The Clear Word 

A Ministry Of Mid-State Ministries  



THE DOCTRINE OF REGENERATION

J O H N    3 : 1 - 2 1
PART 3:  VERSES 12-14
by
Carl  Whorley,  Lewistown,  Montana


 

JOHN 3:12-14


[12] If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
[13] And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
[14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
 
Welcome to part three of this paper.  Should you wish to have parts 1 & 2 of this paper please feel free to let us know and it will be sent to you immediately upon request.
 
The purpose of this paper is to examine the Biblical Doctrine of Regeneration and it's surrounding ramifications.  The Doctrine of Regeneration is one which is in totality, inexhaustible.  For our discussion, we have used the text of John 3:1-21. 
 
In parts one and two of this paper, we have looked at how Nicodemus approaches Jesus at night for not only the purpose of anonymity, but that also that was an act of respect on the part of Nicodemus. We looked at how Jesus immediately comes to the point with Nicodemus.  Informing him that though he is the highest ranking teacher of the Scriptures in Israel, he himself needs to be born again.  We looked at how the phrase, born again, is actually the definition to the word regeneration. 
 
However, one profound observation which immediately comes into focus, is that though Nicodemus is the highest ranking teacher in Israel, he knows nothing about what it means to be regenerated or, born again.  And that the reason which Jesus Himself is approaching Nicodemus concerning this subject, is because Jesus is telling Nicodemus that should he die at that particular moment, despite all of his religiosity, he would not go to Heaven. 
 
Nicodemus even, at first in John 3:4, believes that being born again is when he could by some miraculous event, find a way to re-enter his own mothers womb and be born again.  And to add to this perplexity, given the age of Nicodemus, one might could conclude that his mother has been deceased for quite some years time.  
 
In John 3:5, Jesus points out that in order for a person to go to Heaven, first they must be born of the water.  We concluded that in this scenario water represents the written Word of God, and of the Spirit.  This would be Holy Spirit. 
 
In John 3:9, we see the nature of Nicodemus' frustration.  That being, he has no idea what Jesus is talking about.  In his world of scholarly learning and advanced degrees in education, the only response which Nicodemus can give to all that Jesus has said is, John 3:9...Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
 
Here in part 3, of this paper, I want us to focus our attention to John 3:12-14.
 
[12] If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
[12] ei ta epigeia eipon umin kai ou pisteuete pwV ean eipw umin ta epourania pisteusete
 
Nicodemus is portraying the confusion of an unsaved person who is struggling to understand spiritual matters which he cannot comprehend. His mind is struggling to understand what his spirit cannot conceive. However, Jesus, characteristically, will maintain a patient persistence until Nicodemus attains the desired revelation.
 
Jesus has attempted to use earthly things as an allegory of Heavenly things.  Example, in verses 3 and 5, the matter of being born.  In verse 5, the example of water.  In verse 6, the example of flesh.  And in verse 8, the example of wind. 
 
And then Jesus speaks to Nicodemus concerning earthly things in an effort to describe Heavenly things.  Example, in verse 3, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about being regenerated/born again that he may see the Kingdom of God.  In verse 5, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about being regenerated/born again through the power of the water, which is the Written Word of God, and Holy Spirit that one may enter the Kingdom of God.  In verse 6, Jesus attempts to show Nicodemus the difference between flesh and spirit.  Then in verse 8, showing how that the wind acts like Holy Spirit when showing someone their need to be regenerated/born again.
 
It would be quite well here to once again recall our attention regarding a certain passage presented by the Apostle Paul.  That being I Corinthians 2:14.
 
I Corinthians 2:14...But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
 
Nicodemus is a natural man, or unregenerated man attempting to comprehend spiritual truths through a fleshly mind.  He finds himself frustrated and even the more confused then he was at the beginning of their discussion.  If it is religion of which one would want to speak with Nicodemus, then religion he will understand.  For religion is earthy or of the flesh.  However, the fact that he cannot even begin to grasp spiritual matters is indicative of his unregenerated condition.  For spiritual matters are Heavenly in nature and not of this earth nor of the flesh.  Nicodemus needs to be saved.  Nicodemus needs to be born again.  Nicodemus needs to be regenerated.
 
