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O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I figured all of you CBV types would love this. Enjoy.
Perriman responded to it here:
The following is my response to Perriman. My "Titanic" parable of the reason for the character of Israel in the scripture is at the heart of my point:
I think you are right that it’s a combination of both. You can get a coherent reason for this by realizing that the NT narrative is about covenant transformation from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant (which is why dispensationalists are fundamentally confused and are completely incapaple of realizing that they are so). Jesus is saying to Nicodemus that he has to walk away from the status created by his old birth (which Paul describes in detail as counting all things as loss for the sake of Christ) to a new birth. Nicodemus’ status in life (position as a Pharisee, claim to access to the promises of God through the OC, etc.) was created by his membership in the Old Covenant. Jesus is telling him to personally walk away from that to join a new corporate entity under the New Covenant (via Romans 7:1-6). This might be one reason that when you get to the Gentile evangelization you don’t hear a lot of talk of being “born again”. They don’t need to be “born again”, they need to be “born”. There are two crises in the NT. First, Jews need to be be born again into the New Covenant, a spiritual birth into a spiritual people, promised to them by God in several places including Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Second, the Gentiles need to be born spiritually into this new spiritual people as well. A great deal of confusion is caused by applying passages aimed at one part of the crisis to the wrong audience.
Thanks for bringing this to my attention. That article on John 3 is a masterpiece!!!
I don't disagree with his conclusions, but I take some exception with an assumption he made. He said:
" the Spirit’s work in general, or a water/Spirit regeneration in particular, we will not find anything that is significantly related to the general, personal, inner transformation of individuals as individuals."
If what Jesus MEANT, in the grammatical sense, was what the writer claims, then why did Nicodemus, who clearly heard it in his own language directly from Jesus' own lips, aske Jesus
":Can a man enter a second time into his mother's womb?"
So claiming that Jesus MEANT something, in the grammatical sense, that applied to Israel, is not really accurate. Surely Nicodemus would not have asked that question if he heard that Jesus was implying born again to mean the birthing again of Israel! No, Nicodemus heard it as applying to himself, personally. Otherwise he would not have taken it in a personal way.
DougW,I know a lot of people have rave reviews for Olliff's paper on "born again"But I am among the larger number who think that the discourse with Nicodemus primarily refers to a personal individual application. So when Olliff is addressing birth/rebirth and I hear Olliff say "The individual just isn’t the subject of that theme" I cringe. Yes, the corporate theme of "return from exile" and "new birth" is certainly found in the prophets, and it is excellently articulated by Olliff. But it could probably be developed under another heading without the need to "stretch" a few things in the discourse with Nicodemus. I notice particularly that Olliff makes no mention of the "serpent lifted up" of John:3:14 in support of his analysis. But that verse is at the very heart of the discussion with Nicodemus, and in my mind it defines the application of the discourse. Very briefly, then, here is why I support a "personal application" of "born again". In the concluding remarks attending the discourse with Nicodemus, there is an emphasis on the emancipation proclamation: "light is come" (John 3:18). The stated conclusions springing from that discourse (for examole, "cometh to the light" in verse 21) are best intelligible in the context of an individual application.So how does this conclusion, this Emancipation Proclamation, which applies on a personal level harmonize with the opening declaration of Jesus that "you must be born again"? In other words, how does this "born again" apply to Nicodemus personally? And especially, how does the serpent which is lifted up in verse 14 harmonize with and also support a personal application?Well, when it is recognized that "to be born" and "to come to light" are synonymous terms in Hebrew literary style (cf. Job 3:16), and when it is recognized that the word "serpent" is descriptive of something brilliant (Heb. etymology) and thus has reference to the polished brazen image set up on a pole in direct sunlight by Moses as a brilliant light in the middle of the camp for all to see, then the discourse becomes an harmonious whole.The following paraphrase tries to capture the sense, like this: "Nicodemus, you and your fellow countrymen have been in exile and darkness and have been bitten with the venom of death. You were born into the light of this world. But if you are to enter the heavenly kingdom which my Father has prepared for you, you must be born again into the light of that kingdom. You must come to light again. And just like your ancestors who were ready to die in the wilderness came to the light and found life, so also must you come to light to find life. I encourage you. I am that Light."Is there anyone who contemplated being "born again" on an individual basis? I think the prophet Micah is an example of an individual who greatly desired to be born again when he declared, in hope, "he will bring me forth to the light" (Micah 7:9). And he understood his new birth would be marked by something very special: "I will behold his righteousness". So when Micah was to be born again, his eyes would be opened, not to know "good and evil", but to "behold His righteousness". For him, this is the greatest thing that could ever happen to him personally. In other words, the theme of "new birth" seems to have both a corporate and personal application.And of course, those who were bitten in the wilderness had to respond to the light on a very personal individual basis. No personal involvement, no benefit. But if light received, venom flees.I think this is the framework of Nicodemus.
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