The beginning of this sermon is a bridge between the sermon that I gave on June 4 and this one. I am using this bridge because I left out an important conclusion to some illustrations that I used near the beginning of that sermon.
In that sermon I showed the sacrificial dedication of some of the members of the Pittsburgh congregation, such as those four men—one of which drove all the way from Canada to Pittsburgh virtually every Sabbath, along the way he picked up three other men and those men hardly ever missed a Sabbath. So at least for the Canadian man it was a long journey every week and he did that for years until a congregation was established in Toronto.
I stated at the conclusion of those illustrations that there were times in my past when I truly marveled at the sacrificial dedication of those people. Now I realize my wonderment was somewhat off balance. It was right there that in my sermon on the 4th that I stopped those illustrations because I intended finishing the thought later in the sermon, but I did not finish the thought. I stopped the sermon without concluding my thought on those illustrations that I gave.
What I have learned since is that God Himself is far more involved in our lives than I formerly thought possible. Now I give the major credit for what those men did to God's involvement. They of course were willing instruments to carry through with what their thought motivated them to do, but the real motivation and the willingness, right kind of spirit, and attitude, was something that God gave them.
Indeed He might have been the one that inspired it in the first place, because He wanted to make a witness to the rest of us there in Pittsburgh of the kind of dedication that He expected of us. I noticed it and I know that I was not the only one who noted it. These four men were not the only ones who did things like that. They were exemplary, what they did was quite a sacrifice of their time and energies, but there were others who were doing things as well.
I want to give major credit for what they did to God's involvement. I am doing that because I want you to know that you can have the same involvement with God as well in your life.
I want to repeat the purpose for this sermon series. The overall purpose is to refute in your mind the concept commonly held by much of this world’s Christianity that God is only passively involved in the purpose and plan of salvation of which we now are a part. It is after all His plan and His purpose, but we will build from that.
Consider this thought because it is important that we get what is happening in our lives in the right order. We have the concept that we are here to build character. That is most certainly not wrong, but I submit to you that our thoughts are also most likely entirely unbalanced regarding this. We tend to think that the entire load of responsibility for this building of character is on us, but I want you to consider this. This new creation, which is actually called that in II Corinthians 5, is following the pattern of the creation of Adam and Eve. It is not an exact following, but it is still the same Creator who did that as is working in us now, and He is doing His thing—He is creating.
How much did Adam and Eve contribute to their creation? Nothing. They received the creation as a gift of themselves. I say that we are following the pattern. It is not exact, there is a difference. We do have a part in this spiritual creation. We have a part, a responsibility, and in our minds it seems huge but compared to what God is doing in His part it is still virtually zero, nada, nothing, compared to what He is doing.
Has anyone here found out yet how to create eternal life? That is something that has to come entirely from Him. This gives you an idea that what He is adding to us is far more than our little contribution of yielding to Him in the doing of our responsibilities.
Compared to the Creator we have only a very small portion of an idea of even where we are headed. Where on earth is God taking us with this creation? I can look at myself and my life has done flip flops since the late 1950s when God called me. I never in all my born days ever wanted to get up in front of people and talk to them! I mean 10,000 people at the same time. That is something that changed me entirely.
He created that desire in me to get up in front of people and talk, but I just confessed to Evelyn, regardless of how many sermons I have given (I have no idea how many sermons I have given since I began giving them), I get a knot in my stomach every time. I do not want to make a fool out of myself in front of all of you! Usually once I get started that lump begins to melt away and I can speak a great deal more freely.
We observed in an overview of Ephesians 1, that He created this plan before the foundation of the earth. It is He who formulated His purpose, it is He who is the driving force, the guide. He calls people into it, He converts those that He chooses, He determines when events happen and who will be involved when they happen. He determines where entire nations are located and when they rise to power and fall from power. He determines when Jesus Christ returns, and it is He who judges who will be in the first resurrection and who will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
There must not be one iota of deism in the church of God. God is not passive, there is nobody in creation more actively involved in His plan and His purpose. It is time that we firmly, positively, are settled as to who is running things continuously, and who we must have faith in, and faithful to glorify with our life. No man and no dispensational theories can bump God from His responsibilities that He has set for Himself. When God sets out to do something, He does it. He will move heaven and earth to accomplish His will.
