Tuesday, May 12, 2009

John Piper on The Doctrine of New Birth

John 3:1-10
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, 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 answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered,“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘Youmust be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 

The world doesn't need chatty, fun little messages.  It gets that all the time.  We stand on the brink of eternity.  The folks in your audience may not survive to hear you again.  Give them the truth of the Gospel.

About hyper-Calvinism . . . We can say to every person on the planet, "God loves you!"  Come to the cross of Christ!  Come to salvation.  Jesus wants you to come to salvation.  

"I have a burden for the people who come and go from the church.  That they know themselves loved with a love greater than John 3:16."  

John 3:16 describes a love that for a mass of people.  It's for all people.  But the Bible discusses a love that is greater than that.  

Philippians 2:4-5
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved!

The love described here is different than the love described in John 3:16.  This love makes us alive in Christ.  It didn't happen because we raised ourselves from the dead.  We were dead.  We were vertical corpses.  Jesus spoke to Lazarus and raised the dead.  That's what preaching is.  Speaking the words of Christ in the belief that those words have the power to raise the spiritual dead.  

If we have been called from the dead it's because we are fully loved by Christ.  Not some fractional love spread across all humanity. 

I Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

The Biblical writers always reference their dead condition.  They were lost, blind, dead to all things God.  Then God breaks in on them and reveals to them the light of his glory.

So what happens in the New Birth?

It's significant that Nicodemus is a Pharisee.  He's at the top of the religious pool.  Yet Jesus strikes him with the fact that he needs new life.  Nicodemus doesn't need more religion.  He needs life.  Nicodemus is essentially a living dead person.  Essentially it's the same problem for every person in the world.  We need a living spirit to become spiritually alive.  Supernatural life, not just turning over a new leaf.  

The Holy Spirit comes upon a person and creates in them a new life that wasn't present before.  
Verse 8 simply means that God is sovereign in the new birth.  The Holy Spirit comes along and overcomes your spiritual unresponsiveness. Something happens and your start to be made alive.  You're not the one who was doing it!  You won't say, "I got smart.  I was better than my brother."  No, it's God who does it!  If it hangs on us to get ourselves born again or keep ourselves born again we will fail.  But if God's in charge he won't let it happen.  

God is our only assurance.  He bought us, and he keeps us.  John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life . . .

Why is this even important?  

Ten descriptions of our condition:
- We are dead
- By nature children of wrath - Ephesians 2:3.  It's not because we do bad things, but because we are bad.  No one will be in hell unjustly.
- We love darkness and hate the light - John 3:19.  We didn't have a problem with our wills before we were saved.  We have a love problem.  We love darkness.  It's not as though we sin out of duty.  No.  We sin because it feels good.  
- Our hearts are hard as stone.
- We are unable to submit to God - Romans 8:7.  We cannot submit to God.  We cannot please God.  However, just because we cannot doesn't mean we aren't responsible.  We're still held responsible.  Just because we cannot does not excuse us.  
- Unable to accept the Gospel - I Corinthians 2:14.  We cannot understand God.  We think of Christianity and God as foolish.
- Unable to embrace Christ as Lord - I Corinthians 12:3.  No unsaved person can call Jesus Lord from the heart.
- Slaves to sin - Romans 6:17.  This obedience comes from the heart.  We thank God, because our obedience comes only from him.  
- Slaves of Satan - Ephesians 2:1-2.  We followed the Prince of the Power of the Air.  We walk in tandem with the Devil.  
- No good thing dwells in me.  Nothing!  

This is why we all need to be born again.  We can't make this happen.  I can't.  That's why we must pray.  

How does this happen?  
- The Holy Spirit freely gives life- John 3:8, Ephesians 2:5
- Through the Good News.  The Gospel.  The Word of God - I Peter 1:23-25.  We must preach though we can't save anybody.  Yet Paul says we are to save people.
- Brings faith - I John 5:1.
- Belief in the Son - I John 5:11

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