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A Saving Birth

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 25, 2023 12:01 am

A Saving Birth

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 25, 2023 12:01 am

Salvation involves so much more than deliverance from a lonely and meaningless life. Today, Steven Lawson explains that God graciously saves His people from the wrath and judgment they deserve.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind. We're featuring select messages from Dr. Stephen Lawson's series, The New Birth, and today he'll affirm the biblical reality that salvation is a gift from God. Well in this session, we want to consider yet another aspect of the new birth. We want to consider that it is a saving birth.

R.C. Sproul has written a book entitled Saved From What? He talks about when he was a new Christian, a new believer, someone came up to him on campus and was kind of a rabid evangelist type person and just almost grabbed him by the lapel and said, are you saved?

He said it so startled him that he almost ran back to his dorm room and shut the door behind him and he said it made him think. Saved from what? At that time he said, I was a Christian, I knew the Lord, but I needed to think about that. I knew I was saved, but saved from what? You know, we listen today many times to presentations of the gospel on television or radio and you would have the idea that people are saved from loneliness, or saved from not having a purposeful life, or saved from poverty, or saved from whatever. But when we open the Bible, we discover that we are saved from God Himself. We are saved from the wrath of God. We are saved from the final judgment. We are saved from everlasting punishment. We are saved from God and there is only one who can save us from God and that is God Himself. And so in the gospel, God has saved us from Himself. His mercy has triumphed over His judgment. And the way that we enter into this saving grace and enter into His kingdom is through the new birth.

That's what we're studying. And what we'll look at in this session is that the new birth is a saving birth. It would be impossible for us to discuss salvation without giving thought to the fact that we really are saved from eternal destruction. The word saved means to deliver from imminent danger, to rescue someone who is under the threat of great harm.

It's a rescue mission to save someone. That is precisely what happens in the new birth. It is the application of God's saving grace in our lives. If you have your Bibles, and I know that you do, turn with me to John chapter 3 yet one more time and I want us to give thought to this aspect of the new birth.

It is a saving birth. It is God, by His grace, rescuing us from His wrath and from eternal punishment that we might have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to begin by reading verse 5, but then we'll look later in chapter 3 at some other verses. But you'll notice in verse 5, Jesus answered, truly, truly I say to you, and we detect the seriousness of what our Lord is saying as He is very earnestly pleading with Nicodemus to give attention to what He is saying, truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit.

We talked about that this should really be translated water, even the Spirit. He cannot enter into the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God? Well, the kingdom is that sphere over which the King reigns. And the kingdom of God is the reign of grace in the hearts of those who are born again. The kingdom of God is the sphere of salvation in the hearts of those who have been birthed into His kingdom. The kingdom of God is that realm of redemption, that realm of reconciliation between God and man, into which we enter.

Notice He says that we enter into the kingdom of God. And that is to say, before we are born again, we are outside the kingdom. And to be outside the kingdom is to be an enemy of the King. To be outside the kingdom is to be at enmity with the King. To be outside the kingdom is to be an avowed warrior against this kingdom and against the kingdom of God. There is no state of neutrality. You're either in the kingdom or you're out of the kingdom. You're either at peace with God or you're at war with God.

And there's not a third option. There is not an in-between state. And so we see to be born again is to enter into the kingdom of God. It is to be brought into the sphere of salvation and into the kingdom of His grace, into the kingdom of His forgiveness, where His grace rules and reigns in our lives. To be outside the kingdom is to be perishing. To be outside the kingdom is to be under the wrath of God. That's why it's so necessary to be born again. In fact, if you would look at John 3 verse 16, this text with which we are all familiar, this text which has stood out over the centuries as a premier signature passage of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and what a glorious text this is.

Please note that this is in the context of the discussion on the new birth. And notice what John 3, 16 says, 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. To be outside the kingdom is to be perishing. It is to be in a state of perishing. That's why he says we must believe upon Christ so that we will be not perishing. The entire world is really comprised of just two classes of people.

Someone's put it this way, there's the saints and the aunts. It's one of the two. And we could put it a little bit more theologically, that you're either in a state of perishing or not perishing. You are either under wrath or you are under grace.

It's one of the two. And so, John 3, 16 says that in order to not perish, we must believe upon God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We talked about last time how it is regeneration that produces saving faith.

