Sermon Transcript – Born of God Means Salvation Apart From Works

Series A – Second Sunday in Lent – Sunday, March 8, 2020 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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Time StampTranscript
0:24The holy Gospel according to St. John the 3rd
0:31chapter now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus a ruler of the Jews this man came to Jesus by night and
0:38said to him rabbi we know that you were a teacher come from God for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is
0:44with him jesus answered him truly truly I say to you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God
0:50Nicodemus said to him how can a man be born when he’s old can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born
0:57jesus answered truly truly I say to you unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of
1:03God that which is born of the flesh is flesh that which is born of the Spirit is spirit do not marvel that I said to
1:10you you must be born again the wind blows where it wishes and you hear it sound but you do not know where it comes
1:16from or where it goes so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit Nicodemus said to him how can these
1:23things be jesus answered him are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things truly truly I
1:29say to you we speak of what we know and bear witness to what we have seen but you do not receive our testimony if I
1:36have told you earthly things and you do not believe how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things no one has
1:42ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven the Son of man and as Jesus lifted up the serpent in the
1:47wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life for God so
1:54loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life for God
2:01did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him this is
2:08the gospel of the Lord in the name of Jesus all right this is a great text and I’m going to use the
2:15occasion of this gospel text combined with our epistle text from Romans 4 to
2:20do a little weed-whacking regarding misunderstandings as it relates to James chapter 2 because if
2:28you’ve ever read James chapter 2 it sounds like it stands in direct contradiction to what we heard in our
2:35epistle text that we are saved by grace through faith apart from works that we
2:41are justified by faith made right before God and so in order to understand
2:46something we’ll do a little groundwork here first I want to teach you two concepts two concepts one is a fancy
2:55Latin phrase and the fancy Latin phrase is coram Deo and it’s awesome it sounds like the kind of thing you would like on
3:00a tattoo or something right chorim deo that means before God now
3:06there is another quorum and that has to do kora mundo before the world before
3:13God before the world so to kind of set it up here if you are saved by grace
3:19through faith apart from works and God has given you that faith are you justified before God coram Deo all by
3:26what Christ has done yeah you betcha don’t you know yeah you can say that here now before each other how do we
3:37know that somebody has faith and I’m not
3:43talking about her okay okay a little bit of a note here Christ does talk about
3:48how our good works shine before men this is true this is true and so when we get
3:53to James we’re going to note that there’s something that James is up to and James is speaking cora mundo because
4:01some yahoos had crept into the church and they were probably kind of proto Gnostics who really had no problem
4:09engaging in sexual immorality and things like that because they think that the body doesn’t matter and so they were
4:15basically making this claim I have faith and I don’t have to do any
4:20good works at all that’s a weird bird by the way just a weird weird one very exotic very rare
4:27but unfortunately like the Phoenix they end up burning but we’ll talk about that so what James was addressing was the
4:35fact you can see faith in somebody by their
4:40good works and that if you claim that you have faith but you don’t have good
4:46works well that’s weird that doesn’t make any sense and again it’s a species thing so we’re gonna kind
4:52of lay this all out those are our framing thoughts so let’s dive into our gospel text because I always love this
4:59text and we’ll do some work here because if you miss a certain thing you’re gonna miss everything and we’ll talk about how
5:06evangelicals misunderstand this text as well so in John chapter 3 and says it
5:11was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus a ruler of the Jews this man came to Jesus by night and he said to
5:17him rabbi we know you are a teacher come from God for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him so
5:25far so good that’s a good start because you’re gonna note that John himself says that if they recorded all of the signs
5:31the miraculous signs that Jesus had performed that probably all the books in the world couldn’t contain them and so
5:38but he notes then that these signs these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son
5:44of God and that by believing you might have life in his name so the signs of Jesus are radiating out there and
