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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


John chapter 3 is a gospel saturated chapter in which many gospel sermons have been preached.  In looking at the last verse of this chapter there is a truth that will help us to understand what it means for a man to believe (πιστεύω).  The verse states: "Whoever continually believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever continually disobeys the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him." (My translation)  In my translation I am simply trying to highlight the ongoing nature of belief and of disobedience.  Belief and disobey are both present active participles in the Greek text.  If a man states that he believes upon the Lord Jesus, but continues in disobedience he will not (in the future) see life.  Not only will his future state be robbed of life, but his present state will be met with the abiding wrath of God. 

Translations vary on the phase, "but whoever 'disobeys' the Son."  Some translations use the word obey (ESV, NASB, NLT).  Some translations us the word reject (NET, NIV, GWN).  Some translations use the word believe and negate it by saying whoever does not believe (KJV, NKJV, YLT).  The Greek word in the text is απειθέω.  How is this word translated in other text?  "For just as your were at one time disobedient to God" (Rom. 11:30).  "But for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth" (Rom. 2:8).  "What will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (1 Pet. 4:17).  "They stumble because they disobey the Word" (1 Pet. 2:8).  "By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient" (Heb. 11:31)  "And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?" (Heb. 3:18).  "Because they formerly did not obey" (1 Pet. 3:20).

The gospel is the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is Lord and He is sovereign over all of His creation.  Those who claim to believe Him will be known to the world as such, because they obey Him. It is as if a father walks into a room filled with 50 young boys and he cries out, "Son come here!"  One of the boys turns his head and sees his father and he runs to his father.  Everyone in the room knows that he is the son.  It is this way with true believers.  They know the Master's voice and they obey when He speaks. 

Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ that does not grow into obedience unto the Lord Jesus Christ is no better than demons who believe - - and shudder! (James 2:19).  Oh, that our believing will be seen in our obeying. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


"He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)  The word αυξάνω (to increase or become more important) is a word that is used in reference to φως (light).  In verses 19 -21 John has used the word light 5 times and now in verse 30 he uses αυξάνω in reference to Jesus.  The light of the world is going to shine brighter and brighter from this day forward.  John's light will be on the diminish and all attention will be shifted to the Lord of glory.  The word ελαττοω (to decrease or become less important) is another word that has to do with φως (light).  John is emphasizing the growing brightness of the Son of God and the diminishing of his own light. 

This is a glorious picture of the sanctification of the believer.  What a joy it should be for the Christian to have an ever growing desire to make sure that Jesus shines brightly.  What a privilege it must be to take the light off of ourselves and turn the spotlight to the Lord Jesus.  In Hollywood all the lights point to the stars on the main stage, but those who are truly great turn the light off of themselves in order to point all attention unto the one who deserves it.  These things will be true in heaven.  There will be no need for the sun by day or the moon by night, because the glory of king Jesus will illuminate the place. 

Perhaps prayer would be a good time to reflect upon these truths and ask the Holy Spirit to help us become more humble and to show us ways we can turn the light upon the Lord Jesus.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who's Love is Greater?

I was pondering the word αγάπη in John 3:16 and 3:19.  John 3:16 says that, "God so loved the world."  John 3:19 says that, "men loved darkness."  The result of God's love of the world is that He sent His Son.  The result of man's love of darkness is that they would not come to the light.  We have here a competition of love between God and man.  The Greek word and tense is the same in both verse.  θεός ηγάπησεν and in verse 19 we have άνθρωποι ηγάπησεν.  Will man's love for darkness trump out over God's love for men?  Will God's love be enough to win the hearts of men or will man's love for darkness prevent him from being saved?  The questions that I am asking hinges upon ability and desire.  If God's love does not have the ability to cause men to love the light or if God's love does not carry with it a desire to turn men's heart to the light, they will be left to love darkness.  If man's love for darkness is able to negate God's love then man will forever remain in the dark.  Since man is shown to love the darkness more than the light what will produce in man a change?  How will a God hating rebel be turned into a God loving saint? 

The 21st century church claims that man must choose God.  How does a man who hates the light choose to come to the light?  Why would a man choose that which his soul hates?  The scenario seems to be like asking a fish to choose to live on the land or asking a bird to swim the depths of the ocean floor.  The only way to have such mind boggling things happen is for the nature to be changed.  The only way man will ever come to God is if his nature is changed.  Man needs a new heart and a new spirit and the only way this is going to happen is if God love is greater than man's love.  Oh, the love of God that melts the heart of stone! 

Born from Above

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to discuss religious matters.  Nicodemus starts the conversation by stating, "we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him."  Jesus quickly turns the conversation to the gospel and presses a glorious truth upon the heart of Nicodemus.  Jesus tells him that he must be 'born from above' if he is to see or enter the kingdom of God.  Most translations use the phrase 'born again,' but this misses the essence of what Jesus is saying.  Re-birth is not something that is worked up from the bottom, but rather re-birth is that which is given from above.  To understand that re-birth is a top down model leaves the sinner in submission to cry out for God to come down.  The Greek word 'from above' is used in several other passages and gets translated 'from above' (Matt. 27:51; John 3:31; 19:11, 23; James 1:17; James 3:15, 17). 

In order for a man to see or enter the kingdom of God he must be effectively regenerated from above.  God the Holy Spirit must come down and grant a new heart and a right spirit in order that man by faith can believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. 

In today 21st century church much effort is placed upon getting man to do something in order that he could be saved.  The church today tries to get man to repeat prayers, walk down isle's, raise hands, or some other gimmick to get man to open the door of his heart in order that Jesus can get in.  However, Jesus mentions none of this in his presentation to Nicodemus.  He simply presses upon him the glorious truth that salvation is a top down model.  The result of such preaching presses man to cry out to God until He has mercy upon them.  Jesus will go on to remind Nicodemus that just as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so must the the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. 

Salvation comes from the throne room of heaven and moves upon the heart of a man and causes him to look up to the beauty of the Savior on the cross and believe that Jesus bore his sins that he might die to sin and live to righteousness. 

So many people will refer to John 3:16 and some will even have an entire conference to talk about John 3:16, but the context of John 3:16 demands that we look at the whole chapter.  The honest reader of Scripture cannot read over the statement that man must be born 'from above.'  If God does not save there will be no saving.  If God does not move there will be no moving.  If God does not draw there will be no drawing.  If God does  not regenerate there will be no regeneration.  We are then left with the statement of the prophet Jonah, "Salvation belongs to the Lord!"

What about you?  Have you been born from above?  Have you experienced genuine repentance?  Have you been regenerated?  Do you now hate the sin you used to love?  Do you now love the righteousness you once hated?  I will repeat what the Lord Jesus has said; "You must be born from above to enter the kingdom of God."