— Brother Phil Enlow: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (NIV). Do you see again the divine Gardener going to work? It is seeds again. God is going to speak a Word, that Word is going to enter into the heart, and where it is received, it brings forth eternal life. There is a new life that is born. Okay?
I know you know other the scriptures that relate to this, and I believe we can look at them. But think about this. The Word of God that has life in it—God speaks it, in other words, even though it may come through human lips. If God speaks it and there’s a heart that’s ready, God is gonna create in you, and in me, the same life that was in Jesus Christ. That’s amazing. Praise God! That’s what this is about.
“All men….” Now he’s describing about the condition of the world and the life that we have as a result of simply being born into this world. He says, “All men are like grass….” That’s what you are this morning apart from Christ. In your human life, you’re just grass. One of these days you’re going to get mowed or you’re gonna die.
( laughter ).
“And all their glory…” Oh, we look at people and how great they are, and the great accomplishments. “…All their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord stands forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.” Praise God! This is how God calls His people and begins to impart Himself to His people.
Now, a scripture that’s related to this…you turn back a few pages to James, chapter 1, and verse 16. I’ll read a verse or two coming into this. “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Thank God!
Now here’s the expression of His purpose. “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth…” Why? Where’s He going with this? “…That we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.” I mean, doesn’t that kind of bring it together? You’ve got the Word, you’ve got creation, you’ve got fruit. Isn’t it interesting, how this idea of God planting something that’s gonna grow up and produce fruit?
But notice what’s going on here. Instead of us being the end of creation and then we mess it up, we’re the firstfruits. God is doing things in a different order in this eternal creation. He gave His Son, He gave life into His Son, and His Son laid down this earthly life so that He could impart that to others. And God’s first order of business is to work in His Son, just to build the family of people who will rule over that new creation.
You read in Romans 8 how the creation is waiting! It’s in bondage until now—it’s a bondage of corruption that’s there…the curse is still there, upon creation! It’s waiting on you and waiting on me, and God’s purpose, until the crop absolutely matures and grows…and He’s ready to say, here are My sons, I’m done…I’ve done the job I purposed to do.
What an amazing picture is painted by all of this. Firstfruits—firstfruits are the first finished product of a harvest, aren’t they? You know, the Jews had the feast of firstfruits and they would plant crops in the spring, the rains would come, and then, a few weeks later there would be…some of the crop would actually be ready to pick and eat.
Folks, you and I, if we know Jesus Christ, we are firstfruits of something God is doing that’s eternal. And what makes us that is not because of the kind of people we are, it’s because of His work, and His power, and His life, that has been imparted into this unworthy flesh. Praise God!
Look back a few more pages and go back to Hebrews, chapter 2, and here’s another scripture that we use many times. So, let’s tie these together. Because he goes back to the creation, and verse 5, I guess is a good place to pick it up.
“It is not to angels that He has subjected the world to come…” So now you’ve got reference to a world that’s yet to come, don’t you? Ties that in. “…About which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.”
See, that goes back to the original creation, doesn’t it? When God finished everything, it was beautiful, and then He put Adam in there and said, it’s all yours. And what did we do with it? But anyway, that’s God’s order. And it hasn’t stopped being His order.
“In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.” Duh…this is an out-of-control world, isn’t it? That’s not what we see right now.
“But…” What do we see? “…We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels…” He himself came down to our level “…Now crowned with glory and honor…” He’s not here anymore, He’s up there. Whether that’s…anyway, ‘up.’ Whether it’s geographical or not is not the point. He’s in a place of exaltation. All right. “…Now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
Do you want to know how Jesus did what He did? It tells you, doesn’t it? God gave Him the strength to do it. He didn’t have that as a man. Why do you think He prayed? And angels came and strengthened Him. He occupied the same place in every respect that we did except that He didn’t sin. He had to have divine strength to be able to do what He did. But God gave Him everything that He needed.
And He’s gonna give you and me everything we need to fulfill our purpose too. He never gives us something to do and says, all right, I’m gonna stand back and let’s see you pull it off. He said, everything I lay before you, there’s grace—there’s divine help to do what you’ve been called to do. Thank God! All right?
But listen to what the purpose…how he expresses the purpose that’s being fulfilled. “In bringing many sons to glory….” Now that takes everybody else in. That’s the many seeds, isn’t it? “…Bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.”
