Over the past several weeks we have looked at God’s amazing Grace, His Good News, through John Chapter 3. In doing so we had a glimpse into the doctrines of Salvation and Justification.

  So what is next? Well in theological terms the Doctrine of Sanctification follows. This is a big word to mean the process of growing holy, mature in our faith.

  There are many ways in which one grow in their faith, through prayer, attending a good bible preaching church, fellowship with like believers, and studying God’s word to name a few.

  A second question comes to mind, how to set about these things. Here I believe the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, set forth the steps in Romans Chapter 12 verses 1 and 2:

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

  Let’s breakdown God’s word and see what he has for us today.

1) Beseech you therefore brethren:

Beseech a word we do not use much anymore means to Ask, Plead, or Beg Paul is begging for the reader to do something but what? Before the what can be answered we need to know the why and here the answer is pointed out by the word

Therefore here an Adverb

  1. (conjunctive) For that or this purpose, referring to something previously stated. 
  1. (conjunctive) Consequently, by or in consequence of that or this cause; referring to something previously stated. 

Synonyms

So let’s look again at the beginning of this verse it could be worded: I beg you brethren or brothers, based upon all you have just learned in the previous Chapter(s). Let us pause here and look at just chapter 11 and see if we can glimpse at what Paul was writing about.

· Verse 1 asks the question, has God forsaken His people (Israel)?

· Verse 2 Answers not all for some He foreknew and will never forsake

· Verse 3 tells us that although Israel stumbles God is able to use that for good.

· Verse 11 we see the purpose is all this, Salvation (through Christ) comes to the gentiles or non-Jews.

· Verse 25 gives the promise of hope, that many of Israel will be saved

· Verses 34-36 God is in control of all and deserves all the Glory.

  Again Paul is begging the reader (brethren or believers) to pay attention, remembering God’s righteousness, man’s unrighteousness and punishment therein that the end is not final or complete; there is hope for those who are justified and live a sanctified life.

2) Mercies of God: with all the compassion, the depths in which compassion resides, emotions, longings,

  Look Paul could have easily left this out and we still would pay attention to it. I mean he is Paul writer of 2/3 of the New Testament. Yet we dare not ignore his phrase, for it makes a statement. Paul is saying not of my own power do I ask (beg) this of you but by all the power the compassion of God Himself.

Gill: "I beseech you"; as an ambassador of Christ, and as though in his stead: nor are they enforced by terrors, threats, and menaces, but "by the mercies of God"; that is, the abundant mercy of God, displayed in their election, regeneration, and calling; than which, nothing can have a greater influence on a believer, to engage him to holiness of life and conversation;

3) Present Your bodies: yield your body, your speech, your actions, your very life

  This is the complete deal you cannot get away with acting all pious on Sunday and being a worldly foul mouth jerk the remainder of the week. Who are you trying to fool? God?

Ray Stedman: What you do with your body matters to God. He wants you to use your body for his glory in every situation and to seek to know him intimately and serve him joyfully in every circumstance, not just in church but every moment of every day:

Poole: that you give, dedicate, and offer up, as spiritual priests yourselves, or, your whole man; a part is put for the whole; the body is named, because it is the soul’s instrument in the service of God.

4) Living sacrifice, holy: unblemished as a firstling lamb, but Alive not Dead;

Alive in Christ and not dead in sin

  Unblemished, there are a number of reason for this the best I can think of is God’s sacrifice for us was Holy and Unblemished (sinless Christ). Does He deserve anything less from us?

5) Acceptable unto God: well pleasing, brings glory to; unashamed

Poole Acceptable unto God; or, well pleasing unto God. So were the appointed sacrifices under the law, Leviticus 1:9; so was the sacrifice of Christ the Lamb of God, Ephesians 5:2; and so are all spiritual sacrifices under the gospel, Philippians 4:18 Hebrews 13:16.

6) Reasonable: is what you’re doing rational?

  1. pertaining to speech or speaking
  2. pertaining to the reason or logic
    1. spiritual, pertaining to the soul
    2. agreeable to reason, following reason, reasonable, logical

Webster 1828 1. Having the faculty of reason; endued with reason; as a reasonable being. [In this sense, rational is now generally used.]
2. Governed by reason; being under the influence of reason; thinking, speaking or acting rationally or according to the dictates of reason; as, the measure must satisfy all reasonable men.
3. Conformable or agreeable to reason; just; rational.
** By indubitable certainty, I mean that which
does not admit of any reasonable cause of doubting.

