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This Gift
Point of Grace
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SHARING GOD'S WORD
 
 

PTR JEFF'S OPEN MIKE SESSION
 
CHRIST'S BIRTH AND OUR REBIRTH
 
(FLESH TO SPIRIT)
 
 Titus 3:5
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,
 
 John 3:3
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
 
 John 3:6
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit
 
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new
 
 
  
INTRODUCTION
 
It is has been some years now since I have heard any mention of the doctrine concerning spiritual rebirth. I suspect the need for teaching about being "born again" is more important now than ever, since many seeker-friendly churches know how to draw a crowd, but may not take the time to explain that there are profound differences between a mere churchgoer versus a spiritual REBORN member of the minority of true followers of Christ within the professing church. Every local church is a mixture of wheat and tares--of true Christians and non-Christians. This is usually true at all levels of the church including the staff and elders. Obviously some churches have many more real Christians in their midst than other churches where there may be very few who know the Lord [Matthew 13:24-30]. I often meet impressive professing, "cultural-Christians." They can be polite, congenial, they seem to hold to high moral values and apparently have an interest in spiritual matters. But do they know the Lord Jesus in a personal way? I have to come to believe that there are many people today who sincerely believe they are Christians but actually they are not!
 
Hanging around Christians is good for anyone. The love and warmth and fellowship of many churches benefits even the causal visitor. It is good to be prayed for, and to hear the Bible being taught. The music in church and an inspirational non-confrontational message often lift our spirits so that most of us leave refreshed and aware of the love of God. Lots of churches today try to be cozy and non-threatening. Church gatherings can be a good place to make quality friendships. Many single adults go to church because that is the best place to seek a spouse. Others attend out of sheer loneliness looking for a few new friends. Church is "traditional" for lots of people--a matter of habit and custom, a reflection of "how I was raised." There are lots of reasons people "go to church" and these various good reasons can easily leave God out of the picture.Throughout the New Testament there are a number of clear warnings addressed to individuals who may have become religious by association with Christians and or by joining a church. But perhaps many of these same people have never yet been spiritual reborn. Notice how Jesus closes the Sermon on the Mount:
 
"Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers. (Matthew 7:21-23)
 
In order to be spiritually reborn, one must make a personal choice of the will to surrender control of one's life to Jesus. This is in one sense the hardest thing in the world for us to do--but also the easiest. What always stands in the way is our pride, and our own self-righteousness! Eventually, of course, we all have to answer to God alone. When we die and meet Jesus face to face, no one else will be there to hold our hands. Jesus is the appointed Judge of all men whether they know Him or not--(John Chapter 5). So either we know Him or we do not. Jesus is inescapable in the end; He waits for every man at the end of life either as Savior or Judge. Pleasing people--so we will be accepted and well-liked--does not earn us any favor with God. We can look good to everyone on the outside, but we can at the same time be out of touch with God on the inside. God is likewise not interested in our best efforts on His behalf. The Lord speaking to the prophet Samuel regarding the selection of David as the next king, said, "Man looks upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looks upon the heart." Concerning the state of the human heart Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?" (17:9) Isaiah said, "We are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You" (64:6.7)
 
Each and every true Christian has--at some time in his or her life--come to the realization that above all else what matters in life knows Jesus personally as Lord and Master. It has to be one-on-one, and it must be personal. All sorts of people miss this--and so they remain lost! I have always liked how being born-again is described in Paul's letter to Titus,
 
"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:3-7)
 
VIDEO # 1
 
 
QUESTION #1
 
WHAT DOES CHRIST'S BIRTH MEAN TO YOU?
 
 
 CHRIST'S BIRTH
 
The days before Christmas can be a tiring season of preparation, planning, shopping, and wrapping. But I think as we prepare for the Christmas celebrations, dinners, travel, and gift giving, it's equally important that we pause and prepare our souls for Christmas. During this time of year, it may be easy to forget that the bigger purpose behind Bethlehem was Calvary. But the purpose of the manger was realized in the horrors of the cross. The purpose of his birth was his death.
Or to put it more personally: Christmas is necessary because I am a sinner. It is impossible for me to not think about the cross when I think about the manager.
 
Many people who otherwise ignore God and the church have some religious feeling, or feel they ought to, at this time of the year. So they make their way to a church service or Christmas program. And when they go, they come away feeling vaguely warmed or at least better for having gone, but not disturbed. How can they not truly see that the innocent baby that they picture with the beautiful nativity scene has to go to a grueling life and horrible death just for them!
Why aren't people disturbed by Christmas? One reason is our tendency to see it all as a children's story when it is far from that. We romantize the story of Mary and Joseph rather than deal with the painful dilemma they faced when the Lord chose Mary to be the virgin who would conceive her child by the power of the Holy Spirit. Imagine the mockery her and Joseph received because of this virgin birth. How would you receive someone who says that they are a virgin but with child? They were poor and no one to help them and we beautify the birth scene, not coming to terms with the stench of the stable, the poverty of the parents, the hostility of Herod. Don't miss my point. There is something truly comforting and warming about the Christmas story, but it comes from understanding the reality, not from denying it.

