How Do You Obey The Command To Be Born?

By John Piper at Desiring God (via Marshill.com)

Ask another question first: When Jesus commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead, how did he obey that command? In John 11:43 it says, “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’” That was a command to a dead man. The next verse says, “He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings.”

How did Lazarus do that? How does a dead man obey a command to live again? The answer seems to be that the command carries the power to create new life. Obedience to the command means doing what living people do. This is extremely important. The command of God, “Rise from the dead!” carries in it the power we need to obey it. We do not obey it by creating that life. We obey it by doing what living people do—Lazarus came forth. He rose. He walked out to Jesus. The call of God creates life. We respond in the power of what the call created.

In Ephesians 5:14 Paul says, “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” How do you obey a command to wake up from sleep? If your house has carbon monoxide in it and someone cries out, “Wake up! Save yourself! Get out!” you don’t obey by waking yourself up. The loud powerful command itself wakes you up. You obey by doing what wakeful people do in the face of danger. You get up and leave the house. The call creates the waking. You respond in the power of what the call created.

I believe this is the explanation for why the Bible says paradoxical things about new birth, namely, that we must get ourselves new hearts, but that it is God who creates the new heart. 

For example:

Deuteronomy 10:16, “Circumcise your heart!”

Deuteronomy 30:6, “The Lord will circumcise your heart.”
Ezekiel 18:31, “Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!”

Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.”
John 3:6, “You must be born again.”

1 Peter 3:3, “[God] caused us to be born again.”

The way to obey the command to be born is to first experience the divine gift of life and breath, and then to do what living, breathing people do—cry out to God in faith and gratitude and love. When the command of God comes with the creating, converting power of the Holy Spirit, it gives life. The evidence that it has come in this life-creating way is that we respond in life and faith and hope and joy. If that response is in us, we are born of God, and we have obeyed the command.

Dr. John Piper is the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. © Desiring God 

Proclaiming God’s Preeminence
By John MacArthur at Grace To You

Proclaiming God’s Preeminence

By John MacArthur at Grace To You

Joy On The Journey In Pursuit of God

Have you ever wondered why some Christians lose their joy on the journey in pursuit of God? Or why God just doesn’t interest them any more? Or why they seem to be more distant from church fellowship, Bible study or evangelism? They seem to lack enthusiasm about God and would rather talk about something else.

Maybe you are that Christian.

In many cases bondage to a particular sin or sins - to our sinful desires that we’ve not mortified or are not actively mortifying - is the reason why our joy on the journey in pursuit of God has withered thus quenching the desire from within us that longs for God ultimately laying waste to our spiritual lives leaving us in apathy and slothfulness.

Other times media is the culprit. You may experience seasons in your life where you put aside study and prayer in exchange for entertainment. You get into a habit of choosing daily to feed your flesh rather than your spirit ultimately adding ammunition to the side of ourselves, the old man as opposed to the new man, that is at war with our spirit.

Both of these will cause us to lose focus on what is most important, that is, to honor and glorify the all-knowing, all-gracious, all-satisfying God who sent His Son to die that you and I might have life and live it to further His kingdom and ultimately bring Him glory.

David after having been awakened to his sin against God said, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” (Psalm 51:12-13)

We can conclude a few things with these two verses. The first thing to note is that David had lost his joy as a result of sin. He proclaimed “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” that is to say “give it back for I have lost it.” The word “restore” used in this passage is the Hebrew word shuwb which literally means to “return to.” David was in essence praying “return, give back, restore to me the joy of your salvation for You whom I have sinned against are the only one who can do so!”

It is then only after the joy of God’s salvation is restored that David says he will teach transgressors God’s ways ultimately reaping a harvest of new believers. When your joy is lost as a result of giving into sinful, flesh-satisfying desires, all enthusiasm for seeking out and witnessing to humanity becomes a shallow afterthought. We become so consumed with ourselves, our sin or the things around us, that we begin build walls of shame which hinder us from pursuing God and His kingdom.

If you have no joy on the journey in pursuit of God, examine yourself. Don’t go another day without seeking out the reason for this lost joy and ask God to restore to you joy, peace and soundness of mind and greater fervor for His desires, for His kingdom and ultimately for His glory.

Happy Wednesday!

Sky