Tag Archives: born again

Why Was Jesus in Human Form? (Number 2 of a Series – The First and Second Adam)

Today’s message summary of December 10, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Jesus came into human form to fulfill the role of the Second Adam.  Both Jesus and Adam did not have earthly fathers.  Adam, in the same way, was created without sin.

God made the covenant with Himself through Abraham to multiply him throughout the earth.  God, through Jesus Christ, made the new covenant with His people to provide salvation.

Jesus came in human form to fulfill what God had declared and to be with His people.

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

Genesis 3:15

I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

Luke 1:30-33

Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

His name will be Jesus, the Son of the most High.  He will have the throne of David and reign over the house of Jacob (2 Samuel 7:16, 29).

Jesus was in Joseph’s family line (Luke 3:31; Matthew 1:1, 6; Acts 2:29-30, 13:22-23, 36-39)

Acts 2:29-32

“Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in Hades, and His flesh did not experience decay. “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this.”

Note that David, who was a king, was promised that someone would follow him who was always going to be on the throne.

Jesus is a real king.  He is King of kings.

1 Timothy 6:15-16

God will bring this about in His own time. He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, the only One who has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; no one has seen or can see Him, to Him be honor and eternal might. Amen.

Acts 13:35-39

Therefore he also says in another passage, You will not let your Holy One see decay. For David, after serving Gods purpose in his own generation, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed, but the one God raised up did not decay. Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers and sisters, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you. Everyone who believes is justified through him from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses.

Revelation 17:14

These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.

God will always honor His Word.

While many will wonder how God could allow Himself to become a human (in its flesh and frailty, with pain and suffering), we have His Word that explains it.  It is a fulfillment of His promise for us.

We will be able to identify Jesus with the marks on His glorified body.  He is a Spirit.  Why does He need a human body?

John 4:24

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

What is a spirit? We really can’t explain it. But this God, who is a spirit, chose to put on a fleshly body.  The fleshly body allows for us to see Him, His life, His works, and His accomplishments

1 John 1:1-3

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of lifethat life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to uswhat we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus became that which was something that was seen and that he existed.  He was seen as a person, and not as a myth.

How do you touch a spirit?  Can you touch it?

John 1:11-14

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Your new birth in Jesus Christ does not come from man.  The first birth was from humans, and the second birth comes from God.

The Word, Jesus Christ, took on flesh according to God’s will.

Spiritual life comes only from God; therefore, the life of Jesus could only come from God.

Luke 1:34-35

Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”

As man was involved, there would be a sin nature because of Adam’s sin.  That is why all of man is now born in sin and with a sinful nature.

2 Corinthians 5:21

He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2:21-23

For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

1 John 3:5

You know that he was revealed so that he might take away sins, and there is no sin in him.

Hebrews 9:26

Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Jesus was created in every way like a human being, except without sin.  It allowed for Him to be our High Priest who would represent all of us and to go before God without blemish to be our sacrifice.  Only in the flesh could Jesus suffer what Adam did.

He made His dwelling among us. He wanted to be seen by all of humanity in order that people would see how he lived (1 John 1:1).

Hebrews 2:18

For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.

Genesis 3:8-11, 23

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, Where are you?

And he said, I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.

Then he asked, Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

 

So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

Both Adam and Jesus Christ had experience separation from God.  Adam experienced it in the Garden (and he was banished from the garden), and Jesus did so on the cross when He took on the sin of everyone.  There had to be even a sense of loss for both at that moment.

Matthew 27:45-46

From noon until three in the afternoon[a] darkness came over the whole land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni? that is, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

After His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus restores all of mankind, and what Adam had lost because of sin.  You and I today, while we have broken fellowship with God, can experience a renewal of fellowship with Him because of forgiveness.  In His flesh, Jesus Christ restores us in order that we can have fellowship with God.  One day, we will see Him with our own eyes!

1 John 3:1-3

See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called Gods childrenand we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didnt know him. Dear friends, we are Gods children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure.

