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Thursday: The Biblical View — 12 Comments

  1. Jesus' focal comment to Nicodemus in John 3:3 is of key relevance to today's lesson. Why can someone who is not "reborn" not enter the kingdom of God? Is it because they won't be allowed, or is it some other basis? What exactly is this 'rebirth' about - and why is it so essential?

    Some thoughts to reflect upon and share your perspective/insights...

    • Hi, Phil. My belief is that selfishness is the essence of sin. Therefore, God's kingdom will consist of human beings who have been thoroughly cured of this disorder, beginning with their rebirth, and of angels whose deep and genuine impulse to bless others has never been compromised.

      "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 NKJV

      I expect that one reason for this admonition is that those whose habitual focus is on the negative would be bored if obliged to live among the pure and holy inhabitants of the Kingdom. This would be in addition to the discomfort that a selfish person would feel in the society of those whose every word or action is aimed at the glory of God and the happiness of others.

      Besides, if enough selfish (self-important, self-promoting, self-pleasing) individuals were to be allowed into heaven, as I see it, "heaven" would soon be indistinguishable from the "present evil age."

    • Thanks for the question, Phil. My answer would be that because when we’re born again, we die to self, and then it’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. It’s Christ's life in me that’s resurrected. (Galatians 2:20).

      The carnal nature will be put to death in all of us human beings, no exceptions.

      For believers, we are in the process of dying to self during our Earthly lives. For those who have died in Jesus: At resurrection, Christ within us finishes the process of sanctification and changes us “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). And we will also “see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2) and I’m sure that will transform us too. We won’t be afraid at all. Our joy will be complete.

      For those who have died not accepting Jesus: After resurrection and Judgment Day, they will die to self - and everything. Christ, by choice, is outside of them, and without His transforming power within, they are not, and will not, be changed and made fit for heaven. They will see Jesus as Lord, but they will be terrified (Rev. 6:16-17), and seeing Jesus will not have the power to transform their character anymore.

      • I love the perspective that you are sharing, Esther! I would only caution you, or any readers, not to expect a change of character at Christ's coming -- except, of course, for the "finishing touch" of immortality.

        "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19 NKJV

        I believe it is our privilege to know Christ now, in all His fullness, so that when we see Him physically, a physical change will be all we need.

        Jesus asked blind Bartimaeus, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

        • I guess the one thing I would say to that is that everyone is at different stages of transformation, depending on how long they've been a Christian and perhaps due to other factors too. Someone who becomes a Christian and then dies a week later is probably not going to have the character of Daniel or Joseph at death. The process of transformation has begun, but no doubt there are still faults they are working through. In that sense, I do think there is some character transformation at the second coming. Perhaps we will even continue to grow in character throughout eternity.

          • Absolutely, Christina, only God knows what are the essential characteristics for one to be Christ-like and fit for heaven, and how to get a person to that point. I'm all for trusting Him on that, provided none of us secretly cherishes some defect of character, counting on a sudden glorification to rectify it.

            As we learn more and more of God's love throughout eternity, I am sure that will indeed mean further growth, as you have said.

    • Hi Brother Phil,
      Your post reminds me of another invitation that Jesus gave, gives, to us, the Parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22:1-14. I'm putting emphasis on verses 8-14, which is the direct wedding invitation addressed to all of us:

      "8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
      9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’
      10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
      11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.
      12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
      13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
      14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”" NKJV

      This parable illustrates that all of us are given an "invitation" to the wedding. However, those that finally accepted the wedding invitation had to put on the "wedding garment". It is unacceptable to be a part of God's wedding feast without the wedding garment, just as it is a requirement to "be born again" in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

      Why is this? Because there is an "order" in God's kingdom. Only those of us who willingly accept "God's kingdom order", will be able to live in His kingdom happily; that's why it will be a place of "Jubilee" for all who live in His kingdom forever.

      I could say more about the "wedding garment", but I'll let the theologians handle that. But this I do know, that God's gift of eternal life is offered to everyone. It's up to us to "choose" to be a part of His Kingdom. And the only way we can be a part of God's Kingdom is through Jesus Christ.

      In the meantime, while we wait for the Second Advent of Jesus, when He will give us "eternal life", we must now affirm, or reaffirm, our "belief in Jesus Christ" daily. We must be rooted and grounded in Jesus. As I told my Sabbath School class, "now is the time to get rid of all of our doubts. Ask Jesus and our Heavenly Father to answer your doubts through the Holy Spirit; He is longing to answer all of your questions".

