(John 3, Rom. 7:23-25, 8:2,14,29,37-39)
When we look at this chapter from John’s gospel, we may first think of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten (uniquely born) Son, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” Those words are rich and we might take them in several directions. Rather I want to direct us to consider the full context of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus begins to speak to this man, this teacher of the law, of the need to be born of the Spirit. Nicodemus does not understand but He knows that Jesus has the life, the real goods. He knows Jesus has something that he needs and wants.
That life is in the Spirit of God and begins in us when that Spirit has an entrance into us. I could write and preach the gospel at this point but I have another goal. In John’s first chapter, he wrote that those who receive Him (Christ) receive the ability to become children (sons) of God. Throughout the writings of the New Covenant, the theme of becoming mature sons of God is repeated. If you consider this presumptuous, I say it is the Lord’s ultimate intention. In Hebrews 1:10, we read that Christ was, and is, bring many sons to glory. It is by His Spirit that this process is accomplished within us. When we receive Christ, we receive His Spirit.
With Nicodemus, Jesus says something that stretches our understanding yet more. As this man does not understand birth in the Spirit, Jesus says “If you don’t get this, how can you believe if I tell you of heavenly things that I have seen.” My paraphrase. The heavenly realm is being opened in greater measure to a broader audience than ever before. We need to be aware it did not begin with this present generation. A wonderful book I have read is entitled, “Heaven and the Angels”, by H. A. Baker. He shares the heavenly revelation stories of John Bunyan, writer of Pilgrim’s progress, William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, and a dear sister in Christ, whose name I cannot recall. Their stories of walking in heaven with Elijah as their guide are strikingly similar. Doubts and questions may quickly come to our minds. Paul writes that he was brought into the third heaven but says it was not lawful for him to share details. That was similar to John being told not to write everything he saw when in heaven. But he did see and hear heavenly things and he wrote much.
Heavenly visions are not something new. The increase of angelic encounters, salvations through dreams revealing Jesus Christ, and after death experiences should get our attention that the Lord of the harvest is up to something. I do not mean to trivialize it by those words. The end of the age is fast approaching people!! Awake, or in other words, wake up, get out of your slumbering comfort. Do you consider yourself, a “Christian’? Do you know that Christ lives in you, that you are born of His spirit? Do you hear that you are called to an overcoming life? It is not a call to self-striving in an outward, religious way. Now some things we do, have meaning, they are truly acts of faith. We are not called to passivity. It is those acts truly born of love and energized by faith that are true, real and have effect.
Jesus Christ met John on Patmos and gave him messages for the churches. Each includes specific words to those who overcome. As we look at ourselves apart from Christ, we sound like Paul at the end of Romans. We know a momentary despair. I say momentary so we do not stay there. Keep moving right into Romans 8. Whoops, I am preaching the gospel. The Spirit of Christ sets us free from the law of sin and death. His life in us carries us to overcoming. We are too hungry and He will not allow us to stay in a low place. His desire for us. His great love is irresistible. Nothing can separate us from that love and we become more than conquerors. That is salvation as the process. So we grow as His sons.
Each encounter with Christ, hearing His still small voice, having a heavenly vision, whatever the Spirit may bring, is part of our transformation. Moses at the burning bush, Mary visited by Gabriel, Ezekiel at the river Chebar, Daniel on his bed, yourself when His life was made real to you, we are changed and can never go back from that place. Each of us get changed. So it was for John on Patmos. We will continue with John in our next writing.