As Jesus began to trouble the Jews more and more by His teaching, pointing out
their failings, their frustration with him grew. At first, they brought the
simple challenges to try to discredit him publicly. They ask questions of him
designed to fault his position: Mar 12:14 And when they were come, they say
unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou
regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it
lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we
not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
bring me a penny, that I may see [it]. 16 And they brought [it]. And he
saith unto them, Whose [is] this image and superscription? And they said unto
him, Caesar's. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar
the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they
marvelled at him.
A tougher question is brought out when the first one failed.
Mar 12:18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no
resurrection; and they asked him, saying, 19 Master, Moses wrote unto us,
If a man's brother die, and leave [his] wife [behind him], and leave no
children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his
brother. 20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and
dying left no seed. 21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he
any seed: and the third likewise. 22 And the seven had her, and left no
seed: last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection therefore,
when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to
Mar 12:24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not
therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given
in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
We can be sure the leaders of Jerusalem were non-stop in
their efforts to trap the Lord in a slip of the tongue, a mistake, any error in
Let me quickly set the background we’ll need to understand
their most devious experiment. In the Old Testament law, there is a test given
to a woman whose husband believes she has been unfaithful. Some refer to it as
the Trial of Bitter Waters. You can read the details in the 5th Chapter of
Numbers. Summarizing the events, a jealous or suspicious man brings an offering
with his wife before the priest in the temple; the priest places in his hand a
vessel of holy water while he writes curses on a book. Gathering dust from the
temple floor, he mixes it with the water and uses the blend to blot the curses.
The water, ink and dust are now all mixed together and given to the woman to
drink. When she drinks the mixture, it will cause her belly to swell and her
thigh to rot if she has been unfaithful. If innocent of the accusations, the
bitter water causes no harm.
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or
the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil 18 For verily I say
unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise
pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore
shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be
called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach
[them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Here comes the strongest test the rulers of the day can
Jhn 8:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And
early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto
him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees
brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the
midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in
the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be
stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they
might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with [his] finger wrote on
the ground, [as though he heard them not]. 7 So when they continued
asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin
among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped
down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard [it], being
convicted by [their own] conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the
eldest, [even] unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing
in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the
woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man
condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her,
Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
How hard do you imagine it might be to catch a random person
in the act of adultery? Was it the custom of the scribes to bust down every door
and inquire what was going on inside? This capture had to be timed so they could
find Jesus during his morning teaching in the temple. Something more sinister
than a happenstance observance of adultery had to take place. Either the woman
was tricked, forced against her will, or was such a creature of habit she was
Most people reading John 8 will invariably ask, “Where was
the man?” Indeed, if the woman was “taken in the very act,” the man had to be in
collusion with the scribes and Pharisees. The absence of the man helps clarify
our options about what probably took place in order to “catch” the woman.
Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what
sayest thou? Jesus did not need to be told what the law said, but now we see
the seriousness of the situation. Whether the woman was tricked, set-up or
followed, the rulers were so determined to trap Jesus in his own words they were
willing to commit murder. They will gladly sacrifice her to cause Jesus to
stumble. Think about it. This woman is going to be stoned to death if Christ
follows the law.
Lev 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with
[another] man's wife, [even he] that committeth adultery with his neighbour's
wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
We’ve always looked at this scenario as an example of the
love and forgiving nature of Christ. And certainly that shows here, but there’s
more. Much more.
But Jesus stooped down, and with [his] finger wrote on
the ground, [as though he heard them not]. Writing in the dust of the temple
floor, He who wrote the original law now writes the curses and begins the trail
of bitter waters.
All the elements are present. We have the woman, the temple,
the dust –Christ as the Offering for Sin, the Living Word, the Living Water, and
the High Priest.
Only one thing is missing. The man. The husband. He is the
only one who has the option of accusation. The spirit of jealousy must come upon
him. Unless the husband catches her, no other accuser will be heard.
