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the first victory over death

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the realm 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, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the realm of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3: 1-8

The certainty of death may have blinded us to its origin – and its cure.

Last week’s Info for Islanders (“the first death – the first murder”) drew attention to the Bible’s explanation of the entry of death into the world. It was brought in by mankind – the first death on earth was a murder on one man by another.

But the origin of that murder – the murderous intent, as it were – was jealousy, intangible spiritual jealousy. That jealousy arose, inevitably, from the focus of one individual to get ahead of another.  More generally, (as with all mankind) our self-interest leads us to harm – and not bless – others. It is leading President Assad to kill. It has led to the American people sanctioning assassination.

If the origin of death is really as the Bible says it is then what is the cure? Is there a cure? Or is there, perhaps and instead, a possibility of a new life in addition to the one which we’re all living in the here and now in Jersey?
‘Without the Spirit of God we can do nothing but add sin to sin.’ (John Wesley, preacher, 1703-1791)

First, would you agree that life and death can be described by the following equation: [Richard Syvret dead] equals (=) [Richard Syvret alive] minus (-) [Richard Syvret’s intangible “spirit” i.e. “breath”]?

Second, please then try to think in the following way about Jesus. In John’s first century biography, John the Baptist, said this about Jesus around AD 30. “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Jesus will baptize – will immerse- you with the Holy “Spirit”. The original Greek word for “spirit” in this biography is “pneuma”. It means “breath” and is a shorthand word to describe the “life” of any “living” thing.

Third, take a look now at the words in bold above also from John’s biography. Jesus, talking one night to a religious leader around AD 30 says to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the realm of God” and “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the realm of God.”

Fourth, go back now to the equation above. It can be put in this way: [Richard Syvret alive] equals (=) [Richard Syvret dead] plus (+) [Richard Syvret’s intangible “spirit” or “breath”].  According to Jesus (and he prefaced his statements in bold above with the word “Truly” four times) a person who wishes to see and enter the realm of God needs to be born “of the Spirit” – of the Holy Spirit. He must have the Holy intangible breath and life of God within him.
‘The Holy Spirit is the great beautifier of souls.’ (John Owen, theologian, 1616-1683)

The equation then becomes (in this life): [A true living Christian] equals (=) [that Christian’s dead body] plus (+) [that Christian’s intangible “spirit” or “breath”] plus (+) [the Holy “Spirit” or “breath” or “life” within that Christian]. And what a change that makes……..

At death, the holy “life” of the Christian continues. So true is this that the first century Christians described death as merely “sleep”.

What do you think? Is that the cure? If so, how do we “get” the Holy Spirit?

This is Jesus’ later message to Nicodemus. “The Son of Man must be lifted up [on a cross], so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” And this Jesus is the man whom God raised from the dead after three days.
Richard Syvret

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