Belt of Truth
Knowing and Applying God's Truth to Real Life
John 3:1-8 (NKJV) 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 and said to him, "Most assuredly, 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, "Most assuredly, 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, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
What truth is revealed? Have you ever tried to have a “spiritual” conversation with a non-spiritual person? (And how did that go?) When you try to communicate with a person, who is on a different spiritual wave-length, it’s like trying to carry on a conversation with someone who doesn’t speak the same language—only, in this case, the inability to connect may even be more difficult. Jesus explained it to Nicodemus this way: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
What can we learn from this exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus? Nicodemus had, no doubt, observed Jesus’ ministry and was curious. Jesus was a Rabbi that taught with authority and did miracles. Nicodemus wanted to know what made Jesus tick; Jesus wanted to talk of a spiritual truth that dealt with Nicodemus. Jesus challenged Nicodemus with this idea: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Notice that Jesus used the word, “see.” The original Greek means to “perceive” or to “know” the kingdom of God. Jesus was making the point that in order to understand and perceive the kingdom of God takes a work of God’s Spirit. Even the faith that causes us to believe in Jesus is born of God. This remains the spiritual hurdle that challenges those without Christ; they cannot “see,” “perceive,” or even “imagine” the kingdom of God unless the Spirit reveals it to them.
How can I apply this truth to my life? It is not my job to convince people of the spiritual reality that is God’s Kingdom. It is my job to proclaim the good news of the gospel and let the Holy Spirit reveal Himself. Jesus explains it this way: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44a) This is one of the compelling reasons for prayer. I pray that my friends, neighbors and family members that do not “perceive” the Kingdom of God would be drawn to Jesus through the work of His Spirit.
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 9:9-13 (NKJV) As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So, he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
What truth is revealed? Jesus angered the Pharisees by socializing with sinners. He defended His actions by telling His critics that the people who are sick are the people in need of a physician. In other words, Jesus was specifically reaching out to the people who needed salvation; therefore, Jesus was sitting at a table surrounded by tax collectors and sinners.
What can we learn from this story? The Church is also called to reach “sinners.” We (obviously) cannot reach people that we have no contact with, so we must build relational bridges to people that are without Christ. The Apostle Paul warns us, “Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Cor. 15:33) So, how do we make this work? Ask yourself the following questions: When it comes to reaching sinners…
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 9:1-8 (NKJV) So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!" But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"--then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
What truth is revealed? Early in His public ministry, Jesus proved that He had the power to heal and to save. Jesus shocked the Jewish Scribes when He uttered the words, “Your sins are forgiven you!”
What can we learn from this story? We know that Jesus completed the requirements to atone for all of our sins on the cross. The prophet Isaiah detailed the atoning work of the Messiah that would “save” us in Isaiah 53. This story points to Jesus’ divine authority as God to “save” a person from their sins before the work of the cross. This is another example of a sovereign God doing a sovereign act according to His own sovereign will. It offended the Scribes which indicated that they did not recognize who Jesus was.
How can I apply this story to my life? Firstly, I do not want to be numbered with the Scribes in questioning God’s prerogative or power to act in all situations. Secondly, I am incredibly thankful that with God “All things are possible.” He can heal, and more importantly, He can save!
Questions to Consider:
Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV) "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
What Truth is Revealed? Jesus tells us that the gate that leads to eternal life is both “narrow” and “difficult.” Narrow points to the fact that salvation is found in Jesus and no where else. It is exclusive and narrow. The gate is also difficult to find. Why would this be true? The gate is obscured by the deception of the Enemy; avoided because of the depravity of human nature; and ignored in lieu of the sin that calls to us, like a moth to the flame.
What is the Command/Wisdom or Promise? Jesus’ mission is to save us; therefore, He calls us to “enter by the narrow gate.” Both Jesus and the early Apostles made it clear that Jesus was the exclusive gate that leads us to eternal life and relationship with our Heavenly Father. (John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”) (1 Timothy 2:5: For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus)
What Does This Mean to Me and What Action Should I Take? Just like everyone else I have a choice to make. Enter the narrow gate and follow Jesus; or, figure it out on my own. There is a problem if I “do my own thing.” According to Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” It is my confession that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life; and I have put my trust and faith in Him!
Questions to Consider:
As revealed by God through the Life and Message of Christ; through the wisdom of Solomon; through the letters of the Apostles; through the inspiration of God.