Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.

Scripture References

Scripture references on this site can be viewed by hovering your mouse cursor over the reference to see a pop-up window with the verse displayed. If you wish to use a different version of the Bible, you can make that selection below.

 

Bible Options

 

If you have Logos Bible Study Software installed, you can check Libronix to bring the scripture reference up in Logos.

Hebrews 8:7-8 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:56 mins 59 secs

Hebrews Lesson 118  March 13, 2008 

 

NKJ Jeremiah 17:9 " The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

 

There are three big issues that face the board (of Chafer Seminary). One is the transition to Albuquerque. Another one is that the board is still trying to divest ourselves of some of the hangover from this whole issue that got splattered on us from Grace Evangelical Society and their split over the understanding of the gospel which is unfortunate; but sadly it continues. Ever since John Nimela who at the time was a professor for Chafer Seminary (was here two years ago) inappropriately suggested we ought to change our doctrinal statement because of his understanding of the gospel…that is just telling people that you can have eternal life by believing in Jesus without any mention of the cross. Where they have gone with this (if you're not aware of this) is that you don't even have to tell people about the cross. Some of their people have been quoted as saying that there will be people in heaven who trusted Jesus for eternal life and they won't find out that Jesus died for their sins until they get to heaven because they just accepted the gift of eternal life. 

 

This is the major problem (theological problem) that is plaguing the whole free grace movement right now. I think that at the very core is a problem in hermeneutics or interpretation because what they're saying is that the Gospel of John is the only book in the New Testament that tells us what the gospel is. Paul tells us how salvation works – justification, regeneration, redemption, all these things. But, John tells us that belief is in Christ for eternal life. And they approach this thing (and this is a great example for those of you who come on Monday night for the History of Doctrine class) this is a great example of what happens in church history when people start asking perhaps the wrong questions. Sometimes you don't know you are asking the wrong questions when you ask it. But sometimes you can get to where you are asking the wrong question and it leads to a screwball answer. 

 

Their question was, if you get down to the very core of the gospel - what's the least a person has to believe in order to be saved? Now think about that. Now you may not be tracking with me yet, but do you have to believe that Jesus is fully God in order to be saved? Is that part of the gospel?  Do you have to believe in the trinity in order to be saved? If you give somebody a tract that says Jesus died for your sins and you can have forgiveness – it doesn't mention eternal life. Jesus died for your sins. You can have full complete forgiveness if you trust in Him. Is that enough to get you saved? I think that is. But, where do you stop? What is sort of extra explanation and what is the minimalist approach?

 

Reality is that none of us give a minimalist gospel. I think by even addressing the question... I think it might be something for academic pinheads in some theological ivory tower somewhere, but the reality is that when any of us (even the people who are on the other side of the issue from me) give the gospel, they're trying to explain as much as they can about how salvation works and not just giving the least.

 

See that's where you can start down a wrong road by asking the wrong question and you can really end up in a theological cul-de-sac. Of course you see that in church history and the history of doctrine; but, this had some terrible ramifications because people actually think that it was Chafer's position and it's not. That's not the position of pastors who founded the seminary and it's not the view of the seminary today. It's not the position of most of the board members. There's one exception; but, he doesn't push it. It's more of an academic thing so it's not really an issue.  This is the kind of thing that gets people very, very upset and very confused. So that is about the second thing we are dealing with.

 

Then the third thing that we're dealing with is just planning for the future and trying to develop a future and communicate a vision for the future to people.

 

So you can pray for Chafer Seminary on those areas – that we can get this transition out of California accomplished, that we can have a clear articulation of what we believe about the gospel. Then the third thing is that we can communicate the vision of the future to people because as we go through our culture today what we have to offer is less and less palatable to fewer and fewer people or more and more people. It's less palatable to more people. They don't want to think. They just want to feel good. I have been amazed at how many people feel that way. One the one side in the area of Christianity we've got people. We've got people in Houston. We've got people in other parts of the city. You turn on Channel 14 and you can see all kinds of people who have these mega churches of ten, fifteen, twenty thousand people and they don't ever say anything. People are just as happy as they can be. Then you look at some of the political candidates and they are the political counterpart. They are out there making everybody feel good and no content. It's like America has rejected content. 

 

The result – it's not new in history. This has happened again and again and again. It happened in the Old Testament with Israel. That is why God took the Northern Kingdom out in discipline in 722 and why He took the Southern Kingdom out in 586. It all boils down to the fact that what we emphasized earlier in the two presentations by Martin Bobkin that the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things. That even applies to believers. The heart –we're not given a new heart at salvation as a believer in the way that the Jews are given a new heart with a new covenant which is what we looking at tonight. We still have a sin nature and "the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things. Who can know it?" 

 

I hope you appreciate what Martin had to say. I think there were some – there was a little area where he didn't make one thing really clear. A lot of people asked this question a lot and aren't clear on this. That is that there is a difference between psychotherapy and psychiatry - psychotherapy and psychiatry. Psychiatry deals with physical problems that relate to chemical imbalances. It can relate to any number of causes - chemical causes, organic causes, a number of things that can cause different problems, a range of different things. Those need to be treated with medication and that helps stabilize people in those particular areas. But then there is a whole host of problems that we get into ourselves emotionally and spiritually because of sin and things that we face because of the trend of our own sin nature. Some people have a trend to their old sin nature that as soon as something happens they go to the negative and they're despondent and they are depressed. That is just a trend of their sin nature. Other people worry all the time. That's just a trend of their sin nature. Worry is not a disorder; it is a sin. You have to address it as a sin. 

 

Say, "Stop it." 

 

Don't laugh. Come on. Weren't you here for George's talk? 

 

"Stop it."

 

If you weren't here, you have to watch it. He showed this clip of an old Bob Newhart – the original Bob Newhart show where he is a psychiatrist.  This lady comes in and she talks about she is scared to death of being buried alive in a box. So, she doesn't like to be in a house or elevator or anything that's boxy. 

 

He says, "Well, I've got two words that'll cure you."

 

"What are they?"

 

"Stop it." 

 

We laugh. It was great, but that's the issue with sin. George did a great job in that whole presentation. The reason that we have so many of the problems in life is just because we let our sin nature run amuck. We start letting that happen from the moment we take that first breath.  That sin nature is activated. A lot of times by the time we're really cognizant of a lot of the decisions - let me put it this way. When we are volitionally conscious of a lot of decisions we're making, we've already established habit patterns from our sin nature and how we deal with things and it isn't until we become – after we're saved and we become adults that we then begin to think about the fact that I've got bad habits. That's what we do.  We have bad sin nature habits in responding to negative situations in life. So we come under certain pressures and we lose our tempers. Why?  Well, that's the habit patterns we started when we were two weeks old. We figured out…

 

"If I can scratch out my face and get it all red and scream loud enough, then I will get attention and the problem would get solved." 

 

So we developed this habit pattern that that's how we're going to deal with problems. Now that we're 20, that's not the way to do it. But, I have to deal with my sin nature. 

 

That's what he's addressing - that in terms of how we talk to people and the problems that they have in life, the communication aspect that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we have the truth. This is the Word of God.

 

We don't have to send them to talk to somebody who is going to approach from a different model of human behavior. He talked about the fact that there's over – I think now there may be over 500 different models of human behavior in the whole psychological community. 

 

Anybody you talk to they think, "Well, I think this is how man is." 

 

Now they don't even believe there is a soul. It's all biological. Everything is biological. There's no soul.  There's no volition. Everything is biochemical. That's why you have the over medication on the psychiatric side. It's because fundamentally what's happening is with the rejection of God and with the rejection of the idea that man is created in the image of God; there is no immaterial part of man. Everything is material. So if everything is material, then the way to cure any problem is always going to be through drugs. That's why it is so hard today to work through some of this stuff. 

 

As a pastor, as much as I have read about it, there are areas that just aren't clear. But the bottom line is that when it comes to telling people whether they need to be on medication or not and giving them the information that they need on how to live their life, it comes down to the basic principles of Scripture – to apply the Word of God in fellowship, walk by the Spirit. It is summed up in the hymn Trust and Obey. If we would do that consistently, then we would be able to resolve all of these things. But what we do is - the crisis hits, we hit adversity, and we go to that default position which is the sin nature. 

 

Then we go, "Wait a minute. I'm not really supposed to do that. I had better confess my sin and start applying the Word."