I began this sermon a month or so ago, and we got as far in this as Genesis 17:7-19. This is the place where God is choosing from Abraham's two sons. What we are again doing, is we are using the pattern that is shown very clearly in the Bible of the judgment that God made on Satan that involved Adam, Eve, and their children. I am using this following the pattern of the sanctifications that take place as God chooses the people that He is going to use, and chooses the time that He puts them in to the stream of history that is included all the way to Revelation 22.
Genesis 17:17-19 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” Then God said, “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.
I chose to start here partly because that is how far we got the last time, and also by how determined God was about what was going to be done. God deliberately chose Isaac even though he was not yet born. That is how into it He is. He made sure Sarah would have a child and He even named the child before he was even conceived—Isaac, meaning laughing. He was a happy guy. We can see from his life that he was a very even-tempered person as well, he did not want to make war with anybody. Just a peaceful guy and it fits his name very well.
Isaac was born, Ishmael was shoved aside. Was it the descendants of Ishmael who did what they did in Orlando? It is a possibility because there is a hatred within those people. It is there almost naturally, and it is part of the judgment that God made on Satan, as we will see, because Satan's children are the ones who actually receive, in this case, the hatred.
After Isaac, Isaac had twin sons, but God deliberately chose Jacob even before he and his twin were born. The twin was Esau. Jacob had twelve sons. God set apart in that family Levi, Judah, and Joseph. He set them apart from the others. Levi fathered the priestly line, it could have been 11 other sons but He chose Levi. Judah was chosen to be the governing line of the Israelitish people, and David is the most famous of those in that line. Joseph was used by God to pave the way for his father’s family, Jacob’s family, to be used in Egypt and the Exodus.
We have a foundation for the rest of the sermon. God's purpose was being worked out and very plainly and clearly God was doing the choosing, God was doing the moving, God was doing whatever needed to be done so that His purpose went in a certain direction.
The children of Israel are in Egypt. At this point Moses becomes significant because God chose this descendant of Adam and Eve—of Seth's line, then Noah's line, then Abraham's line, through Jacob, Levi, and then came Moses. He is following a family. All of this is being done from heaven above. He moves the people to make the moves that He wants them to do. Then came Moses. He was the great grandson of Levi. God used Moses for the establishment of the children of Abraham into a nation after they left Egypt.
Please turn to Acts. When the time comes where needs to be a jog in what is going on, God makes a mark somewhere along the line so that we are able to see clearly.
Acts 7:22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.
Moses, of the descendants of Levi, was sanctified and then God made sure that he was found by Pharaoh's daughter. He was then taken into her home where he received the very best kind of political, military, and economic education that was available at that time. He was well-schooled in all of the wisdom of Egypt as God prepared him to be the man through whom Israel would be established in a nation.
Deuteronomy was written in the last month of Moses’ life. He had led Israel in the wilderness for forty years. God told him he was not going to be permitted to go into the Land of Promise, but he did command them to write the book of Deuteronomy so that there would be a background that we could use to see the history and also see other things that happened then.
Deuteronomy 7:6 [written for the entire nation] “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
What you just read there is that Israel is now a holy people, God sanctified the entire nation, not just a single individual. He sanctified the entire nation, which means that the whole nation of Israel become the recipients of the effects of the judgment that God made on Satan and the Israelites received a tremendous benefit from that. What did Israelites receive as a benefit? The protections that were involved within. It was a curse to Satan, but it was a blessing to those who were the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.
