Why You Must Be Born Again :: By Gene Lawley

Jesus made that title declaration as recorded in John 3, and it was not a suggestion for an alternative choice to enter heaven. That seems to be pretty stern, but He did not leave any alternatives. Now what does that say to those who blatantly claim that there are more ways to heaven than just by Jesus Christ? Do you mean to argue with Jesus about it? You might want to argue, then, with the Apostle Peter, for he said in Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Then Jesus also said, in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There is absolutely no “wiggle room” in any of those passages.

So let’s work our way through all of it.

When man was created, Genesis 2:7 says God “breathed” into this newly created person the breath of life, and “man became a living soul.” The man became alive spiritually (soul) and the “dust-formed” creature took on physical life. The man was told that he could eat of any tree of the Garden, but if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die. As the story unfolded, he ate of that tree as his wife (whom God had also created) urged him to, and both immediately knew that they were not dressed decently. They sensed guilt and tried to cover their nakedness and hide from God. Man had discovered the knowledge of good and evil, just as God said he would if he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He was destined to die a physical death just as he had already died a spiritual death.

In His mercy, God provided skins of animals to cover the two human beings, thus establishing the method for restoration to fellowship with God—a blood sacrifice. Adam lived physically, 930 years, then died physically.

All humans, then and now, are born with the stamp of death in their genes from that first man, Adam. His nature is that of every one following him. That nature will not be allowed in heaven for it is dead in trespasses and sins. There must be a new birth. Surprisingly, perhaps, is the fact that one cannot repent for that sin of Adam. Only by death can it be eradicated, and for the non-believer in Christ, even that doesn’t work. That transformation of the new birth is the only means of ridding one of the sin of Adam. When the resurrection occurs, those bodies of the “dead in Christ” will be raised fully free of that old nature of Adam. Likewise, the living believer will be transformed (John 11:25-26).

Nicodemus, who was confronted with that “must” in John 3, wondered aloud just how a person could be born again from his mother’s womb. Here is the response Jesus gave him:

“Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).

That reference to being “born of water” does not mean being baptized in water, but rather of the intricacies of the physical pregnancy and birth process. He points to the two types of births in the verse. Note also that Jesus specifically points out that the new birth is a spiritual one. Titus 3:5 is a reference that clarifies this in more understandable terms:

“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.”

The verse reminds us that one cannot regenerate something that was not once generated, nor can he renew something that was not once new or present. It remains, then, that the “born-again” experience restores a person to that relationship with God that existed before the fall of man in the Garden, yet this time it is with the knowledge of good and evil. That old nature and the physical body are still doomed to die and return to the dust from which it came. Thus, when a believer in Christ, the saved person, physically dies, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Even that ancient patriarch Job knew the truths of the physical body and then its resurrection in an eternal body that is without sin and degradation:

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).

When Paul writes about our bodies being the temple of the living God in 1 Corinthians 6:17-20 and that believers should not conduct immoral activities therefore, we tend to slip on by what verse 17 says about our spirit, but it is an amazing truth that  also resounds with a positive fallout from Galatians 2:20-21. Look at verse 17 first:

 “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”

Then, Galatians 2:20-21:

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

So Paul directs the believer, in Romans 6:11, to “Reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin but alive to God.”

Because every person is born into this world with the nature of Adam, he is already contrary to God, thus John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already.”

The transformation is truly a “regeneration” that is described in 2 Corinthians 5:17 in these words:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creation; old things are passed away, behold, all things have become new!”

That new person now living in your old body is an eternal one, yet that dying physical body is still subject to evil desires. Here is how the Apostle Paul described his situation and his solution to that ever-present urge to do evil things with that new knowledge of both good and evil:

“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank my God through Jesus Christ my Lord, that with the mind I, myself, will serve the law of God but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25).

With the thought of the mind being a resource for fighting that personal battle to live righteously, look at Philippians 2:12b-13 where we use the words “enables us” instead of “works in us” to clarify what actually happens:

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.”

Closer thought on the passage reveals that man has a decision to make, and if he makes the right one, God will enable him to set his mind on it and do it.

We find that same principle in Ephesians 3:20:

 “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.”

That is why we must be born again. The old Adam nature will not be allowed in heaven for there is no evilness in heaven. It is not by human effort but only by faith, as Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.”

How can you be born again? Acknowledge your sinfulness to God and ask Him to save you. He will take care of the details of your transformation and renewal of His Spirit in you.

Contact email: andwegetmercy@gmail.com

Only to Steal, Kill, and Destroy :: By Gene Lawley

That title is the description for the scenario of all that is going on in our world today, especially here in America. The sense of that may be more prevalent because we live right with it and are not looking at the trends of social and cultural changes from afar off. Nevertheless, the whole world is pointing to a climax totally unexpected.

Only in the Holy Scriptures can one find the prospects of our future, and for those who are not aligned rightly with God…it is not a pleasing sight.

The title of this article comes from John 10:10, which says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I [Jesus] am come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” The thief is the devil, and he is purposely attempting to destroy the human race in an affront to the God of the universe. The warfare has run since well before time began, even in the leader of all of the holy angels which God had created. He only wanted more power, to be like God, even to replace Him on His throne. Having been denied that privilege, he has been, for centuries, attempting to deny God the glory that is meant for Him.