It is regeneration that precedes saving faith. And so, to believe in Christ is to have the supernatural birth of God occur within our soul and to give us the gift of repentance and faith to believe in Christ, and only then do we not perish. Now, the word perish does not mean annihilation, as though one could go into a state of non-existence. Under the word perish means a final destiny of ruin in hell forever. To perish means to suffer eternal destruction under the just judgment of God. To perish is the polar opposite of being saved. To perish is the very opposite of having eternal life. You can see that in verse 16, not perish but have eternal life. The opposite of eternal life is eternal perishing forever and ever. When one is born again, they go from a state of perishing to that of not perishing. In fact, that state of perishing has already come for every unbeliever. They don't have to wait until the time comes to perish. Even in this life, they're self-destructing. Even in this life, they are under the wrath of God. Even in this life, they are reaping what they are sowing.

In 1 Corinthians 1, verse 18, a very important passage of Scripture, the apostle Paul writes, "'For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.'" Present tense. "'They are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.'"

Even that is present tense. It is, right now, in this lifetime, the power of God. So those who are outside the kingdom, those who live in a state of unbelief, those who are unregenerate, those who have not been born again are presently perishing. But to be born again is to be saved from eternal destruction. It is to be rescued from the final judgment. It is to be delivered from eternal perishing away from the love of God.

Look at the next verse. John continues to write, John 3, verse 17, "'For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world.'" That is to say, the primary mission of God sending His Son into this world was that He would seek and save that which is lost. It was a mission of redemption. It was a mission of salvation. So God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

Here again we have the word saved. That is the antithesis of perishing. Either you're perishing or you are being saved. Verse 18, "'He who believes in Him,'" referring to Christ, "'is not judged. He who does not believe has been judged already.'" So those who are presently outside the kingdom, and this once described our lives as well.

We were already judged. What does a person have to do to be judged by God? What does a person have to do to be perishing? What does a person have to do to be under the wrath of God?

The answer to that is absolutely nothing. Just be born. Just be a son of Adam's fallen race. And sin did my mother conceive me.

I went forth from my mother's womb speaking lies. And then we were born outside the kingdom perishing and already judged, John 3 verse 18 says. That is why we need to be saved. That is why we must be delivered by the power of God and His grace and to be brought into the kingdom. According to verse 18, there are only two classes of people, those who are judged and those who are not judged. According to verse 17, there are only two classes of people in the entire world, those who are judged and those who are saved.

At this point, this is very simple. Look at verse 36, John 3 verse 36. At the end of this chapter, I don't know that anything could be any more clear than this. He who believes in the Son has eternal life. That refers to those who are inside the kingdom, but he who does not obey the Son of God. And please note the word obey. The opposite of believing is not obeying. That tells us that the gospel is a command. We are commanded to repent and to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel is not an option. The gospel is not a suggestion. The gospel is far more than even an offer. It is a command from God Himself that everyone outside the kingdom lay down their arms, repent of their sins, and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

And there is a sense of urgency about doing this, this very moment. To not believe on Christ is to not obey Christ. To not believe upon Christ is to live in open, high-handed disobedience against the God of heaven and earth who calls all men everywhere to repent and to believe. So verse 36, he who believes in the Son has eternal life. Note, present tense, has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides.

Present tense, right now this very moment, like a dark cloud hanging over a person and threatenings of lightning and thunder, but the wrath of God abides this very moment on Him. This is why we need this saving birth. This is why we must enter into the kingdom. It is to enter into a place of safety, a refuge of salvation from the wrath of God.

This word wrath refers to divine vengeance, fierce anger from God, God's righteous indignation, God's holy fury that is rightly abiding upon all who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and who provoke His anger even more by disobeying the gospel which says, this moment, repent and come to Christ and be forgiven of all of your sins. This is why we must be born again to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And when we are regenerated, when we are birthed into God's kingdom, it is a saving birth. This is, we are being transferred from one kingdom into another kingdom. There is this deliverance, this rescue as we go from being children of the devil to being children of God.

And that is how serious that this is. Turn with me if you would to John chapter 8 for just a moment. John chapter 8, Jesus says in verse 34, truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever, the son does remain.

If the son makes you free, you will be free indeed, meaning be released from bondage to sin and to be released from the wages of sin which is death, physical death as well as spiritual death and the second death which is eternal death. Notice verse 37, I know that you are Abraham's descendants, yet you seek to kill me because my word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have heard from my father, therefore you do the things which you heard from, wow, your father. Apparently there are two fathers in the world.

