We are going to read some of the most quoted verses in all the Bible. And you know what? Most people who read them believe they say something which they don't. Ironically, what they believe one of them says is actually a true statement, though that verse doesn't actually speak of it. The second one is in direct conflict with one of the traditional beliefs of mainstream Christianity, but in full accord with the rest of the scriptures.
So before we begin, let's think about the magnitude of what was just said, and in doing so consider an excerpt from one of the great Christian scholars of all time, E.W. Bullinger, from his book titled, "How to Enjoy the Bible", American Christian Press, Knoxville, OH.
"If any think they know all, or that they have exhausted the Divine Word; or that what they set out to learn is only to be in addition to what they already know, instead of sometimes substitution for it, then we shall be of little service to them: and they need not follow us any further.
When we come to ask ourselves, and say, "Where did I learn this?" it is astonishing to find how much we have imbibed from man, and from tradition; and not directly and for ourselves, from the Word of God.
All that we have learned from our youth up must be tested and proved by the Word of God. Where we find it is true we must learn it over again, from God. And where it will not stand the test of His Word we must be not only content, but thankful to give it up; and receive Divine revelation in the place of man's imagination. ("How to Enjoy the Bible", E. W. Bullinger, pg.6)
The word "Pharisees" means a separatist, i.e. exclusively religious.John 3:1
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
And the name "Nicodemus" means "victorious among his people". He was a wealthy ruler in the Sanhedrin and a friend of the shipping magnate, Joseph of Arimathaea, Jesus' Uncle. It would be this Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea who would be Jesus' legal defense team at the illegally held trial of the council preceding the crucifixion, and they would be victorious in obtaining His acquittal.
Nicodemus had no doubts whatsoever that Jesus was a teacher sent from God. You see, the witnessing of divine miracles by a person with common sense is conclusive evidence itself of the presence of God. 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.
For the benefit of those who haven't studied with us long let's do a little recapping:
In order to fully understand the next few verses one must be familiar with the 3 World Ages (II Pet. 3) and the overall plan of salvation. We read at beginning of this Gospel of John about the Light that came into the world of darkness, a world that had been destroyed and made tohu va bohu (Gen 1:2) because of the rebellion of Satan and his drawing away from God one third of His sons (Rev. 12:4). God held judgment for Satan at that time and sentenced him to "perish", but suspended the judgment of the rest of His sons until the plan to "salvage" [save] them and bring them back to Him is completed. The actual perishing of all that are wicked, including Satan, will occur at the lake of fire following the Final Judgment of the rest of the sons of God. And so it is written they will be either sentenced to "perish" or receive eternal life.
There is, however, one exception. There were 7,000 sons of God who came to earth in the days of Noah and took to wife the daughters of Adam. You can read about them in the 6th chapter of Genesis. The union between these "fallen angels", who Jude records as having left their first estate, i.e. their abode in heaven, and the daughters of Adam produced giants, who roamed the earth, the evidence of which can easily be found. So pervasive were these supernatural beings, angels, that all of Adams descendents except Noah and his family had corrupted their bloodline. You see, the Messiah would be born through the seed of Adam and Eve and it came down to only 8 people who were left on the planet through which God's Word could be fulfilled. So God brought about the flood of Noah to destroy these giants.
Understand then that these fallen angels were not born of woman. They did not enter into the womb of woman, the bag of water, and become born of water, which is to say born in the flesh. They came directly to earth, bypassing the decree that all the sons of God should dwell in the flesh, for as it is written, it is given unto all the sons of God to die once [the first death, which is of the flesh] and then the judgment will occur which will determine whether or not they will die the "second death", the one in which their souls will "perish". Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"
Yes, we were all with God before we came to earth to be placed in the embryo at conception, at our appointed time for the journey. To be born in the flesh is to be born innocent without any prior knowledge of the world that then was (II Pet. 3) and therefore with the opportunity to choose to love God or follow after Satan.
And once we die, or are changed instantly into our spiritual bodies if we happen to be alive in the flesh at the second advent (I Cor. 50:51), we return to the Father from whence we came.
