King's Business - 1913-10

Studies in the Gospel According to John*. By R. A. TORREY [These Studies are for careful study, not rapid and heedless reading] II. The Public Ministry of Jesus Leading Those Who Were of the Truth to Believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God. Ch. 1:19—12:50. (Continued.)

6. The Testimony of the Signs Wrought by Jesus in Jeru­ salem, Leading “The Teacher of the Jews” to Believe on Him, 3:1-15 (continued). V. 4. “Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the (rather, a) second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Nicodemus was staggered at the thought that he needed, not merely to be taught, but so radical a trans­ formation of his whole being as was implied in the words our Lord used, “Be born anew,” (or, “Be born from above”). He was familiar with the expression “the new birth” in a re­ ligious sense; for the rabbis of that day taught that a Gentile proselyte to Judaism when baptized was “as a lit­ tle child just born.” But what stag­ gered and stunned Nicodemus was the thought that he, an aged Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, “the teacher of the Jews,” could only enter the kingdom by the same sort of change as that by which a Gentile could enter it. He was not prepared to altogether give up his Pharasaic self-righteousness and pride. With others of the class to which he belonged, he had proba­ bly refused to entertain this thought in connection with the ministry and baptism of John the Baptist (Luke 7 :29, 30) and he is not ready to re­ ceive it immediately now. In his con­ fusion and resentment he asked the question in this verse. He was not perhaps altogether seeking to ridicule •Copyright. 1913, by R. A. Torrey

.what the Lord said but he was at least trying to gain time. He was like the self-righteous moralist to-day who, while he is willing to admit that the drunkard and the harlot need a radical and- thorough-going transfor­ mation, rejects the thought that he, with his excellent character and morals, needs such a transformation. Yet there was a certain touch of sin­ cerity in Nicodemus’ question, he was yearning for the truth and for the light. He really wanted to know how this thorough-going change of which the Lord spoke could be effected. But it is always foolish for us to ask “How” God can or will do things. Our business is to believe what God says without seeking to know the phil­ osophy of God’s conduct. More peo­ ple stumble in their faith through the “Hows” and “Whys” of ignorance and pride than almost any other way. It is not for us to know the “How” of God’s working (V. 8). It is pre­ sumption and impertinence on our part to ask God, “How.” If we had any adequate realization of the infinite greatness and wisdom and power of God and our own utter ignorance and weakness and nothingness in comparison with Him, we would be willing and glad to leave the secret things unto Jehovah our God to Whom they belong and rejoice in the things which He has been pleased to reveal unto us, believing them be­ cause He has revealed them and not asking God to explain (cf. Deut. 29:29). There is, however, a real difficulty in the thought of the new

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