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The First and Second Adam (Part 1 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of December 3, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Why was Jesus sent to us in human form?  This is what we will ponder today.

God desired that the first Adam would be successful in his relationship with the Lord, but sin caused the fall of man.  It was God’s sending of the second Adam, in the form of Jesus Christ, that would claim the victory that the first Adam could not succeed in.

The first Adam was indeed without sin (before the fall).  He was pure, holy and righteous.  Jesus Christ is the One who would present Himself to the church to be pure and holy.

Ephesians 5:27

He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.

One day, the scars and blemishes that are present on your body today will be removed in our new bodies.

Note that Adam had direct access to God.  We, also, will have the same thing when we are with Him in heaven because there will be no sin present.

Romans 5:12-14

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.  In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person’s account when there is no law.  Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression. He is a prototype of the Coming One. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man’s trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. And the gift is not like the one man’s sin, because from one sin came the judgment, resulting in condemnation, but from many trespasses came the gift, resulting in justification.

The second Adam became the gift that would justify and remove all of the sin that came from the first Adam, a human being in the flesh.  The second Adam, a life-giving Spirit, repaired the breach in the relationship between God and man that came from the fall from the first Adam.

We bear the likeness of both Adams.  The first Adam came from the dust.  The second Adam came from heaven.  It is important to note that the first Adam did not start as a child, but started as an adult, grew older, and died.  Jesus Christ started his earthly life as a child and grew into adulthood.  Both did not have earthly fathers, and both had direct fellowship with God.  Both began without sin, but only Jesus remained without sin.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23

But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man.  For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:45-49

So it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. Like the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; like the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Therefore, we see where the statement “being born again” comes from.  Two births–one natural, and one that is spiritual.  Jesus Christ is the one who allows for man to fellowship within the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 15:50

Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit corruption.

Now, what about the different bodies?

1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:  Death has been swallowed up in victory.

When Jesus was born, many thought that he was the earthly son of Joseph.  Look at the genealogy of Jesus Christ:

Luke 3:23-38

As he began his ministry, Jesus was about thirty years old and was thought to be the son of Joseph, son of Heli, son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, son of Joseph, son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai, son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda, son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, son of Neri, son of Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er, son of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim, son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David, son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Salmon, son of Nahshon, son of Amminadab, son of Ram, son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor, son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah, son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech, son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalalel, son of Cainan, son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.

The first Adam had no earthly father.  He, too, was a son of God.

The second Adam is also noted here:

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son[b] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God does this in His own special way, when he acknowledges that they both come from God.

God seals His covenant with man in His own blood, which is significant.  What God does in His covenant is very much a covenant with Himself (man has nothing to do with it), and yet God is the One who provides salvation for mankind.  All that is required of man is to believe in Jesus Christ.

Genesis 15:12-21

As the sun was setting, a deep sleep came over Abram, and suddenly great terror and darkness descended on him. Then the Lord said to Abram, Know this for certain: Your offspring will be resident aliens for four hundred years in a land that does not belong to them and will be enslaved and oppressed. However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions. But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure. When the sun had set and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the divided animals. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River: the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hethites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.

Abram (Abraham) was unable to make a covenant with God.  It was beyond his ability to do it.  Only God could make such a covenant—and a commitment—to fulfill His promise to Abraham as the father of many nations.  It was a promise that revealed God’s ongoing presence and ability to keep His promises.

Hebrews 6:13-14

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, He swore by Himself: I will indeed bless you, and I will greatly multiply you.

God is the One who made the promise to work within us and give us salvation.  God upholds His Word and keeps it.  He will fulfill it and do it.  If you are born again in Jesus Christ, it is because God provides the ability for you to fellowship with Him.

Note that God’s promise to Abraham is an important part of the timeline of God’s covenant with his people.  Abraham is referenced within the genealogy in Matthew.  This was when God’s work to fulfill the covenant through Jesus Christ was noted.