 

It's developing those habits to correct the bad habits. So that was the thrust of what Bobkin is saying. The Word of God really is sufficient to give us what we need to help people. As a pastor this is one of the reasons I had him come and speak at the pastor's conference. We have to have the confidence that we can truly help people with all the problems in their lives. I remember when I came out of Dallas Seminary having had pastoral psychology and counseling with Paul Meyer and Frank Minnereth.  I don't know how many of you know who Paul Meyer and Frank Minnereth are. They have the Meyer-Minnereth clinics. These clinics popped up all over. There's one here in Houston. It's down in Bellaire. They have one up in Little Rock. I know of one in Dallas. They have them all over the country. 

 

Sometime after that I said, "Why in the world if I'm going into pastoral psychology do they have two psychiatrists in here teaching this?" 

 

They kept talking to us. I wasn't up on a lot of this stuff as a student that I am now. I am thinking. I keep hearing them say that somebody comes in and they are depressed. There is this chemical imbalance and they don't have enough epanephrin or whatever it was. See they really need to get this and they need to get that. 

 

I am thinking, "I'm a pastor. I'm not giving people shots or giving them blood tests. I guess I can't help people if I don't know all of this stuff.  Wait a minute. I thought that the Bible helped people." 

 

See that's the issue. Do we have what it takes to help people on the volitional, rational, decision making side of the whole equation? Yes, we do.  The Word of God is sufficient. You go through Scripture and you see the men of God and the women of God in the Scriptures dealing with anxiety and depression and all of these…fear and all of these different things that today are classified DSM3 as mental disorders. The Bible classifies them as sin. 

 

I remember when I was growing up hearing the pastor say that alcoholism isn't a disease. It's a sin. The Bible classifies it as a sin, not as a disease. You start classifying it as a disease, you remove volitional responsibility. It's just like…if I catch the flu. I have a disease. I'm not responsible for that. Now there may be genetic tendencies that make one person more susceptible to one thing than another and that's related to the sin nature. I can't tell you how many pastors I've talked to who…somebody comes in and they've got a problem or their kids have a problem with drugs or addiction or any of this. The first thing they want to do is send them to a 12 step program.  I remember...I guess it was maybe 9 years ago. I was sitting there watching that source of great medical knowledge known in America as Good Morning America. They had a representative on from AA, from Alcoholics Anonymous. Now most people don't realize it, but there is a religious or metaphysical background to AA. You study the founder and you study those beliefs. They believe in a higher being; but the higher being isn't the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It's just an amorphous higher being.  You can plug into that whatever you want to. 

 

They asked this guy, "What's your cure rate?" 

 

Anybody want to guess? What is the cure rate of AA? Anybody want to guess? No, it's higher than zero. It's bigger than a bread box, okay.  Anybody want to say that it's more than … higher than 50% or less than 50%. Less than 50%. Higher than 25% or lower than 25%? Lower than 25%. Higher than 15% or lower than 15%. No, it's 17%.  17%. That's not very good. That's not very good. That means that if you were taking a test and this is a final whether or not you would graduate from high school or not and you made a 17; you're not graduating. That's considered failure. That's an (I'm not good at math as y'all know, but that's an) 83% failure rate. Think about that. And the first thing that people come up with somebody has a problem with alcohol or chemical dependency or drugs or something - let's send them to a 12 step program. There are a lot of churches that host these things.  So, we want to have something with an 83% failure rate. 

 

Well, the Bible has a 100% success rate when you apply it. So I think he has a good message and a sound message that calls us back to the sufficiency of the Word of God. We live in a fallen world with fallen bodies with fallen natures. It is a struggle. It may be a struggle with some things in our lives, all of our lives. I think as Americans we get the idea that if we are doing….and sometimes in superficial evangelicalism we get the idea that if we're doing it right, that it's going to be easy. That if I am walking by the Spirit somehow the Spirit sort of takes over for me and makes those decisions for me. I know I had that idea when I was a teenager. 

 

"You know, if I'm really filled with the Spirit; then why is it still so hard to make a decision to do the right thing?"