5:51Nicodemus who’s a Pharisee goes this guy has to be from God and so it’s off to a good start and then Jesus says these
5:57words amen amen that’s actually what the Greek says amen amen I say to you unless one is born and
6:03I got to stop here because I know the word in your English translation says again but we got a problem and the
6:13problem is is that the word here in the Greek can have two meanings it’s pretty much one of these words where there’s
6:19really only two ways to go about it one is again but the other is from above and
6:29the word is an oath in on Othon so let’s just kind of put on oath in here and you
6:36guys know that it can mean either again or from above and so listen to what Jesus says truly truly I say to you
6:43unless one is born on Othon he cannot see the kingdom of God and notice it
6:48says Warren born so Nicodemus is scratching his head and going how can a man be born
6:55when he’s old can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born so
7:00what do you think Nicodemus thought Jesus said again Nicodemus goes how can
7:07one be born again but Jesus now goes on you’re going to note that what Jesus
7:13says is not talking about being born again everything he says from this point
7:20on is pointing to being born from above now as I was reading the church fathers
7:26in anticipation of this sermon which I’m prone to do from time to time came across kind of an obscure sermon from a
7:32little-known church father and he noted this that Jesus himself was born from
7:39above I mean he was born conceived born of the Virgin Mary and as the second
7:45Adam he’s kind of the first of a new group of people and so he used that
7:51argument to say Jesus had to mean born from above because he himself was I
7:57thought that was provocative provocative in a good way and so now listen to what Jesus says all
8:03men are men I say to you unless warned as that one is born of water and the spirit and that’s what baptism is
8:10washing of water and the word he cannot enter the kingdom of God that which is born of the flesh is flesh that which is
8:17born of the Spirit is spirit so do not marvel that I said you must be born on Oh then and what’s he arguing
8:25arguing from above now here’s how the evangelicals read the text you have to
8:31be born again born again means that you need to make a freewill conscious decision to make Jesus the Lord of your
8:37life or ask him into your heart or say the printer’s sinner’s prayer and the experience itself is vital because
8:44unless you’ve had this experience well then you’re not really a Christian and
8:51it creates all kinds of problems because here’s the issue if you don’t recognize
8:56that what Christ is arguing here is that you need to be born from above you’re going to start down the track
9:02of trying to earn your salvation by your works by your repentance by this time I
9:09mean it Lord I’m really gonna get my act together and I’m I’m gonna get right with you God I’m gonna really do that
9:16but Jesus isn’t arguing that you need to have a born-again experience by making a
9:22freewill decision for him because script other passages rule that completely out instead he’s saying you need to be born
9:29from above good luck on having a freewheel decision for that let me ask you guys you know we’ll go back a
9:36hundred years how many of you at that time we’re petitioning your grandparents
9:48born and then when your parents finally came along how many of you were saying mom dad you need to get married and you
9:55need to come together so that I can be conceived come on I’m rooting for you I’m pulling for you none of us had any
10:03say in our birth there was the whole lot
10:08of human history that you and I weren’t here and then all of a sudden were here and your freewill had nothing to do with
10:16that and if you were born from above who do you think’s will has to be involved
10:22for that to happen I would argue gods and this is the thing God is the one
10:28who’s chosen us and if we’re truly born from above then you’re going to note
10:34here that means that Christians are at their core different than unbelievers
10:41that God has done something to them for them that makes them qualitatively
10:48different than a pagan because what does Paul say in Ephesians 2 you are dead in
10:54trespasses and sins but God has made you alive in Christ if God is the one who’s
11:00made you alive in Christ then the idea here is is that everyone who is truly a
11:05believer in Jesus God is the one who gave them that faith repented them raise
11:11them from the dead and they are a different species they are already part of the new creation and if
11:19that’s the case then you can’t do a certain number of works in order to earn
11:26the right to become born of God and
11:33that’s where people get off-track are you a Christian well I hope to be one someday doesn’t work that way all right
11:44that which is born of the flesh is flesh that which is born of the Spirit is spirit so don’t marvel that I said to
11:50you you must be born from above the wind blows where it wishes you hear it sound
11:55but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes so it is with everyone born of the Spirit and Nicodemus his
12:02mind is blown in any case how can this be he says are you not the teacher of