Wow…is right. “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Whew…I can think of so many times when I’ve wondered, God, how could Jesus not be ashamed to be called my brother? Look at me, look at my weaknesses.
But I’ll tell you, there’s a purpose, there’s a heart that sees beyond all that is wrong now, all that is lacking…that knows the crop is not there yet, but it’s coming. There’s a life in it that will prevail. Praise God! Praise the Lord! So many sons being brought to glory!
Now look at…I think I’ve got 2nd Corinthians 5, is another interesting scripture that I’ve referred to at times. But it ties very well with this whole subject…2nd Corinthians, chapter 5. Paul is talking about the motivation, the thing that drives him to share the gospel. There’s something that just pours out of his heart because he feels compelled.
And that’s what he says, verse 14. “For Christ’s love compels us…” Now what…what fact, what understanding, what did he understand that caused him to see things the way he did? This is something we need to see. “…Because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
Do you understand what he’s saying? Paul didn’t see people the way we’re inclined to see them. Paul realized that when Jesus died, it was more than just Jesus dying. Everybody died! Now, there’s a out-working to that. But you can see the destiny of this world and of the world to come in what happened at the cross and the resurrection. It’s all there. God absolutely destroyed one creation and brought forth another that will last forever. Everything else is an out-working of that.
Folks, if you are here and you were born into this world, and of course, you were, you’re dead! God put you to death, and me, at the cross. Thank God! I needed to die! The life that I came into this world with is corrupt. It cannot be part of that. And so, God put me to death.
But here’s the other side of it. Why did He do this? “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” What a picture! Everybody dies…but some live.
Is that not a picture of what’s happened? Do you not see where that’s at? Folks, the people of this world have no clue. God has already judged them. He allows them to live out a life, but it’s a temporary life. They’re just like grass. It’s not going anywhere. Nothing will come of it. There is no meaning, there’s no purpose to this world and this creation. But there are some who live! Thank God!
“So…” Paul says, “…from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” We don’t see people the way everybody else sees them. “Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Praise God! Do you see how this all ties in? If we ever are joined to Christ, if the Word of God finds a home in the heart, okay…and that life is not just ideas and religious practice, but there literally is a birth that takes place, there’s a new life that literally is born in the heart…we’re part of that new creation.
Yes, we were there when He died and we died with Him, but we were raised with Him. That’s what baptism is about. That’s the meaning of it. We participate not only in His death but also in His resurrection. And so, we are a part of a brand-new creation. What is it that makes us part of the new creation? Anything of us?
( congregational response ).
It’s a new life. It’s His life that comes to rest within us. Now, this is a very good place to look back at a very familiar scripture in John, chapter 3…because this is where Nicodemus, a ruler, teacher of the Jews, comes to Jesus. He sneaks in by night and wants to get some questions answered.
And Jesus, in verse 3, says “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” So, he doesn’t get it. And he says, ““How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’” That’s the only way he could see things. It’s just a very earthly point of view.
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.’” You see, there are two kinds of life there. You see the life that we’ve got by being born into the world, but there’s another kind of life! That’s the only one that’s gonna be a part of that. If you don’t have that, you don’t have anything.
Oh, I’ll tell you, I hope there’s somebody here that God can bring you face to face with the reality, I need His life. I need Him to come and to live within me.
Now think about, for a minute, where Nicodemus was at. He was part of a religious tradition that looked back, in spite of the tradition, they looked back to something God really did. God had given them laws through Moses, He had given them a system of sacrifices.
But what was their nature of the relationship with God? Was it very intimate? No, it was very hands-off. God dwelt among them, but where did He dwell? One little place in the tabernacle, later in the temple, called the Holy of Holies, and boy, you had a curtain there that could not be breached without somebody dying.
What a witness that was to the difference between us and a holy God…how we could never possibly have a relationship with a holy God. That’s all he knew. And not only that, his concept of a kingdom was a Jewish kingdom—a Jewish supremacy, and them being free to chart their own course and be great in the world, and God was gonna honor them before the nations. That was his concept of the Kingdom.
Jesus said, I’ve got something totally different in mind. And, you can’t even participate in what I’m talking about, without being born again. And the problem is, what’s born of flesh is just flesh! That’s all it is. It can never be anything else. You can’t fix it! You can’t train it! You can’t do anything to make this fit for that! You’ve got to be born of God’s Spirit to even see it, to enter it, to have any part of what’s coming.
