The Old Gray Dog Ponders . . . What, Why and How
If your church uses the same lexicon as mine, then this week two of the most important passages in the Bible were read: John 3:2-17 and Eph. 2: 1-10. Together, they form the what and why of the Gospel.
"Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.
For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are
doing if God were not with him."
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. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.
"You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3: 2-17
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and
sins, in which you once walked according to the course
of this world, according to the prince of the power of
the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of
disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted
ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the
desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature
children of wrath, just as the others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Eph. 2: 1-10
"I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again, "
17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.
18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate
whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of
sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a redeemer.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Gospel is good news because humanity is totally depraved and incapable of healing itself. People are not basically good.
"I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. . .
The Gospel is good news because only spiritual re-birth can save us.
the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who
believes in him may have eternal life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins, but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.
The Gospel is good news because God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
The Gospel is good news because of God’s grace, not because of anything we did.
The Gospel is good news because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross has guaranteed us eternal life with Him in Heaven. We can’t lose this gift because we did nothing to merit it.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The “Why” is clear. God saved us so that we could do His work.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
John 15: 16
God has also provided us with the “How”:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
II Tim. 3: 16-17
O God, who art, and wast, and art to come,
before whose face the generations rise and pass away:
Age after age the living seek Thee and find that of Thy faithfulness there is no end.
O Thou sole Source of peace and righteousness, take now the veil from every heart, and join us in one communion with Thy prophets and saints who have trusted in Thee and were not ashamed.
Not of our worthiness, but of Thy tender mercy, hear our prayer;
for the sake of Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord.