Shelby G. Floyd
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I love the “ancient words” from the word of God and from the song (Ancient Words) that we have just sung. The longer we live and the more we read and study God’s word, the more beautiful they become. It was good to hear the reading of the “ancient words” from Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus (Ephesians 3:14-21).
The last time I spoke to you about three weeks ago our lesson was on “The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart.” At that time we pointed out that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, his magicians had something to do with hardening his heart, and the Bible declares over and over again that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. As a result God brought ten plagues upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, the last of which was the death of the firstborn sons of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. It was at this point that Pharaoh urged the children of Israel to leave Egypt as rapidly as they could.
From all of this, we learn that the condition of our heart is ultimately up to each one of us. We have the final say as to how receptive our heart will be to the word of God. So today I want to continue that theme on a positive note. Our lesson today is on the indwelling of Christ in our heart. All of us desire to to think, speak and act better than we normally do. But we will never reach the fullness of faith, hope, and love until Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. In that regard I have always loved the Scripture that Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). So we want Christ to live in our hearts. But how does Christ live in our hearts? He lives in our hearts by faith! Why did he want us to let him live in our hearts? Because he loves us, he died for us and he cleanses us by his precious blood shed on Calvary. Continue reading “THE INDWELLING CHRIST”
Shelby G. Floyd
It is a great blessing when a new birth takes place in a family. The congregation has been blessed by the birth of a new baby boy in recent weeks. We have observed the joy and happiness this brings to the family. In the same way, when one is “born again” or “born from above,” there is great joy in heaven and on earth among the people of God. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5).
BORN INTO THREE KINGDOMS
Have you been born into God’s kingdom? We enter every kingdom by birth. We are all now citizens of the kingdom of nature. How did we enter that kingdom? We entered the kingdom of nature by a physical birth. It made natural beings out of us because we live in a natural kingdom. The church is the kingdom of God. It’s a spiritual kingdom. How do we enter into that kingdom? We enter the spiritual kingdom of God by a spiritual birth of water and of the Spirit. What kind of beings does it make out of us? It makes beings correspondent to the constitution of that kingdom. It makes gracious beings out of us because we are saved by the grace of God. And finally, one of these days when Jesus comes back again our bodies are going to be resurrected out of the grave. Jesus, by His resurrection, is said to be the firstborn of the dead. If He’s the firstborn, then that implies that others will follow. When we’re born from the dead, it will be a birth of and from the grave. The birth from the grave will induct us into the everlasting kingdom. This will be the heavenly state. What kind of beings will it make out of us? Our nature will be correspondent to the nature of that kingdom. We will be glorious beings not subject to death. We will have a spiritual body. We will see Jesus as He really is. We’ll be like Him. We’ll share in His glory. A natural birth makes natural beings. It brings us into a natural kingdom. A spiritual birth makes us spiritual beings and brings us into a spiritual kingdom and a glorious birth will make glorious beings out of us and will conduct us into a glorious kingdom—heaven itself. The new birth into the kingdom of God is a connecting vestibule between the kingdom of nature and the kingdom of glory. You need to participate in it. The new birth is not an option. Jesus also said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Continue reading “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN”
Shelby G. Floyd
1 Peter 1:22-25
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
We have just lived to see the new birth of our second great grand-daughter and expect the new birth of our first great grand-son next month. The physical new birth of a child is one of the great wonders of life and blessing from God. An even greater wonder is how Almighty God can take a sin-laden person and give that person new life spiritually, with the promise of everlasting life to come.
In a conversation with Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, Jesus stated that there must be a radical change before he could enter the kingdom of God. In highly figurative language, Jesus spoke of this radical change under the figure of a new birth. “Most assuredly, 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, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3: 3-5 NKJV). Continue reading “The New Birth”