Diligence in the New Birth

By John Thiel

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

When we were baptised that was meant to be a public confession that I am born again.  The hymn ‘I will follow thee my Saviour’ denotes what is in the heart of the person baptised in Jesus Christ.  A commitment, is in these words, ‘I will follow thee wheresoever my lot my be, where thou goest I will follow’.  Through tribulation, temptation, affliction, poverty, a sense of forsaking all and destitution I will follow thee though all men forsake thee, by thy grace I will follow thee.  New birth is a condition that has caused such words to be uttered.

There are three points to consider;

  • What is the new birth?
  • When does it take place?
  • What is it to nurture this new birth?

Jesus says we can’t see let alone enter the kingdom of heaven unless we are born again.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 

What is Jesus speaking about?  What in reality is this that is uttered here?  You must be born again.

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Nicodemus said how could an old man go back into the womb and be born again?  We are not to be born of the flesh, we’ve already been born like that.  We need to be born again of a different kind of seed.  It’s called the word of God which liveth and abideth forever.  We are to be born not of the flesh but of the spirit of God.

James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

The word of truth is the seed by which we are born.  It has to do obviously then with something that enters into us.

Where the Conception Takes Place

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

This is where the birth takes place, in the mind.  The flesh is always there.  Something else is to germinate.  It is the Word of God.  It is to germinate into a new creature. If we want to understand what we must do to be born again, we have a clear picture here.  Notice how the Word of God is to germinate.

Ephesians 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

There is to be a new birth in the spirit of your mind that God has created.  The old man is our mind which we have been trained by and accepted as a normal in our life.  That is the old man.  That is me of the past.  Now by the word, it enters through the hearing of God, through Jesus Christ and through his apostles.  Through his word we are taught by him the truth as it is in Jesus.  As we open our ears and understanding of that truth we realise my old life has to be put away as it doesn’t harmonise with what I’m hearing.  It has to do with the renewing of my mind.  By doing that we are putting on the new man.  You no longer relate to the old man any more as you did before.

2 Corinthians 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more. 17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

There was a man in the Old Testament who was described in this light.

Saul

1 Samuel 10:6 And the spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.

Saul when he was met by Samuel he was told, you are the man that is to be king and you shall mingle with the prophets.

1 Samuel 10:9 And it was [so], that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.

To become another man was to receive another heart.  To be transformed in the spirit of our mind is the new birth.  This is a change of personality.

The old nature, born of blood and the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The old ways, the hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up; for grace is not inherited.  The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, and new tendencies. Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit, have become partakers of the divine nature, and in all their habits and practices they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ. When men who claim to be Christians retain all their natural defects of character and disposition, in what does their position differ from that of the worldling? They do not appreciate the truth as a sanctifier, a refiner. They have not been born again (RH April 12, 1892).  {6BC 1101.1}

Did you notice they do not appreciate the truth as a sanctifier or refiner?  They have not opened their hearts to the truth to burn into their conscious so that they would no longer retain their old ways.  Therefore they are not born again.  To be born again is to have such a change of mind that my motives, tastes and tendencies are all changed in my mind.  When does that take place?

John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Jesus continued to speak about Nicodemus who was trying to work it out as are we.  When does it take place?  It’s like the wind blowing.  You can’t tell when it starts.

The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,–a patient, protracted process.  {DA 172.3}

Then we can sing that beautiful hymn I will follow thee wherever you lead me.  This patient process finally produces a new heart through the hearing of the word even sometimes unconsciously its affecting my mind.  Like the wind which cannot be seen it’s doing its work.

While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.  {DA 173.1}

This is when it happens.  It’s a patient process.  Baptism comes into place when a person has been so touched over a patient process that he becomes convicted in his heart that he is prepared to give all to Jesus and live not for self any more.  The person enacts what has taken place within his own heart.  What has taken place is ratified by baptism.

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Now the person who has deliberately pursued Gods word and has come to this appreciation that he wants to live for God and nothing any more, that person stands before the people and says this is what I’ve done and baptism takes place.  He is now endowed with a new mind and new heart, he is a new creature.  He is another man.

The leaven hidden in the flour works invisibly to bring the whole mass under its leavening process; so the leaven of truth works secretly, silently, steadily, to transform the soul. The natural inclinations are softened and subdued. New thoughts, new feelings, new motives, are implanted. A new standard of character is set up–the life of Christ. The mind is changed; the faculties are roused to action in new lines. Man is not endowed with new faculties, but the faculties he has are sanctified. The conscience is awakened. We are endowed with traits of character that enable us to do service for God.  {COL 98.3}

We have received a new mind like the yeast in flour.  It’s inside of us.  Your actions will now be diverted from your past into new lines.  How in reality in this demonstrated?  We become Christians in living practise.  We are not just pew warmers. We don’t just say I now belong to this church, we will become active.  I now have the faith of Jesus Christ.

Faith

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

I live by what? By faith?  Not by my old way.  I live by Jesus inside me, his faith.  I’m now endowed with the faith of Jesus.  Now that I have the faith of Jesus, is that it?  I’m saved now?

Those who accept Christ, and in their first confidence say, I am saved, are in danger of trusting to themselves. They lose sight of their own weakness and their constant need of divine strength. They are unprepared for Satan’s devices, and under temptation many, like Peter, fall into the very depths of sin. We are admonished, “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor. 10:12. Our only safety is in constant distrust of self, and dependence on Christ.  {COL 155.2}

Peter was used as an example.  Like Peter they fall into the very depths of sin.

Peter’s fall was not instantaneous, but gradual. Self-confidence led him to the belief that he was saved, and step after step was taken in the downward path, until he could deny his Master. Never can we safely put confidence in self or feel, this side of heaven, that we are secure against temptation. Those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved. This is misleading. Every one should be taught to cherish hope and faith; but even when we give ourselves to Christ and know that He accepts us, we are not beyond the reach of temptation. God’s word declares, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried.” Dan. 12:10. Only he who endures the trial will receive the crown of life. (James 1:12.)  {COL 155.1}

Yes I have given my heart to Jesus and Jesus dwells within me.  I am now full of assurance and hope that when Jesus comes I will be ready to meet him.  I have a new mind.  So was king Saul wasn’t he?  He was another man?  Was he saved?  We know that he wasn’t saved at the end of his course.  What went wrong?  What was the problem?  He was a new man, he had been given a new heart and yet Saul was lost.  What we gain at new birth requires diligent nurturing.  It’s a new baby and the baby must be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

This the beginning of our hope that we found in new birth.  We must hold fast and be diligent in holding on to it.

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;

You’re with him, but be careful. Look back at your life.  Can you appreciate certain things happened that brought you to the footstool of God and you are a changed person from what you were before because you were touched within your heart?  Can you recall the genuine deep-seated conviction and consecration that took place?  Was it real?  Can you remember it?  I believed very much it was real.  How do you feel now?  Do you sometimes doubt whether it was real or not?  Do you need fresh hope as fresh as it was back there?  What is required to keep to keep that fresh experience continually with you?  What is required? We are to keep it but how?

Hebrews 6:10 For God [is] not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

When you first made your consecration to him and you said I love him and I want to do what is right and I will follow thee my saviour wheresoever you will lead the way, God is not so unrighteous that he will forget that.  The diligence with which I commenced my walk with Jesus, the determination that got hold of me that I laid aside everything to follow Jesus, that diligence with the full assurance of hope must continue to the end.  I must apply myself just as diligently now.

The Third Angel’s Message

Here are they that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.  Here is the patience of the saints.  It’s the patience, the continued diligence that continues every day of my life.  I will continually labour on in this hope. When we are born again our path of salvation has just begun.  That which was my diligent participation in that must continue.  When I was a newborn babe, what did I do at my mother’s breast?  Have you watched a newborn babe?  He tucks in as though it’s everything to them.

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

When we become born again we are that little baby with faith.  That faith of Jesus is something that is going to operate within me to tuck in hard, to be diligent towards that which has caused my birth that I may grow thereby.

1 Peter 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [is] gracious.

The taste is so precious I want more and I will not let go.  I will keep on drinking it in the taste of the graciousness of God to me.  We are born again of the divine nature with the faith of Jesus.

2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Now that this has happened, now that the newborn babe is there give diligence.

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

A baby relies on its mother’s milk and it relies on God and the church’s mother to keep feeding it.  With great diligence I will pursue it and as I do so the same word that has caused my birth will continue to cause my growth.

2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience Godliness; 7 And to Godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We must be diligent to make our calling sure.  If brain paths aren’t exercised, we forget.  I used to think I was not going to make it but once I understood this, I realised I am going to make it as I’m going to rely on the word of God.  It keeps it fresh by going over it.  We need to come together and repeat the things we already know and not become impatient because we are hearing something we heard long ago. The new mind, the divine nature must function diligently.  How did it function in Christ Jesus?  How diligent was Jesus so that he was the first begotten and we are the children thereafter?  He is our older brother who exercised his mind.  What diligence did he exercise?