These are Hebrew expressions which have somewhat lost their "punch" in English, but they mean to die, just like we would say "Kick the Bucket".Eccles. 12:6
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
Cremated, buried, blown apart or vaporized by a nuclear bomb, it doesn't matter. When you are through with the flesh body, you are through with it forever. For as Paul documents in I Cor. 15 there are two bodies, one is of flesh and one is of spirit. So when you die in the flesh you are raised, shall we even say born, into your spiritual body. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
He goes on to say that unless you are in your spiritual body, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God.1 Cor. 15:44
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
This same Paul would also make it crystal clear in 1 Thes. 4:13-17 that the dead are not sleeping in graves but rather they are with Jesus NOW! So when He returns they will come with Him. You can read those verses for yourself.1 Cor. 15:50
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Now, remember the excerpt from "How to Enjoy the the Bible" that we just read? Most of Christianity believes that in this next verse Jesus is merely telling Nicodemus that a person must be "begotten" by the Holy Spirit, else he cannot be saved. But is that really what He is saying?
Let's return to John and see what Jesus has to say to Nicodemus.
Of course, flesh and blood cannot see the kingdom of God.John 3:3
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.
Look up the Greek word for "again". It is anothen, Strong's #509, and it means from above which is how it is most often translated. Dr. Moffat's translation of the Bible has it so:
You must first come down from heaven and be born of woman, in the sack of water.John 3:3Jesus replied, Truly, truly I tell you, no one can see God's Realm unless he is born from above. (Moffat)
However, either way you look at it, the next verse shows that Nicodemus is thinking about another birth.
Nicodemus was a smart man and he understood what "born" means, but he couldn't get his mind off the flesh and it is obvious by his reply that he didn't understand about the spiritual body (which Paul so simply explained to us). 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?
Unless you come down and be born of woman, and then go into, be born, into your spiritual body, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Got it? First of water, of flesh, and then of spirit. The fallen angels did not do this and so as it is written in Rev. 11, they shall perish at Christ's return at the 7th Trump. 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.
And again, we've already documented that flesh and blood cannot enter into the kingdom. You must be born of woman first and then be born in the spirit.
Note: This is not talking about being begotten by the Holy Spirit. Of course you must be begotten by the Holy Spirit to be saved. Some like to call that begettal being "born again". Call it what you like but that is not what is being discussed here.
As Paul said "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." So when you are born in the flesh body you are flesh and when you die and are born into your spiritual body you are spirit. Let's continue with Christ's explanation to Nicodemus:
If you've followed along to this point then this verse is really quite simple, though tradition struggles with it and the next few verses.John 3:6
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do you marvel at the Words of Christ? Here's Dr. Moffat's translation of this verse: Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
There's no need to wonder. The next verse gives us some further detail about those who are born of the spirit: Do not wonder at me telling you, "You must all be born from above."
This verse is a "no-brainer". Those who are in their spiritual bodies are not visible to those of us who are in the flesh, in this dimension. They are just like the wind, you cannot see them. So you can tell me you are "born again", and I will certainly understand that you are begotten of God and have received the Holy Spirit, but if I can see you, then you have not gotten to this point yet! And you haven't literally entered into the kingdom of God because you are still flesh and blood! I'll pinch you and prove it!John 3:8
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
Yeah, how can these things be? Good question!
Uh oh, Nicodemus was a teacher of Israel and he didn't know about these things? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
You know what? We can say the same of many Christian ministers today, they do not know these things? I'm not bashing them. Many of them mean well, but the traditions of men have overridden the Word of God and have made it of non effect.
Now before Jesus puts the finishing touch on this precious knowledge He's giving to Nicodemus, and so to you and me, here's one more excerpt from "How to Enjoy the Bible":
"The cloud that now rests over its [God Word] intelligent study arises from the fact that it is with us to-day as with the Jews of old - "The Word of God has been made of none effect by the traditions of men" (Mat. 15:1-9).Come out of the desert and drink some of the new wine of truth.
Hence it is that on some of the most important questions... we are, still, in what the great Lord Bacon calls "a desert". He alludes to those "deserts" in history, where discovery or research comes to a stand-still, and we get schoolmen instead of philosophers; and clerics instead of discoverers.
The Reformation came as an oasis after one of these deserts. Men were sent from the stagnant pools of tradition to the fountain-head of truth. But within two or three generations the Church entered the desert again; Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms took the place of the open Bible; the inductive method of study was abandoned, and to day it is scarcely understood." ("How to Enjoy the Bible", E.W. Bullinger, pg. xv.)
 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
If you can't believe the literal things, how can you believe that which is spiritual? If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
Now get this next verse.
John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
So no man [son of God] has ascended [or entered into] heaven [the kingdom] except he that came down from heaven [and was born of water]. Even Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven and was born of water!! IT'S THE GOOD NEWS!
To review, we learned that just as all the children of God must come down and dwell in the flesh, so did the Son of man, the Word of God, who was from the beginning with God, for He was God (Jn. 1:1).
And there was a very special reason why the Son of God went through that process of being born in the flesh. We read about in the opening chapter of this Gospel. It was to be the Lamb of God, the sacrificial Lamb Who would pay the price and atone for the sins of the world.
And just how difficult do you suppose it is to accept that sacrifice and be "saved" from death and receive eternal life?
Well, Jesus is about to give to us an example, a type set forth, of the Simple Salvation Message which will then be expressed in one famous verse in John 3:16. He draws the analogy to the serpent in the wilderness.
You should go back to Numbers and read the whole account of what happened. (We are expected by our Lord to know these scriptures.) The Children of Israel were murmuring and complaining and speaking against God, Who had provided for their safety and nourishment with numerous miracles in the wilderness. So much for the thought that seeing a miracle will give you the faith to keep you on track for the rest of your life. These folks saw multiple miracles!John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
So God sent a bunch of fiery serpents to the ungrateful Children of Israel to bite them! Ouch!
Assuming that you know a little bit about the Bible you should be able to draw the analogy to that old serpent, the devil, Satan. If you get bitten by him you will surely die!Numbers 21:6
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
So here we see in the wilderness [the world], that unless something is done to "save" the people, they will surely die. And there's no doubt about it, they were dying!
The sinners make their plea for salvation from the fiery serpents. (Isn't it wonderful that today we have the Gospel Armor (Eph. 6) to protect us from the fiery darts of the serpent?)Numbers 21:7
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
ALL THEY HAD TO DO was to look to the serpent on the pole and LIVE! And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Note: Don't try to make any more out of this than the lesson Christ is teaching here in John. God could have put a frog or a door knob on the pole as the savior of the people. But the point is HE HIMSELF would become the One on the pole [cross] Who would ultimately be the SAVIOR. And all we have to do is look upon Him and believe!!
Let's continue in John now that we have filled in some of the details between John 3:14 and 3:15.
Seems simple enough, doesn't it?John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
And now for the most quoted verse in all the Bible which will explain WHY Jesus Chirst became the sacrificial Lamb.
It is Because God Loves His Children so much! 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.
Yes, He loves you and me and all His precious children and desires so much in His heart that they would all turn to Him and love Him. And He showed forth His love by allowing His only begotten Son to be placed on the cross [by guess who?... the serpent], and as it was in the wilderness, all we have to do is BELIEVE in HIM and receive ETERNAL life.
It doesn't get any better than that! There is no greater love!
So the question is, "What must a person do to receive eternal life?" John 3:16 says it all.
Now for a couple of notes on this verse:
1.) The word "everlasting" in John 3:16 is the same word as "eternal" in the prior verse (15) and should be rendered as such, i.e. "eternal life" not "everlasting life". There is a difference in the Greek between "eternal" and "everlasting". "Eternal" means "from the beginning", even continuous for ever and ever from the creation of your very soul in the first earth age.
2.) If you recall from yesterday's study we mentioned that one of the well known and often quoted verses we would be covering is misunderstood and conflicts with a main "tradition of men", which is an unscriptural doctrine of Christianity, of which there are many! And that verse happens to be John 3:16.
You see, the opposite of Eternal Life is Eternal Death. And the word "perish" in John 3:16 means just that, to cease existing, which is for ever and ever. Traditionalists teach that our Father is going to torture His unrepentant children in an everlasting burning hell fire, when He Himself said that hideous thought NEVER even crossed His mind.