12:08Israel yet you don’t understand these things amen amen I say to you we speak of what we know we bear witness of what
12:14we have seen but you don’t receive our testimony if I have told you earthly things and you do not believe can you
12:20believe if I tell you heavenly things and then listen to these next words because this really helps because this
12:25is one of those sayings of Jesus that you sit there and you scratch your head and go what’s he getting at but listen to the words no one has ascended into
12:33heaven except he who descended from heaven the Son of man let me translate
12:39that for you nobody by their good works has climbed the ladder up to heaven and
12:45earned their salvation earn the right to stand before God because of their good
12:51works no one has ascended into heaven nobody can so what does God do he sends
12:59his son down to us salvation is not me working my way up to heaven salvation is
13:05God the son being born of the Virgin Mary coming down to us coming down to
13:11you coming down to me and I’ll kind of leave it there at that for a second now
13:17let’s take a look at our epistle text because this is quite helpful our epistle Tex references our Old
13:24Testament text from Genesis chapter 12 as well as 15 and Paul asked this
13:31question so what shall we say was gained by Abraham our forefather according to the flesh for if Abraham was justified
13:38now that means to be declared righteous if he was justified by works he has
13:44something to boast about but not before God so let me ask you this question in
13:49Romans 4 are we talking about justification coram Deo or are we talking about justification coram mundo
13:58it’s coram Deo before God so if he if he
14:05was justified by works well he had something to boast about but not before God but what does the scripture say
14:10abraham believed god and it was counted to him as righteousness those are great
14:19words wait a second you meet what abraham believed God’s words and God credited it
14:25to him as righteousness yeah exactly and
14:30by the way that’s how it works for all of us because that’s Paul’s point here all right so now to the one who works
14:37his wages are not counted as a gift but as his do you know I’ll pick on my son
14:44here for a second every couple of weeks you like I have to do a paycheck for you yeah all right now
14:51have I ever gifted you your paycheck no
14:56that would be weird wouldn’t it gifting you your page you earn it yeah I see if
15:02we we have this agreement and the way the agreement goes he does particular video video editing work for me
15:09and I in return for his work and his skills I give him money but it’s called
15:17a wage and the thing is is that there isn’t a single penny that he’s received via these paychecks that were given to
15:24him as a gift I don’t give I don’t write when we do is his paychecks they don’t put a bow on it all right
15:31no Merry Christmas son it just it doesn’t work that way right and that’s the point that Paul’s
15:38making – the one who works his wages are not counted as a gift but as is due but
15:43what is salvation it is a gift you didn’t earn it God is giving it to you
15:49so the – the one who does not work let me emphasize the word the one who does
15:56not work I am on strike I refuse to work
16:02for my salvation Oh pastor Roseboro that’s some pretty scary words right
16:07there listen to what it says the one who does not work but trusts has faith in
16:15Him who justifies declares righteous the ungodly and I got to point this out I
16:22keep pointing it out every time this text comes up the ungodly if you don’t see yourself in that group you don’t
16:29need Jesus but if you don’t see yourself in that group as part of the ungodly you are completely self deceived Christ died
16:38for the ungodly that’s me that’s you so god justifies he declares righteous who
16:45the ungodly how by faith his faith is counted as righteousness
16:52just like abraham believed god and it was credited to him as righteousness the ungodly who believed that jesus bled and
16:59died for all their sins God counts that faith as righteousness the text says so
17:04right here I seem a little animated I apologize but this is some good stuff
17:13it’s just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteous apart from works blessed are
17:22those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered blessed is
17:28the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin for the promised Abraham
17:35and to his offspring that he would be the heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith and if the
17:41adherents of the law if it is the adherence of the law who are to be heirs well then faith is null and the promise
17:48is void for the law brings wrath but where there is no law there is no transgression that
17:53is why it depends on faith in order that the promise may rest on grace and be
17:58guaranteed to all his offspring whose offspring here
18:06Abraham’s now remember what Jesus said everyone who’s born from above you got
18:12to be born from above this text right here says something really weird hang on a second here y’all look kind of like
18:19Norwegian German European dish to me except for the back row yeah yeah yeah
18:28the back row we clam you girls definitely look like you come from the east you have from China and places like