Matthew 1:1-2

The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:  Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob.

Note that blood was shed in that covenant with Abraham through the animals that were sacrificed.  Why is this relevant?  What did Jesus Christ declare about His sacrifice?  (Note that, like the covenant with Abraham, man does not initiate it.  It is a covenant that God makes with Himself for His people.)

Matthew 26:26-29

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, Take and eat it; this is my body. Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  But I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Fathers kingdom.

Man is not involved with the covenant because of man’s fall.  The covenant is a work of God.

God declared that the work was finished.

Genesis 2:2

By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.

John 19:28-30

After this, when Jesus knew that everything was now finished that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he said, Im thirsty. A jar full of sour wine was sitting there; so they fixed a sponge full of sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it up to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, It is finished. Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.

What was finished? The work of salvation for all of mankind was now completed.  The sacrifice had been given, and God had accepted it.  The blood had been shed, for there was no remission of sin without bloodshed.  What man cannot do for himself, God does it.  What man cannot complete in his own life, God does it for us.  Until a man gives over his life to Jesus Christ, there won’t be any progress or completion.

The work of salvation is a finished work.  Once one declares Christ as Lord and Savior of our life, He covers sin for all eternity.  It is a finished work.

Hebrews 10:12-18

But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. He is now waiting until his enemies are made his footstool.  For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after he says:  This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, the Lord says, I will put my laws on their hearts

and write them on their minds, and I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts. Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

You are worth much more than what you think.  Note that you were bought with a price.

You are very special in that you are the work of God’s hands, and God gave His only begotten Son for the purpose of giving you the desire to be like Him and to live for Him.


The Halo Effect

Today’s message of January 22, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

The previous U.S. Presidential election also provided many lessons about another type of information gathering much like a survey…polling.  For several weeks during the campaign, Donald Trump was losing big to Hillary Clinton (anywhere from 10 to 25 percentage points), but the end result of the election proved that the narrow margins in many key battleground states was much closer than the polling, and the reason for this is that many people voted in this election that (1) never voted in a presidential election in a long time, if ever, and (2) they would never, if asked to take a poll, participate in one to show any preference.  As a result, many previously trusted pollsters lost public trust, after the election, due to accusations that their results were far from accurate. Today’s methodology of poll sampling (telephone polling) is becoming more and more obsolete.

Here’s more polling data to consider.  Gallup put out a poll in 2014 that covered religious service (church) attendance by state.  In general, with a very solid sampling nationwide of over 177,000 adults and a confidence level of 95%, the statistics reported that of those surveyed, on average about 34% of those surveyed attended church at least once a week, and about 21% attended services ever other week or at least once a month. [1] On the surface, this isn’t great but it sounds like it’s OK, until you take into account a phenomenon within polling referred to as “the halo effect.” The halo effect is the difference or discrepancy between what you tell a pollster (which often involves leaving a positive impression of yourself) versus what you actually do.  What was found in a gathering of statistical data by two different groups covering church attendance and trends was that actual number of attendees each week is closer to 17.7 percent of the population. [2] Even Gallup Poll Editor in Chief Frank Newport had to acknowledge that poll numbers can be skewed by “the halo effect.”  Newport said that many people will say they regularly attend church when they really don’t attend every week; in fact, many people will stay home from church due to illness or readily sleep in. Of those who claim to go to church on a regular basis, some may show up less than 12 times a year, and pastors will often acknowledge that their inactive church membership is anywhere from 40 to 60 percent.

We live in a different day and time, and there are few places in the United States where churches are growing. They’re shrinking, and some are rapidly declining in attendance.

So what’s going on here?  It would be very easy to point the finger at the church itself for the decline in church attendance (some criticism is warranted); however, we also have to acknowledge that churches come in different sizes, shapes and colors. There is no such thing as a perfect fit for a church. If one doesn’t work, there should be an inclination to try another one that can be a better fit.  Perhaps the lack of church attendance is not all about the church, or the pastor or leadership, or even other members.  Perhaps the lack of church attendance lies solely with the person.

