Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, August ninth. Take a good look at the wide open invitation to heaven that's extended to everyone through Jesus as we listen to The Way to Heaven. Not too long ago, I was talking to someone and I said, Well, are you a Christian? And the person replied this way, they said, Well, I'm a Christian, but I'm not one of those born-again ones.
I thought, Well, what brand of Christianity is this? That is, if you're not born again, first of all, you're not a Christian unless you are. And so it said to me, Here's a person who really and truly believes that they're a Christian for some reason or the other. And yet, when it comes to the one phrase Jesus used, the thing that He said, and when He said, He said, Verily, verily, I say to you, what He's saying is this, I most solemnly assure you, I most solemnly assure you, unless you're born again, you will not get to heaven.
He's saying this to a man whose works were good, whose conduct was good, whose attitude was good, who was generous and faithful and disciplined in every way. But He said to him, Unless you're born again, you'll not enter the kingdom of heaven. What is it then about this new birth? What is it about this being born again business? Why does He say, I say to you solemnly? He said, Don't be amazed that I say to you, you must be born again. And then He begins an explanation. And what I want you to see is I want you to understand why it is absolutely necessary for you to be born again. There must be a transformation. You must have a second birth, not just a physical birth, but a second birth. It is not what you do, it's what God through His Spirit will do in you.
So what happens? When a person is born again, the Spirit of God comes into your life to listen, to abide within you, the Scripture says. And in the eighth chapter of Romans, for example, listen what the Apostle Paul said, to make it very clear to us how important this is.
Here's what he says. He says, For the mind, that is the unbeliever, for example, for the mind, he says, is set on the flesh, and it's death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life. That is, a person who lives for themselves apart from God, he says their mind is set on death. A person who is not born again does not have the ability to live a godly, righteous, holy life. God is a holy God, and God hates sin.
The same God who hates sin is willing to forgive you of your sin and to transform your life and give you a new nature, which is what the Bible is referring to when he speaks about being born from above, being born again, a new life. There's a change that takes place. Here's what he says.
He says, We're not able to do that ourselves. The Spirit of rebellion, I want it my way when I want it. I want all I can have, when I can have, who I can have, whatever it might be. And that's the way the world lives. And there may be many people, maybe you, a person you may have prestige and prominence and popularity and wealth and all the rest. But if you do not have Jesus living on the inside of you through the presence of the Holy Spirit, if you have never been born again, if you have never allowed God to deal with that sinful nature, you are lost. This is the message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Here's what he said. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. What does born again mean? It has nothing to do with my good conduct or my trying to measure up to get God to accept me. Why do you do good things?
Some people do them because it's just sort of the way they feel and makes them feel good. But you'd see the truth is, nothing you and I do, well, nothing will work for the simple reason. It's on the inside of you. It's who you are. And until God, through His Spirit, transforms your inside, that is your Spirit to become a Spirit not of rebellion but of obedience and submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ, you're lost. What do you mean lost? Separated from God. What do you mean separated from God? Simply this, you have no relationship to God until you're born again.
I want to show you why. God is an absolutely holy, righteous God. He does not tolerate sin. He forgives sin and He punishes sin. Listen, He disciplines His children when they disobey Him. But until that is dealt with, nothing you do, no matter how much you do, how far and wide you may do it, you are not born again and you are not going to heaven. And I know what you're saying.
You're saying, well, that's just your opinion and I want to ask you again. When He said you must be born again, what does that mean? It means you must be born again. You must be born from above. Look at the Greek words.
Translate them any way you want to. It means you must have a birth beyond the physical birth, a spiritual birth, the work of the Holy Spirit in your life whereby you're forgiven of your sin, the Spirit of God comes into your life, transforms your spirit and gives you an entirely new nature. That's the difference. And this is why all my good works and all my promises and everything else is to no avail when it comes to being made acceptable to God. Now, once I am born again, once I'm saved by His grace, once the love of God now is in my life, then all of those things make a difference, but they make a difference not only to people now, but they make a difference as far as their reward in heaven.
The question I'm asking you is this. Has there ever been a time in your life when you recognized your sinfulness? You wanted your way and you're living in rebellion against God. You see, nobody likes to be called a rebel.
I understand that. Nobody likes to be called a rebel. You say, are you calling me a rebel against God? No, I'm just telling you what God says. And disobedience is to rebel against, listen, against Almighty God who loves you.
