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New Birth, Not Religion

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Mr. Darby, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. John 3
    There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

    2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

    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.

    4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
    5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
    Surely, everyone was curious about this upstart preacher. He had appeared suddenly out of nowhere when John was baptizing beyond Jordan. John had greeted him with a startling appellation: " Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Obviously this revivalist had a high opinion of the young man.
    If this were not enough, the young preacher arrived at the wedding of Cana with his disciples and turned six waterpots of water into wine. Not your typical religious charlatan.
    Jesus then proceeded to Jerusalem to keep the passover. This was where he really grabbed the attention of the establishment. He drove the money changers out of the Temple. He referred to the Temple as his Father's house. Jesus challenged the religious leaders to destroy the temple; and he said he would raise it up in three days. It sounded like the rantings of a fanatic. But then again, there was that miracle in Cana........
    Nicodemus was one of Judaism's religious elite, and he was going to get to the bottom of who this upstart preacher was. He approached Jesus, apparently hoping to find out more about those miracles, and was greeted with a confusing and startling statement. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Though he was one of Israel's religious leaders, he was thoroughly confused when Jesus began to discuss the essential spiritual issues of life.
    Many today, even those with a background in the Church, are just as confused about the issue of salvation as was Nicodemus. What is salvation? To define what salvation is, it might be wise to clarify what it is not.

    Salvation is not religion. Nicodemus was not short on religion. John tells us that he was one of the Pharisees. Thus, he was one of the religious authorities that the nation looked to for guidance in the spiritual realm. If anyone should have known what salvation is, it should have been Nicodemus. Nicodemus belonged to an order of men whose history went back centuries. Centuries earlier, the Pharisees had been a 'revival' movement in Judaism which stressed faithfulness to the Law of God. Paul referred to them as the strictest sect in Judaism. Acts 26:5 " after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee." So Nicodemus and his compatriots were not at all lacking when it came to religion. These 'lily white' church folks did not drink beer, did not chew tobacco, did not curse, and they did not neglect the duties imposed on them by their faith. Yet still, something was lacking. Jesus told Nicodemus that he still needed a new birth if he was to enter the Kingdom of God.
    Salvation is not good works. Many folks today are tired of the outward trappings of religion. And in many ways I am with them in this. We often mistake the ritual and singing and sermons for the real substance. So many folks want to reduce religion to simply doing good by others. Many believe if they live a fairly decent life, do not harm anyone else by their actions, and have a social conscience, that they will find God's approval for their lives. Yet, neither is this enough to enter the Kingdom of God.
    Paul tells us that our salvation is not by our good deeds. Paul tells us that out salvation is not of our works in Ephesians 2:8,9. "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast."

    You see, no matter how many good deeds you do, you are still a breaker of God's laws. Paul tells us in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Good works cannot save you. Because no matter how many good deeds you have, you are still a violator of God's commandments. James tells us that we are accountable to all of God's laws. James 2:10 "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." A man may commit a serious crime and live many years after as a model citizen; yet when the law catches up with him, they will not congratulate him on the model life he lived after committing the crime. They will hold him accountable for his breaking the law, no matter how upright his life was after breaking it. It is the same with God. Nothing we do can undo the sin we have committed in His sight.
    What then, is salvation?
    Salvation is purchased by blood.
    Jesus pointed Nicodemus to his upcoming death. John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up". In the cross, Jesus bore our sins in his own body for us. Hebrews 9:28 tells us, "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Christ took our sins on himself, and thus satisfied the requirements of God's laws against the sinner. His death purged our sins. Hebrews 1:3 "when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
    Salvation is a new birth. Jesus drew Nicodemus' attention to the fact that just as one enters this world by birth, one must also be born into God's Kingdom. In your first birth, you were born into sin. Your birth was no good. So, you must be born again to meet the qualification to enter God's Kingdom. The new birth produces a new man. Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." This new man may enter God's Kingdom.
    Salvation is received by faith. Jesus went on to tell Nicodemus, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Salvation is not earned by our religion, or our works. It is simply by faith. I do not have to continually labor and wonder if I have done enough to please God. I do not have to live with uncertainty regarding my future. My salvation is given to me of God simply by faith. Romans 5:1,2 says, " Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God". How much faith is required? Only enough to call upon Christ for salvation. Romans 10:13 "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Again, John 1:12 says, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name". Friend, have you received Christ?
    JG27_chili and Major say Amen and like this.
  2. In short, what is your position on religion and works?
  3. I believe good works are a fruit of genuine saving faith. Examples of this are found in Hebrews 11.

