By Jun P. Espina | Last updated on February 18th, 2020 at 11:03 am
If heaven’s door were visible to our naked eye, then all of us would strive to get there. We would sell everything we own to reach God’s country where there is no cemetery—there is no death! But God desires that only the sinless can get there. Otherwise, He would need to create golden prison cells and organize police angels and create flying police cars to maintain peace and order. Hence, only the forgiven sinner could live in the city of God. We need to be born again, to echo Christ’s teaching, to see the kingdom of God! (John 3:3)
The Blood of Jesus
But how to be born again? First off, let us equate the second birth doctrine of Jesus with the divine requisite to enter God’s kingdom. A saved person is a born-again person. Is there a Christian teaching more urgent than the second birth? I googled “souls leaving the body caught by CCTV.” I found three authentic videos in the first two pages of the browser. How the lens of the CCTV camera caught it? I don’t know. The soul (or human spirit) left the body after death like a human shadow. These are the shortened urls I visited (accessed December 30, 2019): https://bit.ly/2tcxvaD; https://bit.ly/2F0CbmL; https://aol.it/2SN4Zaz.
Both the Old and the New Testaments talked about the spirit of the dead (See: Is. 14:9). When the disciples thought they saw a ghost [of Jesus], our Lord responded: “[I]t is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:36-39) The apostle Paul also wrote that “your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete.” (1 Thess. 5:23) Our Lord Jesus, Paul, and the Old Testament records taught about the soul or spirit of a person that is living in the body. It is the life or the breath of God that made Adam a “living soul.” (Gen. 2:7, KJV)
Some students of the Bible see the soul as the outer “layer” of the spirit, and both soul and spirit are inside the human body. Hebrews 4:12 taught that “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit. Note the “division of soul and spirit.” They said the soul wraps together our will, affections and thoughts. It connects us with our fellow human beings; while the spirit connects us to God. It deals with faith, trust, worship, the love for giving to help the church, etc. They said it is the spirit that will be born again. Christ talked about it. Note John 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” He did not say “that which is born of the Spirit is” the soul.
Digging deeper, we also find the word “soul” used (instead of “spirit”) to refer to our state in the next life. We found one example in Matthew 10:28: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the SOUL; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both SOUL and body in hell.” Second, we need to love God with all our soul. (cf. Matt. 22:37) Third. In Christ’s parable of the Foolish Rich Man, our Lord said: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?'” (Luke 12:20) As we only know in part (See: 1 Cor. 13:9), we use both soul and spirit in this discussion interchangeably.
The Need of the Soul
The human soul needs the second birth to obtain complete forgiveness and salvation and to inherit eternal life. As I watched the YouTube video on the departed spirit caught like a human shadow of a dead woman standing and moving slowly when the police officer viewed the corpse, I felt receiving another affirmation that the Bible is the Word of God aside from the resurrection of Christ. It is the Book of truth and that my insistence about the urgency of salvation is just the right message as it is from God—it is biblical and our own eyes can prove its truth.
We need to be born again or death will come like a thief and God would judge our soul in hell and we suffer there forever. May I reiterate because of its importance. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” We cannot change that divine requirement. Our good words cannot give us the needed ticket to live in heaven. (See: Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:4-5; Is. 64:6)
How to be Born Again?
But how to be born again? This is Christ’s answer when Nicodemus inquired about it: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15) God ordered those bitten by the snakes sent by the Lord to punish sin to look at the bronze serpent to get healed and live. Here is how Number 21:8 recorded this Scripture: “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” (Num. 21:8) Christ said, do the same thing. Believe “the Son of Man” (Jesus) who was crucified because of our sins (lifted on a cross!) if you want to “have eternal life.” It is the message of the apostle Paul: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3)
The phrase “according to the Scriptures,” twice mentioned in one verse by Paul suggests the validity of the Gospel that Christ died to ransom us from the control and penalty of sin and that Christ resurrected to prove His Word. This structure is like a double-sided truth. If Christ is true, then the Bible is true. Or, if the Bible is true (hence, “according to the Scriptures”) then Christ is true since His story overflows in the Holy Bible. Since the Gospel whirls around the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection because of our sin, then the truth about the shedding of our Lord’s blood turns out as the key in unveiling the mystery of the second birth. Wrote John, “To Him [Jesus] who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood. . .. and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (Rev. 1:5b; 1 John 1:7b) [S]hepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. . .. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (Acts 20:28b; Rom. 5:8-9) From the Scriptures just quoted, the doctrine of our salvation by the miracle of the second birth cannot stand without the shed blood of Jesus. We are “justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”
Believe in Christ’s Finished Work
Do you trust in God’s Word on how you could be forgiven and live forever? Abraham, the father of all believers according to the apostle Paul (See: Galatians 3:6-7), trusted the Word of God to the point of giving his Son, Isaac, for a burnt offering to the Almighty. Then the angel of the Lord said, “’Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.” (Gen. 22:12-13) Two points become visible in this scene. One is Abraham’s faith, and second, the blood of the ram. The Isaac (represented by the ram) episode sums up the Gospel. Jesus, the Son of God, condescended to shed His blood for our salvation. Do you believe that Christ’s blood can wash away all your sins?
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 NASB.
What is Propitiation Through Faith in Christ’s Blood?
The Gospel is easy to grasp. God is holy, and we are sinners, and the propitiation for our sins is the blood of Jesus Christ. “Propitiation means the turning away of wrath by an offering. In relation to soteriology, propitiation means placating or satisfying the wrath of God by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.” (Charles C. Ryrie)
One poor illustration is a single mom giving her child to her father to appease his anger. Another is the ancient culture of throwing a newly born infant into the water to sacrifice for the crocodile-god. With Christ, He offered His own blood!
The Primary Concept of Propitiation
The main concept of propitiation is to cover our sins by the blood of Christ. God is holy, and we are not. In His divine presence, we will all die. We need a covering, the blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Observe Romans 3:22-26:
The concept of propitiation (reconciliation!) is also taught in the book of 1 John:
Do you want a divine forgiveness (not coming from your priest after confession!)? Then, trust and believe that Christ died for all of your sins (past, present, and future sins—He does not die every time you commit sin!). We need to accept and believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed His blood to give us forgiveness of sin through faith on His finished work at Calvary.
Christ died to make us, His followers, worthy for eternity with our Father God who requires a sinless perfection in Heaven. We cannot do it; only Christ can do it for us.
Matthew Henry’s commentary on 1 John 1:5-7*
2. For the conviction and consequent satisfaction of those that are near to God: But, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. As the blessed God is the eternal boundless light, and the Mediator is, from him, the light of the world, so the Christian institution is the great luminary that appears in our sphere, and shines here below. A conformity to this in spirit and practice demonstrates fellowship or communion with God. Those that so walk show that they know God, that they have received of the Spirit of God, and that the divine impress or image is stamped upon their souls. Then we have fellowship one with another, they with us and we with them, and both with God, in his blessed or beatific communications to us. And this is one of those beatific communications to us-that his Son’s blood or death is applied or imputed to us: The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. The eternal life, the eternal Son, hath put on flesh and blood, and so became Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ hath shed his blood for us, or died to wash us from our sins in his own blood. His blood applied to us discharges us from the guilt of all sin, both original and actual, inherent and committed: and so far we stand righteous in his sight; and not only so, but his blood procures for us those sacred influences by which sin is to be subdued more and more, till it is quite abolished, Gal 3:13-14.
(* from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)