Sermon 2463. Why Men Reject Christ
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 3, 1896.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, APRIL 11, 1886.
"And sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. Butthey did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem." Luke 9:52, 53.
YOU hardly need that I should explain this action of the Samaritans. Probably our Savior's nearest road to Jerusalem lay throughSamaria and He did not avoid that district, as many Jews did who went a long way around rather than pass through that unfriendlycountry. The Lord Jesus was so gentle, so meek and lowly, so much more a Man than a Jew, that it is somewhat strange thatthe Samaritans did not make an exception in His favor and treat Him courteously when He passed through their land. He, Himself,was quite free from all bigotry and was glad to mingle with all sorts of men, whatever their nationality. He sent His messengersto the Samaritan village to say that Jesus of Nazareth was passing through and wished to lodge there for a night-but theyrefused Him because it appeared to be His intention to go up to Jerusalem to keep the feast and it was their opinion thatthe feast ought to be kept in their own temple on their own mountain, Gerizim. Therefore, because the Christ was going upto the Jewish feast at Jerusalem, they would not receive Him. They were guilty of gross inhospitality in thus refusing toentertain a servant of God, for He was that in the esteem of many of them. And they were also guilty of still greater inhospitalitywhich they did not understand, for they refused to receive the Son of God who, in human flesh, had come down to bless thesons of men!
I do not mean to say much about Samaritans in my discourse, for we have little or nothing to do with them, but I am goingto use the text with reference to ourselves. I am sure that there is, here, a picture of many to whom I am now speaking.
I. First, I would remind you that the LORD JESUS CHRIST STILL SENDS MESSENGERS TO THE SONS OF MEN BEFORE HE COMES.
Before He comes, Himself, He sends His heralds. His own personal coming to the earth was heralded by a long line of Prophetsand especially by John the Baptist. And when He had come into the world, He did not usually enter a place without giving somekind of notice to the inhabitants. He frequently sent before Him either evangelists, by two and two, to go into every placewhere He, Himself, would come, or else He commissioned certain messengers to give notice that the Christ of God was on Hisway to pay a visit of mercy. I believe that, nowadays, the Lord Jesus Christ comes to many men in a very surprising manner.Before they are aware of it, His Grace steals into their hearts-He says to many what He said to Zacchaeus, "Make haste andcome down, for today I must abide at your house." He speaks out of Heaven to some as He did to Saul of Tarsus on his way toDamascus. He has differing ways with different men, but often, and with the most of us, He sends His messenger before Himbefore He comes Himself.
The message that we who are Christ's messengers have to bring is this-we have to tell who He is that has come among the sonsof men, asking for entertainment in their hearts. Brothers and Sisters, it is God, Himself, the Lord of Glory, who has appearedin human flesh and has become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. He has come in the fashion of a Man. He has lived andloved and labored here below. He has died, He has been buried, He has risen again, He has gone back into Glory and now, spiritually,He is present among us! Here is His own declaration, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." We preach notto you, a merely human teacher-we preach One who is certainly Human, but who is also Divine. We preach not, only a Teacher,but a Savior who offered Himself without spot to God that He might put away the sin of all who believe in Him. And now, inthe message of the Gospel, He comes again into our midst, even He whom angels worship, who is His Father's joy, the delightof His people, the hope of all who have a living hope, the pattern and the mirror of what His saints are yet to be! It isHe of whom we speak-Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, who is also very God of very God!
As His messengers, we have further to say that He is willing to come and dwell in men's hearts. The messengers who came tothat Samaritan village proclaimed the good tidings, "The Christ is coming! The Christ is coming! He is willing to come andlodge with you." I think the loungers at the gate were, at first, astonished that the great Miracle-Worker should come totheir village, to the Samaritans with whom the Jews had no dealings! And they went in and said to the people, "Jesus, whohealed the sick, and raised the dead, is willing to come and stay a night with us." We tell you, dear Friends, that the LordJesus is willing to come to you, that He will be glad to find admission at the door of your hearts! It were good news if wecould tell you that He would let you come to Him, but we tell you something better, that is- that He is willing to come toyou! It were good news if we said, "If you entreat Him, if you beseech Him, if you constrain Him, He may, perhaps, come andstay an hour with you." But instead, thereof, we can come and say, "Our Master bids us tell you that He is willing to be receivedby you and that to as many as receive Him, to them will He give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believeon His name!" Oh, what glad tidings for your sinful hearts that the pure Christ is willing to come and live in you! Oh, whatgood news for you guilty men that the pardoning Christ is willing to come and take a lodging within your spirits! Tell itto one another wherever you dwell. Tell the good news that Jesus comes, not to pass by, nor even to sojourn merely for a night,but to come and take possession of the heart forever!
