Sermon 3053. Jesus Christ's Idiom
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 15, 1907.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JANUARY 19, 1873.
"Jesusanswered, Verily, verily." John 3:5.
THIS expression, "Verily, verily," seems to me to have been the peculiar idiom of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has absolutelyforbidden His people ever to take an oath. His command upon that matter is most explicit, "I say unto you, Swear not at all;neither by Heaven; for it is God's Throne: nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is thecity of the great King: neither shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let yourcommunication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil." My text was Jesus Christ's strongest formof affirmation-when He wished to speak most emphatically, He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you." Every prominent publicspeaker has his own peculiar idioms and very much of the man's character will be found in the idioms that he uses. And I mayadd that the attention which the man deserves may sometimes be gauged by his idioms, for as his style of speaking will revealto you the man, you will discover how far you ought to lend him your ears. If, from his speech, you judge that he is flippant,or insincere, or that there is something sinister in his motives, or that he is aiming at the display of himself rather thanat the proclamation of the truth, you may straightway say, "Then there is no particular reason why I should listen to him."But if, from the very idiomatic force of the words which he uses, you feel that the man is true, sincere and earnest, thenyou say, "I shall be wise to give heed to his words and to let his thoughts operate upon my own."
There are three qualities which these words reveal to us in our Savior's teaching. First, there was clearness- "Verily, verily."Secondly, there was certainty-"Verily, verily, I say this and that unto you." Thirdly, there was solemnity-"Verily, verily,I say unto you." We must, therefore, give to Him, in return for clearness, the desire to understand Him. In return for certainty,the conviction of the Truth of what He says and, to His solemnity, we must respond with a deep sense of the importance ofHis teaching and act in accordance with what He says.
I. I am to speak, first, upon Christ's idiom, "Verily, verily," as denoting to US THE CLEARNESS OF WHAT THE SAVIOR SAID.
He knew what He meant when He spoke. Some people, when they speak, do not know what they mean and, when a man does not makeyou understand what he means, it generally is because he does not know the meaning of what he says. Indistinct speaking isusually the result of indistinct thinking. If men think clouds, they will preach clouds, but the Savior never spoke in thatstyle which, at one time, was so common in our pulpits-a style imported partly from Germany and which was excessively cloudyand smoky, though it was thought by some people to be wonderfully profound and to be the very trademark of intellect! Butthere was not a sentence of that kind in all Christ's teaching. He was the clearest, most straightforward and most outspokenof all speakers. He knew what He meant to say and He meant His hearers also to know. It is true that the Jews of His day didnot comprehend some of His teaching, but that was because judicial blindness had fallen upon them. The fault was not in thelight, but in their bleared eyes. Turn to His teaching and see if anyone else ever spoke as simply as He did. A child cancomprehend His parables. There are, in them, hidden Truths of God which are a mystery even to Christ's deeply-taught disciples,but Christ never mystified His hearers-He talked to them like a child, as He was-God's "Holy Child Jesus." He never laid asidethe simplicity of childhood though He had all the dignity of fully-developed Manhood. He wore His heart upon His sleeve andspoke out
what was on His mind in such plain, clear language that the poorest of the poor and the lowest of the low were eager to listento Him.
Now, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if you wish to imitate your Master, speak with the same clearness. Say to yourhearers, "Verily, verily, I have to proclaim to you, in Christ's name, this simple yet sublime Truth of God which I have myselfgrasped, and which I would also have you grasp." Never affect profundity among the poor and never use a theological jargonamong the uneducated anywhere! If you have, in speaking, to show the Savior to your hearers, show Him in His own dress-donot cover Him up with the tawdry vestments of your gaudy language, for He will count them only as filthy rags. Tell sinners,in simple words, first about their sins and then about the Savior who can wash away their sins in His most precious blood.But go not a-hunting after novelties, for they will be of no service to perishing souls. If you are to be like Jesus, yourteaching must be clear!