  Reasonable to believers should mean that there is no doubt in your mind, your heart that these actions will Glorify God and that it is biblically logical for you to undertake them.

  As an example how many have heard someone say, ‘I plan on starting a church I am sure that is what God wants me to do’. On the surface, being a pastor (note they did not say that) and starting a bible believing and preaching church is a good thing. But how many of us who have heard that immediately think wait a minute; this person is not biblically qualified (the only acceptable standard) to start or pastor a church. What might seem acceptable is not reasonable for them to do this.

7) Service:

  1. service rendered for hire
    1. any service or ministration: the service of God
  2. the service and worship of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law
  3. to perform sacred services

  Everyone has a calling from God a service they can provide that Glorifies God and edifies the body of believers. This can take many forms it is our responsibility to seek God’s guidance on what it is He would have us do.

  Note Acceptable comes before Reasonable. We are not to determine on our own what is “reasonably acceptable” to God and then do that. No we are to determine what God finds acceptable and do that which is reasonable for us to do.

  Let us look at some scripture that will help determine what God finds acceptable:

Leviticus 22:20 But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you

God deserves nothing but the best; one should not attempt to offer Him anything less.

Ps 19:14 14Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

If our words match our heart, this is acceptable to the Lord

Proverbs 10:32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.

The righteous do not have to ask if something they are doing or saying is acceptable they know in their hearts the answer

Is 56:7 7Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

Joining ourselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, keep the Sabbath

Jeremiah 6:20 (15-25) 20To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.

Offering or doing something to cover up sin is NOT acceptable

Romans 14:17-19 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men

Note that serving Christ in peace and righteousness is acceptable.

Ephesians 5:10 (7-16) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

Walking as children of light is acceptable

Phil 4:18 (14-18) 18But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.

Supporting those who share the Gospel is acceptable

1 Tim 2:3 (1-3) 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

Prayer is acceptable, as long as we do not ask amiss.

1 Timothy 5:4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

Helping widows and orphans is acceptable

1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Offering up spiritual sacrifices is acceptable

1 Peter 2:20 (19-21) For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

Enduring difficulties by relying upon God is acceptable

  One last point on the word reasonable that we find in Rom 12:1, it is used only one other time in scripture in 1st Peter:

1 Peter 2:2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby

The translated word “word” here is the same Greek word, Logikos. One can only deduce, especially considering Peter’s writing style, that he was inferring that the Word was reasonable for all, infants (milk) to mature (meat).

Romans 12:1 MHCC

The apostle having closed the part of his epistle wherein he argues and proves various doctrines which are practically applied, here urges important duties from gospel principles. He entreated the Romans, as his brethren in Christ, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day the fruits of his mercy. Let us render ourselves; all we are, all we have, all we can do: and after all, what return is it for such very rich receivings? It is acceptable to God: a reasonable service, which we are able and ready to give a reason for, and which we understand. (And is understood by those around us)

Wiersbe comments that...

The Christian life is not based on ignorance but knowledge, and the better we understand Bible doctrine (Romans 1-11), the easier it is to obey Bible duties (Romans 12-16). When people say, “Don’t talk to me about doctrine—just let me live my Christian life!” they are revealing their ignorance of the way the Holy Spirit works in the life of the believer. “It makes no difference what you believe, just as long as you live right” is a similar confession of ignorance. It does make a difference what you believe, because what you believe determines how you behave!" (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor or Logos)

One of my favorite Hymns tells me what reasonable service is to God:

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Isaac Watts

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Next time we will look at verse 2.

John Chapter 3 Part IV
 God Solution to Man’s Problems
 John 3:13-16

In this final segment of John Chapter 3 we will look at the doctrines of Justification and Salvation as explained by our Lord Jesus Christ. We will see that salvation is solus Christus, “by Christ alone and that we are justified, made acceptable to God, by Christ alone.

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Why would Jesus say something to Nicodemus that he might immediately think a lie? For we know that Enoch and Elias had ascended up to heaven. Surely Nicodemus would have also. There must be something unique about this "he that came". It is an attention grabber. It would (and has) caused me to think and scrutinize Jesus's words closely.