Oh, what scriptures there are in 1st Corinthians 15. I don’t want to take a lot of time. There’s a lot of scripture there. I’m gonna try to get the essence of what I’m thinking about here. Well, I’m in Acts. Let’s jump past that…1st Corinthians 15. That’s the one about the resurrection. And, there’s so much here that I don’t want to wade through. But Paul is talking about the reality of the resurrection, but why it’s necessary. Verse 35, I guess I’ll pick it up there and I’ll have to skip over some of it.
“But someone may ask, How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come? How foolish!” Now listen to the language of this. Isn’t this interesting? “What you sow….” It’s harvest language, isn’t it? God, the Gardener. “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.”
And he talks about, in the natural level, that everything brings forth after its own kind. So down in 42, “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable….” It sure is.
( laughing ).
That’s the one we live in right now. It is perishable. “…It is raised imperishable….” That’s where God’s going with this. The same kind of body that Jesus had, is what everybody in His Kingdom will one day have. “…It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” Thank God, this is what’s going on!
And so…down in verse 49, “Just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” Thank God!
Now this is the verse that’s so often read at funerals, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God….” Is that plain? You see, God’s building a Kingdom. He’s doing it by planting His life in earth, and He’s raising out of that something that is going to inherit eternal life. But in order for that to happen, this has to die. Are you getting that picture? It’s a consistent picture through the scriptures.
But, “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” And this is the glorious passage, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory...” Praise God!
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” And so forth. And then he encourages people. We’ve got the victory through Christ, so don’t give up. Be steadfast in your faith. God wants to lift our eyes from where we’re at and the context in which we find ourselves. This is just the earth. We’re planted here. God has planted His life in us and we are planted in the earth itself so that we might grow to be what we will one day be. I’ll tell you, there’s so much more to this.
“Seeds of the Kingdom,” is what I had kind of titled this, but we’ll see. But there is so much more about what God is planting in the earth. It’s amazing. It’s powerful. It affects every single one of us. And God has a kingdom that is absolutely growing up in Him. It is a crop in the earth. And it’s real.
And I’ll tell you, if Christ is in your heart, you’re part of that. And you and I are growing up and when God is done with us, when that crop is done, what’s He gonna do? He’s gonna harvest it, isn’t He? And it’s gonna be ready. And I just praise God!
There are other things you could go into but I’m not gonna take time today. But perhaps this…this is all that’s necessary, because God planted the kingdom when He planted His Son in that ground. The harvest began when He came forth out of that tomb with the life of a new creation.
When He began to speak that life into people on the Day of Pentecost and ever since, those…we have become seeds. And like the One who went before us, as we lay down our lives for Him and give them to Him in whatever form that takes, there is another life that grows up and gets ready for that.
And I’ll tell you, there’s gonna come a day when we will leave all of this behind and that’s all that will be left. The seed will have absolutely produced the life that God intended when He planted it in us. Praise God!
I’ll tell you, who’s on the Lord’s side? Man, it’s worth everything, to be born again, to be born of His Spirit. If you don’t have His life in you, you’re not part of this. And so, I would ask you, do you want to be? If there’s a question, do you want to be? Then cry out to God! There’s a God who says, if you seek Me with all your heart, you will find Me!
God’s not looking for excuses to shut people out! He’s not looking at your deficiencies and saying, you don’t qualify because you’re so bad. It’s not about our badness or goodness or anything-ness. It’s God’s power to save. It’s…what Jesus did is more powerful than any need you and I could ever come up with. He is a mighty Savior.
The same power that overcame the grave on that day, will overcome everything before it’s over! He who has begun that good work will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Praise God!
Part of His purpose though, is for us to be here. Otherwise, we’d get saved, as we put it, we’d be born again and okay, you don’t have to live here anymore. There’s a reason He still has us here. This is the soil in which He is producing something that’s eternal!
And we’re gonna have to live in a world that hates Him and learn how to die to it and live as foreigners in this world, and love Him and serve Him anyway.
But there’s something in doing that that forms what we will become. If it weren’t, God would do it some other way. I’ll tell you what, everything we experience here has everything to do with forming what we will be there. So, Praise God! So, all you seeds, go out and grow.