Let's take a look at the six times in which the word religion appears in the Bible:
 
Acts 13:43...Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
 

Acts 26:5...Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
 
Galatians 1:13-14...For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
 
James 1:26-27...If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
 
[13] And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
[13] kai oudeiV anabebhken eiV ton ouranon ei mh o ek tou ouranou katabaV o uioV tou anqrwpou o wn en tw ouranw

All that Nicodemus understands are earthly allegories while Jesus is attempting to convey to him Heavenly instructions. In Johannine, only the saving will of the Heavenly Father and the saving action of Jesus Christ, characterize the Heaven from which Jesus not only comes from, but also, the Heaven to which He would ascend again.  This is why, in Johannine, this particular Divine will uses the Greek word  epouranioV/epouranios. Which means, that if Nicademus cannot grasp the earthly examples and parables, then how is he supposed to grasp the heavenly examples and parables?  He is attempting to grasp a world for which he cannot even begin to comprehend.  Therefore, Jesus remains patient and steadfast until Nicodemus does comprehend these truths.
 
John 3:13 is a verse whereby our Savior has much to say concerning both regeneration and also eschatology.
 
The English word ascended comes from the Greek word anabainw/anabaino.  It means to supernaturally rise or transcend. 
 
John 3:13, is another way of stating John 14:6.  In John 14:6...Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
 
In John 3:13, Jesus is stating that if you wish to go to Heaven, then you must turn to the one who can ascend and descend between Heaven and Earth at will.  You must turn to the one who, though on this earth for just a little while, His home is in Heaven with the Heavenly Father.  That one would be the Man in the Glory, Jesus Christ our Precious Lord.
 
John 3:13 tells us that Jesus is at not only at home on the earth but also in Heaven as well.  This would attest to the Omnipresence of Jesus Christ.  In that He can be on the earth and in Heaven at the same time.  In John 3:13, you have both divine as well as human characteristics and qualities ascribed to the person of Christ.
 
John 1:51...And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
 
John 6:62...What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
 
This also takes us to the subject of the Rapture of the Church.  The pre-tribulation event.  In order for the saints to be translated from the earthly to the Heavenly, it will require this to be carried out be someone who would comfortably contain such powers and abilities within Himself.  The only person who can do this is Jesus Christ.
 
In his lifetime, there was one question in which Albert Einstein could not answer.  He knew that an atom could get from point A to point B.  However, the atom did not travel the distance between point A to point B.  It simply left point A and then was at point B without ever traveling the distance between the two points.  What baffled Einstein to no end, is how does the atom do that?  It is my own personal opinion, that this is how the Rapture of the Church will take place.  We will be here on the earth which is point A.  Then in less than the twinkling of an eye, we will be at point B, which is our Heavenly home in that Heavenly City.
 
I Corinthians 15:52...In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
 
I Thessalonians 4:16-17...For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
 
We have several pictorials in the Bible of Jesus supernaturally taking saints to Heaven:
 
Enoch:
Genesis 5:21-24...And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:  And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:  And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
 
Can you imagine living so close, so pure, so holy before the Heavenly Father, that when time came to leave this world, our Father did not want Enoch to die.  But instead, the Heavenly Father personally came and took him.
 
Hebrews 11:5...By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Elijah:
II Kings 2:11...And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
 
The Apostle Paul:
II Corinthians 12:1-3...It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.   I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
 
Ephesians 4:8-10...Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
 
The Apostle John:
John 20:17...Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
 
Revelation 4:1-2...After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
 
Luke:
Luke 24:51...And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
Acts 1:9-11...And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;  Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
 
Meaning, that what John 3:13 is trying to convey to us, is that Jesus Christ out Lord can be in both Heaven and earth at the same precise moment in time.  This Doctrine is called the Omnipresence of Jesus Christ.  And that at the moment of death, or at the moment of the Pre-tribulational Rapture of the Church, it is Jesus Christ through His own resurrection might and power, who will transport all regenerated/born again believers, both dead and alive, to Heaven.  If that person has been regenerated through and by the shed blood of Jesus our Lord.  For Jesus Christ Himself is mankind's one and only hope for ever seeing our eternal home in Heaven.  There is no other way.
 
Acts 1:9-11...And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;  Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
 
Jesus is attempting to convey to Nicodemus that He has not come to manufacture another religion that demands everything and promises nothing.  But that Jesus is come down from Heaven in order to purchase for all mankind, the ability to go to Heaven when this life is over.  Whether by death and the grave, or by the Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church.
 
John 10:10...The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
 
[14] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
[14] kai kaqwV mwshs uywsen ton ofin en th erhmw outwV uywqhnai dei ton uion tou anqrwpou
 
Since Nicodemus was not getting the point, Jesus went to an area whereby he would understand.  That being the Old Testament Scriptures.  Jesus will now attempt to draw Nicodemus a picture of regeneration. 
 
