Much knowledge is not necessary for spiritual life, but people merely think that their spiritual lives will go well if they do not sin, be good, keep the law, give offerings, and pray.
Most people who begin going to church think this way.
But as time passes, they begin to feel that they are unable to keep the law, although they initially had thought it would be easy to do. They sin and they fall into sin. Right then, people think, "It will be well if I try harder and put in more effort.
If they fail again, they say, "Isn't this how our spiritual life goes? Who's perfect?" then they become negligent. They then have only an outwardly spiritual life. We see way too many in today's churches that are of this mind set.
But Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." A man must become born again. What must he do to become born again? Also how can you tell if you are born again or not? Many people are interested and curious about becoming born again.
Spiritual life is not you becoming well through you doing something for God.
When people see other people who work for God, give lots of offering, and pray much, they say, "They are doing well, God will bless them." But this is absolutely not the case.
In the story of the man who fell among thieves in Like chapter 10, the good Samaritan helped the man who fell among the thieves. He helped him because the heart to have compassion arose in him. "He had compassion on him, and toward him,and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine..."
Luke 10:25-37, this is the story of the Good Samaritan and his neighborly deed.
The background of this story is the professionalism of the priests in that day and the Jewish hatred for the Samaritans who were half-breed Jews. The one who had been robbed and beaten and left by the side of the road to die was most likely a Jew himself because of the population of the Jews in those days in Palestine.
But whoever he was, the Megachurch priest nor the Levite church employee had enough compassion and concern for humanity to offer assistance. Sound familiar?
But this Samaritan was not concerned about the race or nationality of the victim of robbery. Even though the victim was a poor Jew and Samaritans were hated as dogs by the Jews, this Samaritan gave first aid to him immediately and put him on his animal and carried him to an inn or hotel near by and cared for him through the night and in the morning left funds with the proprietor to care for him and if more money, was needed, he promised to reimburse him on his return.
Jesus uses this story to illustrate that our neighbor in this world is anyone in a need that we can supply. What a wonderful world this would be if we all were good Samaritans! Or neighbors like the good Samaritan was.
God bestows grace upon us because He has compassion on us, He does not bless us for doing something well. But the world of our heart concerning this is completely the opposite of God. People become satisfied when they give much offering, thinking, "God will be pleased." After fasting several days, they think, "God will hear my prayer." When they keep the law well, they think God will be pleased. But the Bible does not say so.
When we read the Bible closely, there was no one who was blessed by doing something well themselves. The people who were blessed before Jesus, the women taken in adultry, the man with the infirmity for 38 years, Zaccheus the publican; were all people who did not do well.
Jesus had compassion on them. But we are lost in thought that, "If I do a little better God will bless me and bestow grace upon me." Therefore people can not receive the true grace of God. It means there is a difference in thought.
It means that the heart is not flowing together. It means that the heart has not become one with God. This is the problem.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Why did He say this?
It was because Nicodemus, by his own standards, was doing well.
He was a scholar in the law, a ruler of Jews, lived a good life, was admired,...People say that those like Nicodemus are the good and faithful people. But that is not what the Bible says.
Why doesn't the Bible say this?
It is because their goodness comes from man. No matter what good we may do, we can never reach the standard of good of God with our actions.
With the standard of man, you can say, "I am better than so-and-so. I am kinder than that one." But God said, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." It is telling us that the heart of man is only dirty, evil, and filthy. It means that even those who seem great and perfect in the eyes of man are not so before God.
We must receive the flow of life. In other words, the younger son cannot become full in the pig pen. He must go to the Father's house. Jesus and our heart must become one and His heart flows in us and ours in His. If this happens, though we have no righteousness, the righteousness inside of Jesus flows into our heart and we become righteous.
Although I am not holy, the holiness of Jesus comes upon me, making me holy. Although the younger son was dirty, filthy, and hungry, he could wear the best clothes and become glorious when he returned to the Father's house. He eats the fatted calf and becomes full. The son has to receive now, not his own things, but the things of the Father. For this, he has to flow as one with the Father.
An unborn child cannot eat food but grows well for months in the mother's womb. It is because he is supplied with nutrients through the umbilical cord. The amazing thing about an unborn child is that he is in extreme safety. The child is surrounded by the amnion. Therefore, even if there is a certain amount of shock to the mother's abdomen, the shock for the most part is absorbed by the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. In addition, even if it is cold outside, the fluids that surround the child keep him or her warm. And the nutrients taken by the mother are distributed to the child first. God has designed it this way.
When an unborn child dies, it is usually from a problem in the umbilical cord and the nutrients could not be supplied.
My son was born with the cord wrapped once around his little neck and it had a square knot tied in it that had not been pulled tight.
It was a miracle of God that he lived.
Our spiritual life is like this.
Just as the unborn child lives through receiving the nutrients from the mother, it is not that we should do good and live righteously, but the goodness of Jesus comes to make us good, and the righteousness and the holiness of Jesus must come to make us righteous and holy.
Because people do not realize this, they try to become good themselves. But the more they labor and try, the more wickedness and dirtiness of man appears.