18:34that but anyone here Jewish no huh that’s weird because this text just said
18:41that all of y’all me included that all of all all of us that we’re the offspring of Abraham as Mike II would
18:49say Mazel Tov all right we can celebrate now all of us are the offspring of
18:55Abraham every single one of us even if you don’t have a drop of Jewish DNA in
19:02your blood how can that be so note here
19:08even Paul is pointing to a fact that everybody who is a Christian is born
19:13from above and everybody who is a Christian regardless of whether or not they are Jewish or part of the
19:20they are the offspring of Abraham because there’s a reality to being a
19:26Christian so he says not only to the adherent of the law but also the one who shares the faith of Abraham ah see if
19:33you have the same faith as Abraham you are Abraham’s offspring how by virtue of the fact that you’ve been born from
19:38above because everybody who’s been born from above is the descendant true descendant of Abraham and he’s the
19:45father of us all as it is written I’ve made you the father of many nations in
19:50the presence of God and whom he believed who gives life to the dead and calls
19:55into existence the things that do not exist and there’s more consistent theology right here God is the one who
20:02gives life to the dead and that was every one of us born dead in trespasses and sins we have now been born from above we are
20:10all now the sons and daughters the offspring of Abraham and God has called
20:15us out of non existence into existence brought us from death to life all as a
20:21gift there’s some good stuff but somebody sits there and goes oh
20:27pastor Roseboro this is too good to be true you are deceiving everybody because
20:33James says that faith without works is dead so you are wrong you have to earn
20:40your salvation by your works because that’s what it says in James chapter 2 no don’t it don’t say that at all all
20:49right and the person who says that is having some exegetical issues and that’s the best construction on it so listen to
20:56the words of James from James chapter 2 verse 14 what good is it my brother’s if someone says he has faith but does not
21:02have works does that thing exist that
21:08this is nuts that species of animal does not exist and you’re gonna note there’s
21:14a there’s a metaphor he’s going to use at the end of this section which is quite helpful here so how do you guys
21:20know I’m alive I mean there’s kind of signs you kind of know that I’m alive
21:27here I’m moving I’m breathing but let’s say that yeah we were in downtown Grand
21:32Forks maybe having some nice coffee or maybe visiting the gun shop there you know right you know the next to the
21:39bridge and as we walk out a construction truck is driving by and a board flies
21:45off and hits me smack in the head and there I am laid out flat on the sidewalk
21:51and I mean it was a good thud – at this point how do you know whether I’m alive
21:57or not now those of you with at least a modicum of medical training you immediately go for the wrist and you do
22:03this kind of thing to see if you’ve that if I have a pulse but if you don’t know how to do that there’s another way by
22:09the way there is another way you what you do is you grab a mirror hey lady do you have a mirror yeah I do and what you
22:16do is you hold it up to my nostrils and if I can fog a mirror I’m
22:22alive and if I can’t fog the mirror start planning the funeral okay
22:29this is this is real simple all right that’s his overarching point here is
22:35that if you can’t fog a mirror spiritually you’re dead still you’re
22:42dead dead dead Dubi Dubi dead all right it not partly dead or mostly dead
22:49totally dead how do we know cuz you can’t fog a mirror how do you fog a mirror by faith because faith alone
22:56saves but saving faith is never alone so I know y’all have faith because I can
23:03see that you can fog a mirror spiritually with your good works so that’s his point and now we’re not
23:10talking coram Deo we’re talking coram mundo so what good is it my brothers if
23:15someone says he has faith but doesn’t have works what is that thing can that
23:20faith save him if a brother or sisters poorly clothed and lacking in daily food
23:26and one of you says to him go in peace be warm and be filled it was really cold
23:31outside you’ll probably die and then don’t give them the things they need for their body what good is that so faith by
23:39itself if it does not have works is dead and this is exactly what Paul says in
23:46Ephesians 2 for by grace you have been saved through faith this is not your own doing it is the gift of God so that no
23:53one may boast for we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for
23:58good works so if you ain’t got good works you still dead now I want to make
24:05something very clear here this does not mean that you’re sinless this does not mean that your good works earn salvation
24:13no your good works show that you are already of a different species that you
24:18are born from above that you’re a child of Abraham and as a result of that if somebody says sango’s well I’m the good
24:24works oh good work I just believe in Jesus what that’s dead so notice we says faith by