But next I need to say to those of you who are still unconverted, how necessary it is that you should clearly understand thisclear teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ/There are some Truths upon which He spoke with very wonderful clearness-as for instance,concerning what sin is-how a look may be a sin and how a longing may be as much a sin as an action or a word is. Christ hasalso told us very clearly that sin must and will be punished. There never was anyone else so kind in heart as He was, yetHe clearly taught the dreadful Truth of God that sinners shall be punished in Hell forever! There never can be any questionabout the Savior's view of sin as being a very evil thing and of the punishment of sin as being a very terrible thing. Howvery plainly, too, He speaks about the new birth! He said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born-again, he cannot see the Kingdomof God." And He was equally explicit concerning the way of salvation. He tells us that just as Moses lifted up the serpentin the wilderness and every bitten Israelite who looked to it was healed, so He, Himself, was lifted up upon the Cross andevery sinner who trusts Him is saved forever! The teachings of Christ and of His Apostles concerning sinners being saved throughfaith in Him are blessedly clear. The Gospels and Epistles tell us that a perfectly holy and Divine Substitute for sinnerswas required-and that Jesus was that Substitute and stood in the place of all His chosen people-and bore the punishment whichwas due for all their sins. If we are Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, all our liabilities to Infinite Justice are foreverdischarged, for Jesus bore all our sins in His own body on the tree-and bore them so completely away that they shall be rememberedagainst us no more forever!
I want to ask you who have not yet believed in Jesus, whether you really understand this Truth of God of which I have beenspeaking. Lest there should be anyone here under a delusion upon this matter, let me say, once and for all, that there isno salvation in any charm or ceremony invented or performed by men. The common notion is that there is some kind of charmwhich operates upon a person, young or old, who is brought to a font-that some virtue or other goes through the fingers ofthe "priest" who sprinkles the water because at his "ordination" he received something or other, from somebody or other, whoreceived that something or other from some other body and so on, and so on, and so on right up to the Apostles! All that issheer superstition as base as the witchcraft for which old women were burned in the
evil days of the past! [See Sermons #581, Volume 10-CHILDREN BROUGHT TO CHRIST, NOT TO THE FONT and #573, Volume 10-BAPTISMALREGENERATION, the sermon by Mr. Spurgeon which has had a larger circulation than any other in the 3,052 published sermonsto date.] How I wish that all men, women and children could be undeceived concerning it! Then there is a notion that a pieceof bread, or a drop of wine, "consecrated" and dispensed by properly-authorized persons, will, somehow or other, charm awayevil from a dying person. That is another superstition not a whit better than the fetish of the pretended rainmakers of SouthAfrica! Neither the water, nor the bread and wine can convey Divine Grace to an unbeliever! But if I am a Believer in theLord Jesus Christ, my being buried with Him in Baptism [See Sermon #1627,
Volume 27, BAPTISM-A BURIAL.] reminds me that I am saved through
His death and burial-and if I, as a Believer in Christ, eat the bread and drink the wine at the Communion Table, those suggestivesymbols help me, as Paul says, to "show the Lord's death till He comes." That is all. There is no charm in the water, or thebread, or the wine in themselves, whatever incantations any so-called "priest" may have muttered over them!
Then, never imagine that we cannot understand what the Gospel of Christ really is. Someone perhaps says, "Well, you see, Sir,I am not learned. I am no scholar, so I cannot understand the Gospel." My dear Friend, there are many people who cannot understandthe Gospel just because they are scholars! They know too much to understand it-they have so much of what they think is knowledgethat they are prejudiced against it! Knowledge may prejudice a person as much as ignorance does. What you need to know issimply this-that you are a sinner and that if you trust in the Lord
Jesus Christ, He is your Savior. The result of believing in Him will be this-knowing that you are saved because God tellsyou that you are, you love God whom you dreaded before and, loving Him, you naturally ask, "What can I do to please Him?"So you give up your old sins and, led on by the impulse of love, which is the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart, you seekafter holiness! The things that concern your soul's salvation are plain enough for a child to comprehend! If you are lost,it will not be a mystery that damns you-and if you are ever to be saved, it is the simplicity of the Gospel that will saveyou! The Truths of God that relate to your ruin through sin-and the only remedy for that ruin- through the Grace of God, are"as plain as a pikestaff," as our common proverb puts it.
"Still," says one, "I have often listened to the preaching of the Gospel, but I have failed to understand it." Then ask theSpirit of God to guide you into it! He is waiting to instruct sincere seekers. Let me ask you whether you have ever reallytried to understand the Gospel. "Well, Sir, I have heard Dr. So-and-So and Mr. So-and-So." Yes, but perhaps they have onlymuddled you. Have you read the Bible itself? He who wishes to drink pure water had better go to the wellhead. He who wishesto find the Truth of God had better come to these sacred pages, for here he will find it pure and unalloyed. Have you imitatedthe Jews at Berea who "searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so"? There are many people who condemn theScriptures, but no man who has read them in the right spirit ever condemns them. You may remember the story of the City Missionarywho was arguing with a cobbler-a man who thought himself a very wise skeptic although he had never read the Bible. He saidhe never would do so, yet he knew it was a very bad book! So the missionary said to him, "I bought a pair of boots yesterdaywhich cost me twelve and sixpence-do you think they were worth the money?" He replied, "Possibly they were, but I can't saypositively without seeing them." The missionary said, "But, if you are a cobbler and understand your business, you can certainlytell me their value without seeing them." "Why you must consider me a fool to think that I can judge of a thing I never saw.""Yes," said the missionary, "I did think you were a fool because you have been judging and condemning the Bible which youhave never studied." So I ask you, dear Friend-Have you read the Bible? Have you studied it? If you say that you cannot comprehendit, I ask-Have you ever tried to do so? Do not plead that you cannot understand the Gospel if you have never tried to understandit! But if you humbly ask the Holy Spirit to teach you its meaning as you read it, I believe the Light of the Truth of Godwill soon enter your soul.
Let me ask you another question-Have you put into practice what you really do understand of the Scriptures? You know thatyou are sinful-have you confessed your sinfulness to God? You know that there is a Savior from sin and that He is to be laidhold of by faith-have you trusted Him to save you? With the Truth of God so clear there is no need for you to perish in thedark! I read in the paper, yesterday, the notice of a reward to be given to anyone who would furnish information concerningthe injury done to a certain buoy off the coast. The buoy was described as being on such-and-such a sand and, as it was 20feet in height, it must have been injured through sheer carelessness or willful wickedness. So, if you have rightly read theScriptures, or have heard the Gospel plainly preached, it will be impossible for you to perish by accident-you will perishwillfully and your blood will be upon your own head. When Christ brings the printed Gospel before your eyes, as it were, incapital letters-if you will not read it and understand it-you must perish as a spiritual suicide, which may God forbid!
II. The time flies so quickly that I must pass on to notice, in the next place, that THE EXPRESSION, "VERILY, VERILY," ASTHE SPECIAL IDIOM OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, SIGNIFIED CERTAINTY.
He knew that what He said was true and, therefore, He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you." Untold mischief has been donein our country by the kind of preaching which was very common at one time, namely, for the preacher to speak as if he didnot knowwhat the Truth of God is and must be pardoned for intruding his opinions! If a man does not know the Truth, let himhold his tongue until he does. "I believed, therefore have I spoken," said the Psalmist. And he alone has the right to speakwho speaks that which he believes and, therefore, knows. The Lord Jesus never hesitates as to what He shall say, His languagenever halts! His "Verily, verily, I say unto you," is the utterance of One who knows the Truth of God and who speaks it asOne who is assured that it is the Truth of God.
On our part, there should be a suitable response to Christ's certainty. If we believe Him to be the Son of God speaking theTruth of God to us with absolute certainty, let us receive with certainty what He says to us. "But," says one, "there areso many different opinions that I do not know which to believe." What have you to do with men's opinions? Supposing thereare 10,000 "isms" in the world-what have they to do with you? If you are lost, it will not abate the flames of Hell if yousay, "There were so many isms in the world I did not know which to choose." There was but one Truth, for Christ said, "I amthe Truth." If you had believed Him you would have been saved by Him. There are, today, many persons who raise all sorts ofquestions-there always have been and there always will be such persons while this dispensation lasts-but what have you todo with them? Your business is to trust the Lord Jesus Christ and leave all those questions alone!
"But," says another, "even good men differ." I know they do, but if you go into a watchmaker's shop, you find that even goodwatches and clocks differ in some respects. Yet that fact does not affect Greenwich mean time which is the standard for allthe watches and clocks in the country! So, supposing that one good man sees one side of a Truth and another sees another sideof it-what good man ever asks you to trust in him? You have listened to my preaching-some of you for many years-did I everask you to follow my guidance except just as far as the Scriptures prove the truth of what I preach to you? With God's Wordin your hand as the map of the road to Heaven, ask His Spirit to guide you and He will guide you all the way!
All that Christ teaches is certainly true and there are some things which He tells us which are absolutely essential for usto learn. For instance, "You must be born-again." Or this, "Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish." There is nodoubt that at the Last Great Day, Christ "will judge the world in righteousness." We must all stand before His Great WhiteThrone to receive from Him the final sentence which shall fix our eternal destiny. If you are an unbeliever, you are condemnedalready-and if you live and die an unbeliever, you must be driven from His Presence into a hopeless eternity. All these thingsare certainties. There are many fictions in the world, but these things are not fictions-neither are they trifles. And I dopray you to believe these Truths of God and to draw the right practical inferences from them.
There are also some Truths about which Christ says, "Verily, verily," which ought to be a great comfort to you. For instance,it is certainly true that if you confess your sins to Him, He will forgive you. It is certainly true that if you trust inJesus, He will give you rest and peace, and you shall be, "accepted in the Beloved." It is certainly true that if you commityour soul into Christ's hands you shall never perish, and no one shall ever be able to pluck you out of His hands.
[See Sermon #726, Volume 12-LIFE ETERNAL and #2120, Volume 35-THE SECURITY OF BELIEVERS-OR, SHEEP WHO SHALL NEVER PERISH.]There are many blessed assurances in the Word of God upon which you may surely rely. God help you to rely upon them now!
There are other Truths in God's Word which you will find to be sure if you test and try them. I might address myself to manya man here and say to him, "Brother, did you not put Christ's Word to the test in the time of trouble, and did you not proveit to be true?" And I know that the answer would be, "Yes, that I did!" I might pick out many a humble man and woman herewho have had a heavy task to bring up their children as they have done and many stern struggles with poverty and affliction,and I might say to them, "My Brother, my Sister, has not Christ been precious to you?" And I know that the answer would be,"Yes! That He has! He has fulfilled every word of promise that He ever gave us to rely upon." There is no one who can everconvict Christ of a lie-there is not a friend or a foe who can truthfully say, "He deceived me." "Verily, verily," is stampedupon every promise, every precept and every threat-and He will prove all of them to be true to the end of time and throughouteternity!
Then, as these things are certain, let us act upon them. O Sirs, in a short time we shall have done with preaching and hearingthe Gospel! I fear that many people come to our places of worship in the same spirit in which they go to places of amusementand that the main things of which they think are-how the preacher puts his message, whether he is fluent and eloquent andwhether he interests them or not. Yes, but that is not the principal matter about which we should be concerned! You and Iwill soon be before the bar of God! I shall have to prove that I faithfully preached what I believed to be the Truth of God-andyou will have to prove whether you accepted it and acted upon it! And I charge you all, before the living God, at whose baryou must soon stand, not to treat the Gospel as if it were mere fiction. Go not away from this building as though you hadbeen watching a play, or listening to an organ recital which might or might not mean anything to you. There is a real Hell-willyou be shut up in it forever? There is a real Heaven-will you be shut out of it forever? There is a real Savior who died uponthe Cross for sinners-will you despise and reject Him? And, above all, there sits a real God in whom we live, and move, andhave our being-shall we continue to forget Him, break His Laws as if we had liberty to do what we would and despise Him asif He were a man like ourselves? Oh, by the "Verily, verily," of the Christ of God, I beseech you to lay to heart the certainty,the reality of His teachings and let them have their due weight upon your spirits! May the Spirit of God make it to be so!