These messengers of Christ were also to tell the people to make ready for His coming. According to our text, Jesus sent "messengersbefore His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him." Make ready, then, for thecoming of Christ into your hearts. "But," you say, "we cannot entertain Him as such a King should be entertained." It is true,Beloved, you cannot. But remember that this royal Guest asks nothing of you but that you give Him room to abide in your heart.The Master still says, as He did of old, "Where is the guest chamber?" He does not ask you to provide the fare for the feast,but only to prepare the guest chamber. He still says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hears My voice andopens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." Our great Melchizedek, when He comes to meetus, brings with Him the bread and the wine-the bread, His body-and the wine, His blood. He gives us food to eat that the worldknows not. Whatever preparation you have to make is not a matter that is beyond your power!
I will tell you what to do to make ready for Christ-give Him a room that is empty. Drive out the sin that rules there, orrather, ask Him, by His Grace, to come and drive out His enemy and yours. If you are willing to have him driven out, Christis both willing and able to drive him out. Say to the Lord, "Here is my heart, such as it is. It is all Yours." If you reallysay that from your heart, you are ready for Him! Tell Him that you grieve over your sin, for repentance will make you readyfor Christ. Tell Him that you are a lost sinner and that your sense of need has made you ready to be saved by Him. Tell Himthat you are willing to be renewed by His Grace. Tell Him that you desire to be holy, that you wish to be cleansed in Hisprecious blood-this is the kind of readiness which Christ wants! The best preparation for a feast is hunger-there is no saucelike it. Readiness for being clothed is to take off your rags. Readiness to be washed is to see, and lament, and abhor yourfilthiness! Readiness to receive alms is to take the place of a beggar and to confess how poor you are. So, you see, I haveasked no hard thing of you when, as the messenger of my Lord, I tell you that the King, Himself, draws near, even the IncarnateGod, and that He is willing to enter into your hearts-and that all the readiness that He asks of you is that you open thedoor to let Him in!
But, my Brothers and Sisters, the messengers of God have come to some of you a great many times. I wonder whether some ofyou can remember the first sermon that ever made you weep? Do you remember the first holy book that awakened your sleepingconscience? Can some of you unconverted people call to mind your mother's tears and your father's prayers for you? You willhave, as it were, to swim through the river of your mother's tears if you are resolved to go to Hell. Some of you will haveto ride roughshod over your father's entreaties before you will be able to reach Hell! You have been called many times. Youhave been invited again and again! Take heed lest, one day, even the Christ should say, "Because I have called and you refusedand I have stretched out My hand and no man regarded, but you have set at nothing all My counsel, and would have none of Myreproof, I, also, will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when your fear comes." The messengers of God and the messages ofGod are not to be trifled with! Sickness, losses, convictions of conscience and a thousand other things are messengers fromthe Most High! Let us not trifle with them any longer, but even now, as the Christ sends out His messengers, let us receivethem gladly and say to them, "Tell your Master that we shall be glad if He will come to us."
II. Now, secondly, it appears from the test that although Christ sends out messengers to announce His approach, THERE ARESOME WHO WILL NOT RECEIVE HIM.
These Samaritans would not receive Him and alas, the people who will not receive Christ are still very many! One would beglad to preach until midnight to sinners who would receive the Savior-no exhaustion would we mind if we could but preach topeople willing to welcome our Master! We cannot make it out why some of you do not receive Christ as your Savior. There isso much about you that is hopeful and good that we cannot understand why you refuse Him. There are such blessings attachedto the reception of Christ-even eternal life hangs on it-that it puzzles us how you can bar your door against this blessedFriend of ours-yet so it is.
