Category Archives: Theology

Living the New Life

John 3:1–8 (ESV): Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter 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 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The subject that we are going to be working through is a great mystery. It is rooted and grounded in the supernatural. No one less than John Calvin let it be known that this subject is one around which it is impossible to wrap our minds. No one less than Jesus stated that this subject is a mystery in terms of how it works. We learn this mysterious truth through Jesus’ interaction with a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus.

Nicodemus recognized that Jesus was a teacher sent and empowered by God. He recognized that God must be with him and enabling him to preach and minister in such power. After acknowledging this Jesus immediately confronted him with some real and heavy theology. Jesus introduced his teaching by the words, “Truly, truly,” or “Verily, verily.” This is a way of putting his statement in a neon sign meant to draw attention and focus. Jesus was letting it be known that what he was about to say was of utmost importance. In a sense Jesus was letting this astute leader know that acknowledging truth was not enough in terms of the Kingdom of God. One can be impressed with Jesus and with what he can do. However, this does not mean that he/she is a follower of Jesus. Jesus is not the least bit interested in fans.  

Jesus lays out for Nicodemus how one truly becomes a disciple and follower of Jesus, namely, “…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Hearing about the Kingdom of God is not enough. Being impressed by the power of the presence of the Kingdom of God is not enough. Even being amazed by the Kingdom of God is not enough. No, one must be able to see the Kingdom of God in order to be in the Kingdom of God. How does this happen? This happens through being born again, or through being born from above. This happens through a powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

One cannot obtain this powerful gift through mere human birth. This status and reality cannot be bequeathed through natural generation or inheritance. It cannot be obtained by “osmosis” through others. It cannot be obtained through the means of the flesh, which refers to genetics and through sheer human effort. Striving to be a good person cannot make you born again. Performing the most sacrificial religious acts imaginable cannot cause someone to be born again by the Spirit of God. This is why it is actually superfluous to ask, “What must I DO to receive eternal life?” The Apostle Paul would say that we must put no confidence in the flesh, that is, no confidence in human will power or effort. Apparently, being good in human terms is just not good enough.

Nicodemus’ response is one that I understand. He was thinking in terms of human birth. He was an old man and he was confused. He thought, “How can I enter again into my mother’s womb?” So, he was thinking naturally about a matter that is supernatural in nature. It is beyond nature and human comprehension. Jesus further illustrates this dynamic by telling Nicodemus that one must be born of water AND the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Even the sacrament of baptism, by itself, is insufficient means for entering the Kingdom of God. The sign is valuable, indeed. It is of great importance both as a pictorial representation and as a seal. But the sign should be accompanied by the thing signified: the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit.

As stated earlier, mere human generation cannot cause one to be born again and gain entrance into the Kingdom of God. Jesus further amplifies this truth by stating “that which is born of the flesh is flesh….” This means that sinful human flesh can only produce more sinful human flesh. However, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  

So, there it is. Simple! Well, not exactly. Jesus lets us know that what he just taught is indeed a mystery. It is like trying to harness the wind. While we can hear the sound of the wind, we do not know where it came from nor where it is going. We cannot control the wind. It moves and goes where it wants, or where it is ultimately being directed by God.  

We cannot control the work of the Spirit. We cannot direct the work of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is sovereign and truly does what He pleases.  

Jesus knew that Nicodemus needed to know this. He needed to know that all the biblical studies in the world could not save him and gain him entrance into God’s Kingdom. He needed to know that he could not gain entrance into the Kingdom through the means of his earthly heritage. Nicodemus needed to know that he could not gain entrance through striving to be righteous and ritualistically holy. Nicodemus needed to know that he could not DO anything to gain entrance into the Kingdom of God. Also, as a religious teacher and leader, Nicodemus should have already been well-versed in this teaching since it was taught in the Torah. However, he needed to know that something must happen TO him.  

Of course, this opens the door for us to have many questions. We must also admit that it hits us right where we live in terms of our own pride and trusting in ourselves to make us right with God.  

Our default setting is to trust in ourselves and live according to the thought that God owes us righteousness and heaven. Yet, Scripture teaches us that God is a debtor to no one. Our natural bent is to seek to live independently of God. This is the big lie, the pitcher of kool-aid from which we have all drunk. Though we are dependent upon God for life, breath, and for all things, we actually think at times that we don’t need God and that we actually deserve the blessings in our lives because of our faithfulness and goodness.  

So, who is the liar? Are our thoughts the lie or is Jesus the liar? Jesus said that we can’t enter the Kingdom of God unless a significant work of the Spirit is done in us. We naturally say, “Just show me the steps, show me the rules, and I can do it.” 

I pray you will be greatly encouraged and emboldened to walk in newness of life and find yourselves enjoying God more and loving Jesus more deeply.

What Does It Mean to Be Biblically-based?

