|The Gospel of Genesis||Exodus to the Unknown||Exodus, a Walk of Faith||Levitcus, Serving God||Numbering God's Warriors|
|The Pilgrim way||Love and Obey God||Our Fathers Faith, Review||The Barrier has been Removed||For He is our Peace.|
|The R's of God's Redemptive Plan||The R's Continued|
"In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom
of God unless he is born again."  "How can a man be born
when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his
mother's womb to be born!"  Jesus answered, "I tell you the
truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the
Spirit." John 3:3-5, NIV
God's Righteousness: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Cor. 5:21, NIV
Christ's Resurrection: "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:22
Reconciliation: "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Romans 5:10
Redemption: "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Titus 2:14
Sin separates man from God. We have seen that man is hopelessly depraved - that is, his sinfulness renders him totally helpless to establish any kind of relationship with God. His mind is depraved - he cannot think the kind of thoughts that would maintain communion with God - he moves and breathes in a totally foreign sphere of operation from God. Jesus said that if a man is to commune with God, he must do so in spirit and truth. Since man is spiritually dead, there can be no communion with God. Sin enslaves man. We have learned that man is not only hopelessly disabled when it comes to communing with God but he is totally enslaved to sin. Enslavement is a terrible condition. All rights and hope is gone. There is no hope of a good manner of living - a slave of Biblical times was at the mercy of the whim of his master. If a slave displeased his master, he could be sold back to the slave market or worse suffer death. Then there is the condemnation of God's Law because man's sinful condition. This is an unbreachable barrier that man cannot overcome - it stands in the way of man's restoration to right relationship with God.
All these components of the barrier have been removed in Christ. When God, the Father set in motion the plan of Redemption, many details to tear down this barrier were put in place. Jesus Christ has torn down the barrier that stands in the way of man's restoration in fellowship with God. The wonderful account of the prodigal son depicts a loving father who is waiting for his son to come to himself - as wonderful an account of the undying love of the father this is. It only tells part of God, the Father's love toward man. You see, God's love was proactive - that is He did not wait around for man to come to his senses. No. God, while we were His enemies, displayed His love for man by putting His only son to the cross to die for the sins of the world. What a wonderful salvation we have offered to us. Let us continue in this study. First we will look at another component of the barrier and then look at the means of its removal.
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." John 3:3, NIV
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. Ephes. 2:1-2
The problem with human birth is that man in this condition is spiritually dead. When Jesus said that he could not see the kingdom of God, He meant just that. Man could not perceive the kingdom of God. Look at the word "again" in our passage from John. Translation from the original would be better translated "above." The LXX uses this Greek word anothen to translate the Hebrew word for the top of the Ark. The LXX also used this Greek word for the direction of heaven. A related Greek word, ano is used in Col 3:1, 2 where the believer is invited to seek those things which are above - that is, heavenly things. The problem is the man is earthy that is from here, below. He operates completely in the flesh - not in the spirit because he is completely dead to God. So the barrier of human birth poses two problems: the problem of no perception of God and the problem of operating completely in the flesh - he cannot follow the ways of God, rather he must follow Satan's ways, a completely antithetical way of existence.
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"  Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. John 3:4-5, NIV
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. Ephes. 2:4-5, NIV
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, Galatians 3:26
The new birth, the second birth, opens up the way for man to see God's kingdom. His perception is totally different. Whereas before, he could only think in terms of the carnal - the selfish - man-centered way, now the regenerated man can think of things above. God's wisdom is now available to him because he has a mind just like Christ's. The regenerated mind also has the advantage of understanding God's thoughts. Whereas before God said of sinful man "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,..." (Isaiah 55:8), now man can know God's wisdom, spoken of by Paul as mystery. His whole thought process has been "reinvented" by the Holy Spirit so man can truly worship God in spirit and truth.
