Since time immemorial man has been searching for the elusive elixir hoping to live forever. The first Chinese emperor even issued an edict to officiate this search a national priority where history is now evidenced with his large entourage of terracotta warriors accompanying his burial to the life after. His desperation for eternal life is understandable. What is the point of conquering and unifying the whole of China and erecting the monumental Great Wall when he cannot live forever as king over his subjects?
King Solomon expressed such futility before Qin Shi Huang showed up.
Ecclesiastes 2:18: Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
Ecclesiastes 2:19: And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.
By the time the Lord Jesus Christ entered the scene during His earthly ministry, a Jew came and asked Him this most critical question.
Matthew 19:16: And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
The Lord’s reply wasn’t what he would like to hear that day and he went away very sad.
Matthew 19:17: And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Matthew 19:18: He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Matthew 19:19: Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Matthew 19:20: The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
This Jewish man knew very well the laws of Moses weren’t sufficient to get him through the pearly gates. The Lord knew he had kept those laws too. If the law can’t save those Jews, why keep them?
The apostle Paul then explained the deficiency of the Old Testament system of keeping the law of Moses and the addendum requirements in sacrifice and worship. All these works just won’t do and had to be replaced with a better system.
Hebrews 10:2: For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
Hebrews 10:3: But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
Hebrews 10:4: For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Hebrews 7:19: For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
Hebrews 7:22: By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
Indeed when Moses gave the children of Israel God’s Ten Commandments, promise of eternal life wasn’t included should anyone keep these commandments. The only promise out of the Ten Commandments was only the reward of longevity living in their promised land should one honour his parents.
Exodus 20:12: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
The Lord knew exactly the problem with this Jewish man. The Lord’s proposition nailed him that day.
Matthew 19:21: Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Matthew 19:22: But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Matthew 19:23: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
His search for eternal life was no difference from any other man before him trying to secure eternal life through earthly means. His objects were all physical labours and earthly possessions. The only difference was he had not attained unto the glory of Solomon or Qin Shi Huang of China. Had he looked upward to the Lord instead of downward on his possessions, he would have gotten the answer and received the free gift of eternal life not wrought by human hands.
So man’s search for eternal life continues.
But the Holy Bible has already explained man’s condition and has also offered solution for man to escape this despair of expiring into the unknown where the lake of fire is the final destination according to the sacred text.
Indeed the law of Moses just won’t do for man to get eternal life. They were imposed to regulate human behaviour and get man to worship the true and living God. In fact before the arrival of the law of Moses, God has already taken care of the sin problem of man in this world.
Romans 5:13: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
This doesn’t mean men won’t die even though sin is not imputed. Sin was already in the world before God gave any commandments to Adam’s descendants to keep.
Romans 5:14: Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
Adam was once both physically and spiritually alive. When he sinned against God, God didn’t lie, he died immediately that day although he only died physically at the age of 930 years. Adam’s immediate death was spiritual death not physical death that occurred very much later.
Since then man can be physically alive but not spiritually alive. Of course, just like prior to the fall of Adam, man can also be both physically alive as well as spiritually alive too. Paul made this truth known to believers in Rome two chapters later.
Romans 7:9: For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
Paul was alive when he wrote this verse but he claimed he was alive in the past tense. In addition, while he was alive yet he claimed he had died. This is a salient theological truth.
Before the arrival of the law, Paul was once alive without the penalty of the law imposed on him. This was due the the fact that he was incapable of obeying those laws from birth to the point of accountability and hence, the law had no effects on him. In essence, he wasn’t spiritually dead as yet, just like Adam before his fall.
Can a little child transgress God’s commandments? Can he covet his neighbour’s house and wife? Can he kill? Can he make an image and bow down to worship the image? Can he commit adultery? Thus God’s commandments are not applicable to a young child and hence the penalties accompanying transgression are moot as well.
Everyone one born into this world is not spiritually dead in essence even though he or she has inherited a sin nature from Adam. No one ever asked to be born into this world. God has taken care of this terrible and defective situation due to Adam’s transgression.
So a baby lives in a state of innocence, incapable of obeying God’s commandment. Sin therefore is not imputed. As such, infant baptism is silly to say the least where even the law has no power over those little ones.
This happy blessed state of a young child is confirmed by David when God took his child from him.
2 Samuel 12:23: But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
So when the Lord instructed His disciples not to forbid little children to approach Him, this theological fact becomes even more evident on the blessed state of little children.
Matthew 19:14: But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Mark 10:14: But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Luke 18:16: But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Babies grow to become little children living in a happy state as fit citizens of the kingdom of God while many adults are rejected outside the gate of God’s paradise. This may be too much to stomach for those self righteous Pharisees and even the Lord’s disciples. Children are not highly respected and sought after by adults where many feel they should be seen but not heard. Those disciples forbidding little children from approaching the Lord was so natural and expected.