It's amazing how that we have laws that protect even dumb animals from being tortured and yet we will allow someone who claims to be a representative of Christ and teach the love of God, tell us that our Father is going to torture His children for ever and ever. Don't allow it! Stick to and believe the Word of God.
Even the very fate of Satan, whose name by the way is also the "son of perdition", which means the "son who will perish", is well documented in Ezekiel 28. Read the entire chapter of how iniquity was found in this once beautiful son of God and how he will ultimately be "destroyed" and cease to exist. We pick it up in verse 18, speaking about Satan:
God is a consuming fire as Hebrews 12:29 shows: "For our God is a consuming fire."Ezekiel 28:18
Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
When Satan, whose name is also death [because he's as good as dead having been sentenced by God already] is cast into the lake of fire, he will cease to exist, perish, along with everyone else who is cast in with him. That is why the lake of fire is called the second death. It kills, destroys, the soul! All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.
Can your soul be killed, i.e. DESTROYED? Yes it can. Here are the very words of Jesus Christ:Rev. 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
The first death is the death of your flesh. The second death is the killing of, the destruction of, the perishing of your soul. Only God can do that, because He is a consuming fire.Matthew 10:28
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
So the question is, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" Do you know Him? John has already gone to great lengths to document that He is the Word of God.
Then I've got great news! You will be raised to immortal status at Christ's second coming and therefore the second death doesn't even apply to you!
Is He good to us, or what?Rev. 20:6
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
"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" (John 3:16).
So you see, it was because of the love our Father has for His children that Christ was sent from above to dwell in the flesh, to pay the price once and for all for the sins of the world.
Now we are going to be given a little more detail and learn the status of those who choose not to believe in Jesus Christ, but rather prefer darkness.
The word "condemn" is often translated "judge". Remember, Jesus came to pay the price as the Lamb of God, not to hold judgment which has been postponed until after the Millennium. Again, the reason Jesus was sent so that the world, through Him and through Him only, might be saved. There is no other way, as the next verse declares.John 3:17
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
We read in our last study that if you believe in Him then you will be in the "first resurrection", the first raising to eternal life, and therefore the "second death" does not apply to you. In other words you will not be judged at the great white throne judgment. You are exempt, having already received eternal life. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And since the only way to receive eternal life, and therefore not ultimately PERISH, is to believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, and since we have all broken the laws of God which condemn us as sinners, then "he that believeth not" is in Big Trouble, for he is as good as dead already.
Yet it is so simple to receive eternal life. Just as the serpents bit the children of Israel in the wilderness, and the deadly venom was injected into their bodies ready to kill them, all they had to do was look to the serpent on the pole and live. And now that Jesus has paid the price, all we need to do is look to the son of God and believe in Him and receive Eternal Life!
But if you choose not to believe in Jesus Christ, you are a dead man (or woman).
Christ is the Light and Satan is the darkness, and even though it is hard to imagine, the rest of the verse speaks for itself. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Now here is a verse that could easily refer to the current political climate. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
People always try to hide their evil deeds and keep the truth, the light, from exposing them. Even the thief comes in darkness, which can easily be the ignorance of those victims who are being robbed even in the broad daylight (I speak of the hidden dynasty of the economy). Too bad they won't come to the Light, which is Jesus Christ, which is the Word of God and be reproved. If they just believed in Him they could receive eternal life. Then they could be doers of the Word!
And let it shine, baby!John 3:21
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
We hear a great deal today about one's "self esteem" and "self image". Well, each and every Christian is to be a reflection of the Light, and shine forth. Of course it goes without saying that we all sin and fall short of that Glory. But when we do, it is not our "self image" that needs to be improved.Matthew 5:16
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
see, if we've never been to the Light, or if we move away from the Light,
it won't matter how much we polish our self image and try to boost our
self esteem. We will still be dimly lit. But when we come to the light
or move back into the Light, that Light is so brilliant that you won't
be able to even see those smudges and blemishes on your self image. So
it's not one's "image of self" that improves their quality of life and
brings peace of mind. It's their image of God.
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