Let me put it to you, dear Friends-I would like to "buttonhole" you, to take you by the hand and to say to you, "God has sentHis Son to be the Messiah, the Mediator between Himself and you-why do you deliberately turn away from Him? He sent that dearSon of His into the world to save sinners and, in order that He might save them, He died in unutterable pangs upon the Cross!Do you really refuse to be saved by the merits of that matchless death? Is it so that you will both tempt the justice of Godand reject the mercy of God?" The plan of salvation cost God His darling Son! Do you mean, in indifference, to say that youcare not what it cost? Will you fling the Atonement to the winds and have nothing to do with it? Well, then, what I ask ofyou is just this-to really make this decision with deliberation if you are resolved to be lost. But I am not half as muchafraid of you who would thus reject Christ as I am of the many who will not even think of Him-who take up neither one positionnor another-but who let the whole subject slip by with a neglect that is a thousand times more contemptuous towards Christthan even if they had thought it out and had decided not to believe it. O Sirs, do not, I pray you, neglect the Christ ofGod and refuse Him whom God has sent to save you!
But there are some who never think about Christ at all. The year rolls on with scarcely a thought of Him. Look on the vastmass of London's population never going to any House of Prayer to hear about Jesus. There is but little reading of the blessedBook which tells us of Him! One might imagine that they regarded it as all old wives' fables, or a dream from the "ArabianNights." Yet they do not go quite that length, for they have not thought enough about it even to say as much as that! What?Shall Christ die and yet you do not think His death worth a thought? Shall He, with His pierced hands, open the Kingdom ofHeaven to all Believers and will you not even look to see what He has done? Oh, how shall I plead with you? Would God thatI had voice and heart commensurate to so stern a labor as that of pleading with consciences that go to sleep and hearts thatlie dead in the Presence of a bleeding Christ!
There are also, alas, many who, though they do think of Christ, yet reject the plan of salvation by the great Substitute.They cannot see it, they say-they mean that they will not have it! They do not care to be saved by the atoning Sacrifice-theywould sooner trust in something else. Oh, dear Friends, I am sure that if you would work that problem out with a little care,you would soon come to a different resolve! I remember, when under deep conviction of my guilt, with a strong desire to bebetter and to have peace with God, I tried prayer. I tried Bible reading. I tried diligent attendance to the means of Grace.I tried a change in my manner of life. I tried everything I could think of, but I never could find peace and rest until Icast myself on Christ's atoning work and trusted Him to save me! Then did I enter into the peace of God and found a joy andrest of spirit which I would not barter for all the crowns of all the kings who ever lived! I entreat you to think much ofthe sufferings of our Lord and consider what they meant. And I should not wonder that you will, at length, fall in love withthe great plan of redeeming mercy by which Christ was made to suffer in our place, bearing our sins in His own body on thetree! At any rate, do give a full and fair consideration to God's way of salvation. Make room for it in your heart. Be readyto entertain the Savior, at least go as far as this-weigh His claims, judge His doctrine, see whether there is not about Hisatoning Sacrifice something of promise which is not offered anywhere else.
Yet it would not be sufficient, even if I could bring you to think of Christ and to judge somewhat more favorably concerningHim. I long-oh, that I had power to work this miracle, but I have not-I long to open some sinner's heart to let the Saviorin! I know who will be the man who will be the first to welcome Christ. He who has no righteousness of his own! He who longsto escape from the wrath to come. I think I hear him say, "Sir, you put a question to me and I will put one to you. You say,'Will you open your heart for Christ to enter?' O Sir, that is not the question! My heart is ready enough to receive Him,but can I hope that He will come in?" Soul, there was never a heart, yet, that was willing to have Christ but Christ gaveHimself to that heart! There is no question about His will-the question is about your will. He has said, "Him that comes toMe I will in no wise cast out." Now, if I were struck dumb-if this throat were choked up, from which for so many years haspealed forth as with the sound of a trumpet the Gospel of Christ, I should like my last words to be, "Come to Christ justas you are!" Never was a soul repulsed that came to Him, though black as midnight, though guilty of enough crimes to condemnit to all eternity! Only come to Jesus! Be willing and obedient, and you shall have Christ, for it is written, "Whoever will,let him take the water of life freely." The Lord make all of you willing this very hour!