However, it also brought upon the Israelites the wrath of the other nations, because the spirit of Satan was in them. The result of that is this: without really understanding why, the Gentiles hate the Israelites, there is something there that irritates them. That hatred, that antisemitism as the world calls it, is the fruit of Satan's spirit that is driving them to hate. So the Gentiles create justifications for hating the Israelites, they hate them because of the God-given prosperity of the Western world.
Is the Western world more prosperous than the rest of the world? By and large, yes. They hate the Israelitish nations because they are so generous, making them feel small, indebted, and poor. They create reasons to justify their hatred not realizing where the source is. The source is outside of them, because God will not let them—the demons, Satan—get at the Israelites. The Israelites have a wall of protection that God gives to them.
What have the Israelitish people been receiving all of these years? Grace, simply because they are Israelites and because God has chosen to be the one giving them the protection and the prosperity. Some of this hatred is earned through Israel's carnality, but we must be aware that the real source, as you will see as this sanctification and its blessings goes on. As with Noah something that was found, not earned. Israel did not deserve the grace that God gave us.
God's purpose and plan was unfolding in a clear way by the time we get to the book of Deuteronomy. It was still pretty much of a mystery except to those who had been given grace like Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. They understood a great deal more because God had blessed them with insight into what was really going on. I want us to have faith in what God is working out, because now we are a part of it.
Go to Deuteronomy 1. Now that He has made an entire nation holy, they have certain responsibilities that they have to carry out before the nation. When He just sanctified one person like Noah or Moses, then it was limited in terms of making a witness to the world. But now we have an entire nation that has been sanctified by God. Here is what God said to those people.
Deuteronomy 7:1 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites, and Girgashites and Amorites, and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites, and Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you.”
I think God is telling us that each one of those nations was greater and mightier, so we are talking about seven greater and mightier nations against one little people who are holy to God. What is Israel's assignment? They have to chase all seven of these nations out of there, and not only that, they have to live His way of life. There is something that is going to be required of them.
Deuteronomy 7:2-5 “And when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenants with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. [It had nothing to do with anything interracial, it had every thing to do with religion.] For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods, so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. But thus shall you deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire.”
What is God doing? He is making clear the barriers to the relationship that these people can have with the people that they are supposed to chase out of the land that they are moving into. Their responsibility is to move those people out. God uses this figurative illustration: when you come into the land I will send the hornets among those people and chase them out. People think that God sent them in there just to murder everyone, No He did not. He brought them in there to move in and if they were obeying Him then He would have sent the hornets, but Israel did not obey Him and so they got into bloody battles all over the place because they would not yield to what God said to do.
That is the history, even of the holy people. Not just Israelites, almost everybody that God sanctified—made holy—had a hard time keeping themselves clean from the world.
We are the holy people now and we have a hard time with the world. It is in a sense our biggest enemy because it is always there, there is no relief from it. Satan is seemingly eternal, and he knows how to put the pressure on the holy people and invite us to sin, and be disloyal to God.
We see a pattern with the Israelitish people. They are given responsibilities they are to carry out. They did not carry it out and they failed. What we see here in the first five verses is the separateness, the sanctity, the national difference that God gives to those people. It begins to become apparent. The sanctity at this point in time has nothing to do with a spiritual or physically better people than those they were replacing in the Promise Land, it was simply God's choice.
His choice has everything to do with the overall purpose and plan that God Himself was working out. As He did with Noah and other individuals He sanctified, He gave the Israelites national responsibilities to carry out that emphasizes the differences. For example, the responsibility of building the Ark really made Noah and his family different.
This is what I mean by given a responsibility by God, something that the world can see with their own eyes, to be a witness against them and also to those who are sanctified to see whether they will loyally carry it out. Noah did. Not very many of those that God sanctified actually did do it. The Israelitish people are a classic in that regard, they failed miserably in carrying out their responsibilities.
Noah and his family really became different. However, in this case, because Israel was being formed into a nation, He chose to make the difference much more personally obvious to the Israelites by making laws they were to perform that revealed some of those differences. But of course they did not, there were to be no marriages, no covenants with those people.