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

How diligent was he?  He was so diligent that he shed tears over it.  He was so determined to not lose that divine ingredient in him in the day so his flesh. Peter learnt this by bitter experience.  Sometimes we too will learn it but we are not forsaken when we make mistakes.

It was necessary for Peter to learn his own defects of character, and his need of the power and grace of Christ. The Lord could not save him from trial, but He could have saved him from defeat. Had Peter been willing to receive Christ’s warning, he would have been watching unto prayer. He would have walked with fear and trembling lest his feet should stumble. And he would have received divine help so that Satan could not have gained the victory.  {COL 155.3}

This is talking about Peter at the scene of the trial.  He said though all men should forsake thee, I won’t.  He was convinced Jesus was his Lord but he denied him.  If he would have heeded the words of Jesus he would have been watching unto prayer. When you have the new mind of Jesus you have begun on a path that requires us to exercise that mind with deep diligence, with fear and trembling watching unto prayer diligently.

No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, fohr I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.  {COL 159.3}

It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. All our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. Therefore there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him. Only by constant renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk safely.  {COL 159.4}

The nearer we come to Jesus and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly we shall discern the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the less we shall feel like exalting ourselves.  {COL 160.1}

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

He is working in us, but it requires my diligence to persevere to the end.  Those who withdraw like King Saul did and refuse to walk like this, what are they doing in effect?  If they will not be diligent and hold onto that new man that they received from their former diligence?  If they do not continually ask that prayer, Lord save me inspite of myself.  What are they doing?

Galatians 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

Here I am, Jesus has saved me from my sins and now I find myself doing what King Saul did.  What am I doing?  It is very possible that when our mind has been changed as the protracted process brought us to that point, we can now choose or refuse.  We can be slovenly and careless and begin to build the old ways because the flesh still craves for the wrong.  If we do what Saul did slowly, we will build again the things we have destroyed in our mind.

Many battle well at first against selfish desires for pleasure and ease. They are sincere and earnest, but grow weary of protracted effort of daily death, ceaseless turmoil with resisting Satan’s temptations, and indolence seems inviting, death too self-repulsive, and they close the drowsy eyes and drop under temptation instead of resisting it. Fashionable sins, pride of life, do not seem so very repulsive.  {TDG 251.3}

This is what happens when we build again that which we have once laid off with intense distaste.  That protracted process that brought us there is an ongoing activity.  We must pay diligent to that process.  Having had the experience of justification by faith, that confidence and hope at the beginning, that new experience of the divine nature inside of me and then insisting it’s too hard as what happened to King Saul, will happen.

Hebrews 6:4 For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.

What did Saul do on the last decisive action?  Instead of turning back to God diligently, what did he do?  He went to the witch of Endor.  That was the final.  No way could he come back again.  He came to the point of where he gave himself over to Satan.  There is no redemption for that person. Why can’t God do anything more?

Satan, the chief of the fallen angels, once had an exalted position in Heaven. He was next in honor to Christ. The knowledge which he, as well as the angels who fell with him, had of the character of God, of his goodness, his mercy, wisdom, and excellent glory, made their guilt unpardonable.  {2Red 18.1}

There was no possible hope for the redemption of those who had witnessed and enjoyed the inexpressible glory of Heaven, and had seen the terrible majesty of God, and, in presence of all this glory, had rebelled against him. There were no new and wonderful exhibitions of God’s exalted power that could impress them so deeply as those they had already experienced. If they could rebel in the very presence of glory inexpressible, they could not be placed in a more favorable condition to be proved. There was no reserve force of power, nor were there any greater heights and depths of infinite glory to overpower their jealous doubts and rebellious murmuring. {2Red 18.2}

If we have tasted and have seen the amazing power of God that has changed our hearts and we continue to become slothful in that direction and no longer diligent to occupy my mind with those things and turn our back on the amazing things we have tasted and no longer appreciate that amazing story of atonement, what has God got left to impress me back the other way?  Nothing.  If I am not diligent to hold myself to that because I am so empowered by his wonderful love and I lose my attention and forget Gods wonderful love, there’s nothing left.  If Peter hadn’t confessed his sin he wouldn’t have been saved.  King Saul didn’t do it.  Let us appreciate the great merciful glory of God.  Let us bask in it.  Let it be our continual effort to drink it in.

Hebrews 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Amen.

Posted on June 24, 2010, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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