Num 5:13 And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her
husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and [there be] no witness
against her, neither she be taken [with the manner]; Num 5:14 And the
spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be
defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his
wife, and she be not defiled:
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a
stone at her.
One by one the scribes and Pharisees left. Unfortunately, we get our mental
images from Hollywood and TV. Christ and the woman alone between the buildings.
Not so. The temple is still full of people, but up front, near Moses’ seat, only
Jesus and the woman. In the midst.
Woman, where are those thine accusers?
Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation,
and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the
accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and
Satan never appeared before God and made up idle things
about us. In the presence of the Creator he could not lie. He detailed our sins
and transgressions of the law. The law is the standard to which we were held.
Satan pointed out every time we broke God’s law.
This picture of the scribes and Pharisees departing in
frustration is like Satan’s final visit. He appears to accuse us before God,
only to see us covered in the blood of Christ, and then he is cast down, never
to appear before the throne again.
In this elaborate and devious scheme by the rulers, Christ
not only frustrates them, but fulfills the law to a jot and a tittle. He
conducts the trial of bitter waters on the woman and by doing so saves her from
being murdered. There stands no accuser before the Lord against the woman. How
wonderful for her the Holy water used to conduct the trail on this day could
never be bitter. Sweeter waters never existed. The offering of memorial required
by the law is Christ himself.
It is only with hindsight and revelation we can see all the
elements that were present that day. Psa 85:10 Mercy and truth are met
together; righteousness and peace have kissed [each other].
Jhn 8:16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I
am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
Fulfil, or fulfill
1. To bring into actuality; effect: fulfilled their promises.
2. 2.To carry out (an order, for example).
3. To measure up to; satisfy.
4. To bring to an end; complete.
Christ manifested the law, fulfilling, completing, carrying
out, measuring up, satisfying, bringing into actuality and completing it. Rom
10:4 For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that
believeth. Where is the man? Child of God, where is thy accuser? Neither do
I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
The New Birth Part I
The scriptures have a lot to say about being born again and the consequent
effects upon those who are born again. Many erroneous ideas have been put forth
about what man must/can do to cause himself to be born again. One highly popular
evangelist wrote a book on the subject of how man can be born again. The problem
with such concepts is that they simply are not true. The plain biblical teaching
is that God is sovereign in bringing about the new birth. By the term,
sovereign, we mean "independent of all others." God is under no dependency on
man to bring about the new birth. God does not cause anyone to be born again
because of their actions of either belief, works, or following a prescribed
course of action.
John 3:8 describes God's sovereignty in causing someone to
be born again. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound
thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whether it goeth: so is everyone
that is born of the Spirit." Just as God is sovereign, the wind is also
independent of the actions of man. "The wind bloweth where it listeth" No
man has ever had the power or knowledge to direct or control the direction or
force by which the wind blows. Likewise man does not have the power or knowledge
to bring about the new birth. "And thou hearest the sound thereof" While
we have the evidence of the wind's blowing, this knowledge is not a cause of the
wind's blowing, but is an effect of the wind's blowing.
Likewise there are many evidences of the new birth given
unto us to assure us of that birth, but those evidences are an effect of the
birth and not the cause. "But canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it
goeth" we are not able to pinpoint a place on earth and say the wind
originates here, or pinpoint a place on earth and say this is the final
destination of the wind. Thus we conclude the wind is totally independent of man
in its blowing, its direction, its origination and its destination. Likewise the
Holy Spirit is totally independent of man in bringing about the new birth. The
new birth takes place when and where the Holy Spirit chooses. Likewise it is
God's choice and not man's choice as to who will be born again and who won't be
Likewise John 3:6 teaches us the sovereignty of God in the
new birth and affirms that the new birth is not a cooperative endeavor between
God and man: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is
born of the Spirit is spirit." In our natural birth it is the actions of the
flesh that brought about our natural birth into the world. Even here, it was not
our actions, but our parent's actions that brought about our natural birth. By
parallel, the spiritual birth is brought about by the Holy Spirit. Again it is
the actions of the Holy Spirit that brings about this spiritual birth and not
our actions. The Lord
said in John 6:63, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth
nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life."