 

That's because the Holy Spirit doesn't take over my volition. He doesn't start making those decisions. People get that idea that if I'm walking with the Spirit, I'm right with God that somehow God is going to make making the right decisions easier. It's not. I think as a Christian sometimes it's harder because now we are in the middle of the angelic conflict. There is that struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh wars against the Spirit. Galatian 5:17. Now a war is not arm wrestling. The Spirit wars against the flesh. That's going on inside of us. This isn't something that is easy, but God's power is more than sufficient. The Word is more than sufficient. But it's not always easy to "stop it." And we all know that.  So I just wanted to kind of add that clarification because I've received several questions from folks since Martin's talk.

 

People were, "Well, what's the association here between psychiatry and psychology?"

 

I hope that clarifies it a little bit.

 

Here is our chart on the covenants. We have the Abrahamic Covenant as the ground of the 5 covenants that God has made with Israel. The Abrahamic Covenant has 3 elements – land, seed and blessing. The real estate covenant gets fulfilled at the Second Coming, the Davidic Covenant at the Second Coming, and the New Covenant at the Second Coming. All of these 4 are the permanent or eternal covenants that God makes with Israel. It's not until Israel turns to God corporately in the tribulation that prepares them for the fulfillment of these particular covenants. That's the essence of what I've been teaching on the New Covenant. In the last few lessons what I was focusing on was the fact that some of the things that are said in some of these verses are very close and it's easy to see why some people interpret them as regeneration. 

 

Then what happens is people say, "Well, this is when Israel becomes regenerated."

 

Regeneration is a term that indicates that at this point (when the regeneration occurs)…5 minutes before that those people weren't regenerate which means they weren't saved.  And we're getting ready to get into a passage tonight where this does seem to be fuzzy and you can see where it's fuzzy. But, it's important to just think this through a little bit. 

 

So let's go back and just review about 5 points that I've covered already I think. No, I've got more than that – about 9 points. I'm just going to run through them to summarize them. I'm not even going to state them as points. I'm just going to run it as a summary so we're up to where we've been the last few lessons.  In Jeremiah 31:31-32 the New Covenant is contrasted with the old covenant or the Mosaic Covenant. In Jeremiah we read:

 

NKJ Jeremiah 31:31 " Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah --

 

Days are coming. It's all future. This New Covenant is future to Jeremiah's time and he's writing about 595 BC at the time when the Southern Kingdom is getting ready to be defeated militarily. They're going to be wiped out and the people are going to lose their homes, their livelihoods and their savings. Everything is going to become obliterated when Nebuchadnezzar comes in 586 and completely defeats them and destroys them and wipes out the temple. But God is faithful. (You think there were some depressed people then.) But God is faithful to provide the answer and the solution. 

 

It may not be the plan that they had. That's usually why we get angry. People have problems with being angry. It's because they don't get their way and they get mad at God because they thought they had a right for things to go one way and God had a different plan and now they're mad at God. You can just imagine that there were a lot of Jews who were really angry with God because they lost everything. That's because their thinking wasn't oriented to God's plan to begin with. 

 

Proverbs 3 has this tremendous section there talking about the importance of acquiring wisdom. When the time to use wisdom comes, it's too late.  When you acquire wisdom and you practice the spiritual skills consistently through all the various adversities that we have that are less catastrophic, then when we get to the ones that are catastrophic we have already set a precedent in our behavior patterns so that we know to go to the Word and we can trust God and see a sufficiency in those big battles. 

 

So they're facing that problem and Jeremiah's message of hope is that you failed and you blew it and you couldn't obey the conditions of the old covenant. But, God is not going to forget about you. He will give you a new covenant and in this new covenant He is going to solve the problem for you and give you a new heart because you couldn't be obedient and love Him with a full heart under the old law. Does that mean they weren't saved? No. It just means they couldn't be fully obedient because of the presence of the sin nature. 

 

So the New Covenant is contrasted with the old covenant. The old covenant is temporary. The New Covenant is permanent. It's a future covenant and it's only made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It's not made with the church. In the New Covenant God is going to give every Jew a new heart. Every single Jew is going to get a new heart. This means an internal transformation that is more than simply getting saved or simple regeneration. 

 

NKJ Jeremiah 32:39 'then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.

 

NKJ Jeremiah 32:40 'And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.