    By faith Abel offered...,
    By faith Noah...prepared an ark...,
    By faith Abraham...obeyed.

    Pure religion is not a liturgical system of worship and rites. Pure religion consists of good works and avoiding worldly contamination.

    James 1:27
    Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

    We are not saved by good works, but we are saved unto good works.

    Ephesians 2:8-10

    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Hence, works are the fruit of salvation, but not the root of it.
    Major likes this.
  4. I guess the title mislead me a bit, but it sounds like we are in agreement. Naturally, Sola Fide (faith alone) is a dangerous concept, as is the concept that we are saved by our own works. Rather, faith without works is dead (James 2:24-26).

    And Indeed, empty religion is of man, but Christ is the fulfillment of religion (Matthew 5:17).
  5. Salvation is by grace alone thru faith alone in Christ alone plus nothing.
    Major likes this.
  6. I agree with half of that -- we are saved by grace alone, but not through faith alone. The Bible is very clear about that in James 2:24 that man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
  7. My brother.........works come AFTER salvation not before. Becoming saved gives us the desire to do good works for God but doing good things before being saved has nothing to do with salvation.
    JG27_chili likes this.
  8. That is absolutely correct.
  9. Absolutely -- I never suggested otherwise. We are saved by grace alone through faith, justified by works.
  10. Paul used the term faith theologically to affirm the doctrine of grace alone salvation and James uses the term faith not in a soteriological sense but in a practical sense. The theme of James's message is skillful living, fruitful living for The Lord and his use of the term faith is in line with that. James does not contradict Paul because he is not teaching soteriology but daily practical Christianity.
  11. BOOM!...........You are fast, fast fast!!!

    Comment #6 looked like you were adding works to salvation...to me. Sorry to have misunderstood.

    I hope you are having a great day. It is of course raining again here in central Florida.
  12. Indeed, they are aligned perfectly. In Ephesians 2:8, Paul expresses that we are saved by grace through faith and that not of yourself. No one can work their way into heaven. But when James talked about justification in James 2, he expressed that faith is to be measured by God, and not by us. James 2:17 says "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. " It also says in James 2:19 that even the demons believe, and shudder.

    By no means am I suggesting we are saved by works, but rather through grace. But works cannot be placed aside just as faith cannot be placed aside.
  13. Haha, it's horrible. It's clear I keep this forum open constantly.

    Yeah, I can understand the misconception. It's a popular misconception by people who misunderstand Christianity as merely "doing good deeds." So when people mention works, it can often be misinterpreted as working your way into salvation. Of course it isn't though. It's the gift of God's grace that grants us salvation. But we can't receive His grace unless we have faith. And faith without works is dead.
    Major likes this.
  14. I'm reposting here something I previously posted on another thread because it is relevant to this discussion.

    One must put the James passage into it's context to get a proper understanding of the teaching of that verse. Abraham had been justified by faith many years before the time that he offered up Isaac.

    Genesis 15:5, 6
    And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
    And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

    Paul comments upon this in Romans 4:2-5,

    For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
    For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
    Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
    But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    Abraham was justified entirely by faith, without the addition of works according to Paul. Paul goes on to explain that if it is by faith, then it cannot involve works in any way. Romans 11:6 says,

    And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

    Grace and works cannot coexist as regards salvation. It is either one or the other. This fact has brought about confusion as regarding the teaching of James. It appears to many that Paul and James contradict each other. But this is not the case.

    James is speaking of a different portion of Abraham's life than Paul. James is speaking of that instance wherein Abraham offered up his son Isaac.