III. The third point was to be that CHRIST'S "VERILY, VERILY" MEANT SOLEMNITY. Christ was a very solemn Preacher, though Hewas by no means a dull Preacher There are some speakers who confound dullness with solemnity, but Christ's discourses werealways interesting. How He abounded in parables and metaphors! The children listened with pleasure to His teachings, yet howsolemn it always was, and how forcibly the Master proved the solemnity of His speech by the solemnity of His life! Those nightsof prayer that He spent on the lone mountainside show that His was no mock earnestness. And that life of untiring labor showedhow real and intense was His zeal. And His death, as with blood-red seals proved that, "having loved His own which were inthe world, He loved them unto the end." It was the same Christ who said, "Verily, verily," who died upon the Cross, rose againand went up into Glory to make intercession for the transgressors!
The solemnity of Christ's words and work should cause us to listen to His Gospel with a corresponding seriousness and solemnity.If you are worldly and earth-bound, you will not attach that importance to the Gospel of Christ that you should. To many ofyou, the Truth that you need to be saved does not seem to come home with power. If I were, in the middle of a sermon, to beginto talk about the way to get money, the attention of many of you would be far more intense than it is when I am speaking aboutthe salvation of immortal souls. If I were to discuss the price of British bonds, many ears would be at once opened to catchevery syllable! Whereas when I talk of the incalculable price that Jesus paid for the redemption of the souls of men, theTruth makes no more impression upon many men's minds than oil would upon a slab of marble! Your souls, the best part of yourreal selves, concern you not, O you foolish sons of men! You treat your souls as if they were dirt, yet you prize the thingsof time and sense as if they were all that you had! You have a notion that these things concern people a long way off-peoplewho are very wicked and do not go to any place of worship, or other people in this congregation who are somehow more fittedthan you are to receive my message! But, Sir, the Gospel is for you, and God is speaking by His Word and by His servant, toyou! I wish that you would end this folly of passing on to others the Gospel that is meant for yourself.
In closing, I must just mention one or two reflections concerning the solemnity of the Gospel message. First, remember thatthe Gospel concerns our never-dying souls. Most people think a great deal about that which concerns the body. There is muchtalk about an operation, wisely performed by an eminent surgeon upon the poor body which must soon become food for worms.Yet little or nothing is said about the soulwhich is so vastly more precious! The soul of an emperor or the soul of a beggaris of the same value in God's sight. "Where does it take its flight when its earthly cage is broken?" Is that a question whichis never asked by some of you? If so, what arrant fools you must be! O blessed Spirit of God, teach us the solemnity of theGospel which concerns the soul which must live forever in raptures or in woe!
This Gospel also concerns the never-ending eternity. We are not going into another time-state that shall come to an end, butinto that eternity which shall know no close. I can make no meaning out of Christ's words if it is not so-and He said, concerningthe wicked, "These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal." The word is the same ineach case in the original. Oh, eternity, eternity, eternity, who can conceive what it is? A million millions of years wouldbe less than a moment compared with eternity-and that sum multiplied by a million millions a million times told would be butas a drop in a bucket compared with that which is everlasting! O Sirs, as I know that I am to live forever in such a stateas I shall die in, my first concern is to be ready for death that I may be ready for my eternal future! Is it not so withyou also? Oh, I do implore you, trifle not with eternity and with your never-dying souls! Trifle not with the God who cancast you into Hell forever! Trifle not with Christ whose hands and feet were nailed to the accursed tree for sinners suchas you! Trifle not with His precious blood for that is your only hope of redemption! Trifle not with the Holy Spirit for ifHe should leave you to perish, your case would be hopeless! Trifle not with your Sabbaths-you will wish to have them backagain when you are near death. Trifle not with the Gospel-what would the lost in Hell not give to hear another proclamationof mercy? The devil does not trifle-he is very earnestly seeking your destruction! God, Christ and the Holy Spirit are nottrifling with you-and we are not trifling with you! We long to preach the Gospel to you more earnestly, more fully and morefaithfully than ever-and we pray to God to help us do so and lament when we fear that we have failed. Trifle not when everythingaround you seems to be in earnest and especially when the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking out of this chapter, says to you, "Verily,verily, I of the crown of thorns. I of the pierced hands and feet speak plainly, certainly and solemnly to you and bid youlook unto Me that you may be saved."