Now if I in my flesh could do something to help bring about the new birth, then
there would be a profit in the flesh, but the Lord affirms that there is no
profit in the flesh, but that the Holy Spirit does the quickening (new birth).
Similarly, John 1:11 13 teaches us that God is sovereign in bringing about the
new birth: "He came unto his own...even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of
man, but of God." This passage teaches the Sovereignty of God in causing us
to be born again by first ruling all other possible causes. First, man's belief
is ruled out as a cause for the passage shows that the birth took place prior to
man's belief. This leaves us with the only logical conclusion that belief cannot
be a cause of the new birth. Secondly, the new birth is not the result of a
blood relationship to Abraham or anyone else. Thirdly, the new birth is not the
result of the will or desire of the flesh. Man, by nature, does not desire to be
born again. Fourthly, the new birth is not the result of man's will or choice.
Thus, man does not choose to be born again and because of his choice the new
birth comes about. Therefore, having ruled out all other possible causes of the
new birth, John simply states that the new birth is "of God." While there are
other scriptures, which show God's sovereignty in bringing about the new birth,
these sufficiently prove God's independence of man in causing anyone to be born
The New Birth Part II
In our last installment we looked at the sovereign work of
God in bringing about the new (spiritual) birth in an individual. In this
installment we will look at the condition of man prior to being born again and
see his total inability to do anything to bring about the new birth.
Ephesians 2:1, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead
in trespasses and sins..." The word, "quicken," means to make alive." When
we "were dead in trespasses and sins" we were "made alive" spiritually. Our
condition prior to being born again was "dead in trespasses and sins."
Verses 2 and 3 describe this condition of being "dead in
trespasses and sins," "Wherein in time past (i.e., prior to being born
again) ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the
prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of
disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the
lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and
were by nature the children of wrath even as others." When we "were dead in
trespasses and sins," we "walked according to the course of this world." The
course of this world is abomination to God. The scriptures say that whosoever is
the friend of "this world" is the enemy of God. Thus, we conclude that when we
were dead in trespasses and sins that we were the "enemies of God."
Secondly, we followed after the "prince of the power of
the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Jesus
is the "prince of peace." Satan is the "prince of the power of the air." We,
being dead in trespasses and sins walked after Satan and had the spirit of Satan
working in us as he now works in the children of disobedience.
Thirdly, we had our "conversation" or life style "in the
lusts of our flesh..." Paul said "that in me that is in my flesh dwelleth no
good thing." "The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride
of life is not of the father but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). For our
life style to be after fleshly lust is to live selfishly and carnally.
Fourthly, we "fulfilled the desires of the flesh and of the
mind." Thus we weren't just walking after them, but we were actually doing those
things. Fifthly, our nature was the same nature that the children of wrath now possess,
i.e., we "were by nature the children of wrath even as others." This was our
condition before we were born again.
We have described in Romans 3:9 18 our condition under the
law of sin and death from which bondage we were delivered by the law of the
spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). It is said of man before the new
birth that "There is none righteous, no, not one." Thus we conclude that before
we were born again we were in our fleshly state totally unrighteous before God.
Secondly, we are told that "there is none that
understandeth." I Corinthians 2:14 says that "the natural man receiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither
can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned." Without the new birth
we cannot discern spiritual things, we cannot know them and we cannot understand
them. We must be born again to understand the gospel, to know God, and to
discern spiritually the word of God.
Thirdly, we read where "there is none that seeketh after
God." Prior to being born again, no man will nor can seek after God. How
foolish it is that men will say that seeking after God is a prerequisite
condition for being born again. Contrariwise a man must be born again in order
to be able to seek after God.