Therefore Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Except a man become born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." People who are not born again bring before God the good they did; their own greatness.
But the born again people are wonderful and beautiful because they do not bring forth what they have done, but the things of Jesus.
Because people do not know this well, they think they can go to heaven if they pray harder, are more loyal, and please God.
Hence we see those erroneous bumper stickers, "Pray Harder" and "WWJD What Would Jesus Do?" "Promise Keeper" etc.
They think doing so is living spiritual life well. But living the best spiritual life is becoming born again to become one with God.
When we read the Bible, the thoughts of man never fit with the thoughts of God. When Abraham was 99, God told him, "You will have a son." Right then Abraham said,"How can a man 100 years old have a son? Sarah is ninety..."
He did not accept the words of God. At the time of Noah's flood, when God said that He would punish the world with water, man was arrogant and said, "God will punish who? He will not. There will just be some rain and that will be all," and believed in their own thoughts. God said, "I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people Israel out from Egypt," to Moses. Moses replied, "God, who am i that i should go? How could I do such a thing?"
As long as we have lived apart from God, held by the devil, the devil puts thoughts in us different from the thoughts of God; different perspectives. The devil made our thoughts completely different from the thoughts of God. Therefore if we try to believe God with our own thoughts, we can never believe in God.
After Jesus told the servants at the wedding at Cana of Galilee to fill pots with water, He said, "It is wine now, so draw out now and serve," These were words that did not fit the servants at all. Jesus said to the man with infirmity for 38 years, "Rise, take up thy bed and walk."
Normal people would say, "Jesus, my legs are all withered. How could I walk? It's nonsense!"
Even when Jairus daughter died, He went to the home and said, "The child is not dead, but sleeping." The people said, "What? The child has stopped breathing and is turning cold, and He's saying that she is sleeping? What is He talking about?" and laughed Him to scorn.
The words of God do not fit at all with the thoughts of man. Therefore, for us to believe God and be born again, we have to first know that our thoughts are not right. Your thoughts may be fitting for your daily life in the world, but you have to know the fact that they are different from the thoughts of God. Therefore, to truly believe in God, you should not only believe in what is right and fitting to your thoughts, but also the things that are not so.
She may seem dead in your eyes, but if Jesus says she is sleeping, believe "She is sleeping." Although surely it was water poured into the pot, but you have to reach the level of saying, "The Lord is more correct than me. It looks like water to me, but it is wine," when Jesus calls it wine.
If you believe Jesus because it fits, you can believe in anyone like this; it would not have to be Jesus. Believing in Jesus is, whether it fits your thoughts or not, exalting the words of Jesus more than your own thoughts and accepting the words. Then you can have complete faith. We must do this to become born again.
In the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus, Nicodemus does not accept the words of Jesus, It is because he cannot understand with his thoughts.
"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."
"How can a man of age be born again? Can he enter the womb the second time and be born?"
When children grow, many become bigger than their mothers. How could they enter into their mother;s womb the second time and come back out? That was how Nicodemus asked because he could not understand what it was to be born again.
We do not understand all the words God speaks. When this is the case, people who believe in God say, "I do not understand but the Word of God is right. I have to accept the Word of God," This is true faith.
Spiritual life is very easy and simple. The people who say, "I cannot do good. Everything I do is wrong. I fail in what I do." In life and deny themselves; people who know that their thoughts are wrong can easily accept and believe the words of Jesus. But those who think, "I am right. My thoughts are right" and believe in themselves can never accept the words of Jesus which are diffrent from their own thoughts. Spiritual life is extremely difficult for such people.
God has us realize that everything we do is a failure; everything we do is wrong, to teach us true faith. It is because we have to realize that we are wrong to deny ourselves and believe in Jesus.
People who believe in themselves accept the words of God when the opinion of Jesus fits their own thoughts. But when they differ, they are unable to accept the Word and their hearts do not flow with Jesus.
When we realize that we are evil and dirty and crumble ourselves down, when we truly know that we have failed, when we arrive at the position where God could only have compassion on us, we can deny and believe in Jesus even when the thoughts of Jesus differ from ours.
Nicodemus could not do this. Because he lived more godly life than others, because he lived with others admiration, he thought he was right. He believed himself. Therefore, Nicodemus could only argue with Jesus, but could not have faith.
To have true faith, you have to first have yourself crumbled down. If you could believe in yourself, there is no need to believe in Jesus. But if you are truly weak, lacking, wrong, and you know you are only evil, you would throw your thoughts away and accept Jesus Christ by faith. Right then Jesus and you become one~hearted. If you become one heart and the heart of Jesus flows in you, the peace inside of Jesus comes upon you; the holiness and righteousness inside Jesus is upon you; and the power of Jesus comes upon you. Then you come to live a truly blessed and beautiful life.
Our original pastor, Brant Baker, when asked, "What is your secret in ministry," would always answer, "I have learned to yield to the Holy Spirit." He was the first to tell everyone from the pulpit that, "Not one good thing dwells within Brant Baker other than Jesus Christ."