 

Then we saw that this would give a completely renewed relationship between God and His covenant people Israel. A new heart allows them to fulfill all of the mandates and conditions of the covenants so that they can fully enjoy the land and glorify God. 

 

Further we saw that in Jeremiah 31:34 in a passage that is difficult for us to understand or conceive how it will work, shows that there won't be any need for a teacher. 

 

NKJ Jeremiah 31:34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

 

Now when I was in seminary (even at Dallas Seminary with professors who were committed to dispensationalism, there are some that have tried to make the establishment of the New Covenant occur at the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes down. They say that giving of the Holy Spirit is the giving of the Holy Spirit just like the law here. 

 

"See with the Holy Spirit we have a sensitive conscious that they didn't have before the Law." 

 

But see that's minimized and diminished with the impact of what this is saying. This is saying that there is not going to be a need for a teacher anymore. 

 

Maybe that's what there doing in these churches where everybody sits around in Sunday school class and says, "Now what do you think this means?"

 

They don't have a teacher anymore. They just all share their opinions. I am just being facetious. 

 

Okay, there is going to be this new relationship and nobody is going to need to teach because there is this complete full, sufficient, internal direct knowledge of God and His Word that's in everybody that comes with this new heart. 

 

Another dimension of this is that the sin of Israel will be completely removed. It will be completely forgiven. That's a national sin. That's not their individual sins. That is their national sin which relates to the idolatry from the Old Testament that they never fully repented of because they shifted from a physical idolatry, which is why they were taken out of the land before 586, to a legalistic idolatry. It's more sophisticated. It's less obvious. It's abstract. That's what legalism is. They had this abstract idolatrous relationship with the law and with their own traditions. So because of that they reject the Messiah. 

 

And when John the Baptist came along, he said what? "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

 

And Jesus came along and He said, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

 

Why did He ask them to repent? That goes right back to Deuteronomy 28 to 30 that "when you disobey Me, if you turn and come back to Me with a whole heart then I will bring you back to the land." 

 

So to understand this whole concept of repentance and the message of Jesus, they must be grounded in the warning passages and the cursing and blessing passages in Deuteronomy and Leviticus 26 -  the five cycles of discipline that when you are out of the land, when you turn to Me.  That's the Hebrew word shubh…and do shavah which is the Hebrew term that when you do shavah then that means you are turning back to God and away from the idols. And because they failed to do that as a nation, they're taken out under divine discipline in 70 AD. 

 

And so God says, "But I will return you to the land from all the nations that I will send you to."

 

And that's never happened yet. This is also connected to the New Covenant as we saw in Jeremiah 32:36-39. God says that He is going to return them to the land. 

 

In Jeremiah 32:36 He says: 

 

NKJ Jeremiah 32:36 " Now therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say,

 

The city being Jerusalem.

 

'It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence':

 

NKJ Jeremiah 32:37 'Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.

 

That's never happened before. It didn't happen in 538, 536. It didn't happen at anytime in the intertestamental period. They came back from Babylon but not from all the land. You didn't have this mass return from Egypt and from Asia Minor or from Rome or all these other places – only from Babylon. So this is an indication Jeremiah 32:37 that God is going to bring them back, this future promise just as He promised in Deuteronomy 30, Leviticus 18 and 19. At some point when they turn as a nation back to God, then He will restore them to the land.

 

NKJ Jeremiah 32:38 'They shall be My people, and I will be their God;

 

NKJ Jeremiah 32:39 'then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.

 

Then we also have seen that this New Covenant is instituted by a Davidic descendent who's on the throne. That's the return of Jesus. Since that hasn't happened yet (since none of these things have happened), the New Covenant has not been enacted yet. The legal basis for the covenant was established on the cross. 

 

It's because it's future. Because it's not enacted until the future we think, "Well, what does it have to do with us in the Church Age today?" 

 

But it is because it's future, in the mind of God it's just as real so He can bless Gentiles in the church today because Jesus established the basis for the covenant on the cross. Even though it's not enacted with Israel until the future because of what the cross has done, blessing can be applied to Gentiles today. 