III. But now, thirdly, CHRIST IS OFTEN REFUSED FOR THE MOST ABSURD REASONS.
The Samaritans did not receive Him because He was going up to Jerusalem-so that theirs was a sectarian reason. They were Samaritansand He was siding with the Jews. I think that sectarianism anywhere is an evil thing, but let no man ruin his soul for thesake of being a sectarian! If I were the strictest Churchman, I would rather go to Heaven through hearing the Gospel preachedby a Dissenter than I would be lost in order to remain a staunch member of the Established Church! And if I were a Dissenter,I would sooner go hear the Gospel fully preached in the Church of England and find Christ, there, than I would go and sitdown in my own conventicle and listen to a sort of semi-Unitarianism of modern thought. The first and chief thing for my soul'sgood is that I must have Christ and, for my part, I care not where I find Him! Whether it is in a barn or in a cathedral,He is the same Christ to me. I would meet Him on the mountain's brow if He bade me go there, but I would also meet Him onthe surface of the lake if He said to me as He said to Peter, "Come." Anywhere with Jesus, all is well! But away from Jesus,all is ill. Let nobody, then, refuse to accept Jesus Christ because of sectarian bigotry.
Was it not also for a proud reason that the Samaritans rejected Jesus Christ? What right had these Samaritans to dictate tothe Messiah where He should go? If He chose to go to Jerusalem, had He not a right to go where He pleased? How often we, also,try to dictate to Christ! We think that He ought to save us this way, or that way. O Sirs, be willing to let the sinner'sSavior save the sinner in His own way! Never dictate to Him who is Lord of all, nor reject Him through foolish or wicked pride!
It was a selfish reason, too, that made these Samaritans refuse to receive Christ. Dog-in-the-manger-like, they would notaccept Christ, themselves, but they did not want Him to go to Jerusalem. I have sometimes heard it said, "If this Gospel ispreached to the scum of society, to the outcast and the low, I am not going to hear it." Ah, my fine gentleman, you will nothave it, yourself, and you do not want others to have it. I would be glad to come to Christ side by side with the foulestharlot who ever rotted into infamy! I would be glad to come to Christ with a criminal who was standing with the rope abouthis neck, about to be hurled into eternity by the common hangman! I would be glad enough to come to Christ with the poorest,meanest beggar who ever picked foul crusts from off a dunghill! So long as I can but get to Christ, who am I that I shouldfind fault with my company? Come, Sirs, away with your pride! Yes, My Lady, or My Lord, you must come to Christ like anybodyelse! He cares nothing for earthly stars and garters, or honors and titles. He died to save sinners, even the very chief ofthem-and you are not in a fit state to be saved until you come down to the level which you think, now, so much beneath you,but which is, indeed, the true level upon which we must stand if we are to close in with Christ. O pitiful Samaritan prideand selfishness, unwilling that Christ should go to the despised Jews, for the proud Samaritan thinks, "If He comes to me,He ought to go to nobody else."
I do not think there ever was a good reason for not believing in Christ. I believe that the most unreasonable things in allthe world are doubt and unbelief-in fact, atheists and infidels are the most gullible persons living! The modern scientistwho does not believe in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis and who pours scorn upon the New Testament, believes thingsinfinitely more incredible than he can ever detect in Sacred Scripture! I do not hesitate to say that the whole theory ofevolution is more monstrously false and foolish than any other ever conceived beneath high Heaven! It is a marvelous thingthat men should be able to squeeze their minds into the belief of an absurdity which, in time to come, will be ridiculed tochildren in the schoolroom as an instance of the credulity of their ancestors. As one science, falsely so-called, has passedaway, devoured by the next notion that men have adopted, so shall it be to the end of the chapter. He who will not believeGod shall be the dupe of lies, but there is no good and valid reason why men should not accept the Christ.
