home speaking schedule bookstore contact

Friday, August 2, 2019

Nicodemus -- Part 2

Flesh and Spirit
            Jesus goes on to say to Nicodemus, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” V6 Human life comes from our human parents, but spiritual life comes from God, Jesus (Word) and the Holy Spirit.
Let’s compare a “natural” birth to the “supernatural” birth.

Natural Birth
In the “natural,” the father’s seed unites with the mother’s egg. The egg must be fertilized by the father’s seed (sperm cell) first. The two unite and are sealed off in the protective place of the mother’s womb so no other sperm can fertilize it. In the protected womb of the mother, it grows and matures until birth when it breaks forth as a new creation – new life -- into a new world.

Spiritual Birth
Spiritual birth is similar to natural birth. Spiritual life begins at the joining of the Seed of God/Jesus with a human. Jesus, the Word-- seed of God -- took on flesh in the womb of a virgin Jewish woman. Christ is the only One begotten by the Father in heaven and united directly to a human womb. No other in heaven or on earth has been born of a virgin with God as Father.  
After the uniting of Jesus, the Seed of God with us, we are “set apart” in the protective place of the Father in the womb of His Bride – His Church. There we are fed, nurtured and hopefully protected from false doctrine. Just as “natural” birth is a process over time, "spiritual" birth is a process over time. We are born again as spiritual infants. We are in the process of becoming sons and daughters of God who reflect His character and love. We grow and mature spiritually into “new” spiritual creations as we are fed and led.
The Seed of God – the Word/Jesus – still takes on our flesh and its ways so we will walk in His ways to the glory of God.
·     We are “raised up” by the power of the Holy Spirit and Word into new, resurrection life glory by glory.
·       We develop into a “higher” spiritual being in Christ.
·    At death, we break forth into a new heavenly world in our resurrected bodies and are a complete, holy, spiritual being under a Divine spiritual government – the Kingdom of God.
·      Flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. (see 1 Corinthians 15:50) Our flesh will be changed in the blink of an eye into spirit.
 Our new life in Christ comes from a change in our heart, not through keeping rules and regulations. This change of heart is not an improvement on our fleshly life; it comes from a continual and complete change of heart by the power of the Holy Spirit and Word. Our changed lives will reflect the beauty, glory and holiness of God.
At creation in the beginning of Genesis, God said that all were to reproduce according to its kind. The same is true between the flesh and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh.
·    When we operate through our carnal nature, we are giving birth to the flesh and its desires and giving victory to the devil.
·   When we operate according to the Holy Spirit of God and His Word, we are giving birth to our spirit man and giving victory to the Godhead over the devil.
The carnal nature cannot defeat a spiritual devil, nor can it give us new spiritual life. The devil is a spiritual being, therefore, only a spiritual being can defeat Him. Jesus gave us the victory on the cross, but the devil is still warring against us until all evil is removed in the new earth and the new heaven. Until then, we war against the devil who works through our flesh and its ways that are contrary to God’s ways. Both Jesus and the devil who are both spiritual need a body to work through. Those who love and follow Jesus and walk in His ways will defeat the devil and his ways. Those who don’t will continue to be used by the evil one to accomplish his purposes of death and destruction. Jesus wants to raise us up into the highest place in the spiritual realm with Him. The devil wants to take us down into the lowest part of the earth which is his end.
God wants those who love Him to reflect His character, beauty, glory and heart as Jesus did.

The First Adam and Woman
When Adam and the Woman disobeyed God, they died spiritually not physically until hundreds of years later. Adam, when he was created by the Godhead, was Divine. He was without sin and clothed in God’s glory until sin entered. Then Adam and the woman out of shame hid from God among the trees in the Garden and were ultimately removed from God's holy presence..
All humans are also dead in sin because we are descendants of the first man and woman. The only One who was not born in sin was Jesus because He is the holy Seed of God not man. No man had anything to do with Jesus’ conception and birth. God had to fix the sin and death problem, so the Holy Spirit planted the Word of God (Jesus) into a Jewish virgin. Why a Jewish woman? Because God began the establishment of His earthly kingdom through the nation of Israel and gave them the Law that made a provision to atone for their sins yearly until the pure, perfect One came to atone for sin once for all and eternally.
         God shaped and formed a perfect, holy man in Adam. Therefore, only a perfect, holy Man could atone for the first Adam’s original sin. And only a Perfect Man born through the Jews could fulfill the Law perfectly for all and its penalty of death for disobedience.  Even though the Second Adam Jesus took on flesh through the Jewish virgin, He never lost His holiness and glory because He was without sin and was in a womb that no flesh or seed of man had touched. Her womb was pure. It is also interesting to note that Jesus also was laid in a tomb at His death that no dead flesh had touched. This had to be because Jesus is holy even in His flesh body.

