My mind, as of late, has been focused like many others, on March 31st, 2013: RESURRECTION SUNDAY! So when reading in First Peter this past week, and starting a Bible Study with my wife Dianne, I was drawn by GOD’S SPIRIT to the HOLINESS OF GOD and the events that Christianity has named–EASTER.
Where did the Expression “In a Nutshell” come from?
I thought I might insert the phrase into this blog for an ‘attention getter’, but later thought…culturally, would everyone understand the meaning; what do “nutshells” have to do with “spiritual re-birthing”?
How the phrase “in a nutshell” came to mean “brief and concise:
The idea of having a detailed amount of information about the FACTS, neatly contained in a small, compact nutshell has somewhat evolved to–the idea of having just the facts you need to make a decision, minus the “superfluous waffle.” In a nutshell became connected to the idea of the information itself becoming compacted. [References: Forsyth M. 2011. The Etymological Icon Books].
EXPLAINING THE BIBLICAL PROCESS OF “Re-Birthing” (1 PETER I:1-25):
Where to begin? When I used the phrase, “re-birthing”, I’m referring of course to the phrase we perhaps hear thrown around in Christian circles… without any emphasis or concern of who’s hearing the message and the understanding: “to be born again”.
In my Word Detective investigation this past week, I found some interesting facts in the Older Testament (OT).
The Birth of Isaac found in Genesis 21–
The birth of ISAAC was a wonderful, Biblical, and practical example of “birthing” (Galatians 4:22-23. 29; and John 3:36).
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever rejects the Son will not see life,
for God’s wrath remains in him.”
JESUS is saying in John 3:36, that those who BELIEVE in Him have (not will have) everlasting life. To receive eternal life is to JOIN GOD’S LIFE, which by nature is eternal. So, eternal life begins at the moment of spiritual rebirth.
Isaac’s Birth was Wonderful Because….
By all natural appearances, Isaac shouldn’t have been born. His parents were far to old to bear children. Yet, GOD brought Isaac to birth in spite of…Debate, Doubt, Dysfunction, Death of the natural human reproductive systems (Genesis 15:1-4; 15-19; 18:9-14; 21:1-7).
GOD USED THE MOST EXTREME SITUATION TO SHOW HIS MERCY AND HIS MIGHT:
How important is this to mankind? It says that any of us–whatever the SITUATION, SORROW, and SINFUL PAST–All of us can experience “spiritual birthing.”
For Abraham is the father of us all–
 “THEREFORE, [inheriting] the promise is the outcome of faith and depends [entirely] on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace, to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants–not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all!  As it is written, I have made you father of many nations in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if the [already] existed [Gen. 17:5]” (Romans 4:16-17 AMP),
AND, Jesus died on the cross to put US in the family!
In the New Testament, “spiritual birthing” begins–
It begins WHEN WE OPEN OUR EYES TO SEE JESUS.
With GOD’S GRACE (unmerited favor). when you look, you will see ‘HIM WHO IS WONDERFUL” and have the opportunity to reach out to Him.
“JESUS declared, I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God unless
he is born again.”
(John 3:3 NIV)
YOU MUST BE “BORN AGAIN” !!!
You must be spiritually “birthed” !!! Your new birth begins your new life; one who experiences TRUE HOLINESS for the first time.
You begin to KNOW GOD in the “re-birthing”, EXPERIENCING HOLINESS IN “HIM WHO IS WONDERFUL”.
“Therefore, prepare your minds [be “ALERT”] for action; be self-controlled [‘disciplined’]; set your hope [focus] fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is HOLY, so be holy in all that you do, for it is written: “BE HOLY, BECAUSE I AM HOLY” (1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV). [The Word Detective added the brackets [ ] for emphasis].
The main idea behind HOLINESS is not moral purity but it is the idea of “apartness”–the idea that GOD is separate, different from His creation, in His essential nature and perfection of His attributes. BUT instead of building a wall around His “apartness”, GOD call us into the “birthing process”, to come to Him and share His apartness. He says to us, “BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” You have become “sanctified”.
HOLINESS is not so much something we possess, as it is something that possesses us after we come to JESUS in the “SPIRITUAL REBIRTH”–Born again!!
When you begin to experience HOLINESS for the first time…
HOLINESS isn’t what you feel–it is an experience: “I don’t feel holy so I’m not holy.”
“Don’t Depend On FEELINGS” (courtesy of The Four Spiritual Laws tract):
The promise of god’s Word–the Bible and not our FEELINGS–is our authority.
The TRAIN pictures above, illustrates the RELATIONSHIP we receive in the “spiritual re-birthing” among FACT (God and His Word); FAITH (our trust in God and His Word), and FEELING (the result of our FAITH and OBEDIENCE) ~ John 4:12.
The TRAIN will run with or without the caboose. However, it would be useless to pull the train by the caboose.
