discipleship. But as he grow in knowing how Jesus lived, he will now start to follow Him because he is given a new heart who loves Jesus and will obey the commands that he hears from the reading and study of His Words. The Holy Spirit will give him the understanding and with the love that is produced in him will want to follow Jesus out of love for Him. But will he follow Jesus completely? As in our previous message we will go through a battle. Our sinful nature who is still in us will want to sin as we used to but our spirit who is now alive will want to obey. This will cause a struggle within like a tug of war. This is where we choose and decide who we want to win. If we choose to follow Jesus then the Holy Spirit will be there to empower and move us to follow Christ. Our choosing to follow Jesus is an act of the will to do His will and this is because our will is now free to obey and follow Christ. Think of the character of a goat that is used in the Bible as an illustration in contrast. The goat loves to fight and quarrel because that is his nature. Compare that to a sheep that is meek, even dumb and does not fight but is submissive. That’s what happens when one is born again, God changes us from the inside, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. However, when a sheep is not following his shepherd will wander and go astray. Now here’s another question. Do born again Christians still sin? Yes, he will. He sins when he disobeys God’s command. He even sins when he is ignorant of the other commands of God aside from the Ten Commandments. Thank God there is a follow up letter by the apostle John admonishing us not to sin. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ.” 1 John 2:1-2
Why did John address us as children? It is because children are prone to sin. But as one grows older towards maturity he sins less and less. He now warns children. “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:7-8
Although born again Christians sin, especially young and immature, where is in their spiritual growth regarding sin which hinders growth but results in trouble. “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9
But what if one continues to sin, then this may be where he is spiritually. “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice of sin is left but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume God’s enemies.” Heb. 10:26-27
This now tells us of someone whose will is only to sin but is not free to follow Jesus. He has not been born again but only having knowledge of the truth. Here’s the nature of those who are born of God and has the Holy Spirit in them. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:12-13
Therefore, those who have been chosen by God will obey. “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15 One will obey because he loves Jesus with the love produced by the Holy Spirit. You may be here today and don’t know if you are born again or not? I will be available to explain that to you after the service.