Sermon
05

Aug 2013

Called

Sermon Video:

Sermon audio:

Act 5 | Spreading the News of the King

This sermon on “Called” from The Drama of Redemption was preached by Chris DeRoco at Redemption Hill Church on Sunday, August 4, 2013.

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The sermon notes are compiled and edited by a member of Redemption Hill from the pastor’s notes. It is designed as a resource for those engaging the sermon for the first time or those returning to it for further reflection. We pray this resource serves you well.

Sermon Text:

Romans 8:28-39

What does it mean for God to “call” those that he has chosen and those who will be justified, adopted, sanctified and glorified?  The simplified answer is that it means one is “Born Again”.  This terminology has been rendered devoid of meaning in the current culture haze and has also often been misused in the church.  However, Jesus has specific and powerful meaning in mind when He says “you must be born again”.

Born Again

John 3:1-8 “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The term “Born Again”, biblically, is not identifying a type of person; it is associated with being an emotional person in need of an experience or a disoriented/broken person in need of moral structure.  Nicodemus was an educated ruler of the Sanhedrin who was successful and moral.  He was not bigoted or judgmental like the Pharisees and was even open-minded to the person of Jesus.  Yet, despite his good standing in society, his genial nature and moral uprightness, Jesus tells him that He must be born again; his merits weren’t good enough and never could be.  The lesson is very clear that Jesus is communicating to Him and all mankind, keeping the law and morality cannot bring anyone into His kingdom. No man is of himself close to God, in fact all men are dead to God because of sin.

Ephesians 2:2-3 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

It is often mistakenly believed that man is simply a spiritual adolescent in need of maturity when the truth is that all men are spiritual corpses. Sin has rendered mankind sick, in need of a doctor; drowning in need of a life preserver; dead in need of a savior.  Depraved is fundamentally man’s core nature.  For that which is dead to be made alive requires an act by an external being.  Man cannot give himself life, it is an action that can only be done by God and unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:5 “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

Born Again; Born of the Spirit and Water

There are several places in the Old Testament where the new birth is clearly described.

Ezekiel 36:24 “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your unclean-nesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

Sin brings pollution to the soul, but in the new birth, God declares unilaterally that He will cleanse from sin.  God is effectively performing a “heart surgery” such that Israel’s heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh.  What was previously dead, unresponsive and unfeeling will begin to feel and desire God Himself.  The Spirit will cause them to walk in God’s ways. This passage in Ezekiel illustrates the images of water and spirit birth that Jesus draws upon to explain what it means to be born again.  Thus to be born again is to be born of the spirit and water.

Entrance to the Kingdom of God; Seeing the Kingdom of God

One enters the Kingdom of God by seeing the Kingdom of God.  John 3:3 “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  If one is dead, one is necessarily unable to see or blind.  2 Corinthians 4:3-6 “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  Thus the gospel is hidden to those who are perishing and the god of this world has “blinded the minds” of all unbelievers.  This death and blindness is a spiritual issue and not simply about human knowledge, understanding and capability.  When the lights turn on in mankind what immediately follows is the ability to see Jesus and the glory of God.

Application

Before being called and being awoken to God, we are condemned.  Irrespective of religious upbringing, career, social or moral status we are all hopelessly far from God.  Humans were created to reflect God’s glorious image, but instead have chosen to glorify themselves (with either religious pride or immorality). This has earned us not just separation but condemnation and this condemnation means apart from God all men are hopeless.  When we feel that hopelessness; due to recognizing the glory of Jesus and His perfect holiness; we are experiencing the first beats of a heart of flesh.  These initial heartbeats bring the recognition of God’s mercy and the first pangs of what it means to have real hope and joy.  Hope because of what Jesus did to pay for our sins and transpose His clean record with ours in the court of God.  Joy because of the freedom and access we have in God through Christ.

We can never separate spiritual life, sight and faith. Being given spiritual life results in spiritual sight and faith and the three are inseparable.  John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

How

Romans 8:30 “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

How does He call those whom He has chosen?

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,”

The spirit uses clear words (written or spoken) to communicate the good news about Jesus.  Only those to whom the spirit comes will receive Jesus with full conviction and be changed.

Application

John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

When Jesus says that we must be born again, He is telling us that we are hopelessly guilty, corrupt and unresponsive.  The new birth, which is necessary to see and believe, is something that is done to us and not something we do for we are not in control.  Our salvation and our eternal destiny (either with or apart from God) is wholly out of our hands and entirely dependent upon God.  Therefore if we are going to be born again it will rely decisively and ultimately on God. His decision to make us alive does not depend on what we as spiritual corpses do but rather what we will do will be a response to His making us alive.  The veracity of this claim results in either of two responses – excitement or disquietude.  Excitement because we really appreciate and see what God has done for us; we see that your faith is not our own and is only in response to what God has done for us which makes us exceedingly grateful.  Those He foreknew, chose in love, and effectually, wonderfully and convincingly called is personal and specific to us as individuals.  We are able to sing joyously Revelations 7:10 “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  Disquietude because for those who don’t yet know him it is exceedingly unsettling to recognize that apart from the Spirit you cannot come to Him; in fact have no interest or desire to do so.  But Jesus says all who are weary, heavy laden and desirous of rest can come to Him and He will give it.  If you feel disquieted from these truths, call out to Him for salvation that you may have new life.

© 2013. Redemption Hill Church.  Used by Permission.

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