Once the age of accountability arrives, sin revives, sin is imputed, that person is then dead in trespasses and sins even though he or she may still be physically alive. Spiritual death sentence is passed but physical execution will take place some time in the near future. So this squared with Paul’s claim that he died while he was still alive.
Romans 7:9: For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
Once Paul reached the age of accountability having understood his transgression against God’s law when the full knowledge of God’s law became known to him, he died that day. His death was spiritual and immediate while he lived on physically. This was the equivalent to Adam’s transgression having acquired the knowledge of good and evil, he died spiritually immediately while he lived on till 930 years old physically.
Every fallen man experiences this tragic end when he grows till old age and dies subsequently. It is an unavoidable process as natural as birth and death. Once the age of innocence of little children is gone, the blessed privilege of kingdom citizenship is removed as well unless this age of innocence of childhood is restored. This would require a rebirth. This is precisely why the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world where those who believe in Him will have life and have it more abundantly.
John 10:10: The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The question now lies with a rebirth. There is no other way and the Lord Jesus Christ confirms this with no uncertain term.
John 3:3: 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.
John 3:4: Nicodemus saith 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?
John 3:5: 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.
John 3:6: That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 3:7: Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The new theological truth was too profound for Nicodemus even though he was a master in Israel. This requirement for a rebirth wasn’t just a private enlightenment for Nicodemus when he approached the Lord for a learning trip. The Lord also publicly made clear this absolute requirement for a rebirth in order to become worthy members fit for God’s kingdom.
Matthew 18:3: And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Becoming born again isn’t some mystical rites and sacrifices hard to attain. It is so simple and has been confirmed attainable by none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord called His disciples little children having been born again as fit citizens of the kingdom of God in the gospel of John.
John 13:33: Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
Adults usually despise little children as far as knowledge and understanding are concerned. But the Lord places great value on babes and little children where guile is absent.
Matthew 11:25: At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Matthew 21:16: And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
Luke 10:21: In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
This further emphasizes the importance and the need to become little children again where a rebirth is the only hope. Eventually, the apostles accepted this theological truth and addressed believers calling them little children. The apostle Peter confirmed this doctrinal truth in his writings exhorting believers in Christ to grow as newborn babes in Christ.
1 Peter 2:2: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
Likewise the apostle Paul concurred with this truth as well. When a man is born again, his starting point is a babe in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:1: And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
Paul in detailing his work in the city of Galatia also called believers little children being born again in Christ.
Galatia 4:19: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
The apostle John went on to lovingly address believers as little children in many places.
1 John 2:1: My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1 John 2:12: I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.
1 John 2:13: I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
1 John 2:18: Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
1 John 2:28: And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
1 John 3:7: Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
1 John 3:18: My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
1 John 4:4: Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
1 John 5:21: Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
As can be seen, without becoming little children, there is no kinship in the family of God. A rebirth in Christ is an absolute requirement. The apostle Paul described what the Lord did during the process of rebirth which is instantaneous.
Ephesians 2:1: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
This is a continuation of what Paul wrote to believers in Rome where he claimed when the commandment came sin revived and he died. Paul died spiritually and he needed a rebirth through the operation of God who quickened him when he became dead in trespasses and sins once the innocence of a little child reminiscing the pre-fallen state of Adam left him.
This rebirth is a confirmed gift of eternal life because the Lord Jesus Christ is resurrected and is alive and believers in Christ will live as well.
John 14:19: Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
John 17:2: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
The vicarious sacrifice of Christ ensured believers’ rebirth because all those who died when the commandment came under the law having been born again are now adopted as children of God.
Ephesians 1:5: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Galatians 4:5: To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Psalms 49:8: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)
Psalms 111:9: He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.
As such, children of God addressed God as Father because this adoption confers rebirth children the rights and privileges as members of the family of God.
Romans 8:15: For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
In conclusion, in order to be spiritually alive in fellowship with God, childhood innocence is a prerequisite. Having lost that natural innocence where the law has no effects, a rebirth is required. After becoming dead in trespasses and sins the sinner will need a new birth. Being born again in Christ, confers the saved sinner the rights to call God his Father as he has been adopted into the family of God.
John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
So a man can be physically and spiritually alive or only physically alive having lost the original spiritual life from birth. This sinner will then need to be born again to restore his fallen state to become physically and spiritually alive again. While this saved sinner may no longer be physically alive after some point in time, being spiritually alive will ensure he will receive his resurrected body in the future when the Lord returns.
Romans 8:23: And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
2 Corinthians 5:2: For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
2 Corinthians 5:4: For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
The beauty about this restored childhood innocence is that it will never be lost again because the source of this restoration comes from the fountain of life, the essence of eternal youth.
Psalms 36:9: For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
Revelation 21:6: And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Every child of God will never cease to be amazed with awe and wonders rejoicing in the goodness of God and as little ones resting in the arms of Almighty God. Hence, children of the living God have much to rejoice and look forward to where their future is a glorious kingdom of light.
Luke 21:28: And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.