Now, think about this. God is a righteous, holy God. And if you and I go into heaven, that means we're going to live with this righteous, holy God forever. Amen? We agree on that.
Let me ask you a question. How happy are you going to be in heaven in the presence of a righteous, holy God when all the people who are there are righteous and holy and sinless at that point? And everything in heaven is absolutely perfect and worshiping God and bowing down to the Lord Jesus Christ and honoring Him and singing praises to Him and serving Him for all eternity. And you're up there with this spirit that's rebelling against God, and here you are with this whole bunch of born-again Christians that you couldn't stand down here on earth.
You know what? You wouldn't even be happy in heaven. For example, suppose I took you and carried you to a very small town, and let's say there are only a thousand people in that town, but everybody in that town is wicked as the devil. The bars are full every night. People are lazy as they can be.
All kind of adulterous added things going on. Criticism. I mean, everything about it is absolutely terrible. It's just a horrible place to live. How many of you as believers would just say, I love this place?
No, you wouldn't. You know why? Because it's not your environment.
It's not your atmosphere. Listen, you can't have, listen, when sinful natures and righteous natures mix, you've got a problem. And most people, they want the righteousness of Christ on the one hand, and to be able on the other hand to do what, live the way they want to live, do what they want to do. God has given you as a believer, that as a born-again child of God, you have a new nature. Does that mean that you're not going to sin?
No, it does not. This new nature is surrounded by and indwells this physical human body. This physical human body, it was born, it was created in certain ways that we have five senses.
So, all of these things still operate in our life. And so, we can operate out of a spirit who lives within us, or we do have the privilege of choosing to disobey God if we choose. Otherwise, we'd be robots. God says, move forward, take right turn, take right turn again. We're not robots. We are children of God with a new nature. And there's a lot of things about us that are new.
What I want you to see primarily is you can't change that. That has to be the work of God. You have the Spirit of God dwelling in you.
He's given you a new nature. And therefore, we have, listen to this, we now have the power to live a godly life, a righteous life, a holy life. Somebody says, well, I sin every day. Do I have to? You don't have to. Well, how many of you have sinned in the last five minutes?
Raise your hand. And you see, and you hear people say, oh, I'm just, in a very pious way, I'm just a sinner saved by grace. You are a saint, saved by the grace of God, born by the Spirit of God to live eternally with God and for God.
That's who we are. But if you get up every morning saying, well, I know I'm going to sin today, you will. You know what you've done? You've just repeated what Satan has said to you already. If you go to bed at night thinking, oh, God, tomorrow's going to be a tough day. I know I'm going to sin. I'm going to be disobedient. I know I am. I'm going to have to, I'm just going to have to confess my sin. Stop thinking that way. That is not the way God's children should think.
I am a saint. Will I make mistakes? Will I sin at times?
Yes, but it's an exception. It's not the way I think. It's not my nature. Whenever you and I have been born again and we sin against God, watch this, you're acting out of your nature.
That's not who you are. It took the grace of God to redeem us, save us. Redeem means that God has bought me from the slavery of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.
He's redeemed, bought me off the slave block of sin. When the Bible says that He justified us, that means looking down and seeing us in our sinful condition, having received Jesus Christ, He now declares us no longer guilty and a child of God. When we say, for example, that we've been reconciled to Him, that means that God looked down upon us, saw us, convicted us, saved us, brought about the new birth, and now He's brought us back in the right relationship with Him. That's what reconciliation's all about. We can just go through all these big words we think and think, well, that's too big. These are awesome, fantastic, precious, godly, biblical terms to describe this relationship that you and I have with Him now that we have been born again.
That's who we are. And so, when you think about, well, I know I've been born again, but, is there no buts? Listen to this. Accept a man to be born again, accept a woman to be born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God, you won't get there. There's no way to get there. For example, let's put it this way, if you think you can get there some other way by being born again, then tell me what it is. Secondly, tell me what's the basis of believing that. And thirdly, here's the only book we're going to be judged by, where did you get that? That I do you have that you're going to get to heaven apart from the new birth.
Where did you get that? You didn't get that of His book. Listen to what He says, and it's a lot of verses here. For by grace, that's God's awesome unconditional love toward us, have we been saved, declared no longer guilty, now a child of God. For by grace we've been saved through faith, that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. God warns us about boasting about our relationship with Him based on anything that we do.
