I recently heard a Sermon on Matthew 3:15. The verse was posited for the proposition that believers in Christ should be baptized as a public expression of faith in obedience to God. This is a pretty fundamental proposition that most Christian denominations would advocate in some form or another.
In Matthew 3, John the Baptist has been preaching repentance, turning to God and baptism to make the way for one who “is coming soon who is greater than I am – so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals”. This was Jesus, of course. Then we are told that Jesus went to Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John, and John tried to talk him out of it, saying, “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you….” This is the context in which Jesus makes the statement that was the focus of the sermon.
The New Living Translation of the Bible was used for the textual reference. I tend to use the ESV and NASB translations because they are more literal. They are word for word translations, rather than phrase for phrase (or idea for idea) translations, like the NLT. The word for word translations tend to be considered more accurate and more authentic to the original text. These are things I was thinking as I listened to the message, and I wondered what difference a more literal translation would make.
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 have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1-9)
One of the most ubiquitous and enigmatic Christian phrases is the phrase “born again”. It is as enigmatic now as it was when spoken to Nicodemus who asked the question of Jesus that sparked the answer that is now famous.
“When you have two tuning forks in a room and one begins to vibrate the other will also begin to vibrate if it’s tuned to the same frequency. They resonate. They abide in each other’s frequency.” (Ted Dekker from the Forgotten Way)
If we are tuned to God’s frequency, we will resonate with Him and abide in Him. When we are tuned to God’s frequency, “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
God’s Spirit and our spirit are like the tuning forks. When we are on the same frequency with God, we resonate with God.
“Now we see as if in a mirror dimly… but then we will see face to face.”[a]
The filter through which we see God is the physical, spiritual, emotional and conscious person we see staring back at us in the mirror. Our image of who God is comes filtered through our own selves.
Think about that for a moment….
If our sense of who we are is distorted, our view of God is distorted. If we don’t see ourselves accurately, we can’t see God accurately. Having an accurate view of God requires us to have an accurate view of who we are.
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