Monday, January 9, 2017

Salvation in the Spirit

John 3:5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”

The whole Nicodemus encounter of John chapter 3 has always fascinated and drawn me to a deeper understanding of how, and how not, one gets into heaven. The notion that “everyone goes to heaven”,(like Jesus just gives us a some “get out of jail free card” with no string attached) is immediately expelled as the prerequisite of being “born again” is laid out by the Lord. It’s easy to see that Nicodemus was confused the night when Jesus first spoke of the necessity of the new birth and then equated it with the symbol of baptism. I didn’t understand that there was more to it either.

I read how Christ then indicated that the reality in both was the supernatural work of God, the Holy Spirit. “Except a man be born of water [that is, the Spirit], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Without the full and complete gospel message, rebirth, spiritual birth, “born from above”, is a foreign concept. The miracle of regeneration is thus a work of the Spirit, and just as “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” - John 3:8. It is not some soul-winning methodology but the Holy Spirit who does the work, and He (like the invisible wind) may work in a great variety of different ways.

 This work of the Holy Spirit in bringing salvation to the unsaved is so great and so complex that it must be described in a variety of figures to convey the whole reality. In the first place, He must bring conviction of sin and the need of salvation. “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” John 16:8. Then, as the sinner repents and believes on Christ, the Spirit baptizes him into Christ. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” – 1 Corinthians 12:13. As a member of Christ’s body, he is made a partaker of Jesus’ resurrection life. Simultaneously, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” – Ephesians 1:13, and “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?1 Corinthians 3:16. All of this becomes the mighty miracle of spiritual birth;  not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” - Titus 3:5.
Does that make sense?


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