So, this new birth experience is a birth from above as a result of God's unconditional love coming into our life. Now, here's what Jesus said to Nicodemus, watch this. Let's go down back to John three again. Here's what He said to him when he had these questions that Nicodemus said, now, how can these things be? And it's interesting that Nicodemus, he keeps asking how, how, how.
So, watch this. So, verse ten, Jesus answered and said to him, Are you the teacher of Israel and don't understand these things? Truly, truly I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we've seen, but you don't accept our testimony. I tell you earthly things, you don't understand those. How can I tell you heavenly things?
You don't understand those. But as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up so that in order that whosoever believes will in him have eternal life. Now, watch this. What's he referring to?
Jesus knew that Nicodemus knew what He was referring to. In the twenty-first chapter of Numbers, here's what happens. You know, the children of Israel in the wilderness and they're complaining to Moses and they're arguing with God and fussing about Him. They don't have what they need. They don't like their food. They don't have enough water and all these things. And finally, God's judgment comes upon them by sending, He sent poison serpents, poison snakes.
And everybody who's bitten by one dies, and many, many people died. And so, then the people come to Moses and they say, Moses, intercede for us. Talk to God on our behalf.
We're dying everywhere. So, God listens to Moses' intercession. And so, God says, all right, Moses, here's what I want you to do. I want you to create, to make a bronze serpent. And I want you to put a pole in the center of the nation.
And I want you to put this bronze serpent up on that pole. Now, here's what you say to them. Everyone who looks at that serpent, that bronze serpent, and believes that upon looking at that serpent, they will be healed, that person will be healed.
What is he saying? He's saying healing in those days, in that incident, was a matter of faith. They could just look and say, well, there's that brass serpent, didn't do a bit of good, still sick and die. But if they looked as a result of obedience to God, look with the look of faith, I'm looking, I believe that God's going to heal me because I'm doing exactly what He said. They will be healed. And that's exactly what happened. So, here's what He said. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoso believes will in Him have eternal life.
Now, watch this. This new birth experience, this being born from above, is directly connected to the cross. Because Jesus said later on in the twelfth chapter, And I, if I be lifted up, I will draw all men to Me. Jesus knew He was going to the cross.
That's why He came. And so, when He went to the cross, He was lifted up. And you and I sing about the cross. He was lifted up, and everyone who looks to the cross, what's this cross business about? The cross is where Jesus died. The cross is the symbol of everything you and I believe in the Christian life. This is where Jesus died, shed His blood as a result of God sending Him for the purpose of dying on the cross. This sinless Savior, the Son of God, laid down His life on the cross, and upon shedding His blood, it made it possible for every single person who looks to Him and says, I believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. I do believe that Jesus Christ is down for my sin.
However you want to say it, what you're doing is you are looking and expressing your faith in Him. It doesn't mean that you have to physically look at a cross. But it means in your spirit, in your life, in your heart, you look into Jesus as your Savior. And so, Jesus said to him, this is the way and this is the reason righteous, holy God can look at a sinful person living in sin and all kinds of disobedience and rebellion toward God. And that same person who is willing to ask by faith for God's forgiveness and cleansing, God will forgive them, absolutely come into their life, seal them as a child of God forever, bring about a new birth experience and a new nature so they won't ever be the same again.
And many things change in light of that. So, what's the new birth about? The new birth is about the work of God through His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit working and sealing you forever, giving you a new nature, enabling you to listen, to walk in the Spirit, enabling you to walk in the light, enabling you to walk in love, enabling you to become the person God wants you to be and created you to be. That's what the new birth is all about. And there's not one thing you can do apart from looking to Him in faith and asking and believing. And so, here's what He said.
He says, as Moses lifted up the servant in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up in order that whosoever believes will in Him have eternal life. So, what does that have to do with all your good works? Nothing. What about all your promises? Nothing. All your wealth you give?
Nothing. It has nothing to do with anything but the work of God in your heart. And Father, how grateful we are that You're so willing to turn our life around, snatches out of a life of sin, disobedience, depression and despair and disillusionment. I pray, Father, for somebody who's listening, that You would speak to their heart and help them to understand.
They don't have to give up. You are their Savior. You are their rescuer. You are their deliverer. And they can be born again by Your Spirit by simply calling upon You in faith in Jesus's name. Amen. Thank you for listening to The Way to Heaven. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or InTouch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-14 11:07:57 / 2023-03-14 11:16:24 / 8