Look at the story of Job, the oldest account in the Bible, perhaps nineteen hundred years before the coming of Christ. He told God that Job would deny Him if he were given freedom to do what he wanted with Job. And God replied, “Take him, then, but spare his life.” You can find this in the first two chapters of the book of Job. Job was not consulted on this arrangement; however, in the end, he proved faithful to God and frustrated the plan of the devil.

How is this repeating itself, and more, in these last days of the ages?

The whole arena of facets of the sexual revolution are clearly in line with the devil’s desire to corrupt God’s highest creation, that one creation that was in His own image, and shame God before the universe with what that greatest creation had become. The absolute confusion this sexual revolution has developed into is totally astounding. There seems to be no end to the changes to what society is expected to make in order to pacify the demands of the perverted element among the population. They demand tolerance toward themselves, yet at the same time are intolerant of “straight” people.

In the education systems of our nation reside much of the promotion of the sexual revolution. That is where the youngest, the innocent and most vulnerable victims are targeted. It seems that school boards and local governmental bodies are toppling like a row of dominoes, bowing to the wishes of the LBGTQ crowd, lest they be charged with intolerance and discrimination. It is a fearful sight.

Two times in past history are specially marked by Jesus as significant instances that picture how things will be at the time of His coming in that special redeeming of His own born-again believers, the time called the rapture, the snatching away of those who have trusted Him. It is in Luke 17:26-30, in respect to the comparison of events in those days and localities and in the whole world with that of today’s world:

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

Noah and Lot were not taken away to judgment, for judgment happened to those left behind on the earth; and thus, as it was then, so it will be when Jesus comes to meet His own in the air.

As we see our society and culture going from bad to worse, this Scripture causes me to wonder how far the degradation will go. Does the measure of sinfulness have to come to full saturation, as it was in the days of Noah and of Lot, while at the same time the activities of people will continue just as before? In those days of Noah, the whole world was sinful to its core, for Genesis 6:5 tells us so:

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

And then Jesus enlarges that observation in the Luke passage to show how the people were living their daily lives while in such degradation.

It reminds one of the activities of the Israeli people when Moses was with the Lord on Mount Sinai for forty days, receiving the tablets of the law. They appealed to Aaron to make a god for them to worship, and he responded with a golden calf that just “appeared out of the fire.” When Moses came down to them, they had worshipped the golden calf, then rose up to eat and drink and play. It is a picture of total loss of a sense of responsibility for moral conduct.

Further in the Luke passage, Jesus identifies the condition of the citizens of Sodom where Lot remained in the midst of a total saturation in moral degradation. Genesis 19:4-5 tells of their condition:

“Now before they lay down [to sleep], the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”

It is not difficult to see the conditions in our culture today. The sexual revolution and gender manipulation frenzy are totally fixated on sexual activities. A man, born genetically as a male individual, wants to think of himself as a woman, or a woman, so also born, has the parallel mindset, can never be what they think. Their DNA will always identify them as a man or a woman, from birth to death. They will have lived their lives as a total lie.

Some may claim it is impossible to be “straight” if God has set them up to be “gay.” That is why “the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10b), for one knowing who Jesus really is would realize He would not condone or “ordain” anyone to a live of moral degradation and sinfulness. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that “We do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with our infirmities but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

And the Apostle Paul declared his constant struggle with the evils of this world—in his old nature. In Romans 7:24-25 he writes this and tells us how his determination turned his will to submission to the Lord and not the flesh:

“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I, myself, will serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

How clearly the Apostle identifies the constant warfare within the believer between the spirit of the new-born believer and that Adam-defiled body that is doomed for the grave to return to the dust from which it was made! Paul says, “with my mind—the place of the will—I, myself, will serve the law of God.” He identifies his real person, “myself,” as the one who will submit to the law of God. That old man troubling him is already dead, essentially.

He writes of this fact and how a believer needs to respond to it in Romans 6:11 and 14:

“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord…for sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

In the days of Noah, the whole world was declared fully saturated with sin and rebellion, but in Lot’s day, it was just one locality, Sodom and Gomorrah, that were totally destroyed under God’s judgment. Could it happen again? As a matter of fact, it has happened again, perhaps not for the same reason, but possibly so. Early one morning in AD 79, the citizens of Pompeii, Italy, and nearby communities were totally inundated with ash and other debris from the nearby eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, an ancient volcano. It was finished in 48 hours.

What further research might reveal remains to be seen, but we do know that the justness of the Creator does not deal harshly with those who are even the least turned toward righteousness. Peter writes of Lot that he was a righteous man, yet his life does not give us encouragement in that direction.

It is true, however, that God does honor the smallest flicker of positive response to His offer of forgiveness. In Isaiah 42:3 and again in Matthew 12:20, Jesus says He will not “break a bruised reed nor quench a smoking flax till He sends forth justice to victory.” What this says to me, and I trust also to the reader, is that He does not demean or diminish the least flicker of faith that shows up in a person. That is the case with Lot; his righteousness is not readily visible, yet God knew his heart, and so does He know ours. At the end it is not the measure of our faith that makes the difference, for the Scriptures say, “If we believe not, yet He abides faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

Finally, in the incessant drive to maintain and even increase abortions for any reason, or no reason, we can see the handiwork of Satan who seeks in all things to “only steal, kill, and destroy” everything which shows the hand of God in creation and was declared “good” when He finished it.

The future of mankind has two facets. In Romans 8:28 it says, “All things work together for good to those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose.” For those “who love God,” it will be great, but for those who do not love God, it will be total doom and disaster.

Contact email:  andwegetmercy@gmail.com