MHCC No one hath ascended to heaven. He again exhorts Nicodemus not to trust to himself and his own wisdom, because no mortal man can, by his own powers, enter into heaven, only those who go about under the guidance of the Son of God.  (1 Corinthians 3:18.) Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

For to ascend to heaven means here, “to have a pure knowledge of the mysteries of God, and the light of spiritual understanding.” For Christ gives here the same instruction which is given by Paul, when he declares that the sensual man does not comprehend the things which are of God, (1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned

Jesus is pointing out to Nicodemus (as I believe His whole ministry did) the need for Salvation through Christ at Calvary. Jesus is saying that it cannot be of your own wisdom, it cannot be of your own strength or goodness. Only through the Son of God can heaven be obtained.

            Paul makes a similar statement in Romans 10:1-11:

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.

For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Paul’s deepest desire is for his beloved nation of Israel to be saved, BUT, not according to the knowledge Paul had as a Pharisee, for he and they are ignorant of the truth. They like he must submit (surrender) to God and realizing that this surrender is not of their own; but God’s work in them. Calling upon the only name by which man can be saved being made righteous (justified) before God by the blood of Calvary,

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

First this is a clear reference to the OT passage in Number 21:8 And the  LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten , when he looketh upon it, shall live .

Next it is a clearer reference to the need for Jesus to be “lifted Up” on the cross of Calvary. For just as the serpent on a pole was, by the power of God, able to “save” those who believed, so too the Son of Man will save God’s elect. How else has Christ been lifted up?

Through the Preaching of the Gospel

Through the sharing of the Gospel

Through singing and playing of Hymns

Through our daily walk being an example to unbelievers

Through the sacrament of Communion

            Son of man Jesus often uses this term to identify Himself. It shows His human nature while "Son of God" shows His divine nature. Christ is making a statement that he alone is the path to Salvation and Justification.

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

             What is this path that we must take? What must one do to be saved? Must we follow Jesus’s instructions to the rich man Matthew 19:16-21:

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Note here Jesus makes it plain the key or path to eternal life is faith, to believe in Him alone.

Whosoever or Greek Pas: The words "world" and "all" are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture, and it is very rarely the "all" means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts-- some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted His redemption to either Jew or Gentile...

Matthew Poole in his commentary states:

Here our Lord openeth the instrumental cause of justification and salvation, that is, believing, in him.

It is one thing to believe in him as a teacher, another thing to believe in him as a Saviour. The object of the first is a proposition; we believe a person when we assent and give credit to what he saith, because he saith it. {We see this in everyday life, we trust the teacher to give us proper instruction, the mechanics to repair our vehicle properly etc.} The object of the latter is the person and merits of the Mediator. As the looking up to the brazen serpent healed the person, not by any physical operation, but from the goodness of God, {this is a key point in basic theology, it was not the image but God who healed(s)} as it was an act of obedience to the Divine institution for that end; so neither doth faith in the Mediator justify and obtain pardon for any soul from any meritorious virtue in that act, but from God’s gracious ordination, {Again basic Bible Theology 101, nothing we do in any way merits our salvation. It is only by God’s Grace one is saved} that so it shall be; he hath so ordained {Predestined same word in Greek}, that whosoever shall rest upon Christ {and who will they be? Those who decide on their own to follow Jesus? I dare say not for as we learned in the first sermon no one seeks God on their own}, and receive him by faith as his Mediator and Saviour, should not perish, but live forever.

But by this and other places, where faith alone in Christ is mentioned as necessary to salvation. Nicodemus was taught that no obedience to the works of the law without this faith in the Mediator would bring the soul to eternal life and salvation.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

             First let us look at some key words in this verse. Starting with loved:

Loved: Agapao      ag-ap-ah'-o             Verb

of persons - to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly

of things -  to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

The word world has a variety of implied meanings:

World: Kosmos         kos'-mos        Noun Masculine

an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government

ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, 'the heavenly hosts', as the ornament of the heavens. 1 Pet. 3:

the world, the universe

the circle of the earth, the earth

the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family

the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ

world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly

the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ

any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort

the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom. 11:12 etc)

of believers only, John 1:29; 3:16; 3:17; 6:33; 12:47 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19

Begotten or the Greek Monogenes denotes singleness or one and only of kind, Jesus if the one and only (of God) Son of God. (Believers are all adopted sons and daughters)

Whosoever or Pas we looked at last verse and here could be translated as who ever

Believeth = Pisteuo usually translated believe but it’s much more than that it means to fully commit to.  Having faith in and committing to

            Next I would be doing y’all and injustice if I did not address the common error today by those quoting this verse. Many if not most quote this assuming and believing that everyone can be saved. Really?

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.  If world meant everyone why is there a hell?

John 6:33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.  If world meant everyone why are some, unbelievers even unto death?