Jesus Compares the Holy Spirit with the Wind
            Jesus sees that Nicodemus is still confused so He gives him another example: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” Vv8-9 Only the water and blood of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, can bring our spirit to life. Like the Holy Spirit, you can see the effects of the wind but you cannot see it. We know that the Holy Spirit works on a human’s heart, but we don’t know the exact time or place a change occurs because the Spirit is continually working on the hearts of those who love and follow Jesus. When a person surrenders to the Godhead, a “new” person is being created in His image – a new creation!  What we begin here on earth is just the beginning of salvation and being newly creation. The final result will be in the spiritual kingdom for all eternity.

Jesus Corrects Nicodemus
            Nicodemus is still stymied by Jesus’ words. Jesus says to him, “You are Israel’s teacher and do not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven – the Son of Man. John 3:10 – 15  In other words, Nicodemus is a renowned teacher and scholar of the Word, but He isn’t understanding the spiritual truths Jesus is speaking. It is my belief that Jesus using the word “we” was referring to the Father, Him and the Holy Spirit because although they are three parts of the same Godhead, they work in perfect harmony and agreement as One. They will never contradict one another because they are holy and truth.

The Law and the Spirit
Paul says in Galatians 5:16-18, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of your sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under Law.” Paul also says in Romans 8:2 that Christ Jesus through the law of the Spirit of life set us free from the law of sin and death. The law of the Spirit fully operates in us when we commit to obey the Holy Spirit and the Word. What the Law was powerless to do, God did through His Son Jesus “that the Law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”
The Law of the Older Testament was fully met in Jesus. He obeyed it perfectly and completely once-for-all. He met it for us. Then He gave us the power of the Holy Spirit within us to deliver us from sin’s power and lead us onward glory by glory to final glorification in Christ. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God.” Romans 8:5-6  The sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8:8) It brings sin and spiritual death.
In Genesis at creation, the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters almost in a birthing position to bring about a “new” creation with the Father and the Word (Jesus). The Holy Spirit is not only within us when we accept the Incorruptible Seed of God Jesus, He is also hovering over us to birth new spiritual life into us making us “new creations.” God’s ways don’t change!
The Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God still take on our flesh as they dwell within us. God wants us to be born a spiritual being through His Son and His righteousness with the power of the Holy Spirit. “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Romans 8:10 1 Peter 1:23 shows us that we are born again by the Incorruptible Seed of the Word of God (Jesus). Evidence of our “new” birth will be seen in our changed lives. Jesus and the Holy Spirit came to give us resurrected life now. The Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead wants to also raise us from the deadness of our fleshly nature so we will live by being led by the Holy Spirit. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God.” Romans 8:5-6 I Why does God want us to be changed by Jesus and the Holy Spirit? “Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:14 In other words, we are God’s children. We are like Him. We are born into a spiritual family.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Nicodemus - John 3

         Jesus will use Older Testament scripture to teach Nicodemus, the Jewish teacher, Pharisee and member of the ruling Sanhedrin Council. He was rich, educated and an honored teacher of the Older Testament. As a teacher of the Older Testament Word, Nicodemus would be familiar with this event in Numbers 21:4-9. Jesus will compare this event to Himself.

       The whole Truth could not be known until Jesus because He is the whole of Truth. God revealed his plan of salvation and deliverance through His Son Jesus in types and shadows in the Older Testament. Moses and the serpent on the pole are a foreshadowing of what Jesus will do.