After leaving Egypt, Israel made reference many times to how nice their life was in Egypt and how hard it was in the wilderness. 
 
Numbers 21:5-9...And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.  And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.  And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
 
In the Bible, brass is designated by Scripture as copper in Deuteronomy 8:9.  It was used for fetters in Judges 16:21 & II Kings 25:7. Copper is also used for armor in I Samuel 17:5-6.  Brass is used  for musical instruments I Chronicles 15:19 & I Corinthians 13:1.  Brass is also used for hard currency in Matthew 10:9.

In the Bible, brass is a symbol of insensibility and obstinacy in sin in Isaiah 48:4; Jeremiah 6:28 & Ezekiel 22:18.  Brass is also used for strength in Psalms 107:16 & Micah 4:13.
The Macedonian empire is described as a kingdom of brass in Daniel 2:39.  The "mountains of  brass" spoken of in Zechariah 6:1, represents the immutable decrees of God.
The serpent of brass was made by Moses at the command of God in Numbers 21:4-9,  and elevated on a pole so that it might be seen by all the people when wounded by the bite of the serpents that were sent to them as a punishment for their murmurings against God and against Moses. It was afterwards carried by the Jews into Canaan, and preserved by them till the time of Hezekiah, who caused it to be at length destroyed because it began to be viewed by the people with superstitious reverence in II Kings 18:4.  It here the same identical serpent alluded to by our Lord here in this particular text.   
 
Numbers 21:4-9 teaches us a very valuable lesson about the character of our Heavenly Father.  That being, His apparent disdain of believers who complain.     Our Heavenly Father knows what He is doing.  He is under total control of all situations.  Let Him finish His work.  I assure you that you will love His outcome. 
 
In Numbers 21:5-9, Israel begins to complain about God and Moses.  They then refer, again, to their life in Egypt. One of the numerous gods of Egypt was the serpent which the Egyptians worshiped.  When God made the fiery serpents and they began to bite and kill Israelites, this was a picture of sin and how it can destroy one's life.  And that the only remedy for sin would be when sin was finally overcame on the cross of Christ. Meaning, that in order for a lost sinner to be saved and go to Heaven, he must look to the cross of Christ where sin was destroyed and paid for.
 
Jesus refers Nicodemus to Numbers 21:5-9.  The children of Israel have sinned against God.  Once again, they complain how hard the wilderness is as compared to their life of slavery in Egypt.  God sends fiery serpents among the Israelites to start biting and killing them.  In consequence, they repent.
 
God tells Moses to construct a serpent made from brass and put it on a pole.  If the Israelites will look at it when bitten, they will live.  Please note here Isaiah 45:22.
Isaiah 45:22...Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.  This is the verse of Scripture which brought C. H. Spurgeon to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
 
In the Bible, Egypt and serpents represent sin.  Brass the judgement of sin.  The pole, or cross, the place of the execution of that judgement. 
 
The message here is quite simple.  On the cross, Jesus became that serpent or sin for all mankind who is guilty of sin for which Jesus was punished.  And upon casting our gaze toward that cross, and by accepting what Jesus did for us on that cross, we can be regenerated/born again and know that our sins are forgiven and that Heaven will be our eternal home.  When it comes to sin, Jesus did all of the suffering, bleeding and dying.  We walked away...free.
 
In this particular scenario, Egypt represents the slavery in which the unsaved person was in before salvation.  The serpent represents our Lord and Savior.  Brass represents the punishment for sin.  And the pole represents the cross upon which our Savior died.
 
Israel was complaining that they enjoyed their life of slavery and bondage to Egypt rather than being free in the Heavenly Father.  Their complaining was harsh and incessant.  Thus, the Heavenly Father sent among them serpents made of fire and the serpents began to bite the Israelites and those bitten would die.  Such as is the end result of a life bitten by sin and rebellion. 
 
Isaiah 45:22 remains just as true today as it was in the days of both Moses and Jesus.  When a repentant sinner turns their eyes to the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only, that sinner is looking in the right direction.  For Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ only and His sacrificial work on the cross upon which He was sacrificed and died, is one and only way for a person to have any hope in Heaven what so ever.
 
Ephesians 2:8-9...For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.
 
I do truly trust that part 3 of this paper has been a blessing to you. In the next part of this paper, part 4, we are going to examine John 3:15-18.
 
Psalms 122:6...Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:  they shall prosper that love thee.
 
 
God Bless You Very Much
Carl Whorley,
Lewistown, Montana