Lessons from the Gospel of John: Understanding Salvation

“The person who comes from above is superior to everyone. I, a person from the earth, know nothing but what is on earth, and that's all I can talk about. The person who comes from heaven is superior to everyone and tells what he has seen and heard. Yet, no one accepts what he says.  (John 3:31-32)

John the Baptist said that Jesus came from above, that is, Heaven, and is superior to all that is on earth. He acknowledged that Jesus came from the Father several times in the few places that his ministry was recorded.  This is something that seems obvious to us today. We have the “head knowledge” that Jesus was sent from God and that He is above us. Yet how often do we actually listen to and obey His teaching?

I am only a human. I can only relate to the physical things of the earth. Spiritual matters are as far above me as they were to the humans in John’s day. However, I have an advantage that John the Baptist didn’t have.  On the Day of Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell with man and this opened up the things of God to me and you in a way that no one before this day could really understand. In the Old Testament God used physical Laws about eating, clothing and sacrifice to picture (or model) the spiritual world for His people.  In the New Testament God speaks to us of spiritual things directly. This is because we have “the helper” (John chapters 14-16).   John the Baptist said that all he could talk about was things of the earth. He did talk about repentance and changing behaviors in a very Old Testament fashion. There are even some Bible scholars who call him the last of the Old Testament (old covenant) prophets.  Paul, Peter and the other apostles talk about godly things directly. Most importantly we see an emphasis on our relationship with Jesus. In the Old Testament God's people were told how to act, in the New Testament we are told to have a relationship with Jesus and that because of this relationship we would know how to act, as prompted by the Holy Spirit.

I can understand how the people in John’s day would not understand and accept what Jesus was saying. They were born of water only. Today, we have God's great gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us and teach us all things (John 14:26). Yet people still do not believe what He tells us! How sad.

The only way that we can begin to understand these spiritual matters is to have a relationship with Jesus. This means being born of the Spirit (John 3:3-17).  Going to church is good and we should go to worship and learn, but going to church won't get you into heaven or open the door of your heart to spiritual matters.  Accepting that Jesus died on a cross for your sins, was buried and three days later was resurrected from the dead is the only way that you can begin to understand what God is saying in His Word. This is the only door through which we can go to become God's children (John 14:16). Have you accepted Jesus?

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