Most of us also have not come to terms with the baby in the manger. We sing, "Glory to the newborn King." But do we truly recognize that the baby lying in the manger is appointed by God to be the King, and to be either the Savior and Judge of all people? If we sing that He is the king then who is He king over and are we willing to serve Him?

Malachi foresaw his coming and said, "But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap." As long as we can keep him in the manger, and feel the sentimental feelings we have for babies, Jesus doesn't disturb us. But once we understand that his coming means for every one of us either salvation or condemnation, he disturbs us deeply. His birth must symbolize a commitment in our life. Are we willing to truly surrender our life to Christ or we merely want to keep it all as a great traditional story.

What should be just as disturbing is the awful work Christ had to do to accomplish the salvation of his people. The pain, the agony and the torture the ALMIGHTY God endures for us. Yet his very name, Jesus, testifies to us of that work. That baby was born so that "he who had no sin" would become "sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." The baby's destiny from the moment of his conception was hell—hell in the place of sinners. When I look into the manger, I come away shaken as I realize again that he was born to pay the unbearable penalty for my sins.

That's the message of Christmas: God reconciled the world to himself through Christ, man's sin has alienated him from God, and man's reconciliation with God is possible only through faith in Christ…Christmas is disturbing.

Don't get me wrong--Christmas should be a wonderful celebration. Properly understood, the message of Christmas confronts before it comforts, it disturbs before it delights. The purpose of Christ's birth was to live a sinless life, suffer as our substitute on the cross, satisfy the wrath of God, defeat death, and secure our forgiveness and salvation. Christmas is about God the Father (the offended party) taking the initiative to send his only begotten son to offer his life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we might be forgiven for our many sins. Christmas is so much more than a beautiful story of a star and a manager and sheppards and wise men. It is about making a choice and understanding that his birth lead to His death and we now have a choice to be back close with God on a one on one relationship because of His death. Next time you think about Christmas think about the choice you have made and what gift you can give God since He gave His all for us!

VIDEO #2
 
QUESTION #2
 
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EVIDENCES GIVEN IN THE BIBLE AND SEEN IN YOUR LIFE OF THE OUR SPIRITUAL REBIRTH?
 
 
 OUR REBIRTH
 
The Bible emphasizes two things that God will do for us when we submit our lives to Jesus. The first thing he will do is to forgive our wrongdoing. Paul is fond of using the word "justify", which is a legal term meaning that we are acquitted of all the charges against us - declared innocent. "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). Jesus paid for our sins on the cross and now credits to us his own perfect 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 Corinthians 5:21). A wonderful transaction! The second thing that God does is to come in the person of the Holy Spirit to literally live within us, his Spirit uniting with our human spirit. This experience of receiving the Holy Spirit is what Jesus is talking about when he says we are to be "born again". In fact he went on to call it being "born of the Spirit"(John 3:5,8). This experience is also spoken of as a resurrection, "God...made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions" (Ephesians 2:4); as receiving eternal life,” God has given us eternal life" (1 John 5:11); or as being recreated,”if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Before we receive the Holy Spirit there is a gulf between us and God. We are "dead in...transgressions and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). After we receive him we are united with him in an intimate relationship. We are "born" into his family - we have spiritual life - a new relationship with God, who is now "Father", and a new relationship with other believers who are our "brothers and sisters". We also have a new spiritual home which is "heaven".
 
It is interesting that, whereas John and Peter use the metaphor of being born into God's family for this experience of becoming a Christian, Paul prefers the idea of adoption. "You received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry...Father" (Romans 8:15 - literal translation). The first metaphor emphasizes our union with God, sharing his nature by his Spirit within us. The metaphor of adoption puts the emphasis on our legal standing, with all the rights and privileges we share as children of God. This experience of reconciliation with God and transformation, through spiritual birth, is made possible for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was foretold 600 years before those events by the prophet Ezekiel, to whom God declared, "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities...I will give you a new heart...I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees" (Ezekiel 36:25-27). It is not the turning over of a new leaf, but the receiving of a new life - not just a new start, but a new heart. It is not necessarily a change in our temperament, or our abilities. These come to us largely through our physical birth. Neither is it the addition of some new attribute. Rather it is an inner transformation springing from a new relationship with the living God. Its chief effect is on our motivation, goals and values. Ultimately, as we grow in that relationship, it can transform every area of our lives For the relationship with God to come alive, as Jesus said, "You must be born again" (John 3:7). The life must be given to us by God; we cannot generate it ourselves
 
You will notice that in his discussion with Nicodemus, Jesus stressed the fact that if we would "enter" or "see" God's kingdom, we could only do it through experiencing this new spiritual birth. It is totally undeserved. You don't need Jesus Christ because you are a drunkard. You don't need Jesus Christ because you take drugs. You don't need Jesus Christ because you lie. You don't need Jesus Christ because you cheat on your income tax. No. You don't need Jesus Christ because you do bad things...Whether you have done any of these things is irrelevant. You need Jesus Christ because you were born without the life of God. That makes you a sinner. You don't have God's life in you. Jesus is not here to make bad men GOOD He is here to make the dead ALIVE AGAIN!
 