Deuteronomy 7:6-11 [He is giving his reasons why these differences are being made known to the Israelites.] “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. [What did God require of them?] Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments [The question here is would the Israelites be faithful in doing what He assigned them to do.]; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them, He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them.
The Israelites overall responsibilities, like all the others that God set apart and made holy, is to be faithful to Him by keeping His commandments. What we will look at here is how distinct, and how clear, and firm, this particular setting apart was, and was made to be seen. The other times that God sanctified a person it was almost exclusively one in individual or one family. This time it is an entire nation of millions of people. He made it clear to the Israelites through Moses that every single one of them was holy.
How did God do it this time? What is it that really sets somebody apart? It is marriage. What did God do? He married Israel, you cannot be more clearly set apart by anything than a marriage.
Ezekiel reveals what He did. He made it known to those people and they should have respected Him as a result but they never seem to really get it.
Ezekiel 16:6-8 “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive [He is talking to an entire nation but speaking as though he was talking to one person.] like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath [entered into a marriage with here] to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God.
This illustrates something. Whenever God makes somebody holy they are brought into a special relationship with God that other people do not enjoy. Remember this one was with an entire nation, so He said to them, you became My wife. It separated Israel away from every other nation on earth. You cannot get a more complete picture of sanctification, or setting apart than that. Marriage sets apart those wed to each other from all others and they are to be faithful to each other.
Amos 3:1-2 Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying; “You only have I known [this indicates a sexual relationship] of all the families of the earth [He set Israel apart from everybody else. He made them holy in a way no other people had ever been made holy on the face of the earth]; therefore I will punish you for all of your iniquities.”[an accusation of adultery]
I am going to take something from the sermon that I gave at the beginning of this series, that is, the holiness that Israel had was not the same kind of holiness that we have. But it was similar to, of the same source as to the way the Temple was holy, the way the altar was holy, the furniture in the Temple was holy, the ceremonial utensils, robs of the priests, the priests themselves being holy. They were holy because they were separated and consecrated as God is holy.
Ezekiel 16:15-21 “But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it. You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourselves, and played the harlot on them. Such things should not happen, nor be. You have also taken your beautiful jewelry from My gold and silver, which I had given you, and made for yourselves male images and played the harlot with them. You took your embroidered garments and covered them, and you set My oil and incense before them. Also my food which I gave you—the pastry of fine flour, oil, and honey which I fed you—you set it before them as sweet incense; and so it was,” says the Lord God. Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?”
Because of not having the right kind of holiness—having this lack—the overwhelming majority of the Israelites lived pretty much like those who were completely in the world. They almost totally abandoned God and thus Israel split into two nations with those bearing the name Israel moving to the North and made Samaria their capital, eventually being conquered by the Assyrians and seemingly disappearing from view.
The remaining Israelite nation called themselves Judea, and remained centered around Jerusalem. They too departed from God, were conquered by Babylonians and taken into captivity. A small number returned to their homeland after seventy years, and reestablished themselves in Judea. Judea continued as a nation in this manner right up to and through the birth and ministry of our Savior. We are now at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ, we moved through well over two thousand years of time.
Forty years following Christ's death and resurrection, the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. The Judeans scattered and seemingly, like the Israelites before them, disappeared from view. During our Savior’s ministry a radical change in emphasis was taken place regarding the place of importance of sanctification to each called person’s spiritual life, as compared to each citizen of the nation of Israel.
Remember where we are in history. We are up to the ministry of Jesus Christ. Israel, the whole nation is holy to God but living just like the pagans.
Matthew 16:18 “And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Why is this verse significant? It is the first time that the word church appears in the Bible. We have gone through over two thousand years of history, and the word church finally appears in the Bible, and Jesus is the one who says it. No such institution existed. He said, “I will build My church,” but no such institution existed in Old Testament times, even though it was already planned from the beginning as we saw clearly in Ephesians 1. From the very beginning God has the church in mind. God has already waited over two thousand years, until finally Jesus utters the word church.