You dear people who believe your Bibles and listen to the Gospel from week to week-yet who do not accept Christ as your Savior-arethe most unreasonable of all people! If this Gospel is true, why do you not receive it? If Christ is the Savior of sinners,why do you not believe in Him? I could understand your casting your Bibles behind your backs and never coming to a House ofPrayer again, however greatly I might lament such conduct, but I cannot understand the diligent hearer of the Word who commendsand approves it all, yet never believes in Christ to the salvation of his soul! These Samaritans would not receive Christand they gave as the silly reason for their rejection of Him that He was going to Jerusalem-and many who do not receive Christmust give equally unreasonable reasons for their unreasonable conduct!
IV. Now I must close by noticing that JESUS STILL ACTS VERY MUCH AS HE DID THEN.
First, He does not send fire from Heaven to consume those who reject Him. James and John came to their Master, when the Samaritanswould not receive Him, and said to Him, "Lord, will You that we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, evenas Elijah did?" Oh, dear! Well might the Master rebuke them, and say, "You know not what manner of spirit you are of." Buthave not I seen men so eager to convert their fellow men that they would even bully them to Christ? There never yet was aman bullied to the Savior! Men do not believe in Christ through being threatened and coerced. Persecution is the devil's workfrom beginning to end and it never succeeds and never will. The Savior gives us no permission to put it in action! He abhorsit, for it is not at all according to His mind.
What, then, did the Master do? As He would not bring fire from Heaven upon the people who rejected Him, so also He would notforce Himself upon them. Now, if you, my dear Hearer, do not accept Christ, you may not at once drop down dead-you may notfind your house on fire when you get home or you may not become a beggar-that is not God's way of dealing with those who rejectChrist! I have heard of an impious man who said, "If there is a God, let Him strike me dead." It was because He is God thatHe did not take the wicked man at his word! Why should He? It is not according to the nature of God to act after that fashion.While you are in this world, listening to God's terms of mercy and Grace, if you choose to receive Christ it shall be a blessedthing for you. But if you refuse Him, there is not one of us who would lay a finger upon you to harm you, or who would desirethat you should suffer in your mind, your person, or your estate! Our Lord and Master would not treat you so and He will notforce Himself upon you.
When these Samaritans would not receive Him, He did not say, "Come, John, James and Peter, we will burst open the villagegates-we will enter their homes-we will claim the lodging to which we have a right." Oh, no! That was not His way of working!The Lord Jesus Christ must be served willingly if He is served at all. And He must be received cheerfully if He is receivedat all. In many cases those who received Christ when He was upon the earth received Him gladly, and that is the only receptionwhich He desires. Forced Christianity would be no Christianity! One volunteer here is worth 10,000 pressed men! Indeed, Christwill have no pressed men-all His soldiers must be volunteers. There is a delightful pressure of His Grace, but that neverviolates the will of man, though it sweetly inclines that will towards Christ.
What did the Master do when these Samaritans rejected Him? He went elsewhere. We read that "they went to another village."I fancy that I can see the Master and His little band of disciples waiting outside that village gate as the sun is going down.The Samaritans ask, "Is He going to Jerusalem?" Yes, He is. Then they tell Him that He cannot enter, He may go away and theywill not entertain Him. He says not a word. He utters no complaint, but He just goes quietly down the hill, the little bandfollowing at His heels, and He walks away until He knocks at the gate of another village where they lodge Him for the night.That is all that will happen if you reject Him-He will go somewhere else.
But when I say that is all that will happen, it is a very great, "all." It is a very dreadful, "all," for my Master neverseems to me more terrible than in His gentleness. You have refused Him, so He is going away. No thunder peals to alarm you,no lightning dashes to destroy you. Only He is going away! There is more terror in that going away than there would be inthe tempest! One day, my Hearer, if you continue to reject Jesus Christ, when you shall be in another world, you will haveto read, written in letters of fire above your head, these words, "He came to you and you would not receive Him, so He wentto another." In the parable of the wedding feast, they that were invited, with one voice, began to make excuses and the Masterof the house, being angry, said to His servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor,and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind." Is it not an amazing thing that, even when the
Master was angry, He only did a kind thing to show His anger? And, dear Hearer, when Christ shall turn away from you becauseyou refuse to receive Him, it will be only that He may turn somewhere else.
When Dr. Hawker was preaching, once, a learned man from London, who had listened to him, said, "I could not make heads ortails of the man's talk." Someone told the doctor what had been said. "Ah," he remarked, "I daresay the learned man couldnot understand the Truth of God I was preaching, but there were scores of old women in the aisles who could." So, if thereare some who will not have Christ, there are plenty of others who will! If you who are rich, or learned, or great, will nothave Him, He will give Himself away to the poorest, the lowest and the meanest who will accept Him-and they shall be in thebosom of their God at last, while you who were too proud to come to Him shall be cast away forever. O my dear Hearers, Hestands before the door of your heart right now! He is gently knocking, not with a sledge hammer, but with His own piercedhand! Admit Him, admit Him, I beseech you! Admit Him at once! If not, it may be that He will never knock again. Probably Henever again asked those Samaritans to welcome Him, but some other Samaritans did receive Him. He might reasonably have expectedto be received by these villagers, but inasmuch as they said no to Him, He just turned His face from them and went away.
Shall He turn away from you like that, my Hearer? Shall He depart from you thus? What is your answer? "Yes," or "No"? Beforeyou go out of this House, I beseech you to answer me, and I pray God to help you say, "Come in, my Lord, come in." May Hegrant it, for His name's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN3:1-24.
This is a very wonderful chapter because, while it teaches the doctrine of regeneration and the necessity of a great moraland spiritual change, it also reveals the doctrine of salvation by faith alone-a very wonderful combination which puzzlesmany who read what is recorded here. Many have been staggered by one or other of these great Truths of God, yet they evidentlyagree, for they are taught by the same unerring Teacher and they are preserved to us by the Spirit of God in the same chapter!
Verses 1, 2. There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and saidto Him, Rabbi, we know that You are a Teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that You do, except God be withhim. Nicodemus was very candid. He went as far as he could go. If he had not yet learned to believe in Christ as his Savior,he did, at least admit that Christ, upon the evidence of His miracles, was "a Teacher come from God." There is always hopeof a man who is willing to see all that he can and who acknowledges what he can see. He will see "greater things than these"if he is willing to use his eyes.
3. Jesus answered and said to him, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom ofGod. Without a new birth, "he cannot see," he cannot comprehend, he cannot understand, he cannot know anything about "theKingdom of God."
4. Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and beborn? Ah, me! Our blessed Master taught much by parables and parabolic teaching is the best of teaching, but you see how readilyit can be misunderstood-how men can take the emblem in a carnal way and not understand its spiritual meaning. This is howthe false doctrine of transubstantiation is taught. When Christ says of the bread, "This is My body," the Romanists take Hiswords literally, and so miss their spiritual meaning. It was in the same way that Nicode-mus fell into error concerning Christ'steaching.
5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man is born of water and of the Spirit, He cannot enter into theKingdom of God. If the water here signifies Baptism-mark you, if it does-then, observe, that there is no entering into theKingdom without it. I do not think that Baptism is here intended at all, but the purifying influence of the Word of God symbolizedby water. We might read the verse, "Except a man is born of water, even of the Spirit, He cannot enter into the Kingdom ofGod." There is a great change of character necessary for entrance into the Kingdom-seeing it is one thing, entering into itis another matter-yet one cannot even see the Kingdom of God without being born again, or born from above.
6. 7. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said toyou, You must be born again. Nicodemus was well born, no doubt. Probably he was a pure Jew. Yet he must be born again.
And you may have descended from a long line of saints-your parents may be in the Church of Christ and your parents' parents,too-but still the Truth of God remains, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." At its very best, it cannot rise abovethat which gave it birth, it is but flesh. "You must be born again." There is no hope for you apart from the new birth fromabove! You cannot see and you cannot enter the Kingdom of God merely by your first birth. Birthright-membership is a greatdelusion, for, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." And only "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
8. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes: sois everyone that is born of the Spirit. It is a mystery. You can never fully understand it, but you can enjoy it. If you areborn again, you will know what it is-but you can no more discover your second birth than your first birth except by its resultsand effects. May God give you to know what it is to be born again! There are many doctors of divinity and men of great learningwho know nothing about this new birth. And there are many who are mere babes in Christ who nevertheless enjoy the fruit ofthis blessed regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
9, 10. Nicodemus answered and said to Him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said to him, Are you a master of Israel,and know not these things? These A B C Truths which are taught in the very first schoolbook used by Christ's scholars-"Areyou a master of Israel, and know not these things?"
11. Verily, verily, I say to you, We speak that We do know, and testify that We have seen and you receive not Our witness.This is true of all faithful ministers of the Gospel! We do not preach theories, we preach facts. We do not talk about speculations,we speak of a new birth through which we have, ourselves, passed. If there is no such thing, we are liars! But there is sucha thing and this is our witness-"We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen." The fashion, nowadays, is to makestatements upon religious matters with great caution, expecting to have them disputed. But we need exercise no caution whenwe state what we know to be true! We will be positive, we will utter our, "verily, verily," when we speak what is a matterof fact to our own consciences-"We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and you receive not our witness."
12. If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell you of heavenly things? Regenerationis a work that is worked here on earth and belongs to this present life. High as the mystery is, it lies but at the very thresholdof the temple of Divine Truth-"If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell youof heavenly things?" No doubt unbelief hides much of heavenly Truth from us, but if we begin to doubt the very elementarydoctrines of our holy faith, how shall the great Master take us on and up to the higher science that He is ready to teachus?
13. And no man has ascended up to Heaven, but He that came down from Heaven, even the Son of Man which is in Heaven. Thissaying must have puzzled Nicodemus! He had, doubtless, read a great many riddles, but into the meaning of this riddle he couldnot enter. Yet, Beloved, any child of God, though he was converted only yesterday, may know what Jesus meant! Now observethat, as the first part of this chapter sets forth the need of a great and supernatural change, the latter part of the chaptershows us the door of mercy wide open and tells us that faith in Christ will save us.
14,15. And, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whoever believesin Him should not perish, but have eternal life. There is no contradiction here to what we have been reading. He that believesin Christ receives the new birth, receives eternal life and thus, by faith, gets that which is essential to a sight and entranceinto the Kingdom of God.
16-18. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, buthave everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him mightbe saved. He that believes on Him is not condemned. What a charming sentence! What comfort it ought to bring to the mind ofevery sinner who will now believe in Christ!
18. But he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."He that believes not is condemned already." If you have heard of Christ's salvation and you have not believed in Him, thatis evidence enough of your condemnation! There is no need to prove your evil works. No need to fetch your diary and turn overthe record of your life. If you have not believed in Jesus Christ, it shows a natural lack of holiness, a lack of love tothe loving God and, by that evidence you are condemned, already, because you have not believed in the name of the Son of God.
19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because theirdeeds were evil. The dislike of Christ is caused by a love of sin. If men did not hug their sins, they would embrace the Savior.
20, 21. For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But hethat does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are worked in God. If you do not like self-examination,you can be sure that you are wrong. If you do not like reading heart-searching books, or listening to a faithful Gospel ministry,you can be sure that you are wrong. If you do not like that part of the Word of God which judges you and makes you tremble,you can be sure that you are wrong! The man in business who cannot bear to look at his books, most probably has good reasonto be afraid of his books. He shuts them up because they would shut him up if he were to pay attention to them! O Sirs, thereis no more damning sign of human's condition than his endeavor to avoid the light! Search and see, look and examine! Makesure work for eternity-whatever you trifle with, trifle not with your souls! Take other things on hearsay, if you please,but not your condition towards God. Let that be searched into with all earnestness and sincerity-and be not satisfied tillthe Truth of God has satisfied you.
22-24. After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea; and there He tarried with them, and baptized.And John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. ForJohn was not yet cast into prison. We ought to be thankful that God's ministers are not silenced in this age. May the Lordraise up, in these evil days, many a John the Baptist who shall faithfully declare his testimony concerning the Lamb of God!