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A Pharisee Comes to Jesus

HandsI’ve been posting about how Scripture describes the born-again experience. It’s deeper than simply reciting the “Sinner’s Prayer.” It’s about clothing ourselves with Christ by the power of the spirit.

There’s only one way to put on the new man. Unfortunately, it’s also a concept that the church has pushed to the side in many instances.

To understand it, we’ll now look at the most recognizable Scripture concerning the concept of being born again.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
John 3:1-2

We need to look at a conversation between Jesus and a young man named Nicodemus. To understand what takes place, we must look at the background. First of all, this event is only recorded in the Gospel of John. That’s an important point.

All of the other Gospels were written to the unsaved people groups of world. Matthew was written so that the Jews would see Jesus as their promised Messiah. Mark was written so that the Romans would understand that Christ was the conquering servant-king. Luke was written so that the Greeks would know that perfection can only be found in Christ.

John, on the other hand, had a totally different purpose. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit to give the church a deeper view of Christ Jesus, the Living Word, God taking on flesh. This is important for us to realize in grasping what’s being said. It’s a story that directly applies to the church – those who are already saved and want a more intimate knowledge of Christ.

The second thing we find out is that this man, Nicodemus, is a Pharisee. Often, the Pharisees get an undeserved bad reputation in Christian circles. Of all people that lived back then, the Pharisees were the closest to us in doctrine.

They believed that God took notice and acted in the affairs of men. They believed the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God. They knew that there was a spiritual realm that included the demons as well as ministering angels. They also believed that there would be a resurrection day at the end of the age. It’s unfortunate that the few who hated Jesus are the ones who get all of our attention.

Nicodemus was his own man. Think about the facts of the situation. He begins by calling Jesus Rabbi. This was a term that literally meant my great one. It was reserved for those who you felt were an example to you. It implied that I want to be like you. So it’s significant that a Rabbi is calling Jesus a Rabbi.

Furthermore, Jesus, Himself commends Nicodemus. In verse 10 of this chapter Jesus calls him the teacher of Israel. Obviously the Lord was pleased with his work.

Another event of note is the fact that when Christ was taken down off the cross it was Nicodemus who prepared the body for burial. (John 19:38-40) This was unheard of. You would never see a Pharisee handling a dead body on the eve of the Passover feast.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Nicodemus is a believer. He is someone trusting in Christ and looking for the next step in the process. We need to listen carefully to the teaching of Christ in this conversation.

In my next post we’ll see exactly what Jesus said was needed for Nicodemus to reach the next phase of his walk with the Lord.

Question: How would you counsel someone who wanted to progress to their next step in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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What does it Mean to be Born Again?

ButterflyWe’ve been told throughout the New Testament that we must clothe ourselves with Christ. Anything less is a refusal of the blessings that have been obtained for us. To ignore this call is a willful decision to live outside the kingdom blessings that are only available in Christ.

But the real question is; how do we clothe ourselves with Christ? I believe this is something that the church has lost sight of over the past 2000 years. We need to get back to the basics of Christianity. We need to relearn things that were a way of life to the early church.

I need to warn you. What follows is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to teach. In many ways it goes against 100 years of church teaching. But as I study the Word of God, I’m convinced that it’s the only way to experience the abundant life that Jesus spoke about to His disciples.

We need to put on Christ – the new man. If we’ll do this, then we’ll walk and minister as Christ did. We’ll see an increase in the miraculous. We’ll also see a great harvest of souls as the world sees the church walking in the glory of God. In order for this to happen, it will require a change in our mindsets.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
Titus 3:3

This verse is talking about what should be our past lifestyle. It also reveals a sad truth. Read it carefully – slowly. Do we know any Christians that are still living like some of the descriptions given? This actually describes a large segment of the church today.

This is the old man. It needs to be released and we need to take on the life of Christ. Where does this change come from?

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…
Titus 3:4-5

We are saved by the kindness and love of God, manifested in Christ. This is the on-going work of the Lord in us. But do we really hear what’s said in this passage? Paul explains that the change in our lifestyle is accomplished by the washing of rebirth. This is a foundational principle.

Washing is a choice, but so is the rebirth. Somewhere along the line we’ve missed this basic truth. Washing and renewal is the putting on of the new man. This is a very tough revelation for us to grasp. It was for me.

Let me state it as plainly as I can. The laying down of our sin, renewing our mind, and the subsequent putting on of the new man is the essence of being born again. This term, born again, has become so watered down that it’s barely recognizable in our generation. The fact is, putting on the new man is being born again.

Let that sink in for a while. We’ve been taught that the initial act of receiving Christ – praying the sinner’s prayer – is being born again. As I’ve studied Scripture, the Holy Spirit has impressed me that this is not the case. Being born again is something that we must attain to.

Please understand what I’m saying. You can be saved and on your way to heaven and yet not be born again in the Biblical sense. I believe that our modern terminology is at odds with what Scripture teaches.

I’m not going to try to change hundreds of years of Christian vocabulary; but when we read the Scripture, we need to understand what it’s saying. I pray that you won’t shut me off at this point, but read this series with an open heart. In my next post, I’ll bring you through the Scriptures that show this to be true.

Question: How do you define the phrase Born Again?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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