24:31itself if it doesn’t have works is dead well someone will say well you have faith I have worse show me your faith
24:38apart from your works and I’ll show you my faith by my works is that coram Deo
24:43or is it Koren mundo core mundo this is all an argument based upon how we view
24:51each other and then you’ll note that the the quintessential last bit that Paul
24:58throws in here in verse 26 is the part that frames it all for just as the body that is not breathing is dead so faith
25:07apart from works is dead he’s not saying if you want to be alive
25:13in Christ you better get busy Jesus is coming back soon he’s saying saying if
25:20you don’t have good works you still don’t have faith the two go together as
25:26I always point out cows Moo cuz they’re cows cats meow because they’re cats
25:32Christians do good works cuz they’re Christians full stop so James doesn’t
25:39take away the fact that salvation is a gift is a gift given by God and the very
25:46faith that the gospel demands God gives it to you that’s what Paul says in
25:54Ephesians 2 by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own
26:00doing it is the gift of God everything that the gospel demands the
26:06gospel provides and when Christ breathes in you and you are brought to life and
26:13you are a child of Abraham and you are born from above you immediately get busy
26:21with the good works and these are not hard things it doesn’t require you to go climb the Scalia and Rome on your knees
26:28and say that they are father at every stop on the way the good works are done
26:33here in your family in your community your good works are done by loving your
26:40spouse by caring for your children by putting
26:46in a hard day at work these are the works that God’s Word says are the ones
26:52that please him and sit there go well I’m already doing that of course of
26:59course that’s the point so let me finish
27:04then our Bible study of sorts with the words of Christ from the back end of our
27:10gospel text because these are the best words ever as Moses lifted up the
27:16serpent in the wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up you see Jesus is going to the cross and
27:25in the Lenten season we are always keeping our eyes on that fact and brothers and sisters he goes to the
27:31cross to bear your sin and mine in the Book of Numbers you have that account of the people of Israel once again
27:38grumbling against God and him sending these these desert adders his bronzed desert adders in to bite them and people
27:45were dying and they recognize their sin and they prayed that God would forgive
27:50them and take away the Serpent’s but rather than take them away Moses was commanded to fashion a bronze serpent
27:56put it on a pole and promised was this anyone who is bitten may look to that
28:02bronze Serpent and live and all of that is the type in shadow because we all know that we each and every one of us we
28:08have already been bitten by the serpent the words of the serpent spoken to our first person first parents Adam and Eve
28:15that venom is still working through every one of us and you’re going to note that Jesus takes that bronze serpent and
28:21he applies it to himself just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up so
28:27that whoever believes in him it doesn’t say whoever works for it strives for it
28:32earns it does enough then he maybe have eternal life know whoever believes in
28:37Him may have eternal life so recognize that you it our snakebit I am snakebit
28:43but Christ has taken the venom of sin in himself and his blood now is the
28:48anti-venom and it was shed so that you and I can be forgiven
28:54so that whoever believes in him should have eternal life another note here and
29:01that is if you really believe that you have to earn your salvation by your works by the things that you do by your
29:08obedience your sinlessness or anything else it’s pretty hard to view God as loving at some point you wear out and
29:18you throw your fists up at God kind of an anger and frustration and you might
29:24say something to the effect of what do I have to do to please you when is it
29:30gonna be enough god yeah the problem is not God here the problem is that you
29:36think that you have to earn his favor but see God has had mercy on us and then Jesus says these words for God so loved
29:43the world he loved you he loves me he so loved us that He gave His only Son he
29:51bled and died for us was scourge beaten nailed to the cross lifted up between
29:57heaven and earth so that we can be pardoned and forgiven of all of our sins not just some of it He gave His only
30:03begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal
30:10life you see God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but in
30:15order that the world might be saved through him you me all of us so repent
30:23of your wickedness repent of your week good works repent of your striving put
30:28it all away and rest rest and believe that what God here says what God and
30:35human flesh says is true whoever believes in Him will not perish and that he didn’t send his son to condemn you
30:41but that you might be saved he wills for your salvation so much so that he paid
30:46the whole price and he gives it away as a gift in the name of Jesus amen
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