 

So we ought to ask the question can God do something at one time based on the potential fulfillment of something in the future? Did I say that clearly? Is there a historical precedent for God doing something at a particular point of time in history that was based on a work that wouldn't be accomplished for maybe thousands of years in the future? Sure! He saved all those Old Testament saints. But the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins, the writer of Hebrews says. But they were saved provisionally because God knew that ultimately Jesus Christ would die on the cross and pay the penalty in the future. So their salvation was secured in the Old Testament based on an act that would occur in the future.  So in that same way because in the mind of God if it's established and if it's going to happen in the future it's determined in His plan and it's real.  So the church gets that blessing from the future.

 

So now let's go to our next key passage, key section in Ezekiel. We're out of the Jeremiah passages and now in the Ezekiel passages. In Ezekiel 36:25-26 God is speaking.

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

 

Now there is a plural "you" here which indicates He is talking to the nation as a corporate entity, not as individuals.

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;

 

Now that sounds like regeneration doesn't it? It is of the kind of regeneration that occurs in connection with the New Covenant. 

 

I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

 

Now I want to connect something to this. When John the Baptist first appeared, he said, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He is addressing the Jews. The message comes right out of the Mosaic Law. The kingdom was about to be established and they need to do shuva.  They need to come back. 

 

Jesus comes along and says, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 

 

He sends out His disciples two-by-two to the villages in Judea and in Galilee. 

 

He says, "Don't go to the Gentiles." 

 

What's the message? Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Now this is in what part of His ministry? The first part of His ministry or the end of His ministry? It's in the first part of his ministry. 

 

Now in John 3 Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night. Is this in the first part of His ministry or the ministry? The first part of His ministry, right? It is right after the first Passover where He does signs, and wonders. At the end of John 2 He performs various miracles and many people believed on His name. Right after that Nicodemus comes to Him. 

 

He says to Nicodemus, "How can you being a teacher of Israel not know that you have to be born again to enter into the kingdom of God?"

 

What did He say? Jesus is saying the same thing to Nicodemus in John 3:1 that John the Baptist is saying and that Jesus is saying in the first part of His ministry that if you want to get into the kingdom there has to be a regeneration which is related to that repentance. Then in John 3 (I'm going to turn there. I want to make sure I articulate because you've heard different things on this and I've taught different things on this.) There's a lot going on in the background of this that comes out of Jewish background and other things that Arnold talked about - different ways a person could be born again in rabbinical thought - things like that which I think are good and helpful for understanding the passage. What I'm saying here isn't contradictory to that. In John 3 Jesus says:

 

NKJ John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

 

Then in verse 4 Nicodemus says:

 

NKJ John 3:4 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?"

 

Nicodemus is around 40. He is saying, "I'm 40 years old. How can I go back and get reborn?" He is thinking literally – going back into the womb and Jesus answers him in verse 5.

 

NKJ John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

 

The kingdom of God is the Millennium. So what Jesus is saying is there is a certain kind of transformation that has to occur before you can enter into the kingdom.

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

 

Where is Nicodemus? Jesus says, "You should know this Nicodemus."

 

We need to ask ourselves, if Nicodemus is hearing Jesus talk about being born of water and being born of flesh, what is the Old Testament reference that Jesus is alluding to here that Nicodemus should be familiar with? Right here, Ezekiel 36. 

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

 

What are the key elements here? 

 

NKJ John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

 

Is that making sense? The message that Jesus is giving Nicodemus is related to the establishment of the New Covenant which is at the beginning of the kingdom. The same thing that he is saying to Nicodemus about entering the kingdom is the same message John said about repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 

 

And Jesus said, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 

 

And, the disciples said, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." So the allusion goes back to Ezekiel 36:25-28.

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:27 "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

 

So the message to Nicodemus which we often go to as a great example of the importance of regeneration is really a passage that must be understood within the context of the early pronouncement of Jesus' kingdom message to Israel to repent and that it is connected to the fulfillment of the New Covenant. 

 

So now let me take you some place else. Are we having fun yet? We looked at this last time as we finished up our study. Deuteronomy 29 and 30 is the land covenant. But, even within the land covenant there is a foreshadowing of the New Covenant. You read in Deuteronomy 30:5. Let's just pick up in verse 4.

 

NKJ Deuteronomy 30:4 "If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven,

 

Not just Babylon, but everywhere. 

 

from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.

 

That's when they repent – shubah. They come back.

 

NKJ Deuteronomy 30:5 "Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it.