Is as filthy rags. When the woman with hemorrhaging of blood touched the hem of Jesus' garment, that was a particularly courageous thing for her to do. She had spent her life's savings looking for a cure. It probably was a menstrual condition - my guess - but it rendered her unclean in the sight of the Jews. Again, my guess based on her fearful response to Jesus' request "who touched me?" The best of man's righteousness - and God does make a distinction between iniquity and man's righteousness - the man's best cannot begin to satisfy the righteousness of God - there just no comparison. Man's righteousness is relative in nature often based on motives that are not noble. The whole infrastructure of the "lawfulness" and good of man is based on the influence of the revelation of God throughout history. The Jew had the Mosaic law, the Gentile had the light that God gave him throughout history. Even so, given the filthy "righteousness" of man, the end is termed "foolishness" by God.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 16:25
Man left to his own thinking is basically self-destructive. Then there is the issue of his relationship with the Lord. Given only his intellect the issue of God's truth is always under attack by man's unrighteousness. Paul writes of this conflict in Romans 1:18. It's easy to take the two terms of the "ungodliness" and "unrighteousness" of men and group them into the sinfulness of men - but I fear we would lose the meaning of this conflict between the Truth of God and man's antagonism toward it. Man's righteousness by definition is not only antagonistic toward God but is at war against Him.
Interesting that Paul contrasts man's ungodliness and unrighteousness against the Truth of God - His thoughts, if you please. One would think that man's error or falsehood or misconceptions would be the foe of God. But such is not the case. You see, the issue is not that man is confused or mislead in his thinking and that God has but to "straighten" him out. No. God's two major revelations aside from His teleological revelation in nature of His existence is that God's righteousness as revealed in the Gospel renders man's righteousness as bloody, disgusting rags. The other revelation is that because man's righteousness is totally irrelevant when it comes to his salvation, that bloody righteousness, bloody in the sense of disgusting must be rejected. Man's best efforts is contradictory to his coming into right relationship with God. So goes the battle between God's truth and man's unrighteousness. Man thinks that his best efforts should count for admittance into heaven, certainly exclusion from hell and God says that those best efforts are godless and unrighteous! So then, the Barrier of man's righteousness is a formidable one which stands in the way of his restoration in fellowship with God.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, Romans 3:21-22
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:21
The Barrier of man's filthy righteousness has been removed by the imputation of Christ's righteousness. This is a revolutionary thought in the mind of man. The Jew had the Mosaic law. The Gentile had his own set of "righteousness" that formed the foundation of his various religions and his system of law. God in one infinitely masterful stroke sweeps aside all of man's efforts to gain favor with Him and replaces it with the simplest of non-meritorious acts - Faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross! What a genius behind God's plan of Redemption! There is not a single thought history that could have come up with this kind of genius. Only God, in eternity past, could have come up with such a plan! All issues of man's relative righteousness has been swept aside - all of the arguments of the thousands of religions are nullified. When the sinner comes to Christ, after having been wooed by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel, when that sinner places his faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross a wonderful thing happens - God's very own righteousness apart from the requirements of any law is imputed to that believing man. Listen to Lenski's rendition of the solution of man's relative righteousness:
"For there is no distinction; for all did sin and are short of the acknowledgment of God, being declared righteous gratuitously by His grace through the ransoming, the one in connection with Christ Jesus...." Rom 3:23, 24, Lenski.
Man is redeemed not only from the slave market of sin but from the damming requirement of his bloody righteousness - he is redeemed from that condition to the imputed righteousness of Christ. Note the wording found in Lenski's translation - "...being declared righteous gratuitously by His grace...". Random House unabridged dictionary defines gratuitously in this way:
|1. given, done, bestowed, or obtained without charge or payment; free; voluntary.... 3. Law. given without receiving any return value.|
There is, indeed, nothing man can give in return that has any value with regard to his personal righteousness - but God gives His very own righteousness freely to every believing man. Remember the happy ending to the account of the Prodigal son? The loving father replaced the stinking, rotting robe of the son with His "best" robe. That robe is a picture of the righteousness of Christ being place on the repentant sinner. This is a wonderful comparison of man's righteous and God's imputed righteousness. Man's righteousness stinks, is rotten and has no merit in gaining fellowship with our Heavenly Father. However, Christ's imputed righteousness makes the sinner's relationship with God, the Father complete.
|1. Yet a time is coming
and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for
they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23, NIV
2. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 1 Cor. 15:47, KJV
3. 1 Cor 2:16
4. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 1 Cor. 2:6-10
5. Isa 64:6. Literally, bloody rags. A very disgusting condition for the Jew.
6. Lenski, St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Page 248.
7. Luke 15:20 - 22.