"there is none that doeth good, no not one." Prior to being born again a
man cannot do good. Is being baptized, or believing the gospel, or repenting, or
believing on the Lord Jesus Christ doing good? If it is, then man must be born
again prior to doing any of those things.
Finally, we read that "there is no fear of God before
their eyes." A man who does not fear God will not come to God. Therefore, a
man cannot come to God prior to being born again.
Jesus said in John 6:63, "It is the spirit that
quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they
are spirit and they are life." If I through preaching the gospel or you
through believing the gospel can bring about the new birth, then there is a
profit in our fleshly undertakings and the Lord was wrong. He never has nor will
make a mistake. His spoken voice gives life, not our deeds!
We conclude with John 5:25, "Verily, verily, I say unto
you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the
Son of God: and they that hear shall live." When we were dead in trespasses
and sins we heard the life giving voice of the Son of God speaking spiritual
life into our very being and thus we now live spiritually.
Having that spiritual life we can understand spiritual
things, seek after God, know God, do good, worship God, fear God, believe the
gospel, repent, and become the disciple of Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for
his unspeakable gift!
The New Birth Part III
The new birth is compared to or said to be many things
including: resurrection, circumcision, and creation. In this installment we will
look at the new birth as a spiritual "creation." First, the bible tells us that
God is the only creator as follows:
a. Ephesians 3:9, "...who created all things by Jesus
b. Colossians 1:16, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven,
and that are in earth, visible and invisible...all things were created by him,
and for him."
c. Revelation 4:11, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive
glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy
pleasure they are and were created."
Since God is the only creator, thus, by inference man has
created nothing, nor is he capable of creating anything.
Secondly, while God completed his natural creation in six
days and rested on the seventh, his creation of spiritual things continues as
evidenced by Revelation 4:11 where it is said that for God's "pleasure they
are and were created." The word "are" indicates a now creation whereas the
word "were" indicates a past creation. Natural creation is past, spiritual
Third, those who are born again are said to be the created workmanship of God in
Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto
good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." In
Ephesians 4:24 we read, "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is
created in righteousness and true holiness." Thus, we conclude that the "new
man" is the creation of God. In the new birth the inner or new man is created in
righteousness and true holiness by our faithful Creator.
Fourth, those who are born again are said to be new
creatures as follows:
a. II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new
b. Galatians 6:15, "For in Christ Jesus neither
circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."
Furthermore, the use of the term, creature, in the New
Testament has reference to those who are born again in all but a few scriptures
in which natural creation is indicated by the context.
Fifth, when we are born again (created) we are given a new
set of senses. We are told in I Corinthians 2:9, 14 that the natural senses and
the natural man cannot discern spiritual things. It is only after we have been
born again (created) that we are enabled to have senses that can discern
spiritual things. Eight times in the gospels and eight times in the book of
Revelation we are told, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear..."
These verses have reference to spiritual ears for we cannot discern spiritual
things through the natural man. Also we are told that "Except a man be born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Thus it takes spiritual eyes to
perceive that spiritual kingdom. In addition, since God is a Spirit we must have
spiritual feeling in order to "feel after him" (Acts 17:27). Furthermore, to
"taste the heavenly gift" (Hebrews 6:4) and to "taste the good word of God"
(Hebrews 6:5) and to "taste that the Lord is gracious" (I Peter 2:3) takes
spiritual taste buds that we come into possession of when we are born again
Finally, to perceive the odor of a sweet smell from
Christian sacrifices (Philippians 4:18) we must possess a spiritual nose.
In conclusion, God alone and without the help or assistance
of man creates us spiritually (causes us to be born again). We must have been
created spiritually in order to perceive spiritual things. Thus to hear and
respond to the gospel we must have been born again. For these reasons we may
conclude that the gospel is for those already born again and not for those who
haven't been born again. (To be continued.)
Elder Vernon Johnson