 

That's when He is going to fulfill the land covenant. 

 

He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.

 

NKJ Deuteronomy 30:6 "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart

 

That's the same terminology for cleansing the heart.

 

and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

 

NKJ Deuteronomy 30:7 "Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.

 

So see Deuteronomy 30 connects the land covenant with the New Covenant, God giving them a new heart. This occurs after they're saved. This occurs after they're saved. Now I can't remember (If I can't remember, I know you don't remember) if I did this the last time we were here because the last week we had the threat of bad weather, but turn with me to Revelation 11. We have fun going all over the Bible. It's sword drill time. Learn to use your Bible. 

 

Now Dr. Ice talked about this on I guess it was Tuesday afternoon when he was talking about the earth dwellers. He was working on this, probably about a month ago. He was working on his earth dweller paper and I had been talking to him about what I was coming up with on regeneration and we were trying to just think our way through this because nobody has tried to make these kinds of distinctions. They just talk it in general terms. 

 

Let's try this. Jesus comes back at the Second Coming at this point. Here's the rapture way back here. We go up. Okay. This is the halfway point in the tribulation, two 3 ½ year periods. The New Covenant gets enacted after Jesus returns. Okay, so the New Covenant gets enacted here. This is when they get a clean heart and this is where He is going to circumcise their hearts. And they're going to get a new spirit. That's a new human spirit. It's a transformation there. That's why people think they get regenerated. But there is a problem here. They're also going to get an indwelling of the Holy Spirit that's different from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit today because remember in the tribulation period the restrainer in II Thessalonians 2 is removed. The restrainer is the Holy Spirit so there is no indwelling Holy Spirit in the tribulation period. So when they get saved in the tribulation period, they're not going to get the Holy Spirit. But they get Him when the New Covenant is established. 

 

Now if we take this to be "equals personal regeneration" then that means that all these Jews who get saved - 100% of them are going to get saved at that instant in time when Jesus comes back. We've got a problem because in Revelation 11:11ff something happens before the midpoint. Right about here, right before the 3 ½ period in Revelation 11:11 the two witness have been killed. Many people think they are Moses and Elijah. I'm not committed yet because we haven't gotten there on Sunday morning. When I get there I'll make a decision, but now I think that's a working hypothesis. God is going to raise them from the dead and in verse 12: 

 

NKJ Revelation 11:12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.

 

NKJ Revelation 11:13 In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell.

 

That's Jerusalem. A tenth of the city is going to be wiped out in this huge earthquake. 

 

In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.

 

Now let's look at this. I had fun with this with a guy who believed in limited atonement the other day at a Dallas Seminary alumni meeting. 

 

I said, "Okay, look here's all the people. Let that circle describe all the people who live n Jerusalem at this time. Now 7,000 of them are going to die. Now what part of the rest are afraid and give glory to God? All of them. 

 

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute." he said. "It can't be all of them."

 

See there is that problem with limited atonement people. "All" can't be all. Jesus didn't die for all; He just died for most. That's what all means – most or some. But the rest means that everybody else in Jerusalem is afraid and gives glory to God. 

 

Tommy calls me up at about 5 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon and he says, "Robby, I found out when all those people get saved. At least the bunch that's in Jerusalem. It is this earthquake, the rest who survive have been hearing the testimony of these two witnesses and they respond to their message and they are indicating here that they're believers. They are either believing in Jesus as Messiah at this point or they did in the two or three days preceding this. At this point the rest are giving glory to the God of heaven." 

 

Now this occurs right before the 3 ½ year period. Now what happens (those of you who've been studying)… see this is test night. I am asking rhetorical questions. What happens at the 3 ½ year period in the middle of the tribulation? The abomination of desolation. So the Antichrist is going to set up a statue of himself in the temple to be worshipped. 

 

In Matthew 24, Jesus said, "When you see this happen," - what are you supposed to do?  Get out of Dodge. Leave. Go to the hills. Leave. Get as far away as you can and woe unto those who are caught away from home or without the proper clothes in the winter or whatever because this is going to come suddenly. You need to drop everything and leave.

