Salvation, as experienced by most Christians, is far less than what is described in the Scriptures. The Scriptures speak of cream, but most are only experiencing skim milk.
Accepting Jesus Christ as Savior is the first step to salvation, not the only one. Our initial experience of salvation should be ever expanding. The Bible talks about the Lordship of Jesus Christ, being filled with the Holy Spirit, being led by the Spirit, knowing the Lord, the Kingdom of God; in other words, living in the presence of the Lord – things that too many Christians have never experienced, because they haven’t progressed past the first step.
John 3:1-3 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemas, a
ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. The Greek reads: Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. The experience of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and being forgiven is commonly called a “born-again” experience. However, that definition makes being “born from above” far less than what the Scriptures indicate. Being born of God is a change of nature.
When we are forgiven, the principle of transference is activated. Our sins are transferred all the way back to the cross, and they are included in the sins which Jesus took upon Him. We have gotten rid of something. We are forgiven and our guilt for those sins is removed. That doesn’t necessarily mean, though, that we have received anything (other than forgiveness, of course). The cycle must be completed! We do not want to be innocent only, but we also want to receive His life. We are not righteous because we are forgiven and innocent; we are righteous only when His righteousness is transferred to us. Being “born from above” means more than forgiveness; it means that we have received, or are receiving His life. This is not something that happens automatically. His life must be appropriated! Being born from above is a process that takes place as we appropriate the Lord, and as that happens we are “translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).
That is what Jesus was speaking about with Nicodemas. Nicodemas said, “We know that You’re from God, because no man can do these miracles without God being with him.” The Lord Jesus got right down to the crux of the matter, and said, “Nicodemas, unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Now Nicodemas was a religious man; he believed in God and kept the Ten Commandments. He did everything he knew to do to live a holy life, but he was not born form above.
John 3:4-8 Nicodemas said unto Him, How can a man be born when
he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
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.
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 everyone that is born of the Spirit.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Jesus is speaking of a spiritual birth, a birth that brings us into a new realm: the realm of His Kingdom. It’s here! It’s available now! It is not pie-in-the-sky! It is generally believed that after death a Christian goes to heaven. However, we don’t have to wait until death to experience heaven. We can have access to it now! It can’t be seen with the natural eye, or detected by any of the other physical senses, but it is here. The presence of God is heaven.
John 3:9-10 Nicodemas answered and said unto Him, How can these
10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
In other words, “Nicodemas, you’re one of the teachers of Israel, and you don’t know these things?” Jesus indicates that the religious leaders of Israel should have been teaching this already.
John 3:11-13 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do
know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
The key is the present tense verb “is” in verse 13. Where was Jesus at that moment? He was on earth. Yet He says that He was in heaven. What did He mean? Physically He was standing right there in front of Nicodemas, but He was also in heaven at the same time. As Nicodemas would say, how can that be? Spiritually He was in the realm of spirit, while physically He right here on earth. He was living in two realms. Jesus is telling us that heaven, or the spiritual realm, is here, and we can partake of it now.
What is meant by the terminology “walking with God”? Does it mean that since Jesus is our Savior and we are Christians that we are now walking with God? No, not necessarily. Someone could say, “Well, I’ve received the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the Spirit leads me, and I have some of the gifts of the Spirit. I can prophesy and speak in tongues.” Does that mean he is walking with God? No, not necessarily. What then is a walk with God? A walk with God is a walk with God. It is living in His presence. It is not an imaginary thing; it is reality.
The main concern of many Christians is going to heaven one day, not walking with God right now. Generally speaking, the attitude is that God is somewhere else and we’re here. But if we live right, then after we die we’ll go to live where He is. There is a separation between us and the Lord in our thinking. Now if in our thinking we are separated from God, we are really separated from God. That is not a walk with God.
Jesus is saying that the Son of man is on earth and in heaven at the same time. And we can be on earth and in heaven at the same time, too. We can walk in the Spirit! The apostle Paul talks about it all throughout his epistles in various ways. He talks about living in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, etc. The spiritual realm is available if we want to walk in it. It is our decision to make.
Deuteronomy 11:18 Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be frontlets between your eyes.
The Jewish interpretation of this verse led them to make phylacteries. It was a little leather box, which enclosed a portion of the law, with a little band, so that it could be strapped to the head. It was worn on the head in such a way that the little box containing the Word would be situated on the forehead between the eyes.
Obviously, this verse is figurative. Wearing a portion of the Word on your head isn’t important, but understanding what God is saying is. The area of the forehead between the eyes speaks of one’s focus. So what is the Lord telling us? He is saying that we should keep our focus on the Word. Just wearing a little box with a portion of the Word inside won’t accomplish anything, but keeping our hearts focused on the Word will.
Deuteronomy 11:19-20 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of
them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when
thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates.
That which the heart is focused on will come out of the mouth (Matthew 15:18). A life that is focused on the Lord will radiate His presence. We want to become so one with Him that our response to a given situation is His response. We do not want to have to stop and think, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” If we have to figure out what He would do, then we are still separated from Him. We can become so filled with the Word that we will automatically respond accordingly. As we walk with the Lord, we learn to let Him live through us.
A walk with God involves dedication, study of the Word, prayer, faith and many other things, which are all proceeded by an irrevocable decision to walk with Him. However, we do not want to become ritualistic and legalistic. For example, we are not going to regimentally pray thirty minutes each day, read three chapters in the Bible each day, do three good deeds each day, etc. If that’s the case, we might as well take a little box, put a portion of Scripture in it, and strap it to our heads. We’re talking about a way of life, not religious rules and regulations. We can teach our spirit to pray without ceasing. Our hearts can be set upon the Lord at all times. Be aware that you’re always in His presence, that He is in you and you are in Him. Whatever your life is involved in, you and the Lord are doing it together. That is a walk with God.
Deuteronomy 11:21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
A walk with God is “as the days of heaven upon the earth.” Moses is saying almost the same thing to Israel as Jesus said to Nicodemas. Some people may want to wait until after they die to go to heaven and be with the Lord. However, it is better to begin experiencing it now. We miss a great deal by only thinking of heaven as a literal place.
Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2,3). That place has been prepared. When Jesus ascended and poured out His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), we were given access to where He is. The apostle Paul believed that, too. He said, “God hath raised us up together (notice the past tense), and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Have you “tasted of the heavenly gift and of the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:4,5)? It’s available. Let’s take Christ out of the past and out of the future and begin experiencing His life now (Romans 10:6-8). A walk with God is “as the days of heaven upon the earth.”
Copyright © 1997 by Henry DuBose