Do you see that in verse 38, John 8 verse 38? Jesus says, I have my father, you have your father. There are two families in the world and two fathers over these two families. We know who Jesus' father is and that is God the Father and we know what family that is. That is the family of God, the family of His grace and redemption. That is the kingdom of God. But there is also the family of Satan.

That is all those who are outside the kingdom of His grace. They have Satan as their father, meaning his influence, his worldview, his evil influence and drive that is brought to bear upon everyone who is in his family and in his kingdom. Verse 39, they answered and said to Him, Abraham is our father. They were relying upon their heritage.

They were relying upon their bloodline. They were relying upon their citizenship in the nation Israel to commend them to God. They were saying, we know who our father is. I don't know who you imply our father is, but our father is Abraham. Jesus said, if you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. What did Abraham do?

Just parenthetically. Well, Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, Genesis 15, 6 and 7 says. And so he's saying, well, if you want to be Abraham's children, then you need to do what Abraham did. And that was to believe upon God and upon the gospel. Galatians says that even the gospel was preached to Abraham. Verse 40, but as it is, you are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God.

This Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father. And again, the clear implication is, God is not your father. You are not in God's family. There is another who is your father, and he will tell them in verse 44 who that father is. And he says, you're of your father, the devil, and the lust of him you shall do. He was a liar and the father of all lies.

He is a murderer and he was a murderer from the beginning. That's whose family you belong to. There's never been a greater evangelist than the Lord Jesus Christ. There has never been anyone who could separate the wheat from the chaff like the Lord Jesus Christ. So, verse 41, he says, you're doing the deeds of your father. They said to him, we were not born of fornication. They were casting dispersion upon his birth, meaning we know who our father is.

It was a slam against the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. You don't even know who your father is. Don't be talking to us about who our father is. You don't even know who your father is. We have one father in God.

Jesus answered, verse 42, if God were your father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I did not come on my own initiative, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear my words. They are bound by total depravity and radical corruption.

They have an inability to see and to hear. You remember what Jesus said? Except you be born again, you'll not see the kingdom of heaven. We could add, except you be born again, you'll not even hear the king who is in the kingdom of heaven. So, verse 44, you are of your father the devil.

You want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies, but because I speak the truth, you do not believe. Verse 47, he who is of God, that that of God needs to be born of God. That is condensed, contracted way to say to be born of God, to be of God. He who is of God or birthed or born of God hears the words of God.

For this reason, you do not hear them because you are not of God. What all this is saying is that to be born of God, to be of God is a saving birth, where you are transferred from one family, the family of Satan, and you are brought into the other family, the family of God. You have been under Satan as your father and you have been a part of his lies and his murdering, no matter how religious you are.

He said this to the most religious crowd in the history of the world. You have your father the devil. You must be born again, and in being born again, you will experience a saving birth and you will be transferred from the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of light and the kingdom of God Himself. There's only one way to come into this kingdom, except you be born again.

You will not see nor enter the kingdom of heaven. If you've not been born again, I would urge you to call out to God and say, God have mercy upon me. Birth me into your kingdom. Bring me to yourself.

God save me from yourself, and you will find that God will have much mercy upon you in His Son, Jesus Christ. That's Dr. Stephen Lawson with a message titled, A Saving Birth. We're glad you could be with us today for Renewing Your Mind. This is just one of 12 messages that focus on what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus that unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Our study this week has led us to this critical question. You can continue your study of the new birth by requesting Dr. Lawson's complete series. There are 12 messages on two DVDs, and we'll be happy to send them to you when you give a donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries.

You can make your request online at renewingyourmind.org or when you call us at 800-435-4343. In an article that he wrote for Table Talk magazine, our founder R.C. Sproul said, regeneration is more than giving a person the possibility of having faith. It gives him the certainty of possessing that saving faith. The new birth is an amazing gift that God gives to those in His family.

Dr. Stephen Lawson's series will help you explore it more deeply. And so will Table Talk, which is our monthly devotional magazine. This year, Table Talk is going verse by verse through the Gospel of Luke. And if you'd like to receive this theologically rich resource in your mailbox each month, you can subscribe at tabletalkmagazine.com. Well, tomorrow we'll take a look at why the new birth is deeply transformative. There will be an increased practice of righteousness in your life. Righteousness is godliness. It's the pursuit of holiness.

There's no way you'll come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and still live like the devil. Those days are over. Those days are gone. Those bridges have been burned behind you, and there will be the increased practice of righteousness. I hope you'll make plans to join us again tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind. We'll see you next time. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-25 06:29:50 / 2023-01-25 06:38:37 / 9

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