John 3:3-Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
A thought occurred to me this morning as I engaged another Arminian talking about the bare minimum belief of what one must be believe in order to accurately identify as true Christian. The context of the conversation was rebuke directed my way for calling Oneness Pentecostalism a “satanic cult.” I was informed that “Jesus in John 3:15-18 states that if anyone believes in Him wholeheartedly, they have ALL THEY NEED to be saved, to have eternal life, and to not be condemned. This, then, the crux of who is and is not saved, Giovanni. Hence, since the Oneness folks do indeed love Jesus with all their hearts, they may qualify despite their other error. So it’s really unwise to say that this is a satanic this or satanic that…”
I went ahead and responded with a fairly standard rebuttal along the line of saying that if sincerity was the whole test, then every member of every false cult who “wholeheartedly” believes in some Jesus will be granted entry to heaven. His response was that one needed to believe in the right Jesus. Obviously, he had no idea who that right Jesus is since he identified Oneness Pentecostals as those who wholeheartedly believe in Jesus and thus “may qualify.”
So that got me thinking. It is possible for an unbeliever to distinguish between false christs, but it is not possible for them to see the true One. Arminians can (rightly) say that the Mormon christ is a false christ, or that the JW’s christ is a false christ. They can rail against Buddhism and Islam and even Catholicism and Judaism. They cannot, however, say that the Arminian christ is a false christ. Why, exactly, is something that I’m not entirely sure how to answer. Obviously the answer is directly related to the complete depravity of fallen man and spiritual blindness, but I find it odd from a principled standpoint that they can rightly evaluate the false christs of others and yet cannot see their own false christ for the worm that he is. In spite of the fact that a believer can show them the folly of the Arminian sham they call “christ,” they cannot relinquish him. They cannot see him for what he truly he is-a lie.
Jesus explains what is happening here-one who is not born again cannot see the kingdom of God. Only those who have been born again can see the kingdom of God. John tells us this at the beginning of his gospel as well- But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were BORN, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but OF GOD. John 1:12-13. (emphasis added) Before one can receive, one must be born (I hate the way Arminians will twist this passage based on the order of the clauses), and not merely born of the flesh, but born of God, born of the Spirit. One must, by divine will and miracle, be raised from the dead to spiritual life PRIOR to being able to look on the true Christ and believe. This eliminates the concept of freewill.
It is the Spirit that causes one to be reborn and gives life to look upon the kingdom of God-Jesus Christ- Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 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.” John 3:5-8
Only the elect of will be given life to see the kingdom of God. Only they have been purchased by the blood of Christ, and as such, only they are entitled to the benefits of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. One of those heavenly blessings is the ability to see the true Christ and believe on Him.
The revelation of Christ as God and Savior to the elect is a divine revelation-He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:15-17.
The elect did nothing to become the elect of God. We know from Romans 9 that God dispenses His mercy to those whom He chooses to show mercy, and He displays His justice to those whom He chooses. There is nothing special about the elect sinner, in and of themselves, that separates them on a meritorious basis from the non-elect sinner. There is no ground for boasting in the truth that we believe the saving gospel, which is evidence of God’s mercy on us. We can take no credit for believing the true gospel. We can have no arrogance for believing the true gospel. Any boasting we do have is in the Lord. May we boast in Him! There is absolutely nothing wrong about boasting of our salvation in Christ, it is to His praise and glory, of which He is due and worthy. We are to have no shame in proclaiming the truth that salvation is free to God’s elect and they are to praise Him for His wisdom-Jesus Christ.