Jesus is abruptly announcing that He is going to create a new institution within the framework of the already set apart holy Israelitish nation. God's purpose and plan for Israel and the world was going to adjust somewhat, but continue on, focused now on the church that Jesus was announcing.
We read in Ephesians 1 that the church existed in God's plan from the foundation of the world. This does not mean that there were no spiritual connections to the Old Testament regarding a church, but they were mostly in the sanctified people’s minds and not written of by the prophets.
The term church is derived from the common Greek term ecclesia. It means, indicates, an assembly of called-out ones. The sense of ecclesia is of a group of people purposely called for a meeting that specifically pertains to their life and their community. Suppose the community leaders wanted to discuss a traffic problem, a sanitation problem, a crime problem, water problem, and they wanted input and discussion from others in the community. They would call for an ecclesia, and people would respond. It is a meeting of community residents.
This was something in their communities that happened reasonably often. However, the particular group of people are those called out for reasons that pertain to Jesus’ teaching, not for a meeting on sanitation, or water supply. He was calling for the formation of a people regarding His teaching about the Kingdom of God. Thus those used, because He was a teacher of religion, the calling thus had spiritual connotations to the temple in their mind.
Thus this new institution, the church, being formed within Israel, is now in view as we continue the thread of our story. The church is a major reason why Jesus taught what He did, and what He taught is important to us personally to understand regarding our subject, regarding the judgment. Do not every forget that judgment in Genesis 3:15. This goes on all the way to the end of the Book. That was an important decision that God made and that is what we are following.
As Ephesians 1 begins, Paul exclaims that God has given us great spiritual blessings so we can be holy.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us [those who are members of the church] with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
God planned for this from the very beginning.
Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
Do you think God is not planning ahead about what He is going to do? The central figure in all of this is Jesus Christ, titled as the Beloved. It is through Him that we have forgiveness of our sins and redemption.
Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
This is really things of historical importance to the church. God has revealed to us the mystery surrounding what His purpose is.
Ephesians 1:9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.
A second major point in this mystery is, God is gathering all elements connected to His will under one central authority, one head, and that head is the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth in Him.
Ephesians 1:20-23 Which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
What He did in those last three verses there is, Paul drew all of this pertinent information in this chapter to a major conclusion that involves our life, personally. He figuratively compares Christ to the Beloved, as being made up of and consisting of the individual members of the spiritual body, you and me. Jesus Christ thus figuratively becomes the spiritual Temple. We are working toward the same kind of holiness that God has. He had to do all of this preparation for accomplishing this. This directly ties into Ephesians 2:19-22.
Ephesians 2:19-22 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
We might not be able to grasp because of the size of the operation of what happened there, when God made all Israel holy. Perhaps now that the church is on the scene we can at least begin to make out what has happened to us individually. We are being made part of a figurative Temple, we are being made part of a figurative body as it were. We are vital to the operations of each one of them and because of this we become holy in a way that the Israelites never became holy, because God is moving toward the conclusion of His purpose for each and every one of us.
Have you noticed how often it was mentioned that God is doing this personally, individually? Here is how the holiness is accomplished: our holiness is different from the holiness that Israel had. They were not really holy, they were set apart, they were holy because they were set apart. Our holiness has to be something that is a part of our minds, heart, character, our conduct.
When the Jewish leaders began to more fully realize that Jesus was drawing people to Him, is when the religious leaders began seriously conspiring against Him. Though the church was prophesying, this was unique, because God Himself, through Jesus Christ, was drawing people from His own nation of Israel to another institution that was also His—the church. This is how the Israel of God began right from within the nation of Israel. Galatians 6:16 shows this. There are two Israels, one is holy by being consecrated and set apart, the other is holy all the way into the very depths of their being.
