Faith Column: How you believe does matter
September 4, 2015
John 3:3 (NASB), "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
This past June an article appeared in this column that argued that all "Christians are all the same." While this is a common belief that is sincerely held by our pluralistic culture that resists the concept of the narrow way; it is, unfortunately, for those who believe it not true.
The Bible is very clear that there are many who believe they are saved, who believe that they are Christians, who claim Christ, who nonetheless are lost. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says this, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never, knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'"
It does matter what one believes about Jesus Christ, about God, about the Holy Spirit and about His Word. In that same chapter of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus makes it abundantly clear that the road to salvation is not a broad road that is paved with good intentions but a very narrow path. Matthew 7:13-14 says, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
In John, chapter 3, we meet a man named Nicodemus who we immediately learn is a Pharisee and a member of the ruling council of the Jews called the Sanhedrin. We also later learn in verse 10 that he was "the teacher" of Israel. In other words he was the Rick Warren or T.D. Jakes of his day. Nicodemus comes to see Jesus at night with one question on his heart. "What must I do to have eternal life?" Nicodemus knew in the depth of his soul that despite all of his outward display of religious behavior, despite his power and wealth, despite his being a "good person," he was totally and utterly lost. This is why Jesus answers him in verse 3 (even though Nicodemus had not verbalized what was on his heart), "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
The word that is used here in the Greek for "born again" is translated to mean "born from above." Just as you and I had absolutely nothing to do with our physical birth so it is with our spiritual birth as well. We cannot make ourselves be born again or regenerated. I as a pastor cannot preach enough sermons or serve faithfully enough to be born again. I must be regenerated from above, I must be God born if you will.
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All of us you see are born sinners; Scripture is very clear about this tragic reality. In Romans 3:10-11 it says, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD." We are not basically good people who occasionally do wrong things. We are in the very depth of our being in rebellion against God. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." That is the reality of every human being who has ever lived. We are sinners and our sin has separated us from the Holy and Righteous God.
God knows all of this and He knows that we cannot possibly earn our way to salvation. Romans 3:24 says, "being justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." We are given a gift and that gift is God's Son Jesus Christ who was fully God and fully man and who willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. We do not earn it but God gives it to us freely and it is the only way. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
So what can one do to have eternal life and have the assurance of salvation? Simply ask. Repent of your sins and ask the Lord to be both your Savior and the Lord of your life. That is all any of us can do. We cannot ever be a good enough person to earn God's forgiveness. That forgiveness has already been paid for in the person and work of Jesus Christ. But God is faithful and He will never turn away those who genuinely turn to Him in repentance and belief.
Tim Adams is pastor Calvary Baptist Church in Craig.