FIRST we must begin with an awareness of your need for forgiveness and for reconciliation with God Secondly, there needs to be some understanding of who Jesus is. He is the crucified and risen Lord. He died for your sins and mine and now reigns in heaven until he will appear again to judge the world. Thirdly, there needs to be a willingness to submit to Jesus as Lord of your life. However much your awareness of the need for reconciliation, and however much or little understanding you may have, the most important aspect of conversion, or spiritual rebirth, is the will. Are you willing to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord of your life. It means TOTAL SURRENDER! It means giving up the right to live our lives just as we please. We were created for partnership with the living God. However, he is the senior partner in the relationship, and without submission and obedience we cannot experience and enjoy his love. Christ says, "Give me all. I don't want so much of your money and so much of your work - I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth or crown it or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked...the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact I will give you myself. My own will shall become yours."
 
It is easy to suppose that doing good deeds can improve my credit rating with God. Someone has likened this to teaching a caterpillar to fly by tying butterfly wings to its body! God's first requirement is that I be reconciled to him by the process of rebirth. Good works that are pleasing to God are those that grow out of my relationship with him As a person presses on in the Christian life and seeks to grow in faith - by using the means he has given us such as reading the Bible, worship, fellowship with other believers, and daily seeking to serve God in the ordinary things of life - then changes will become apparent. We are like clay in God's hands and our walk in the Holy Spirit is a relationship walk where God is molding us! The things one can expect to occur are a new love for the Bible as it becomes God's personal message to you; a growing love for God and for others; and a growing awareness of God's guiding hand in the circumstances of life. Perhaps one of the greatest evidences of spiritual rebirth is the growing awareness of the reality of the spiritual world and the presence of Christ and our spiritual eyes will be opened by the Holy Spirit to see things the way Christ sees it. Paul describes this experience as being "in Christ", a phrase he uses 164 times in his letters in the New Testament. He also describes it as having the "eyes of your heart" enlightened (Ephesians 1:18),or as having the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" shining into our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6).Jesus called the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of truth". If he has come into our lives, he will begin to give us second sight. We begin to see things as they really are. As Paul puts it, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). We begin to get a proper perspective on both worlds, the world of the spirit and the world of material things; the relationship between them and the relative value of each.
 
CONCLUSION 
 
SIMILARITIES OF HIS BIRTH AND OUR REBIRTH!
 
  1. CHRIST WAS BORN HOLY AS WE ARE HOLY THROUGH CHRIST
  2. SIGNS OF HIS BIRTH AND SIGNS OF OUR REBIRTH
  3. HE WAS BORN IN HUMILITY AND MEEKNESS SO ARE WE REBORN IN HIS LIKENESS
  4. WAS ATTACKED IMMEDIATELY UPON BIRTH SAME AS US
  5. BORN HUNGRY AND SO ARE WE FOR THE WORD OF GOD
  6. GIFTS WERE GIVEN AND SO DO WE POSSESS THROUGH CHRIST
  7. CHRIST WAS HOLY SPIRIT CONCEIVED AS WE ARE TOO THROUGH BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST
  8. BORN WITH PROTECTIVE GUARDIANS SAME AS US WITH CHRIST AS OUR KING AND GOD AS OUR FATHER AND HOLY SPIRIT AS OUR COMFORTER
  9. HEAVEN REJOICED WHEN CHRIST WAS BORN AND UPON OUR RETURNING TO OUR LOVING FATHER
  10. IS BIRTH WAS RELATIVELY UNKNOWN AS WAS OUR REBIRTH
  11. HE WAS BORN INTO ROYALTY (LINEAGE OF DAVID)AS WE ARE JOINT HEIRS IN CHRIST
  12. BORN IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF THE WORLD AS WE ARE TO BE
 
I pray that through the Holy Spirit's help, you will see the connection of Christ's birth and the reality of it and the also reality of our rebirth. Although on the outside things may seem to be quiet simplistic there is a deepness and powerful message and purpose to both. There is a connection on this sense that Christ's birth was a spiritual God coming to a fleshly world out of love and the realization that something had to be done to bring His children back to Him and our rebirth is where our fleshly world comes to the submission to His spiritual presence because the realization is that we can not please God through our old nature and the flesh. No matter how you look at it, we need God's help and He needs our surrender. Let's give God the best present ever ALL OF US!
 
He made me able,
Ptr Jeff Queen
 
 
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Unmerited Spiritual Arrogance- Matt Chandler
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