           This mistaken belief that this verse applies universally or collectively to everyone who claims to believe is not supported by scripture:

2 Corinthians 4:3-4  “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Psalm 33:12  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Psalm 89:3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,

 Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

            Again Matthew Poole’s comments on this verse

For God the Father, who is the Lord of all, debtor to none, sufficient to himself,

so loved the world, that is, Gentiles as well as Jews. There is a great contest about the signification of the term, between those who contend for or against the point of universal redemption; but certain it is, that from this term no more can be solidly concluded, than from the terms all and every, which in multitudes of places are taken in a restrained sense for many, or all of such a nation or kind. As this term sometimes signifies all persons, so, in 1 John 2:21, the Gentiles in opposition to the Jews. Nor, admitting that

the world should signify here every living soul in the place called the world, will any thing follow from it. It is proper enough to say, A man loved such a family to such a degree that he gave his estate to it, though he never intended such a thing to every child or branch of it. So as what is truth in that so vexed a question cannot be determined from any of these universal terms; which must, when all is said that can be said, be expounded by what follows them, and by their reconcilableness to other doctrines of faith.

God so loved the world that he gave his Son to die for a sacrifice for their sins, to die in their stead, and give a satisfaction for them to his justice. And this Son was not any of his sons by adoption, but his only begotten Son; not so called (as Socinians would have it) because of his singular generation of the virgin without help of man, but from his eternal generation, in whom the Gentiles should trust, Psalms 2:12, which none ought to do, but in God alone, Deuteronomy 6:13 Jeremiah 17:5.

That whosoever, &c.: the term all is spoken to above; these words restrain the universal term world, andall, to let us know that Christ only died for some in the world, viz. such as should believe in him. Some judge, not improbably, that Christ useth the term world in this verse in the same sense as in 1 John 2:2. Our evangelist useth to take down the pride of the Jews, who dreamed that the Messiah came only for the benefit of the seed of Abraham, not for the nations of the world, he only came to destroy them; which notion also very well fitteth what we have in the next verse.

John Calvin’s conclusions on this verse are worth noting:

Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father — that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ.

Still it is not yet very evident why and how faith bestows life upon us. Is it because Christ renews us by his Spirit, that the righteousness of God may live and be vigorous in us; or is it because, having been cleansed by his blood, we are accounted righteous before God by a free pardon? It is indeed certain, that these two things are always joined together; but as the certainty of salvation is the subject now in hand, we ought chiefly to hold by this reason, that we live, because God loves us freely by not imputing to us our sins. For this reason sacrifice is expressly mentioned, by which, together with sins, the curse and death are destroyed. I have already explained the object of these two clauses, which is, to inform us that in Christ we regain the possession of life, of which we are destitute in ourselves; for in this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order of time, goes before salvation.

We cannot and should not try and diminish the magnificence of this verse. Many try and water down this fact, claiming there are many paths to the Kingdom of God. Such fools are they. God the almighty creator of all loves His creation so much that He sent His only Son (Jesus Christ) to redeem it. At the same time the Sin that mankind has brought upon itself must be punished. Again this can only happen through Christ Jesus. Only Christ who lived a perfect unblemished life is a worthy sacrifice, the propitiation, for sin. Only in Christ can the need for punishment of sin and the Grace and Mercy of God be found. Only in Christ can man be Saved and Justified.

William S. Plumer in the 1850’s wrote a book called Theology for the People or Biblical Doctrine Plainly Stated1, wrote the following:

All men are just or unjust. All are saints or sinners; all are godly or ungodly; all re the children of God or the children of the wicked one; all are justified or condemned. All are now in favor with God, or they are out of His favor.

I have never seen a better definition than this: Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sin, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for anything wrought in them or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them and received by faith alone. This is true and clear.

By His grace and Mercy, through the work of the Holy Spirit, unaided by man’s efforts you too can be found just in God’s sight and have eternal life in the glorious Kingdom of God.

A great booklet titled Common Sense, Reflections of the Four Pillars of a Free Society by my friend Trey Mays.

Common-Sense-

Trey is the CEO and Publisher of The Truth Dispatch (truthdispatch.com).  He is a young thoughtful but avid political analyst and commentator.  His passion for everything politics and public policy produces politically incorrect opinions and analysis.  Trey’s strong and growing Christian faith gives him a biblical way of viewing the world.  His down-to-earth, conversational writing style and knowledgeable Christian views on current events allow him to research, inform, and promote the principles of Truth and Liberty.