         The Pharisees took pride in their “good deeds” and “good life.” This isn’t enough! Only the blood of Jesus can save us from our sin. The pride of these religious leaders hindered their search for the truth.
         For a renowned teacher like Nicodemus to approach Jesus, an unknown teacher, would make him subject to ridicule and criticism by the other rabbis and religious rulers. Because of this, Nicodemus went to Jesus in darkness. We all come to Jesus in the darkness of sin.
       When the Sanhedrin Council discussed Jesus, Nicodemus suggested caution. Most Jewish priests and rulers hated Jesus but Nicodemus had studied the Older Testament prophecies regarding Messiah and thought that Jesus just might be the One the prophesies spoke of.  If Jesus was a prophet sent by God, Nicodemus warned that it would be disastrous to reject God’s messenger.
         Nicodemus went to the Mount of Olives to find Jesus. The Mount of Olives is where Jesus many times went to commune with the Lord and His disciples. Nicodemus said to Jesus, “Teacher, we know that you must have been sent by God, because no one can do the miracles you do unless God is with him.” Note that Nicodemus didn’t refer to Jesus as Messiah, but teacher. Jesus didn’t respond to Nicodemus’ statement. Instead, Jesus, who is all-knowing looked at Nicodemus’ heart and saw that he was sincerely looking for truth, so Jesus spoke truth to him.

Born Again

          Jesus said to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, unless one is born again, he cannot be in God’s kingdom.” V3  In essence, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that he needs a new heart and a new life from above. The New Birth is a spiritual one. Nicodemus needs to be born spiritually from above through Jesus and the Holy Spirit before he can fully understand the spiritual realm. Jeremiah had prophesied that God would give His people a new heart, and Ezekiel said that God would give His people Israel a new heart, and a new Spirit. (see Jeremiah 29:13; 32:39-41; Exekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:26) Our human hearts are naturally evil, and there is no human cure for this. Only a spiritual cure can change our condition.

           Notice that Jesus started His responses to Nicodemus with “I tell you the truth.”  Jesus is the Truth, so He speaks pure Truth. He came from the spiritual realm so He can speak of what He knows and has seen in the spiritual realm.
           Jesus and the Holy Spirit are working on Nicodemus’ heart, but he doesn’t know it yet. It is the Holy Spirit that gives spiritual birth to our spirit. God is Spirit, so in order to enter the Kingdom of God, our spirit must be united to God’s Holy Spirit and Son. And, because God is Spirit, we must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Without new birth in Christ and the Holy Spirit, one cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God is spiritual. Jesus and the Holy Spirit paved a way to come into the presence of God for a prepared people. 
         Nicodemus, who is looking with natural eyes, asks Jesus a question. “How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born.” V4 Again, Jesus responded, “I tell you the truth, unless one is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter God’s kingdom.” V5 We are born naturally through the water and blood of our mother’s womb. We are born spiritually through the water of the Word/Jesus and His blood that flowed out of the wound in His side on the cross. Our mother labors for our natural birth, but Jesus labored on the cross for our spiritual, eternal birth.
        Every Jew and Gentile must be washed by water cleansing of all their past sins and be born again through the blood of Jesus and the water of the Word and Holy Spirit. The life of our physical body is in the blood and water. The life of our spiritual body is in the blood of Jesus and the water of the Anointed Word – Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and Word will transition us from our life of sin to a new life of loving obedience to the Godhead and His Word.
         It is impossible for one who is not born of the Spirit to understand the fullness of Truth (Jesus).  Nicodemus didn’t understand Jesus’ words of truth but he is seeking the truth. Jesus will continue to teach him. By one Spirit, we are baptized into one Body—whether Jew or Gentile. (see 1 Corinthians 12:13) The power of the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit will bring us to the knowledge of the Truth and will help us grow spiritually. Our desire will be to love and please God and avoid and defeat evil within and without. The Kingdom of God is where God’s will is done completely and perfectly. Citizens of God’s Kingdom will be willingly submitted to Him and be willingly obedient to God and His will.
          Jesus and the Holy Spirit must take possession of our hearts and minds. Because the written Word was inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit helps us know and understand the Word. Jesus promised His disciples that the Spirit of Truth – Holy Spirit – would:

·         Dwell with us and within us – John 14:17
                              ·         Will testify of Christ – John 15:26
                              ·         Guide us into all Truth – John 16:13
(to be continued)