No one will deny that going to church every Sunday requires a regular routine, but wait a minute…maybe that’s not quite right.  If you love the Lord and recognize how much He has done for you, going to church is more than just a routine or even a duty…it would be your priority and even something to look forward to every Sunday!

When we look at what the purpose of a church is, we begin to understand where church attendance should be more of a priority.

Matthew 18:20 ESV

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Acts 2:41-42 HCSB

So those who accepted his (Peter’s) message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.

Here in this verse is the takeaway that I hope you can see where some individuals will determine that church is either more or less important.  Peter, in speaking to the crowd, told them to repent and ask Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin (verse 38), and that they would be born again. The people who believed his message trusted him and accepted his message.  You will not devote yourself, or make yourself available for teaching or fellowship with others unless you begin to trust the message.  It is faith in the message that leads to acceptance.

Romans 10:17 ESV

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Acts 16:31 declares that you are to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Romans 10:9-10, 13 HCSB

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Trust is the first step that leads to faith.  Faith means you accept and believe the message of Jesus Christ, and, as a result, you begin to see the value and benefits of church fellowship.  This is where you can associate the well-known expression, “Take a step of faith.”

The sad part of this is that people don’t readily trust what they are told. People have grown to be skeptical of others.  This skepticism, however, falls back on the listener.

How many people will sit in church for a period of days, weeks, months and years, and hear all kinds of information, and yet make the conscious decision to not believe? It is a lack of trust in the Word, and is ultimately just like not being in church at all.  A lack of trust is crippling, and for some, it can lead to spiritual death.  Church is not just fellowship with other people, or friends or other believers, it is also about fellowship with God.

1 John 1:5-10 HCSB

Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

If you don’t get anything else out of this, please, please don’t lie to yourself about your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Psalm 139:1-3 HCSB

LORD, You have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I stand up;

You understand my thoughts from far away.

You observe my travels and my rest;

You are aware of all my ways.

The halo effect may also be an issue when it comes to a person’s honesty when it comes to matters of faith. Very few people who you see in a church will share that they don’t have this faith thing all together.  It’s very personal. It’s a private matter.  While it is personal, and it is a private matter, but only God knows where you are with your faith, and He is the ultimate litmus test.

Jeremiah 17:10 HCSB

I, Yahweh, examine the mind,

I test the heart

to give to each according to his way,

according to what his actions deserve.

If you think you’ve got it all together in your relationship with Jesus Christ, you probably don’t.

Proverbs 16:1-2 HCSB

The reflections of the heart belong to man,

but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

All a man’s ways seem right to him,

but the Lord evaluates the motives.

We are reminded that we have nothing in salvation without the grace of God. Salvation is an undeserved gift from God through the mediator, Jesus Christ.  This alone is a reason to be grateful to God and give Him due praise and worship.

Ephesians 2:4-10 HCSB

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.  For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

We worship God publicly through our daily actions and activity, but we learn about worship within a church fellowship.  A bible-teaching church gives instruction and teaches you how to develop your own study habits to learn more about Christ.

We live in a different day and time, but that doesn’t mean that church is less important today. If anything, it is much more important because it is a place where you can develop your faith and build upon a healthy and intimate relationship in Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:24-25 HCSB

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Colossians 3:12-17 HCSB

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

When it comes to your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, do you rely upon the halo effect, or will you humble yourself before God, trust in Him and allow yourself to be teachable and live in the richness of His presence?

True faith in Jesus Christ begins by just believing in Him.  All He desires for you is to “come and you will see” (John 1:39).

 

 

1 http://www.gallup.com/poll/181601/frequent-church-attendance-highest-utah-lowest-vermont.aspx

2 http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


The Gospel of John: Jesus and Nicodemus

Akron Alliance Fellowship Church extends a special thanks to our guest speaker, Rev. Alfonso Tyler, for bringing today’s message.  We also welcome his wife, Mary, and look forward to both returning to worship with us in the future.