I never go out of this pulpit feeling so utterly cast down as when I have been trying to deal with the consciences of theungodly. I wish I could grip each one of you by the hand and look you in the face, and say, "Man, Woman, are you going todie without a Savior? Oh, be not so foolish, so mad!" I would tell every young man here how, when I was myself a young man,I was led to look by faith to the Savior and I have found it a blessed thing to rest in Him ever since. And I would say tohim, "Brother, come with me to the Cross of Calvary and rest in Jesus, and begin to live a holy and useful life-and you shallfind yourself truly blessed among men." I cannot come round and speak personally to you all, but will you let me follow youto your bedside and, if you think of getting into bed tonight without a prayer for your soul's salvation, just imagine thatyou feel my hand upon your shoulder and hear me say to you, "What? No offering of a prayer to God?" I was about to say, "Steppinginto your bed," but I thought that it might become your sepulcher, for you may die there! As many have done who went to bedas thoughtlessly and prayerless as you have often done. But if you trust in Jesus and then fall asleep for the last time onearth, you will wake up amid the splendors of eternal bliss!
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN3:1-18.
If we were asked to read to a dying man who did not know the Gospel, we would probably select this chapter as the most suitableone for such an occasion. And what is good for dying men is good for us all, for that is what we are-and how soon we may actuallybe at the gates of death, none of us can tell.
Verses 1, 2. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night.We donot know the names of many other Pharisees, but we do know the name of this one because God had loved him with an everlastinglove and, therefore, with loving kindness did He draw him to the Savior's feet! "The same came to Jesus by night." Possiblyhe was too busy to come during the day. Anyway, it was better to come to Jesus late at night than not to come to Him at all!From the fact that after our Lord's death, it is said that he was the man who "at the first came to Jesus by night," I gatherthat he did come then partly out of timidity and partly also out of candor. He wanted to know more about Christ before hecommitted himself, so he came privately to see and hear for himself. It does not matter if any of you also come to Christby night if you like. Our Savior has a night-bell to His door and He is quite willing to be the Physician of your soul-evenif you ring Him up at midnight!
2. And said unto Him, Rabbi.He begins very respectfully, and so far, so good. But then, Judas said, "Hail, Master," and kissedChrist when he went to Gethsemane to betray Him.
2. We know that You are a Teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that You do, except God be with him.DearFriends, if any of you do not know all about Christ that you wish to know, or that can be known, make use of what you do knowabout Him. Nicodemus had not yet learned the truth of Christ's Deity, but he knew that He was a teacher sent from God, andthat God was 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
Kingdom of God. [See Sermon #130, Volume 3-REGENERATION.] Christ s
formula, "Verily, verily, I say unto you," was a new style of speech for the Pharisees to hear, for they quoted Rabbi this,and Rabbi that-but Jesus gives Himself as His own sufficient authority, with an egoism which cannot be blamed and which notrue disciple of His ever questions, for Christ is, Himself, the Truth, and whatever He says is to be humbly received by allHis followers. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man is born-again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." He has no notionof what it really is. He cannot even see it, for he is blind to it until he is born-again. It is for this reason that ourmost lucid explanations of the Gospel are altogether lost upon unregenerate men and women. However bright a light God maymake our ministry to be, bright light is of no use to blind men and they must be born-again before they can even seethe Kingdomof God.
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?His questions proved that he could not see the Kingdom of God. He blundered over the letter of Christ's message. Hemisunderstood the metaphor that Christ used-but did Jesus therefore not give Nicodemus any further instruction? Oh, no! Listen.