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Shepherds and the Magi – Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:1-12 -- Part 1

       Only One who knew the height and depth of the Father’s love could reveal it. So, God sent the Word/Jesus to earth to share God’s love, grace and truth. Jesus left the place of no limitation to come to earth which is limited. He was further limited by being confined in a womb and placed under the Law to fulfill it and release humans from its penalty of death for disobeying one part of the Law. He came as an infant who had to rely upon others to feed and care for Him both physically and spiritually. Jesus gave up His glory in heaven to become human, suffer and die for the sins of the whole world. There is no greater love than this. While on earth, Jesus’ glory, splendor and beauty were hidden. He had no outward appearance that would draw people to Him. Jesus wanted people to recognize Him through the Word of God and His miracles. He still wants people to recognize Him this way.
            God will work out His plan of salvation and redemption. The Word/Jesus became flesh in the womb of the virgin Mary. God sent an angel to Zechariah to tell him that he would have a son who would announce the coming of Jesus and prepare God’s people to meet Him. God also used the decree of Caesar Augustus to get Mary to Bethlehem by decreeing that a censor be taken of every family in their hometown. The census was so the Romans could collect taxes from everyone.God is in control.
Mary was a descendant of David, and Bethlehem was David’s town. The prophet Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (see Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6) Joseph and Mary could only find rest in a stable where animals are sheltered from worldly elements, and rest in the darkness. Jesus was born in a stable for animals and laid in a feeding trough for the animals. As the Word of God brought to life, Jesus would become the feeding trough for sinners! He came to earth to save and be our feeding trough of Divine Truth that feeds us spiritually. Our flesh is beastly to the Lord who is holy! Jesus will be our shelter from the storms of life. Our rest and peace from spiritual darkness is in Him.

God’s Angel Appears to the Shepherds – Luke 2:8-20
          These shepherds are Jewish. They were in the fields of Bethlehem near the place where Jesus was born. God had given this territory to the tribe of Judah. Where David, the Jew from the tribe of Judah, had cared for and protected his father’s flock, the shepherds were keeping their watch in the night to protect their flocks. Some of these lambs would be used for sacrifice to God in the temple. Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God, keeps watch over His sheep and protects them from the spiritual enemy of their souls. We are the sheep of His pasture.
            An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory o f the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Luke 2:9-10  When the Angel of the Lord appeared, the glory of the Lord was all around the shepherds which terrified them. This Angel reflected the light and glory of God. The angel of the Lord told them not to be afraid. This is a term Jesus spoke many times to His disciples to assure them that He was with them, so they had nothing to fear. Jesus is the light and glory of God. His glory and light were hidden within His flesh body while on earth. Only once, on the Mount of Transfiguration, did Jesus reveal His hidden inner glory to His disciples. As we walk as Jesus tells us, His glory and light will shine forth through our flesh body to others.
The angel of the Lord brought “good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” V11 This is the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy in 5:2. In this scripture in Luke, Jesus is called the Savior. As Savior, He will deliver us from sin and Satan’s domain. He is not only our Savior, but also Christ the Lord who rules over His people. No one can have Jesus as Savior without submitting to His Lordship. He came to save us from sin. The way to do this is through letting Him be Lord over our lives and remove sin in us by the power of His Holy Spirit and Word. Our “self” must be dethroned, and our pride humbled to know the glory and life of God’s spiritual kingdom. By dethroning our fleshly ways, we will rise higher with Jesus and radiate His glory and light to a lost and spiritually dying world.
            Next, the angel gives the shepherds a sign. “You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” V12  The greatest event in the history of the world took place in a stable in the humblest and simplest circumstances.
            Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Vv 13-14  This heavenly host gave glory to God for the great thing He had done. When the angels had gone, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” V15  When they saw  baby Jesus in the manger, they told others what the angel had told them about this baby, “and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. And they returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” V20 They gave God the glory for the great thing He had done.
            God who loves all of humanity will reveal the good news of His Son Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles, as He revealed Jesus to both the Jewish shepherds and the Gentile Magi. All are included in God’s redemptive plan through His Son Jesus Christ.

                           ( Next week: The gentile Magi)