WHAT THE NEW BIRTH IS NOT

Revelation 3:1

 

I. Intro.

A. in this passage we have a description of a spiritual false conversion

1. this is a description of the New Birth in profession and appearance only

a) here is conversion in all but reality

b) here is spiritual life, but it is only the appearance of life

2. the life they thought they had was an illusion, a fiction, a counterfeit

a) the very life itself was death

b) can the imagination conceive of a state that is more sad or appalling

c) to believe that we are born again, and claim the privileges of the truly converted, while still dwelling in the region and shadow of spiritual death

d) this is a most dangerous and fatal spiritual conditions

B. with such deception in the world, it is proper that we show what is not real conversion

1. certainly this subject bears the mark of infinite importance

2. if apart from the New Birth there is no grace here, and no glory hereafter, then every thoughtful person must ask, "Is mine a real or a false conversion? Am I truly born again?"

C. today, we intend to show how far one may advance in a profession of Christianity, and not be born again; which is to have a name that they live, and yet dead

II. A Spiritually-Enlightened Understanding, Or A Intellectual Understanding Of Divine Truth, Is Not The New Birth

A. light is not life; light may shine through a window into the chamber of the dead, but the corpse upon which it shines will remain lifeless, a corpse still

B. an individual may have an enlightened understanding, a sound judgment, and an intelligent mind, and yet be entirely severed from spiritual life

1. we may accept the Bible as wholly true, believe its history, understand it intellectually, and expound upon it skillfully, but still not be born again

2. this is only substituting knowledge, for spiritual life in the soul

C. Divine truth demands more than the mere approval of our understanding

1. Divine truth does not bypass reason, nor set aside the intellectual powers of man

2. Divine truth appeals to these, and demand its belief, but it must enter the heart

3. in the heart it puts forth its mightiest power, and achieves its greatest triumph:  securing our affections for Christ

D. our theology may be biblical, our creed orthodox, our mind well-furnished with Christian evidence, and still have no more spiritual life, than a cold corpse

III. Religious Emotion Is Not The New Birth

A. we may have deep, intense, religious feelings; and yet have death in our soul

1. our conscience may be aroused, and our feelings may be excited when we are brought into close contact with Divine truth

2. a description of Christ's sufferings may melt us to tears, heaven's glory may charm us with hope, hell's woe may paralyze us with fear, but spiritual death may still reign within our soul

B. real conversion does not harden the natural feelings; there is no real conversion apart from feelings, and often the most profound and intense feelings

1. a true spiritual conviction of sin will sometimes bring the soul to its lowest depths

2. it was so with the tax-collector, and with the Philippian jailer

3. there is nothing so startling and appalling, as a spiritual sight of the heart's depravity

4. who can have an insight into this dark chamber, this seat of all iniquity, and not shudder, and tremble, and weep, and exclaim, "What must I do to be saved"

C. deep religious feeling, and great alarm may co-exist with spiritual death in the soul

1. the stony-ground hearer received the word with joy

2. Herod heard John preach the gospel with gladness

3. the devils believes and trembles

4. emotions may exist apart from a spiritual change of heart; beware, of this deception

IV. The Possession And Exercise Of Spiritual Gifts Does Not Reveal True Conversion - Matt 7:22-23

A. the history of the Church gives lamentable proof of the existence of spiritual gifts even without converting grace

B. those who are endowed with popular gifts, should tremble lest they be found substituting these flashy ornaments, for the spiritual renewal of the heart

1. true conversion leads the possessor to walk holily and humbly with God

2. a man may speak with great eloquence, without one spark of real love for God

3. how easy the deception; how woeful the result

C. human intellectualism and eloquence is often accepted as the real thing, even though the man is totally severed from all spiritual life

1. these are distinguished weapons of Satan and of Error

2. by these, Satan and his ministers seek to overturn the foundations of truth and righteousness, and to sow the seeds of "damnable heresies," which deliver men's souls to everlasting perdition

D. great gifts, without great grace, has always been a scourge of the professing Church

1. to do the Lord's work in a spirit of self- denial, lowliness, and love, brings more honor and glory to God, than the exercise of the most dazzling gifts

2. grace empties us of self, sanctifies our hearts, and fills us with the mind and temper of Christ

V. A High Standard Of Morality May Exist Apart From True Conversion

A. the ungodly and unconverted world furnishes many examples of this

1. men of integrity and uprightness in their domestic, social, and commercial life; who can walk among their peers with dignity and honor, and yet living in the region of spiritual death

2. it is true, there is no spiritual life without morality, but there may be morality without spiritual life

3. the morals of life may bud and blossom upon human character without any vital attachment to Christ

4. it is fruit, but not the fruit of righteousness, nor the result of faith and love

B. this morality is a righteousness, such as the proud, boasting Pharisee wrapped around himself, when with disdain, he looked down upon his humble fellow-worshiper in the temple

C. one may be a man of virtue and honesty, kindness and integrity, and yet not be born again of the Spirit

1. it may look like implanted spiritual life, but it is life that is in alliance with death - Matthew 5:20

2. they have a name that they LIVE and are DEAD

VI. An External Profession Of Christ Is Not Real Conversion

A. this is perhaps, the most popular, and the most plausible and fatal error

1. there is something in an avowed profession of Christianity that makes it seem genuine and true

2. it causes a strong and deceptive feeling of self-complacency, whereby multitudes are ensnared by the delusion

3. some think that the external clothing of a sheep is all that is necessary to authenticate our union with the Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the flock

B. how few in society are not professors of religion

1. many wear the external clothing of heaven, the uniform of the Christian, the holy name of Christ

2. Judas Iscariot was a professor and an apostle, yet betrayed his Lord and Master

VII. Baptism And The Lord's Supper Possess No Converting, Sanctifying, Or Saving Value

A. those who maintain that Baptism converts the soul, or that the Lord's Supper gives saving grace, contradict the direct teaching of God's Word

1. those who believe that saving grace comes through these ordinances, blasphemously ignore the work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth

2. they reduce conversion, which is the most monumental change that can possibly take place in the soul, to a mere observance of an external rite

3. if this sacramental notion of theology is true, then the teaching of the Bible on the subject of the new birth is false; the two views are diametrically opposed to one another

B. let God be true, and every man who disregards His word a liar - Galatians 6:15

 

1. the righteousness of Christ is the foundation of the believing sinner's acceptance

2. can we reduce the great spiritual change, apart from which there is no salvation, to a mere submission to a rite

3. many baptized people are now living in the hostility of a carnal mind against God; they are the captives of Satan and the servants of sin

4. sacramental grace and baptismal regeneration are the pre-eminent lies of Satan; the most subtle and fatal weapon which this foe ever forged for the destruction of men's souls

C. if anyone builds their hope of glory upon baptism, they are lost for all eternity

1. the Bible says, "Ye must be born again," if you are to enter the kingdom of heaven - John 3:3

2. if you are not born again of the Spirit, you have no grounds for hope

3. if you have staked your eternal happiness on Baptism, then you have staked it upon the most fatal lie

VIII. Conclusion

A. so long as we have a name that we live, but are really dead, we will cherish the delusion that all is right with our soul

1. this deception feeds and strengthens itself

2. of all deceptions, self-deception is the most fearful

3. to go down to the grave dreaming that we are truly converted, while we know nothing of a sense of sin, faith in Jesus, and love to God, is more fearful still

B. such a state is perilous, because once it becomes fixed, it is the most difficult state to change