5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into theKingdom of God.There must be a purifying operation upon his heart and mind, he must be spiritually washed and cleansed, andthe Spirit of God must create him anew. Otherwise he cannot possibly 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 So that the best child who wasever born, even though he were, like Saul of Tarsus, "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews,"yet even he, inasmuch as he "is born of the flesh, is flesh," and not "spirit." Everything which comes to us by our firstbirth can be nothing better than flesh-and what can you get out of flesh but flesh? The only "evolution" that can come ofthe flesh is corruption! There must be another birth if you are to get anything but flesh-"that which is born of the Spiritis spirit." Fleshly things are understood by the flesh, and spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. Hence the absolutenecessity of a second birth, a Spirit birth, that we may first see and then enter the spiritual Kingdom
7. Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born-again. This ruler of the Jews was full of astonishment at this strangeDoctrine, so Christ said to Him, "Marvel not."
8. The wind blows.That is, the Spirit blows.
8. Where it wills, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is everyonethat is born of the Spirit This is a great mystery and our Savior connected it with the most mysterious thing in the wholerealm of Nature-the wind-a thing which has never been seen and which must remain a mystery to us, at least while we are uponthe earth. Christ uses this mysterious force as an emblem of the Holy Spirit and of those who are "born of the Spirit."
9. Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be?He was puzzled and perplexed, like a man in a maze. The Saviorhad given him something to think about-and I wish that when we preach to a congregation, or when we talk to individuals, wewould not aim at dazzling them with our fine phrases, but would seek to set the Truth of God before their minds, that it mightlie there to be studied, and thought of, and to be like seed which, in later days, would germinate and bring forth a harvestto God's praise and Glory! Our Savior is an example to all of us who preach and, in this instance, He shows us the wisdomof not keeping back the mysteries of the Kingdom of God! I am greatly afraid that many preachers would have begun by talkingto Nicodemus of some point that was common to both Judaism and Christianity and that they would have gone on to apologizefor the peculiar mysteries of Christianity, all of which would have been a waste of breath and worse than that. Do not so,my Brothers, but speak out the Truth boldly and leave the Eternal Spirit to make use of it as He pleases!
10-12. Jesus answered and said unto Him, Are you a master of Israel, and know not these things? Verily, verily, I say untoyou, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and you receive not Our witness. If I have told you earthlythings, and you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell you of heavenly things? The Savior as good as told Nicodemusthat He did not come to argue or to reason with him, but to bear witness to absolute certainties of which He Himself was absolutelysure. So He said to him, "If you do not receive Our witness concerning these things, which lie on the very threshold of theKingdom"-yet, mark you, He had been speaking about regeneration, the great mystery of the new birth-"it is of no use goingon to still higher themes." So it is evident that the Kingdom of Christ requires great faith-faith on the very threshold ofit-to believe the wondrous mystery of the new birth and still greater faith as deeper Truths, the more heavenly things ofthe Kingdom are revealed to us.
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.Now Nicodemusmust have been indeed puzzled! Here was a Man who had come down from Heaven, yet who had gone up to Heaven and was still there,although He was at that moment talking to Nicodemus! Without the Spirit of God to explain the mystery, he could not make headsor tails of it.
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. [See Sermon #153, Volume 3-the mysteries of the bronze serpent-
.] Mark, dear Friends, the blending of the different Truths of God
in this wonderful chapter! There is no keeping back the necessity of the new birth and there is no cutting down of the gloriousDoctrine of Salvation by Faith in Jesus! He puts the whole matter as broadly as it could be put.
16, 17. 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. If any one of you says, "I cannot cause myself to be born-again," that is quite true. Yet listen to this messagein the same chapter which speaks of the new birth-"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoeverbelieves in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
BUT JESUS-SECOND PART.] That is a grand Truth of God!
18. But He that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.Hisnot believing is the master-sin, the surest evidence of his being, in his heart, an enemy to God. If he refuses to trust Christ,the matchless gift of the Father's love, he must be desperately set on mischief and he "is condemned already." These two Truthsof the necessity of the new birth and of the fact that everyone who believes on Christ is saved, are quite consistent andin perfect harmony with each other. God grant to us the Grace to know them both by experience! Never talk about "reconciling"them, for they have never fallen out with one another!. God grant that we may find them both true in our own lives, for Hisdear Son's sake! Amen.
on Him is not condemned [See Sermons #361, Volume 7-NONE BUT JESUS-FIRST PART and #362, Volume 7.]