John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Notice carefully reference to the church. God the Father must precipitate the spiritual holiness of which we are speaking, even as Jesus did the physical holiness, shown so clearly in Exodus as Israel built the tabernacle. It is the Father who chooses who is going to be in His Family, He directly does that, not Jesus Christ, even though they are one. It is the Father who makes the choice right from the top.
John 6:45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”
Who is the all? Those who are becoming part of the body of Jesus Christ, those who are being brought to Jesus Christ.
Are you aware that Jesus was asked about what is the work of God? Do you know what His answer was? The work of God is to make people believe in Me. That is what the Father’s work is. If we could put it down to one significant thing in relation to the church, anyone who actually becomes a part of the family of God, and begins then to share in the holiness of that entire Family, have to be chosen by the Father and they have to be taught by the Father, or they will never believe in Jesus Christ.
The Father teaches us to believe that Jesus is our Savior, He is our Redeemer. That is what those verses are saying. We not only have to get by the Father, we have to get by the Son too. They will be in perfect agreement because Jesus can see that this person has been taught by the Father.
It is the Father who begins the salvation process by sanctifying those called by means of His Holy Spirit, the pattern must be followed because that is God's pattern. He does not deviate for the sake of our understanding, our faith, and the appreciation, and thus of His glory.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
It is a gift to be able to see Jesus in His true character as our Savior. It comes about as a result of contact by the Father that we may not even be aware of when it is happening. He is opening our mind, and faith, spiritual faith, is God's gift to get us moving and to keep us moving in this relationship subject to Him.
John 6:61-63 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
I am going to say something that is pretty radical. I want to see if anyone can come up with something that refutes it. We have the Holy Spirit before we are ever baptized. If we did not have the Spirit we would not put everything together correctly. This is what God does. This is why it says, they shall all be taught by the Father, so that we put all the pieces together in the right order and begin to see that our calling is from God who begins to give us of His Spirit—so that we can begin to really understand, grasp, believe, spiritually in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
It is not just something that we pluck out of the air because ‘everyone else is doing it’ kind of thing. It is because it hits us right in the very gut of our understanding and we believe it with all of our heart, because we are given the ability by God to perceive it the way it should be perceived.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
I am assured by several books that I have looked into that the ‘born again’ can also be translated as ‘born from above.’ That actually gives a clearer understanding that the birth is something that is engineered by God, it comes from above, it has nothing to do with something that is physical and of the earth. It is because God is the one who chose us and began to open up our mind to the reality of our Savior. Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again or born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:4-6 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 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.
What He is describing here is the very genesis of our spiritual birth. It is something that God engineered.
This teaching pinpoints the moment of the beginning of our sanctification, our being prepared to be part of the church family. The teaching media for our spiritual calling changes. The purpose is overwhelmingly greater than merely being mechanically set apart for God's uses. Everybody is hand-picked by the Father as the head of the Family. The teaching media becomes spiritual, this is going to be a spiritual setting apart. However, this time the purpose is to make those elected to become truly spiritually holy and to make them living spiritual instruments to God's purpose and glory. This is when the new creation begins and God instituted it, God started it.
II Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
Everything is beginning to coalesce for an entirely different kind of holiness. This is a holiness in which the person’s character changes—radically. A holiness of an extremely higher level because now the purpose is to make those who are sanctified holy in their heart, in their character, by means of a new creation, thus truly in the image of God as He creates His Family, because He was the one who started the whole process.
Make sure that we understand the term ‘new.’ Paul said, it is a new creation. Paul had his choice of two Greek terms that he could have used. Both of them are broadly similar but also specifically different. Paul chose to use the Greek word kahenos. This is not used to indicate new in terms of time, but new as to form or quality of different nature from what was contrasted to what was old. The alternative was neos. It is used in respect of time, that which is recent especially to a comparative degree with something that is older.
Paul used the one that does not indicate anything at all about time. He used the term that indicates a change in the character of what is new.
Receive Biblical truth in your inbox—spam-free! This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 145,000 subscribers are already receiving.