      Thanks for reading my humble thoughts and allowing me to write them here in this blog. The day will come when we will not have this privilege; so, for now, I'm truly grateful to have the opportunity to do so.

  2. Being right comes with consequences. This week we have very largely concentrated on the notion that we have got his "after-life" thing together and can produce the appropriate combination of texts and arguments to prove that we are right. Furthermore, because we have got it right we are the ones that are saved and will have the gift of eternal life. On the other hand, those who have got it wrong will ultimately lose out on eternal life and suffer the consequences.

    We love to point out the errors of others often to the extent of not listening to them because we are so enthusiastic about what we know and believe. And herein lies a problem. If we do not listen, we do not know where their starting point is.

    I have mentioned several times that I tutor my grandsons in mathematics. Most of the time I can work out their maths problems and get the answers right. But when it comes to teaching them maths, it is not a matter of just demonstrating to them how to get the right answer. My logic reflects my experience and if I resorted to just telling them my logic, they would just think I was a smarty-pants showing off my knowledge to them. I have to listen to them try and explain their methods. One of the things I know about my grandsons is that in spite of having similar DNA, they think quite differently about problems and I have to adapt to their way of thinking before I can teach them anything. There is no perfect way of teaching an idea.

    If we have the truth about this afterlife thing, then the next thing we need to understand is how other people think about it. And I mean real people and not just our stereotyped perception of what they think!

    I reiterate: Having the right answer is good, but knowing how to communicate with others who are sure they have the right "different" answer is a skill that needs the guidance and patience of the Holy Spirit.

    • So right on! Since people's backgrounds and experiences differ so much, only the Holy Spirit can give us the right words to say. That said, He wants to give us a clear understanding of truth so we can give a reason for our faith when the situation demands it.

      I don't recall ever getting push-back on this subject when sharing with others who view things differently. My close Catholic friend perhaps didn't know her own church's teachings well enough when she agreed with almost everything I shared from my understanding of biblical truth. Some of my evangelical friends changed their minds regarding their understanding of the state of man in death. And the last time I shared the understanding of the "sleep" of death, a non-Adventist daughter who brought her father to Sabbath School was very interested and thought it made sense and was a very good understanding. She was excited to come again.

      Of course, I didn't try to share with my evangelical friends exactly when they were earnestly promoting the fires of hell to scare people into accepting Christ. And, no, they didn't all change their minds. (I taught in an evangelical Christian school for eight years.)

      I think usually it is best to share about looking forward to the glorious resurrection. That can prepare the way for questions which allow for more sharing.

      Admittedly, I haven't had the opportunity to share with atheists lately. Professing atheists are a bit scarce hereabouts. But I wonder whether it might not be good just to share casually about looking forward to the resurrection - kind of like sharing how you like the weather. It might not convince them to believe in God, but continuous sharing of our own appreciation of the "good news" is bound to have some effect. So, what has been your experience?

    • One uncle read a book on NDEs and is convinced that it is truth. My brother lost a boy to cancer and is convinced he is now an angel. As they say, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

  3. Romans 6:23. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

    1 John 5:11, 12. And this is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

    John 6:39, 40. This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. For My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Friend, accept that gift today!

  4. The lesson writer expressed it plainly:

    "The theory of the natural immortality of the soul grants everlasting life to all human beings, whether in paradise or in hell."

    One needs to seriously consider the logical conclusion this position presents – everlasting peaceful life or everlasting life of suffering. This theory represents the last effort of the adversary to prevent man to see in our God a loving, compassionate Father.

    Compassion and love by God for His creation – man – is all I see in our Creator. He accepted to take the form of man to personally experience, even unto death, that which had become of His creation, so He could redeem it. This is so tremendously remarkable - combining once more the spiritual with the physical to bring about a reborn, new life. Anyone who truly grasps this is going to be amazed and forever grateful for the offer of salvation for mankind. How could our Creator, offering life a second time, ever consider it to be lived by some of His children in agony - never!

    Col. 1:15-17 speaks of the Source and Steward of all lives –

    v.17: ”And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

    Jesus Christ revealed the Father’s Truth to all mankind, but not all are able to receive their message - John 6:40. Why? What really does it mean to be in Him, to be 'born again'? I would hope that all who believe would want to fully comprehend this mystery; it cannot be taken lightly.

    Phil points out that understanding this is essential to the foundation of our Faith.

    “Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live” – John 11:25.

    This statement is plain and simple; no one can quibble with it, unless one does not believe that the Son can keep the believer safe within Him to protect him from experiencing death.


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