    James 2:20-24

    But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
    Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    Paul is speaking of a time many years earlier when Abraham received the promise from God for a son, and believed it. This faith justified Abraham according to Paul. James is speaking of a day many years later when Abraham was called upon to offer the son God had promised. Think about what that entailed. God had promised Abraham a multitude of descendants through Isaac. If he killed him before he could start a family, then how could God fulfill the promise? So Abraham's act of offering, or 'work' was a visible demonstration of the reality of Abraham's faith. Hebrews 11:17-19 says,

    By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
    Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
    Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

    Do you see that Abraham's actions proved the reality of the faith that justified him? Had he not have had such strong faith in God's promises, he would not have offered his son. The 'work' was a natural conclusion of the faith. In other words, if someone has true faith, they will act upon that faith. Faith that does not spur one to act upon it is not faith at all.

    So, Abraham's faith in God's promise justified him before God, while Abraham's act of offering Isaac justified Abraham before men, in proving that his faith was real. Notice that this is the context in which James speaks, showing one's faith to be real before men. James 2:18,

    Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    The lesson here is that saving faith will spur someone to do good works. If a person's faith does not spur one to action, then one cannot say that they really have faith. A person only acts upon what he really believes. So faith in Christ alone saves us, and that faith will spur us unto good works. Good works are the fruit of saving faith.

    Ephesians 2:8-10

    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Notice here that works plays no part in our salvation, but we are saved unto good works, that our faith should produce a walk. So the idea contained in James and Paul is that you are justified by faith alone, but saving faith will spur you to good works.
  15. It's dangerous to emphasize works when sharing the gospel. Actually works shouldn't ever need to be emphasized at all if we are living by faith.
    Mr. Darby and Major say Amen and like this.
  16. How would you define emphasized? Just not mentioned at all?
  17. Correct.
    Major likes this.
  18. Did you know that salvation is absolutely free? and that we do not have to do anything to get saved? Well what do the Scriptures teach? Lets see.

    Well, John 3:16 is the most famous verse ever quoted in the world but I want you to see and hear what Jesus said just two verses earlier in verse 14 Jesus is pointing to a historical event to make a point about God's love.

    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; (John 3:14 ASV)

    The event happened when God led the Jews out from Egypt. As was their habit the people grumbled and sinned while out in the wilderness on their way to the promised land. God responds by judging and disciplining them and on this occasion God sent serpents into their midst:

    And Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:6 ASV)

    The people of Israel then do their normal thing - they ask Moses to pray for them for forgiveness from The Lord. Moses prays and God forgives them:

    And the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, because we have spoken against Jehovah, and against thee; pray unto Jehovah, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. (Numbers 21:7 ASV)

    God forgives the people but on one condition: Moses is to hold the serpent up for the congregation to gaze upon.

    Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live." (Numbers 21:8 NASB)

    It was not how guilty they felt or how long they stared at it in the heat of the desert sun, it was simply the look of faith.

    And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived. (Numbers 21:9 NASB)

    If they were hard hearted and stiff necked they died in their sins.

    Let's continue on now with Jesus's words:

    so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:15, 16 NASB)

    God has lifted up our object of faith, Jesus the Messiah on a cross. We are to humble ourselves, coming to the realization that personal righteousness and holiness is outside of our capabilities, and look to our God and Father who said:

    so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:15, 17 NASB)

    If we refuse to believe that salvation is by grace alone thru faith alone in Messiah alone plus nothing then we are not really believing on Him that was sent and are under the following judgement:

    so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:15, 18 NASB)

    If you have followed the teachings of any other variation from what the bible clearly states concerning the content of faith for salvation then you have accepted the accusation of other religions teaching concerning not only these simple words of Christ but all of the other passages of scripture concerning God's free offer of imputed righteousness.
  19. Friend, it appears you're misunderstanding me. We are saved by Grace ALONE through faith, and faith without works is dead.

    Does works save us? No. Does faith save us? Faith is how we obtain Grace. Can we slide by on faith alone? No--man is not justified by faith alone.

    I'm afraid you're stuck on the first part, but you seem to think that if works is brought up at all, then it dismisses the gift of Grace.
  20. I feel as tho you are in error in that you fail to see the importance of offering a free salvation to the lost. James's use of works was not part of the Gospel message of Paul and should not be part of your gospel message either. It is to be taught to those who are already saved and that only due to carnality in believers lives, it is not in any way the gospel it is separate from the gospel. I do not deny that works will follow salvation but in some cases those works will only be seen by God and not by us due to the ability for the born again person to backslide.
    Mr. Darby likes this.

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