Vol: 28 Issue: 1 Saturday, September 1, 2018
When a Jew or a Gentile becomes a Christian – or what the Bible calls a new creature – the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in their soul. That is the point at which the transformation takes place and the new creature is born. It is at that point we know that we are born again.
To those of us who are saved, all that goes without saying. It is how we know that we are saved – the Bible tells us so:
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)
I get letters all the time from people complaining about how we’ve already covered something in a previous OL.
But not everybody is on the same page, so to speak, either in their doctrinal maturity or their time in the OL. So sometimes it is important to go back and make sure everybody else is up to speed.
And it never hurts to have heard a doctrine explained so many times that you can repeat it in your sleep. My challenge is to find enough different ways to explain the same thing that you stay interested until that happens.
But the primary objective is to translate Christianese back into an understandable form for the uninitiated.
The first paragraph of today’s briefing serves as an example of the kind of unintelligible Christianese that we blithely rattle off and are then surprised to have it met by an uncomprehending stare. It is intended as a summary of what it means to become a born-again Christian.
Is there anything about it you don’t understand? I’m guessing not. Is there anything in it that sounds complicated? Again, probably not.
Do you explain it much differently when you are explaining to a lost person what it means to be born again? Have you ever given much thought to how much information that summarypresupposes is already common knowledge?
These questions are so basic that we don’t give them a second thought. Sometimes we skip right over them without explaining them. Sometimes, I’ll get an email that reminds me that I’ve presupposed too much.
What is a Gentile? What do you mean by ‘soul’? I have a soul – is that the same as my spirit? What new creature? What do you mean, ‘born again’?
Yesterday I got an email from a lady who wanted to know, “Who or what is the Holy Spirit? “
Without knowing that, how complicated are concepts like “indwelling” and “born again?”
The simple answer is; “The Holy Spirit is the third Person in the Trinity.” But that raises the next obvious question . . . “Trinity??” Oh, boy – we’ve still not even covered the differences between soul and spirit.
Your soul consists of your mind, will and emotions – that intangible part that makes you ‘you’. It is your self-awareness. Your spirit is a fourth element which is dormant, or stillborn.
At the point where a person cries out to the Lord for forgiveness, his spirit is ‘quickened’ or made alive, by the Holy Spirit of God. That is the first time that His Spirit bears witness with our spirit. It is at that point that one is said to have been born again.
“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.” (John 3:5)
Ok, what about the “water” part? Just before a baby is born, the mother’s ‘water breaks’ signalling the start of the birth process. The birth process continues into natural birth, but the spirit is stillborn. The process is only fully completed when the spirit is ‘quickened’ and one is reborn spiritually.
By default, every human being is born either a Jew or a Gentile. The Bible identifies a Christian as a “new creature” reborn from that basic stock.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)
Think of a caterpillar being ‘reborn’ as a butterfly. All butterflies were once caterpillars. No butterfly has ever reversed the process.
When a Jew or a Gentile becomes a Christian, it is a transformation that begins with changing one’s mind (repenting) about one’s sin, and is completed when one is forgiven by grace through faith and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Now we’re back to ‘indwelling’ by the Holy Spirit. Who or what is the Holy Spirit? Oh, and what about the Trinity?
The Bible presents each Member of the Trinity as having a distinct ministry insofar as man is concerned. God the Father sits on the Throne of Heaven as the One Who holds the universe together.
In this light, it is interesting that, although science can split the atom, it cannot explain what holds it together in the first place. Whatever holds it together also contains its energy. It is the splitting of a single atom that releases the explosive power of the atom bomb.
In His capacity as God the Father, He is the Force that binds the atom. If God forgot me for one second, I would be a radioactive crater the size of Manhattan.
The Bible tells us that the Second Person in the Godhead, Jesus Christ, is the Creator of the universe and everything in it. John 1:1-3 reveals of Jesus that,
“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1)
Jesus is also the Savior of the world. He created it, He justified it by His blood, and He will judge the world according to His Word.
The Third Person in the Godhead is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. He is our source of spiritual power and authority and it is through His indwelling presence that He guides and leads us into all truth as we journey through this life.
“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”
Let’s look at the context. Jesus has just revealed that He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him. (John 14:10)
Then He promises another Comforter He says will “abide with you forever.”
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:17)
Who is this Comforter, this Spirit of truth, He that ‘dwelleth with you, and shall be in you’?
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
All this information is lost to the lost when we lapse into Christianese.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1st Corinthians 1:18)
So it helps when one doesn’t need a translator.