Rebirth Through Belief
Have you ever had the experience of trying to talk about spiritual things with friend and realizing that you are just “on different wave lengths”? Or if not that, probably all of us know the difference between our “church friends”” and “other friends.” And that difference is not in the way they dress, or their level of education, or even, perhaps, in which they in which they are interested. But the difference, hard as it is to explain, is in their understanding of spiritual things, isn’t it? They just don’t seem to “get it.”
Now that doesn’t mean that they are not as good as we are, or that we like them any less than our Christian friends. Some of the best people I know are unbelievers – and possibly you would say the same thing. But that difference is still there. And the passage we will look at today will help us understand the difference.
In this section of the chapter we are looking at Paul’s “examination of salvation,” the middle of the chapter, verses 3 through 14. And we have seen in that regard “the blueprint of salvation” that God the Father has produced in verses 3 through 6a, and for several studies now have been looking “the basis of salvation” as detailed in verses 6b through 12.
We have seen that the basis for our salvation is in relationship in the beloved in verse 6b; and in redemption through blood in verse 7. Now in this study we want to look at another aspect of the basis of our salvation, and that is “rebirth through belief” in verses 8 through 12. As we have been thinking about this “so great salvation” as the author of Hebrews refers to it, we have seen that God has purchased us out of the slave market of sin, paying the highest possible price, and given us our freedom. But what we need to understand clearly is how that freedom becomes ours, and how we can clearly share it with others. And that is brought out in verse 12:
“. . . . That we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory”
The key word in this verse is “trusted” – all of these blessings we have been talking about come to us through “trusting in Christ” – “belief” in Him. So let’s think about “the source of belief” – “His provision.” Look at verse 8:
Which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us (9) the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself . . . “
The first thing to notice here is the phrase “which He made to abound to us” along with the phrase “having made known to us” in verse 9. In other words, the only reason we can believe in the first place is that He made the information available to us! This is brought out more clearly in Romans 10: 14, 15:
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall
they hear without a preacher? (15) And how shall they preach unless they
are sent? As it is written, “how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet
of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good
This is a verse that every preacher loves. But actually it is not referring only to those who pastor churches or go to the mission field. These verses refer to anyone who spreads the good news of salvation by faith in Christ – (including you, by the way) and incidentally, how long has it been since you stopped to think about the person who brought it to you? But the point is that God Himself takes the responsibility for getting the gospel out – and he does it by the most effective form of advertising: word of mouth.
But going back to Ephesians 1:8, notice something else about this information which God makes available to us. Look at the phrase “in all wisdom and prudence” The word “wisdom” has to do with the understanding of “ultimate” things – life and death, God and man, heaven and hell, righteousness and sin, and so forth. The word “prudence” may not be so familiar. But it is a translation of a Greek word which means “insight.” And this is kind of “the other side of the coin” of wisdom: it has to do with “practical” understanding — principles of everyday living.
So what this is saying is that God not only saw to it that we heard the gospel, but He also gives us the ability to understand it, and how to live after receiving it. Other scriptures also speak of this kind of wisdom too: Look at Psalm 119:97-100, for example:
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. (98)You, through your
commandments, have made me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me.
(99) I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my
meditation, (100) I understand more than the ancients, because I keep your
Or look at James 1:5:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives in all liberality and
without reproach, and it shall be given to him.
Another aspect of this provision of wisdom is in 2 Peter 1:3:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus
our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life
and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue
by which have been given to us great and precious promises, that through
these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the
corruption that is in the world through lust.
Now these passages don’t mean you never have to study. In the Old Testament God put the manna out on the ground, for the Israelites, but they still had to go out and pick it up and put it in their mouths
But they do mean that for the person who is willing to make the effort, God will give more wisdom and understanding than can ever come through “secular” studies.
And 1st Corinthians 2:14, 15 brings out another interesting aspect of this knowledge and wisdom:
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are
foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned
(15) but he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one.
You see, this is why your unbelieving friends don’t understand what you are so excited about. And it is why spiritual things just “make more sense” to you than they did before you accepted Christ as your savior.
Now let’s stop for a moment and think about what we have seen thus far: First, God saw to it that we heard the gospel. But not only that, once we have accepted the gospel, He also gives us the ability to understand spiritual things.
These are “heavy” truths that we have been talking about, even though they are crucial to our understanding of all that God has so graciously given us. So let’s just sit back and think in terms of application for a few moments. First, if God is the one who sends out “preachers of the gospel,” and He does it by word of mouth, from one person to another, and if he gives us wisdom to know how to approach people whom He might be calling to himself, then how are we doing on word of mouth communication?
Now I can almost hear someone saying (or at least thinking) “well, I just don’t know if I have the nerve to do that.” Or more frequently, “that’s not my spiritual gift.” But there are a couple of things to think about in that regard. It is true that every Christian has a spiritual gift, and that those gifts differ from one Christian to another. But it is also true that Jesus’ “famous last words” were that we should go into all the world and preach the gospel.” It is beyond the scope of today’s study, but ideally, if every Christian were carefully and conscientiously using the spiritual gift that God has given him we would soon see many more people being to Christ. For example some Christians have been given the gift of hospitality, which might be exercised in going out of their way to meet new people in their neighborhood or their church, of on their job and making them feel welcome. The person with the gift of helps may meet some of those same people who have already been met by the Christian with the gift of hospitality. And that person with the gift of hospitality might tell the person with the gift of helps about some need that they have discovered in the life of one of their new acquaintances. And the person with the gift of helps might be able to help solve the problem that the Christian with the gift of hospitality discovered. And before long it would become a chain reaction as Christians refer each other with their different gifts to others with gifts that meet a need in the life of someone they had met through exercising their gift. It wouldn’t take long before unbelievers would be saying, “Boy, those Christians are the nicest people I’ve ever met!” And by the time the Christian with the gift of evangelism gets to them he will be met by people who are primed and ready to hear the gospel.
When I was a boy there was a little “prayer chorus” that Christians used to sing that went something like this:
“Lead me to some soul today, and show me Lord just what to say. Friends of mine are lost in sin and cannot find their way. Few there are who seem to care and few there are who pray. Cleanse my heart and give me grace to win some soul today.”
Please take some time as soon as you can to give some deep thought to getting more involved in bringing others around you to Christ. After all, that’s one of the reasons He put you here!