Summary: Third message on the doctrine of salvation series that gives the necessity, the nature, and the new life in being born again.
SALVATION FROM A TO Z "The Doctrine of Salvation)
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Copyright 2005 by Bob Marcaurelle
2014 Revision by Bob Marcaurelle
A BRAND NEW YOU AND ME
The New Birth
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18) “You must be born again. If a man is not born again he cannot enter the Kingdom of
heaven.” (John 3) -Jesus
Before Augustine became a Christian in the late 300’s AD he was a wild and immoral young man. Walking a street one day, a prostitute called out to him and he kept on walking. She caught him, turned him around and said, “Augustine, don’t you know who I am?” “I do,” he said, “but you don’t know who I am. The Augustine you knew is dead.”
Salvation involves not only forgiveness but a change of character that leads to a change of life. God never forgives a person unless He changes Him into a better, more loving, less selfish, human being. He never gets us into heaven in the hereafter unless He gets heaven into us in the nasty here and now.
Matthew Henry said if an unsaved man got into heaven he would pick the angel’s pockets. This is why Jesus told a good, moral, religious man named Nicodemas that unless he was born again he would never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
We are to humbly admit not only that we have done wrong and need forgiveness, but we have evil in our hearts that we cannot overcome. We cannot be and do what we know we should so we ask God to change us and control us and forgive us when we fail. This is true repentance, asking God to turn our lives around to live for Him and others not for ourselves. This includes faith because we give up all thoughts of being good enough for God to forgive us and trust in the cross for forgiveness.
New birth is one of many descriptions. Our change is called a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17); being made alive (Eph. 2:5); conversion (Acts 3:19) which means a turn around in life. We repent and turn from a life of wickedness and by faith we turn to Jesus; death to sin and being “raised to walk in a new life.” A. H. Strong says the repentance and faith we express at salvation is the lower side, the human side of regeneration.
Being changed is necessary because Jesus said it. He who claimed to be God and proved it by rising from the dead is our authority (Romans 1:1-4). It is necessary because of our nature. God said through Jeremiah,
“The heart (human nature) is desperately wicked and deceitful. Who can cure it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
We can do good things but only God can make us good. The German industrialist, Schindler risked his life and spent all of his money to save hundreds of Jews from death. But he was also repeatedly unfaithful to his wife. The soldier who throws himself on a grenade for you, if he lives, might kill you later in a bar fight or have relations with your wife.
We may not do horrible wicked things but we all have the potential. Lutheran girls could type Nazi death lists of Jews and nice Lutheran children could laugh at the Jews being transported to the death camps. Spurgeon says human nature is like gunpowder, it isn’t always exploding but it is always explosive; just waiting for the right spark to set it off.
The root of evil is our selfishness. It is the most natural thing in the world. Take a toy from a child with a hundred toys to give to a child with no toys and you will see the devil in that child. Who of us can say we would not trample a child to get out of a burning building; or that inheriting ten million dollars would not change us? If you answer that quickly and easily you do not know your own heart.
It is necessary because we cannot change who we are. The world’s way to heaven is reformation (Trying to make ourselves good). God rejects this saying,
“By the works of the law (obeying God’s commands) no one will be justified (made right with God” (Rom. 3:20)
We will look at the why of this later but for now, we will say it is because no effort on our part can change our hearts, who we really and truly are on the inside. Jesus said “a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matthew 7). God says:
“Even if you wash yourself with lye and a lot of soap, the stain of your guilt is always before Me.” (Jeremiah 2:22)