 

So what happens in the chronology here is you get a bunch of people who get saved here and then the Antichrist sets himself up to be worshipped here, and what do they do? They head south to the wilderness in response to what Jesus told them to do in Matthew 24. Do you think an observant Jew who rejected Jesus as Messiah is going to listen to Jesus and get out of Dodge? No. He is only going to listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 24 if he has already trusted Jesus as Messiah. 

 

So turn over to Revelation 12. In Revelation 11, the rest were saved. Revelation 12 talks about the woman, the child, and the dragon. This section of Revelation is like the program at baseball games. It tells you who the players are and gives you their stats. So you have various players introduced here. The first one is a woman clothed with the sun with a moon at her feet and on her head a garland of 12 stars. That's Israel. The symbolism comes out of Genesis 37. Then you have introduction of the fiery red dragon who is later defined as the great dragon in verse 9 as the serpent of old called the devil and Satan. So that's our second player. And the fiery red dragon verse 3 begins to persecute the woman. The woman has a male child in verse 5 who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. Well, that's the Messiah, Psalm 2. So we know that the woman is Israel. The male child is the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ who is caught up to God in His throne. And then it says:

 

NKJ Revelation 12:6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

 

That's 3 ½ years. That's the second half of the tribulation period. Now skip down to verse 17.

 

NKJ Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring,

 

That's those that weren't in the land, but who are Jews in the rest of the world – saved Jews in the rest of the world.

 

who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

 

See that tells you that the reason they fled was because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. So the point that I am making here is that these people who flee down and…here we have a map of Israel. You have the Dead Sea and south of there over in this area is Petra over in modern Jordan.  They flee here into the wilderness and all those people who flee to the wilderness are already justified. They're already saved. They've already accepted Jesus as the Messiah individually. But as a corporate group, they haven't called upon the name of Jesus to be the Messiah and to come and deliver them. So individually they are already regenerate, but they don't have the New Covenant form of regeneration yet because that comes only after Jesus arrives. If they died here they would still go to heaven. It's just like the difference between Peter and James and John the day before Pentecost and they had Old Testament regeneration which didn't include the same dynamics as regeneration included two days later after the Day of Pentecost when if you were saved you got the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the filling of the Spirit and you were baptized in the Spirit and you got spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit and all those things. I'm just trying to think this through very precisely and chronologically to understand what the dynamics are so when we look at a passage like Ezekiel 36:27-8 we understand that the result of the sprinkling of clean water on you as a nation and national cleansing and being cleansed from all your filthiness and from all your idols… 

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

 

…that this is more than just personal regeneration. It has to be because when you put it all together and they're already personal regenerate. 

 

NKJ Ezekiel 36:27 "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

 

But when Jesus is talking to Nicodemus in John 3 it's in the context of that initial message "to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" because as the Messiah He is offering Israel the kingdom, the same kingdom He is going to establish right here. It could have happened when He came the first time, but they rejected it. So now it's going to happen here, but before they can go into it there has to be this cleansing by the water and the Word. Does that make sense? And all of this ties together. 

 

That's what Charlie was talking about the other night is that the Word of God…  See this is when the kingdom comes in. Before they can get from being saved here to being saved and living in the kingdom they've got to go through this national cleansing and national regeneration process.  That's what Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about. He was offering the kingdom to Nicodemus in John 3. But when they rejected it, the kingdom got postponed. People between then and here still get regenerated, but it has different characteristics than the regeneration that occurs there. That helps us understand what's going on in Ezekiel 36:27-8. 

 

This is what Charlie was talking about when you take Scripture and start connecting all these different layers. It's like a web of doctrine. When you just go in and teach John 3 in isolation and you don't correlate it to Ezekiel, you don't correlate it to Jeremiah, you don't correlate it to Revelation; then it's like looking at a jigsaw puzzle and you've got two pieces and you're trying to understand the whole. But, once you start putting all the pieces together you see the big picture and you realize how tight all Scripture is. Every part relates to every other part and we have to learn all of this. When we don't do this, then you just get a sort of a fragmented understanding of the different aspects of God's plan. So it's not always the easiest thing to work your way through, which is why you have to have a lot of repetition to hear it over and over again and finally it begins to make sense. 

 

We'll come back and go through the rest of the Ezekiel passages and deal with this whole aspect of cleansing that is such a critical part of the New Covenant for the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom.