Sermon 3463. Why Men Do Not Believe
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 1915.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, OCTOBER 11, 1868.
"How can you believe, who receive honor one of mother" John 5:46.
THE Pharisees in our Lord's day were very fond of high-sounding titles. They had their diplomas, like our modern doctors ofdivinity, and they took good care to pride themselves upon them. Some were called "Rab," others, "Rabbi," others, "Rabbini."They had their various degrees of respect-degrees which signified the respect due to them, and the attainments to which theyhad reached. In fact, they would not listen to a teacher unless he came with the title of, "Rab," or, "Rabbi," or, "Rabbini."He must be one who had about him a great air of self-importance. He must be a witness of himself and that very abundantly,too, or else the confraternity of the Scribes and Pharisees turned away from him.
Now our Lord asked no testimonials from anybody. He stood up and spoke very simply, but very earnestly, the Truth of God andHe did not quote, as these old Rabbis did, authors far gone back, one upon another, and make glosses upon them. He took theauthority derived from God and constantly said, "Verily this is the case," and, "Verily I say unto you that this other isthe case." And when these mighty Scribes and Pharisees turned upon their heels and would not receive Him, He replied to them,"It was not at all likely that you would. You gentlemen are so given to complimentary phrases and to grandiloquent titles,that there was no likelihood that you would listen to a Man who came with Truth on His lips, and still further, in His heart."Perhaps there could be nothing more clear than that the position which the Scribes and Pharisees occupied was most dangerous.They were prejudiced. They considered that they had the key of knowledge. They already knew by far, too much to be taughtanything more and, consequently, while publicans and harlots heard Christ and rejoiced to listen to Him, out of all thosewho were continually caviling and finding fault, how few ever won the blessing!
Now this is an illustration of a general rule upon which I wish to speak tonight. The moral character has a great effect uponthe faith. These men, through being proud, stilted and fond of titles, were unable to believe in Christ-but there are otherfaults more common than these which effectually prevent men from becoming the disciples of our blessed Master. Of some ofthese I intend to speak this evening. And when I have done so, I shall have a few words to address to the individuals herewho cannot believe in Christ because there is a something within their hearts that very effectually prevents their comingto the faith of God's elect. First, then, it is very clear that-
I. IT IS NOT BECAUSE A TRUTH IS PLAIN THAT, THEREFORE, ALL MEN SEE IT.
There are some men in such a condition of mind, of such a blinding sort, that even if the Truth of God could be still moreplain, it would be the most unlikely thing in all the world that they would receive it! We will suppose for a moment thatteetotalism is based upon the surest Truth of God and cannot, for a moment, be disputed. Some earnest Brother is endeavoringto convince a man. He belabors him with the most potent arguments-he brings before him the most astonishing facts and someof those wonderful "statistics" which the more we look at, the less we believe! And after bringing all these to bear uponthe man, he is still unmoved. You are surprised, but somebody whispers in your ear, "He owns a gin palace," and now you arenot surprised at all! It would be a very unlikely thing that he should be convinced of the propriety of total abstinence whilehe, himself, gets his gain by selling the pernicious evils! But take another case of the same sort. A young gentleman, inconversation with a bishop, was endeavoring to show his lordship the unscriptural character of the Episcopal body as now heldin the Church of England. His lordship was observed to smile and when he was asked the reason, he replied, "Why, I wonderat the courage of this young gentleman that he should imagine he could ever convince me out of 3,000 a year!" And, indeed,it was not very likely that he would be converted from the errors of Episcopacy, if these are errors, any more than our friendof the gin palace was likely to be converted to anti-alcoholic
principles! There is a something in both instances about the position of the men which renders them, probably, imperviousto the Truth of God! These two illustrations just bring that point before your mind's eye.
Now there are some men who do not believe in Jesus. They have godly parents. They have lived to see others who have believedand though, perhaps, they have never been quite able to cast away the recollections of their early days, yet for all that,they are almost and would be quite infidels if it were not for a slender thread which is still held in the hands of God. Nowthe question comes to us-Why are not these people Believers? Under so many good influences, why are they not decidedly Believersin Christ? The answer may be found by the light of the Truth which I have brought to your minds. There may be a somethingabout their characters which renders it impossible for them to be Believers in Christ, no, which even reflects credit uponthe Gospel of Jesus, that they should not be able to believe it, for if, being as they are, they could receive it, it mightprove that Gospel to be a thing devoid of the power of God!
Let me just mention some of the things which effectually prevent men from believing in Christ, and one is a self-righteousidea of one's self. Exceedingly common, this! The man thinks that he is not as other men are and though he does not say so,he is rather proud of himself. Though he is so humble as not to say it, yet at the bottom of his heart he is convinced thatnobody is worthy of greater respect than he is! He has been scrupulously honest and has brought up his family, to the bestof his knowledge, in the ways of integrity. He is a good fellow, generous to the poor and if he should have a fault or two,yet who has not his faults? As for himself, if the world were picked, he would at least take his place somewhere near thefirst! Now you cannot expect thatman to believe the Gospel, for that Gospel tells him that he is fallen, that his sins havebeen so many that God has condemned him forever, that he must escape from that condemnation or, if not, he must sink foreverinto misery and that for him there is no salvation except upon the footing of pure Grace apart from merit! The Gospel deniesthat he has any merit. It pulls off from him all those finely woven raiments of his, in which he boasted himself, and makeshim stand naked before the bar of God-and the man does not like that. "No," he says, "I will not be treated so! The Gospelgives me so ill a character that I will take my chances and not believe the Gospel, but still hope to be saved by my own naturalgoodness."
Well, dear Hearer, if this is your case, I should not advise you to run the risk, for if you are to look at yourself, youwill find many omissions and, above all, this glaring omission-that you have not loved the God who made you and you have notserved Him! He supplies you with life, but you do not reverence Him. If it had not been for His will, you had long ago beenamong the dust that sleeps in the grave, or among the lost that howl in the Pit and yet, despite His long-suffering goodness,you have not thanked Him, but gracelessly gone up and down the world with no more thought of your Maker than the brute thatdies and so comes to its end! I do pray you look at yourself in the light of God's Law, that spiritual Law which judges yourthoughts and which comes home to your imaginations. What if your outward life is pure, yet can you stand such a test as that?You know you cannot! Believe not, then, yourself to be rich and increased, for you are poor, you are penniless in the Presenceof God. Oh, that you could feel this! Then would you come to Jesus and put your trust in Him, but, alas, this self-righteousnessof yours is that which holds you back from Christ. How can you believe while you take honor to yourselves and flatter yourselves?You must be humbled! You must be brought low, or else faith in Christ can never reside in your bosom.
A second remark may come closer home to others, and I do desire to come very close home to you. There are men who never willbelieve in Jesus because their very idea of religion is a mistake. You ask them what their religion is and, if they spokevery plainly, they would say that they like good music, excellent music, and they like the best of architecture, and theylike floral decorations, and they like millinery, and some of them like images on altars, and I know not what other devoutand admirable things besides! They take religion to be simply the indulgence of their tastes, the pleasing of the eyes, thegratification of the senses and, if they can sit while the pealing organ pours forth floods of music and they are charmedthereby, they call that adoration! True, as excellent music might be heard at the theater or the opera, but that would bean abomination! The ears are tickled with the same sounds, precisely the same, and yet in the one case it is sin, and in theother case it is holiness! I confess I cannot quite see the difference-I can perceive none whatever! The gratification ofthe senses, of the ears and the eyes cannot be devotion! It is for the heart to draw near to God! It is to learn that Godis a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. It is to learn that the broken heart is thebest sacrifice, that the tears stealing down the cheek is that which is received by the great Father who is in Heaven. Thatto come humbly and confess our sins, to come with lowly reverence and trust in the great Lamb of God is acceptable worship,not the mere chanting or singing of the lips, or the bending of the knees, or the joining in a liturgical service-but forthe inner man to bow itself before the unseen God-the vital part of our nature to come into contact with Him who lives andwho hears prayer! Now, you cannot expect a man who has imbibed his notions of religion from a
thing that is theatrical and full of show, to accept the simple teaching of Jesus Christ. How can they believe while theyare duped by these gewgaws? How can they believe in Jesus while they are taken up with these mere externals, these fancies,these sweet perfumes and sounds which can never be acceptable to the great God who is in Heaven? There is something greater,something deeper about salvation than this!
There are not many here who will come under that head, but they will come under another. There are many who cannot believein Jesus because-now let them themselves estimate the force of this-they cannot believe in Jesus because they have a besettingsin that they cannot give up! There is the bottom of most men's doubt! They would not doubt if they did not sin. If they couldhave their sins and be Believers, they would be Believers fast enough, but there is that company that must be given up, thatcompany which, instead of sanctifying the soul, depraves it. There are those amusements which are not merely recreations whichmight invigorate the jaded mind, but which are, in truth, a sort of debauchery which turns aside the mind from its true forceand vigor. Oh, how many things there are in this great London that we know nothing of, and which it were better not to know,which are the secret source of the doubts and skepticism that come up on the surface of society! It were a very curious thingto follow these men home, to follow those home, I say, who say they doubt this and doubt that! Yes, when you see them drunk,you do not wonder that they doubt a sober Gospel- it were a pity but what they did. When you see them cheat, you do not wonderthat they doubt an honest Gospel-it were a great pity that they should believe it! When you hear them swear, you do not wonderthat they doubt a sacred Gospel! Why, to keep up any appearance of consistency, not to say, sanity, they must doubt it! Thereis a kind of honesty about this professed doubt which I like, for it is better for a man to doubt those things which contradicthis life than that he should be such a damnable hypocrite as to pretend to believe in them-better than that he should standto them in theory, and yet deny them in his life!
But to return to the subject, there lies the secret spring that makes up the non-belief in Jesus in many hearts. It is becausethey feel that His service is too hard, and exacts too much, too great a self-denial, too much of coming out from the world,and so they cannot believe in Him. And yet Jesus asks us to give up nothing that is really for our good. Jesus, I say, takesaway from us no pleasure that is a true pleasure, no enjoyment that exalts the mind or that makes a man truly blessed. 'Tistrue He takes away that poisoned cup. Who would permit you to drink it who had a care for you? 'Tis true He takes away fromyou that dagger of sin, that poisoned viper that is only nestling in your bosom to destroy you! Who that loved you would letyou have these dangerous things about you? Jesus Christ asks us only for such self-denial as shall promote our everlastingwelfare. Ah, men and women, you will find your sins won't pay you when you come to die-and I suppose you intend to do that.I hope you think not that you shall live forever! Then that little drink will seem sour enough when you come to leave it forthe last time. Then the giddy merriment of this world will seem foolishness enough when the curtain begins to be drawn andyou look from side to side on the river of death into an eternity that is dark, unlit by a single star of hope! You know thatyou will not perish like brutes. You know, for God has put a trembling conscience within you, that you will start upon a voyagethat is never to end! Oh, Sirs, how is it that you thus wreck your vessels for a little joy, and for a paltry pleasure giveup the welfare of your souls forever?
There are some men, too, who are kept from believing in Jesus Christ because they are lovers of gain. How could they believein Jesus when their whole life is spent in money-grabbing? Mammon, "the least erect of spirits," says Milton, but he is thegod of London! Does not Mammon rule and reign abundantly, and do not men fall down and say their prayers to him?" All hail,thrice glorious Mammon! Fill our pockets full and help us to blow out our bubble-companies and cheat the public!" Are notthese the prayers offered by many? Yes, and among you in sober trade, how many spend their whole lives in getting and scrapingfor themselves alone-no consideration for the Church of Christ, or for the poor and needy, but only for themselves? Now whenChrist comes and says, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon Earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves breakthrough and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves donot break through nor steal," you do not wonder that they do not like that. "No," they say, "it is contrary to social economics!"When He tells them that this world will pass away, and the fashion of it, and bids them seek another and a better portion,where things endure without end, they will not have it. This world is quite enough for them and they are gone from Christ.How can they believe in Him if they live for gain?
So, too, there are some others who never can believe in Jesus because they are so downright cowardly that it would be verydifficult for them to believe in anything which involves the slightest oppositions. Yes, many a man and many a woman has beeninfluenced by that mean thought, "I would be laughed at. I would be ridiculed if I became a real Believer
in Jesus Christ. Why, how could I meet my old companions? What would they say to me if they heard that I had become a saint?How could I stand the sneers of the commercial room? How could I run the gauntlet down that long workshop where all the benchesare?" "How," says the young woman, "could I have it known in that book-folding room that I have been baptized?" And amongyour upper circles it is just the same. How men are afraid of one another, afraid of poor worms, afraid of poor sinners likethemselves who shall wither before the face of the terrible Judge of all the earth! Oh, that men should be so afraid of men,and not afraid of God, that they will consent to be His enemies and lose His good opinion! The good opinion of a drunk orof an arrant fool is thought to be of more weight to them than the good opinion of their God! Sirs, I scarcely like to talkto you on this subject because it is not manly for you to be ashamed of your convictions. If you do love Christ, say so, andif the world hisses, what does it matter to you, as long as you get Christ's smile? Are we the sons of those brave old sireswho at Edgehill met sword with sword and feared not? What have we to do to cringe before the world's frown, or to court itssmile? God grant it may be otherwise, and may you rise into the full stature of spiritual manhood and be not ashamed to followJesus through good report and through ill-report.
Now I might enlarge, but I shall not. You clearly see that there are many moral faults which keep men back from believingin Jesus. Now for-
II. A FEW PLAIN, EARNEST WORDS WITH THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT BELIEVED.
There have been many arguments which have been used at different times to bring over the skeptical to the faith. I will justtell you what has often strengthened my own mind, so that, my dear Friends, if God inclines you to overcome the moral difficulty,you may not have a mental difficulty. In the first place, the Doctrine that we are called upon to be-lieveis, that havingsinned we are condemned, but that God, full of mercy, had pity upon us and that His Son, God Himself, came down on earth tosuffer what was due on account of our sins. In order that the Justice of God might not even seemto be robbed of its due, Jesus,God's only-begotten Son-
"Bore that we might never bear His Father's righteous ire."
Now I have turned that over, and it looks to me as if it must be true because I cannot conceive where else it came from butfrom the realm of facts. A God condescending to bleed and die for His own enemies out of respect to Justice, and moved bylove-where in all heathen mythology is there anything like it? Where have the most refined of men ever hit upon anything thatat all approaches to it? Their gods are usually lustful and the highest honors of their gods are crimsoned with blood. Butif this is not true, it ought to be, for it is the grandest conception that ever flashed upon the human mind! The superlativelyJust, the superlatively Great must suffer sooner than that His creature should suffer, and sooner than that the laws of HisKingdom should for a moment be dishonored? I do not know how it is, but I never need arguments about it, myself. It seemsto me so plainly a Divine thing, so standing out of all conceptions of poetry, so distinctly rising out of all the realmsof philosophy that it must be true!
Then, again, another thing which often helps me is this-ever since I have trusted in the Son of God to save me, I have beenconscious of a very remarkable change that has passed over my entire nature. Now I desire to speak very soberly and I claimto be believed. I have as good a claim to be believed as any other man. I do not wish to distort the truth, but now this Iknow, I look up to the starlit sky at night and I think, "The God who made this great universe and orders it all, I reallylove. I would not do a thing contrary to His will if it were not for my poor infirmities. I would do and I would wish to bewhatever that great invisible God would wish me to do and to be. I feel I would." Now I know there was a time when I did notthink about Him at all, or if I did, I never could say, "I am reconciled to Him. I am one with Him. His will is my will andI desire to do whatever He bids me do." Now I know that that same thing that has made me love God has made me desire to betruthful, to be honest, to be kind, to be generous-and when I have not done right, I feel a pricking within my heart thatI did not feel once, so that I do know that there is set up in me a wonderful standard which was not there before. Now a thingthat makes me love God and makes me live and feel so, cannot be a lie! If so, it is a very wonderful kind of lie which producesholiness and goodness. And indeed, my Brothers and Sisters, if you would try this for yourself, you would get the same evidence-itwould produce in you the same change. There would be your old nature, and you would have to grapple with it, to your own shameand sorrow, but still there would be a new nature with better desires and feelings-and with this new nature within me I amconvinced, for myself at any rate-that this thing is true.
Moreover, knowing a great many of those who have believed in Jesus, I am obliged to say of them that they are all imperfect-Iwish they were not. I wish they were what God Himself is for purity, and gentleness, and love-but for all that, if I had topick the people I should like to live with, I would choose them. And with all their faults, I am persuaded
that you would sooner have the world full of them than you would of any other sort. If you were going down a dark lane tonight,and you did not know what sort of people were going along it, I would be bound to say it would be a wonderful consolationto you to be told that they were Believers in Christ-you would feel pretty safe, and though there are professors, rotten professorswho are a very stench both to the Church and to the world-it is but natural that there should be hypocrites. There never wasa good thing in the world but what people did make shams of it. When people say, "They are all hypocrites," I say, "Then Isuppose all our sovereigns are bad ones." Why, if there were no good sovereigns, people would not make bad ones, for it isthe good ones that pass off the bad ones! And if there were not some real, genuine children of God, people would not pretendto be so-it would not pay! It is because the world, after all, knows that faith in God makes men happier and nobler, thatmen make pretense of having what they have not! Now when I see the effects of the Gospel upon God's people, making than patientunder pain, joyful in the hour of trouble, making them pray to God and receive answers as indisputable facts, I am able toreceive Jehovah's Word and believe the Gospel of Jesus as sent from God.
Now a word with regard to you, dear Friend, who are still a doubter. We are driven to believe two things about you and abouteverybody like you, namely, that you will never come to know Christ unless the Holy Spirit deals with you, for all the argumentsin the world do not convince the human heart unless the Spirit of all Grace shall come and change the nature! And we believeanother thing of you, that you must first give up that belief in yourself before you are ever likely to believe in Jesus.How simple it all seems! God has punished Jesus, His dear Son, instead of those who trust Him. Those who trust Him are forgiven.That trust, that sense of forgiveness operates upon the mind, leads the mind to gratitude, influences it to love. The manloves God, chooses what he once rejected, and runs now in the ways of God which were once tedious to him. There is the wholetheory of salvation and the experimentally acting out of it. It does seem to me hard that you turn from it. If it were a Gospelfull of superstitions, like Roman Catholic teachings-if we asked you to believe in certain miracles that were so strange,so weird that you could not conceive them to be true, I could well excuse your unbelief! But when it is simply to trust theIncarnate God who did hang on Calvary and bleed for sinners, a thing which looks so true, and which to tens of thousands hasbeen proved to be true in their lives and in their hearts-oh, I would that you would doubt no longer, but close in with Christand find safety in Him! These reflections will do to close with, namely, that-
III. IF WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN JESUS, OUR NON-BELIEF WILL NOT CHANGE THE FACTS.
If a man says, "I am no sinner," he remains a sinner. If he says, "I do not believe that God will punish sin," the punishmentwill be just as sure. If he says, "There is no hereafter," the future will not end for him. If he shall doubt as to the punishmentof the wicked, his skepticism shall not mitigate God's wrath. The facts remain. Oh, think not, when you have blotted out yourown recollection, that you have blotted out God's determination! There it stands.
And then think again-those facts are coming nearer every hour. We shall soon be into another year. How these years do fly!How the multitudes of men fly, too! They were dying last year when the snowflakes fell upon their tombs. They died while thesweet flowers were blossoming from the sod as though to remind us of resurrection. They fell when the mower's scythe laidthe grass in the net-and they are dying now-dying fast while the sere leaves are descending and heaping up their sepulchers.How is it that we presume that we shall not die? Persons well a week ago are gone, and our own hearts are merely like muffleddrums which beat sad funeral marches to the tomb, and here are still the facts- the fact of sin and a tortured conscience!The fact of punishment and no forgiveness! The fact of eternity and no hope! The fact of Hell and no escape! Oh, you who havedoubted, if you push these off by your doubting, let alone annihilating them, there might be some excuse for you-but theycome! They come like some huge express train thundering down the line, and there are you, like children playing on the tracks,and you tell us that your games are full of merriment and there is time enough, and you will think about it! Or you do notbelieve the express is coming, though there it is with its great red eyes and its great mouth of fire, and it comes rushingon and crushing everything that shall be in its pathway! Fly, in God's name, Man! This may be the last hour you may have inwhich to fly! Think not that you can postpone it, or that you can stop it. Over you with a crash will the Divine vengeancecome! He shall tear you in pieces and there shall be none to deliver you. But this is not yet! And meanwhile be wise and escape!Lay hold on eternal fife. Trust Jesus and the Infinite Mercy of God shall blot out the past and secure the future and youshall be saved in Christ Jesus with an everlasting salvation!
I talk thus somewhat strongly because I feel strongly, and I often puzzle myself with this question-why do I feel concernedabout some of your souls when you are not concerned about them at all? Why, you came and heard me to-
night, and it only seems like a little kind of music. Well, it may be sport to you, but it is none to me! I have to answerfor this, and if I speak not so that you understand, and speak not earnestly, I know I shall have to account to my Master!I would not be some that occupy the pulpit for all the worlds that God ever made if they were threaded on one string! To geta sermon and read it coldly, to read out statements which do not concern your hearers and deliver them as if it did not matterwhether they were true or not-to be an iceberg in the midst of an assembly-how will God call us to account if such is ourway of ministry! But I beseech you, men and women, if you have not believed in Christ, to remember that that is the only doorof safety according to God's own Revelation. "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ, the Righteous."To deny Him, to neglect Him, is to perish! To trust Him, to accept Him, is to be saved! May God's blessed Spirit move youto trust Him this very night, and as there will be on earth, so will there be joy in Heaven, and God's shall be the Gloryworld without end! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN3:1-21.
We can scarcely find a Chapter in which the Gospel lies so compact and so plainly stated.
1. There was a man of the Pharisees, namedNicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Christ's door is open at all hours. You may cometo Christ by day. You may come to Christ by night. There is never a time when Christ is not home. He that seeks finds, and,to him that knocks, it shall be opened. "The same came to Jesus by night." Perhaps he was timid. It is just as likely thathe was prudent and did not wish to commit himself till he had seen what it was that Jesus taught. Perhaps, too, he was busyand had no time except at night. Better come at night than not come at all! "The same came to Jesus by night."
2. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that You are a Teacher come from God: for no man cando these miracles that You do, except God be with Him. The miracles were accepted as a proof of Christ's mission, and if theydo not seem to be such a proof to us at this distance, they were a most marvelous and necessary proof at the first. Perhapsthey have ceased because that first work being done, the testimony can now stand upon its own strength, and men reading itmay judge it to be of God if they will. But to Nicodemus it was quite clear that Christ could not have worked His miracles,except God were with Him.
3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man is born-again, he cannot see the Kingdomof God.Here is a greater miracle than I have worked in the outside world. Here is a spiritual miracle. This is what you mustreceive as well as others. You cannot even understand My Kingdom, and know what it means-you cannot see it, except you areborn-again.
4. Nicodemus said unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, andbe born?Thus do men interpret Christ's figures literally, and this has been the basis of much mischief and false doctrines.When He is using metaphors to make the thing plain, they straightway use the metaphor rather as a cloak to hide the meaningthan as a glass through which to see it! This is the reason why the false doctrine of transubstantiation has come up. Becauseour Savior said, "This is My body," men have not been able to understand that He meant, "This representsmy body. This is afigure." Truly "the letter kills." It is the inner spirit that gives life.
5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, Isay unto you, Except a man be born ofwater and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into theKingdom of God. He cannot be Christ's professed disciple unless he receives the Spirit and unless he is baptized- if the waterhere relates to Baptism at all, which we judge it does not. He must be renewed, washed and purified. That must be the water-andhe must have the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, or else, as he cannot see, so he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. A man may have the best parentsthat ever lived, but all that is born of the flesh is flesh, at the very best. Your father may be a saint and your mothera saint, but you are born in sin, for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and unless you are born of the Spirit, youcannot understand or see spiritual things-and you cannot enter into the spiritualKingdom, for you have no spiritual capacity."The carnal mind discerns not the things that are of God, for they are spiritual, and must be spiritually discerned." Thereforewe must be born-again so as to receive that Spirit by which spiritual things are discerned and entered into.
7. 8. Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born-again The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound thereof,but cannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit. There are
mysteries in Nature. There are mysteries in Grace. Every new-born soul is a mystery. He cannot explain himself. He can scarcelyunderstand himself.
9, 10. Nicodemus answered, and said unto Him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Are you a masterof Israel, and know not these things?These simple things-these elementary principles-these rudiments of the school book ofBelievers.
11. Verily, verily, I say unto you, We speak what We know, and testify what We have seen: and you receive not Our witness.This was an additional hint to Nicodemus of the unbelief that still lingered in him. "You receive not Our witness."
12. If I have told you earthly things-Things that have to do with men while here below.
12. And you believe not, how shall you believe ifI tell you of heavenly things?If I lift the veil and talk to you about stillgreater mysteries, if you do not believe about regeneration, where will you be if I begin to talk of My Godhead and of allthe inner secrets?
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. A riddle,doubtless, to Nicodemus, which in later days he understood.
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. Oh, that blessed, "whoever"! Hear it, you sons of men, and tell it to yourneighbors-"That whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
16-18. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall 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-he may be very faulty. His conscience may accuse him, but he is not condemned.
18. But he that believes not is condemned already. Hear that! "Condemned already"-not in a state of probation. Never was therea greater mistake than to say that men are in a state of probation! That probation has passed long ago. They have been provedin the world and if they are unbelievers, they are condemned already. "Condemned already."
18-19. Because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation-the head andfront of it.
19, 20. That Light is come into the world, andmen loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil For everyonethat does evil hates the Light, neither comes to the Light, lest his deeds should be reproved. This is the secret of infidelity.This is the reason of all opposition to Christ. It is love of sin! Trace it home to its den and lair, and you shall find thatit is love of sin that breeds hatred of Christ. Men do not see because they do not want to see. They do not want to see toomuch lest they should be uneasy in their present state of life. So they kick against Christ and try to put out the Light ofHis Gospel, lest they be reproved by it.
21. But he that does truth comes to the Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are worked in God. God giveus the heart that seeks His Light, and sooner or later we shall find it. We shall find it in Christ!