All that we do at KAINOS seeks to be rooted and grounded in God’s Word. We truly believe that all Scripture is “God-breathed,” or “expired” by God. While He used human agents to write His Word, God did not simply use the human writers as secretaries to whom he dictated His Word. No, God used their personalities, experiences, knowledge, and life circumstances. He did not in any way circumvent their humanness. They were all carried along by the Holy Spirit so that what they wrote was what God wanted them to write. So, Scripture truly covers the full gamut of life and human experience. So, we believe that Scripture is able to equip us for all we need to be effective servants of God and for all we need to enjoy God as our loving, steadfast Heavenly Father.

A significant aspect of this value will be seen in the way we seek to counsel others in the New Life we have been given in Christ. So, how does Scripture impact the way we view people and how we approach people? We truly seek to consistently apply a biblical anthropology in all of our ministry. This means that we approach people and their struggles in the light of their being “embodied souls.” This means that while we are physical beings, we are also spiritual beings. While there are certainly physiological aspects to various kinds of problems we might encounter, the answers are not ultimately found by just focusing on the physical and medication alone. So, while a person who is clinically depressed certainly might require the help of meds, the ultimate prescriptive focus will have to entail dealing with what is going on in the heart of the person. This is the marvelous way in which God has made us. We seek to provide hope and help through the resources of relationship with Christ that are spelled out in God’s Word.

In a summary fashion we seek to effectively walk with others on the path of faith working through love. Love is the summary of all of God’s Law and it focuses on a life that pursues loving God and our neighbors. These two loves cannot be separated. Love for God is reflected in love for others and vice versa. This provides us with a powerful and encouraging framework in which to work out our struggles and difficulties.

Faith truly does commerce with the promises of God and the truths of His Word. Faith interacts with the reality of who we truly are in Christ and what has been given to us in Christ. During the writing of this blog we are in the midst of dealing with the COVID-19 virus and all of its impact. During the early days of quarantining I really began to struggle for several reasons. My family and I are going through some significant transitions in terms of moving, new ministry development, etc. I began to feel overwhelmed and even began to feel some economic insecurity as the stock market continued to drop significantly. So, I began to become anxious about financial matters as well. So, I went back to basics and focused on what I truly believed and what God’s Word says about such matters of life. I happened to be reading John 14 as a part of my daily Bible reading and I was truly struck and helped by the truth of that passage. “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Why and how? Jesus said, “Believe in God, believe in me.” Jesus then taught about the many reasons why we must trust our Father and Savior. Jesus reminded his disciples that while he was leaving them, he was going to prepare a place for them and would receive them there. He promised them that he would not leave them as orphans but would send another Helper who would remind them of what he taught. So, while I felt kind of alone I was reminded that the very Spirit of God has made a home in my heart. Also, I was reminded that NOTHING could hinder me from making it to where Jesus is because HE IS THE WAY! No maps or GPS needed. He is my way and my Door. I became overwhelmed by being reminded of these great realities.

So, we will seek to minister and pray in the light of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, where Jesus prayed and asked God to sanctify his disciples by the truth…God’s word is truth.

We take grace seriously. We take truth seriously. We will seek to trust the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk in that glorious tension of grace and truth. Why? Because God is full of grace and truth (John 1).

What Does It Mean to Be Christ-centered?

I realize that the question itself seems to be self-explanatory, but the focus of KAINOS is that of Union with Christ. This is a truth that is taught all over Scripture, but unfortunately, it is not focused on much at all or is simply ignored. Just consider a few of the many passages of Scripture that teach this great truth.

Ephesians 1:3–6– Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

1 Corinthians 1:30–31– And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

Romans 6:3–5– Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Romans 5:10– For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Romans 5:19– For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

These 5 passages are merely the tip of the iceberg. What do we learn from these particular passages? How are we saved? We are saved by Jesus’ life. How powerful is that truth! My salvation was earned by the perfect God-Man. He did it right! In Him I am saved.

Secondly, I am righteous through his obedience. My standing with God was secured by Jesus’ perfect obedience and righteousness. So, where is our righteousness? Our righteousness is seated at the right hand of God.

What else do we learn? Well, we died with Christ. We were buried with him and we have been raised with him so that now, in light of our resurrection to come, we are empowered now to walk in newness of life. This is our hope, our strength, and our motivation to pursue that for which Christ has laid hold of us. He is our resurrection. He is our guarantee of resurrection. 

What is Jesus to his sheep? He is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Just let this reality sink in. The wisdom I need is Jesus. The righteousness I need to stand before the Father is Jesus. Jesus is the guarantee of my sanctification and growth in godliness. He not only redeemed me, but He is my redemption. All that we need for life and godliness we have in Christ.

The Apostle Paul teaches us that we must RECKON with these truths. The word “reckon” is like an accounting term, which refers to our placing into our account all that is mine in Jesus. So, the focus of KAINOS ministries is to lead people to Christ, including believers, for power, encouragement, and true satisfaction of heart.