Once Upon A Time….Men knew that human beings were “Dead In Trespasses And Sin”
Once Upon A Time….Men knew that this meant mans’ heart was “Desperately Wicked”
Once Upon A Time….Men knew that this condition was spiritually / eternally Terminal!
Today? Not So Much!
What happened? These concepts are no longer being preached in Evangelical Churches! I’m not saying they are never mentioned or that Evangelicals don’t believe them, only that you’d never know it by what they DO preach!
What Is The Gospel? Jesus said, “Ye must be born again!” [Jn. 3:5] A precise statement describing a new beginning, from the inside-out. He did not say, “You must clean up your act!” Nor did he say, “You must learn how to do better!” He pointed to something no human being can do: be born again.
What is our problem? We’re sinners. Okay, what does that mean? It means we’re spiritually cut off from God, due to our moral and spiritual depravity, so that we cannot see, hear or know God, even if we cared to! And we don’t!!!
How bad is it? To Nicodemus (a Pharisee and ‘Master of the Jews’) Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jn 3:1-6
When was the last time you heard the phrase ‘you must be born again,’ in your church? Followed by ‘and, oh, you CAN’T DO THAT!’ Not in your own strength. Not simply by willing it so. In fact, unless God does a miracle in your life you WON’T! And it won’t bother you that you don’t!
This is essentially what Jesus was saying. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” What ‘water?’ What ‘spirit?’ How? Why? If you pay attention to the words you should be struck by how one-sided this is. Here’s a man wanting to ‘see God,’ being told he can’t! Unless something completely out of his control happens, first!
Why? v.6 Because “that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The natural man is not ‘born of the Spirit.’ He is completely of ‘the flesh.’ Did I mention he’s ‘cut off!?’ He must be born again.
Nicodemus challenged Jesus on this issue, asking how a man could enter again into his mother’s womb and be born again. But Jesus assured him He was talking about something only God could do. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 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.” (3:7,8)
The solution Jesus gave was that God would have to send His Spirit, like the wind, to blow upon a man, conveying the requisite spiritual power necessary to accomplish this feat. The Spirit of God would come, not at the man’s bidding or pleading, but as the wind, coming from somewhere no man knew, and going somewhere no man knows. A transaction Jesus called being “born again.”
More than that a transaction Jesus said was absolutely essential: “Ye MUST Be Born Again” (of the Spirit of God)….if you want to see heaven. Did you see it? Being born again is NOT being saved! Not unless a man can be saved without ‘Hearing’ the Gospel, ‘Repenting’ of his sin and ‘Believing’ on the Lord Jesus Christ!
And therein lies the rub! Increasingly the Gospel Messages we’re hearing are devoid of these pre-requisites. Men and women are being told they simply have to pray the sinner’s prayer and they’re saved! There is a link at the end of this blog that illustrates my point.
Here is a Sr. Pastor (in his 50’s, at least) taking a vacation the last two weeks of the year — Christmas! Then bringing in a Special Speaker he says he knows the people will enjoy. And they did! Why? Because he’s a “Christian Comedian.”
This man tells jokes and makes some interesting comments, then invites folks to ‘come forward’ if they want to be saved. A bunch, do! So he leads them in a prayer. He told them they needed to come down to the front if they wanted to be saved. He then told them to repeat after him, as he then laid out a prayer of salvation.
Here was his ‘Prayer’ Now repeat after me…Dear God: Thank you for sending your Son to die for my sin. I Believe it! And I Receive it! Come into my heart, Lord….And have Your way. Thank you for forgiving my sins…..for everything… In Jesus’ Name.
Saved? From What? What sin did any of these acknowledge? What is it they ‘Believe?’ The facts of Jesus crucifixion? What does it mean to “Receive it?” And when he asked them to thank God for forgiving their sins, I wondered if they knew which one?
Sadly, this is the kind of thing you hear a lot, these days. Some preachers and evangelists take more time to describe sin and salvation, but rarely do they offer anything close to what Jesus did. It’s usually a ‘slap-shot’ across a broad range of issues, offered with pathos and sincerity, and covered in Bible lingo. But, in the end, I wonder how many were saved from their sin and how many simply went away relieved they weren’t going to hell?
Watch the Video and then read John 3:1-21 and see how they match up. This is how we know we are in the Last Days.
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