Wednesday, February 3, 2016

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: The HEAVENLY And The EARTHLY - JOHN 3:8-12

The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.


JOHN 3:8-12
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.
9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

In the previous entry for this ongoing devotional series we heard the declaration of the LORD regarding the spiritual rebirth, its source and its necessity if we ever hope to become a part of the kingdom of God and find upon our departure from this world, free entrance into heaven. Of course this entry has nothing to do with our own works of righteousness (at least as we would perceive them) but everything to do with the grace of God (TITUS 3:5).

I recall, much to my displeasure, an emergent church advocate and leader once mis-using verse 8 of our text today to support his view of salvation. He claimed that "...we cannot truly know the source of our salvation; for many Christians, not all, that salvation comes from Jesus, but that the source is ultimately indeterminable. This wind of the Spirit could come from the east (Eastern religions) or from the south (various tribal, native, nature belief systems) or even from the west - believe it or not (Christianity)..."

What a horrible, reprehensible twisting of Scripture! 
Any decent and accurate reading of this verse plainly shows that the indiscernible direction of one born of the Spirit is seen from the perspective of the unbeliever (in the text, Jesus refers to Nicodemus - who at this point in time, is an unbeliever, a seeking one, but unbeliever nonetheless).

1 COR 2:14-15
14 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.

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

Note the word "judge" in vs. 15 - it refers to "being under investigation, to scrutinize". This verse tells us that the spiritual man - one born of God, is inscrutable to any one unsaved; that the unsaved ("natural") man thinks that the things of God's Spirit are foolish and are unknowable to them. 

Every born again believer, those "born of the Spirit" comes from the cross at Calvary, where we identify with our precious Sacrificial Lamb of God, the LORD Jesus Himself, Who is Christ. It was there that we initially died to self, and are reborn with the infusing of the Holy Spirit into our hearts, as a result of receiving Jesus as LORD and Savior. And every born again believer is traveling through this world of sin as a pilgrim, on their way to glory land! That is the path and the direction that the Spirit leads His children on (ROM 8:14)

Wind is an interesting element that the LORD uses here to equate with Spirit, for in the Greek as well as the Hebrew, both are from the same word. Ruach in the Hebrew, pneuma in the Greek. They can mean "wind, air, breath, Spirit," etc.
In the book of Acts, we behold the day of Pentecost and "...as a mighty rushing wind..." the arrival of the Spirit in baptism (ACTS 2:2).
In the book of Ezekiel we read about "them bones, them bones" and the prophetic vision of Israel being reformed as a nation, but initially without any spiritual life (that is, an apostate condition - as they are, for the most part, today), but then the wind came, and God's Spirit enters them and brings revitalizes them spiritually (EZEK 37:9-14); this is something up and coming!

JOHN 3:9-10
9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

Nicodemus was perplexed by all of this talk of being "born again" (refer to the previous entry "Unorthodox Truth") and when Jesus reproves him, I had always thought that was a bit unfair - after all, who knew about being born again in all of the Old Testament? There was no precident to which Nicodemus, or any of the Pharisees or religious leaders could refer to, right? Wrong - I later discovered this verse in Ezekiel . . . 

EZEKIEL 36:26-27
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

What might confuse those new to the faith, who are learning some of the biblical lingo of Scripture, that we who are older are conversant with, is the word "flesh" - often in the New Testament, "flesh" refers to the carnal appetites that the sinful nature craves which violates God's Law. 
This is not the case here in Ezekiel. Here, "hearts of stone" is in contrast with "hearts of flesh". Just as stone is non-living material, flesh is biologically animate. In other words, God will take out the dead, unspiritual hearts of His people Israel, and replace them with new hearts and new spirits (see vs 26 above) by the very Spirit of God.

On an important side note, I find it fasinating that on the heels of this prophecy, there is another: That just as assuredly as the day of Israel's spiritual rebirth is coming (ROM 11:26), so too their ultimate and final restoration to the land!