The Gospel of John is our focus this week, where John, one of the more prominent members of Jesus Christ’s Twelve Apostles, and as a disciple of Christ, wrote the gospel at a time when there was much discussion about the legitimacy of Christ, His deity, and the emergence of false prophets and teachers.  John, according to what we know, was the oldest living apostle at around age 90 when he wrote this book, and was believed to be the only one of the apostles to have died a natural death (all of the others were martyrs).  He declared, “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down.  We know that his testimony is true (John 21:24).” He also wanted readers to know that “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name (John 20:30-31).”

John began the gospel with the declaration that Jesus Christ was there with God in the beginning, and that He was a part of creation.  This was to communicate the true deity of Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created (John 1:1-3).”  John is to be considered a credible and believable witness for Christ, because, by his account, he fellowshipped with Jesus Christ, and was referred to as ‘the disciple who Jesus loved (John 13:23, 19:26-27, 21:20).’

From John’s account, we will explore Jesus Christ’s interaction with Nicodemus (within John 3:1-10).  Even though his account of the discussion between them begins in Chapter 3, note that the prelude to this discussion actually begins a few verses earlier, which reveals Christ’s omniscience.  He knew the people that he was ministering to:  “While He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many trusted in His name when they saw the signs He was doing.  Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man (John 2:23-25).”  Then we learn about the “man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1).”  Nicodemus was not just an ordinary man; he was an educated man with authority.  He had a seat on the Sanhedrin council.  He was a Pharisee, who, as a people, believed that they were the descendants of Abraham, which they believe elevated them to a special status and that they were not slaves to sin—‘“We are descendants of Abraham,’ they answered Him, ‘and we have never been enslaved to anyone…(John 8:33a)” “We weren’t born of sexual immorality,’ they said. ‘We have one Father—God” (John 8:41b).  It should also be noted that Nicodemus is not a Jewish name, but a Greek name, which means “victory of the people.” As one of the Pharisees, there was an implied sense of superiority and authority, yet Jesus “knew what was in man” and what was in their hearts.

Nicodemus knew the Scriptures, and was respected as a teacher, but Jesus knew the heart of Nicodemus, and that he needed more.  “Jesus replied, ‘I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3).  The Jews wanted liberation from the Romans, and were looking for God to provide an answer, where Jesus answered those who were willing to listen that their true kingdom would be obtained when they focused on being born again.  Nicodemus countered: “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:4-8).  John the Baptist made this similar statement to prepare everyone, including the Pharisees, of the Lord’s coming.  John the Baptist referred to the Pharisees as “snakes” because he knew their hearts and they were not interested in hearing about the coming Messiah (Matthew 3:1-12).

“Whatever is born of the flesh is of the flesh… (John 3:6a).”  We, as believers in Jesus Christ, need to know, understand, and use the power of the gospel.  The non-believer knows about Christ, but the believer has the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.

Nicodemus was perplexed with Jesus’ statement that he needed to be born again. “‘How can these things be?’ asked Nicodemus. ‘Are you a teacher of Israel and don’t know these things?’ Jesus replied (John 3:9-10).” Jesus informed Nicodemus that he needed to be born again, even with Nicodemus being a respected teacher of the law.  We can conclude from this that, at that time, Nicodemus did not understand that Jesus was not just a teacher, as he was…He was the Messiah that Scripture had referred to.  Sadly, there are many in a position of authority within churches as pastors, elders and teachers, and yet they may have never fully committed to Jesus Christ as Savior.  The dilemma and bewilderment of Nicodemus shows that even the well-educated people of stature still need to make room in their hearts for Jesus Christ.

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, God is now speaking to you with a small, still voice.  He desires for you to recognize Him as the One who loves you unconditionally and who provides forgiveness of your sins.  His desire is to have a relationship with you.  It will forever change your life and secure your eternity in fellowship with Him.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).