In the same way, as a “new-born” , we don’t depend on FEELINGS or EMOTIONS: “I know what the Bible says, but I just don’t FEEL very HOLY right now.”
We place our FAITH (trust) in the trustworthiness of God and the PROMISES of His Word.
~(“Don’t Depend On FEELINGS” was taken from The FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS of Campus Crusade for Christ.) ~ My wife and I were both led to Christ by this Tract in August, 1972.
I believe it is a GOD-GIVEN condition at your “SPIRITUAL BIRTHING’. You might not recognize holiness in your life, nor others around you. BUT that doesn’t change the “birthing process”.
DEATH FIRST, THEN HOLINESS REALIZED–
Burying Like A Seed–No Death No Fruit:
“I can guarantee this truth: A single grain of wheat doesn’t produce a thing unless it is planted in the ground and dies. If it dies, it will produce a lot of grain” (GOD’S WORD TRANSLATION).
Being “set apart” in re-birth; Experiencing Holiness–
RE-BIRTHING is a High Place of dying out, being crucified with Christ and burying. Now BURYING may seem more like a horrible place, but remember, we’re talking about “a spiritual re-birth of self”–our mind, personality; who we are. Your physical body is just a tent where you reside; it wears out eventually, but who you really are doesn’t!
A NEW ROMANCE BEGINS …
WHY? Because burying our old life opens the way for us to fall so much in LOVE with the Savior, to begin a REAL and RADICAL ROMANCE WITH THE REDEEMER!
In the letter to the Roman Christians, Paul uses a legal and matrimonial illustration (Romans 7:1-4):
Likewise, my brethren, you have undergone death as to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that now you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear FRUIT for God. (verse 4, AMP)
The picture of “burying” here is beautiful to my eyes, then again I’m a visual person. Our RELATIONSHIP with all other “spiritual suitors or spouses” must end through spiritual death. Only the will of JESUS establishes A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH US.
What Is A Spiritual Suitor?
“Bury what spiritual suitors or spouses?”
Well…other “suitors” or “spouses” can be…
— Sin (Romans 6:6-11).
— Society (Galatians 6:14).
— Perhaps other Christians? (1 Corinthians 2:2).
And, the chief, all-inclusive rival Spouse is… SELF:
“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who LOVED ME and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20 AMP).
The SELF we are to be freed from by death is not the first TRUE SELF, fashioned in GOD’S IMAGE. It’s a FOREIGN SELF, fashioned after the Satanic spirit clutching hopelessly to be GOD.
It, therefore, manifests itself in ….
“take up your cross daily, and follow Me”
JESUS HAS TASTED DEATH AND BURIAL FOR US:
He has already delivered us from the rival suitors, to ANOTHER! JESUS HIMSELF has already paid the price; made the Sacrifice. He Himself took the Cross, bore ALL the hardness of real death and real burial.
JESUS has experienced the grief of death, so that by dying with Him, we experience the Grace, even the Glory of dying out to old and being re-born to the new.
Along with the apostle Paul, we can gladly say on RESURRECTION SUNDAY…and on any given day of the year...Galatians 2:20.
VERSE 1: Alas, and did my Savior bleed? And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head For someone such as I?
VERSE 2: Was it for crimes that I have done, He suffered on the tree?
Amazing pity! grace un-known! And love beyond degree!
VERSE 4: But drops of grief can never repay The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘Tis all that I can do!
CHORUS: At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the
burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith
I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!
“At the Cross”
by Isaac Watts and Ralph Hudson
A LIFETIME TO REFLECT:
MY STORY–Learning to Perfect the Perfection.
Dianne and I got married in September 1964, almost 49 years ago. In fact, we’ve been saving our blessed abundance for the past three years; in order to be able to celebrate our 50th wedding Anniversary.
The analogy of marriage is very fitting in reflection of “back when…” We get married in a moment of commitment but it takes a lifetime to learn to live with each other.
It’s similar with entire sanctification (Holiness): A PERFECTION OF COMMITMENT and HEART-CLEANSING IN A MOMENT. It takes a lifetime, however, learning to perfect the perfection.
As the Word of God tells us:
“THEREFORE, SINCE these [great] promises are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the [reverential] fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 AMP).
“Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the PURE (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).
HOLINESS BEGINS AT “SPIRITUAL RE-BIRTHING”…
We who belong in the family of God have an advocate, “Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1 NKJV), who has paid the penalty to forgive our sins by what He did on the cross. He wants to SAVE US…to be our personal attorney and Savior. But remember, He is available only to those who call on His name. If you have the slightest doubt that you are HOLY–that you have ever personally invited Him into your life, do it now!
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus, Your Son, to die on the cross for my sins. I know I am a sinner and that only He, the resurrected Christ, can forgive and save me. Jesus, I invite You into my life to become my Savior and Lord. I give my life to You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, “SPIRITUAL RE-BIRTHING” has taken place. That’s it in a nutshell!
“So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace that is coming to you…[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel]. But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16).