EZEKIEL 36:28-30
28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.

The LORD assures Nicodemus of the truth of what He is telling him:

JOHN 3:11
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

Note the interesting change from the singular to the plural in our LORD's statement. "We" instead of "I". The LORD here is implying His authority of Deity, in as much as the "We" spoken of here is the Triune God, YHWH, I AM That I AM (EX. 3:14; JOHN 8:58). Jesus as God the Son (COL 2:9)* is All-knowing (omniscient) and Himself the embodiment of Truth (JOHN 14:6) and such a Person is wholly dependable for precise and complete knowledge and wisdom. They are entirely trustworthy and any one would be foolish not to receive their witness.

* For a comprehensive series on the Deity of Christ and biblical proof of the Trinity, please see the following TTUF articles, "JESUS is GOD", beginning with Part One.

Sadly the religious authority of Israel, the Sanhedrin did not receive His testimony, nor did Israel for the most part - though a remnant did, which grew and multiplied, spilling over to the Gentile world. 
Today Jews and Gentiles are continually being added daily to the church, and while the majority of the body of Christ is composed of Gentile believers, the number of Jews coming to faith in the Messiah is increasing in these last days! 

JOHN 3:12
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

As someone pointed out, being born again into the kingdom of God is not the climax for the Christian - it is only the very beginning of one's spiritual existence; the very start of the race (HEB 12:1-2); one that the LORD has every intention for us to complete and by His grace, win! See 2 TIM 4:7; PHIL 1:6.

The spiritual rebirth is a truth that we must comprehend and apprehend while still on this Earth, while we yet live, because once we die, there is no hope for salvation, rather the somber, even terrifying prospects of God's judgment (HEB 9:27)! The ONLY means of spiritual rebirth is by the very Spirit of God, the God of the Bible, through the LORD Jesus Christ and receiving the GOSPEL.

It's not until we are born again and on our way to developing spiritual maturity that we can even receive the deeper and more glorious truths of God, and of His Kingdom (refer back to 1 COR. 2:14 quoted earlier); there are deeper truths still, that we will not fully understand, even after a life time of prayerful Bible study, but will one day be manifest to us, when once we leave this fallen world and enter into the domain of the Kingdom of God.

1 COR 2:9-10
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (cf. ISAIAH 64:4).

This verse excites me no end as a believer. It tells me that what God has planned for us, His children, far exceeds anything we have ever seen, anything we have ever heard, or experienced . . . even anything that has been envisioned in the wildest of our imaginations. 
Think of some of your best science fiction or fantasy novels or movies. There have been some incredible feats of imagination in these genres; some amazingly beautiful, awesome, dazzling displays of wonders to behold - yet ALL of them utterly pale before the wonderful things that our ABBA Father has in store for us! Paul the apostle saw some of these glories, of which he stated (I'm paraphrasing here): It wouldn't be right to try to describe what I saw, they were beyond any words known to man to adequately portray. See 2 COR. 12:1-4.

I am prayerfully considering doing an article on what Scripture has to say about heaven. In the meanwhile, perhaps you would like this comprehensive treatment of The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven by Dr. Wilbur Smith (I would use this as one of my source materials for an article of my own)!

ALL of this freely given to us according to His insurmountable grace, granted to all who will simply and humbly come to the LORD Jesus Christ with a repentant heart for His salvation.

I, along with the rest of the body of Christ, wait with well nigh agonzing anticipation (ROM 8:20-25; 2 COR 5:1-5), those "heavenly things" that will have us supremely awestruck throughout the eternity of God's domain, and for which we shall bow before His Majesty with hearts of adoration and worship, and for the greatest of wonder: our redemption (heart, soul and body) by the Sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah! THANK YOU LORD!!

Next time, we shall look at JOHN 3:13-14 in "Brazen Uprising". Until then, the LORD bless and keep us by His everlasting grace and peace in JESUS Name, amen!

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