**It is my pleasure to introduce this three part series of guest posts written by my father, Allen Simmons. He has a Bachelor degree from Baptist Bible College and a Master of Religious Education degree from Tennessee Temple University. Allen has decades of experience studying, preaching, and teaching the Bible at several institutions including the Akron Baptist Temple, Copley Baptist Temple, and Calvary Baptist Church.**
PART 1: YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN
I Corinthians 2:14 says: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The Bible is a thing of the Spirit therefore it must be spiritually discerned. The natural man is a man who is not indwelt by the Spirit of God and is therefore bereft of spiritual discernment.
How Did Things Get This Way?
It goes all the way back to Adam. God told him he would surely die the day he ate of the tree of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). He ate of it (Genesis 3:6). He died. Now, physically, he lasted hundreds of years from that time (Gen. 5:5) although his flesh eventually corrupted and died. What died in the day he ate of the fruit was his spirit.
A man consists of both physical and spiritual parts. The physical is obvious. The spiritual part is not. It consists of a soul and a spirit. The soul is basically your ego. You, like Adam are a living soul (Gen. 2:7). You interface with the physical side of the universe with your body. You interface with the spiritual side of the universe with your spirit. When Adam’s spirit died, he lost his ability to interface with the spiritual side. Spirit death was the severing of the connection to God and His spiritual kingdom. He passed this condition onto his progeny as well as the physical corruption (Romans 5:12).
When a person is “born again,” it is his spirit that is reborn, not his flesh. This reconnects the spirit to God and His kingdom and allows a new relationship with the Lord through Christ (Ephesians 2). Coupled with that, your spiritual side is also severed from your physical side (spiritual circumcision), allowing you to be indwelt by God’s Spirit (Colossians 2:11-13; I Corinthians 3:16; Romans 8:9).
We should mention the phenomenon of the “psychic.” When it comes to people with what appears to be supernatural abilities, this is because they have formed a spiritual connection with a spirit or spirits other than God’s Spirit. This connection allows for a warped view of (and interaction with) the spirit side of the universe. This gives them a mockery of the gifts and discernment that a born again person has through his connection to the Holy Spirit. They may also be “indwelt” by their unclean spirit. They tend to be more of a spectacle and appeal to the unsaved who either don’t know the Lord or who have rejected Him.
Why do some Christians use the terms “saved” and “lost” or “unsaved”? When you accept Christ as your personal savior, a lot of things happen to you that are described in various Bible words. Saved is one of them. It comes from Romans 5:9-10 where the phrase is used: “we shall be saved from wrath through him” (meaning Jesus Christ). Vs 10 used this term as well as another: “reconciled” – which describes a change in relationship between a person and God as a result of being saved or born again. There are many of these terms.
We use “saved” in three ways:
First, being saved from the wrath of God is immediate upon salvation. We therefore may say we are saved from the penalty of sin. We no longer need to fear Hell or the Apocalypse. From the time we accept Christ, we become God’s sons by adoption and He no longer treats us as enemies but as sons (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:4-7).
Spiritual circumcision has been mentioned in the first section. When this happens, you are free from the connection to the body that made you subject to the sin nature you inherited from Adam as a result of his sin. (It resulted in the dead spirit we discussed above). Saved people end up with two natures instead of the one unsaved people have.We then say: “we are saved from the power of sin.” Our new nature is spiritual.
Second, we unfortunately still reside in the old body and we have to put up with the same old infirmities and fleshly desires. This causes conflict between the two natures that, if we live in the spirit, we can give the spiritual side the victory with the help of the Holy Spirit. We can also give the flesh the victory if we choose. The Apostle Paul spent a lot of time developing this theme. (Romans 7 is a strong example. Also see Rom.6:16 and context.)
The third way we use “saved” has to do with the resurrection. In I Thessalonians 4:16-17 and I Corinthians 15:51-54, the Bible describes the resurrection of the saved people from our age. When it happens, the dead receive new bodies and those that are still alive at His coming will undergo a change of the old body into a new one. The new one will be incorruptible and uncontaminated with sin so we can say we are saved from the presence of sin. We will no longer have to put up with the struggles of the natural flesh to do sinful things.
This is important to the understanding of the Bible, because you have to be careful your flesh is not dictating the understanding even if you are saved. Thinking God’s way and seeing things as He sees them is an exercise that tries the best of us some days. Matters of family, matters of habit, matters of ministry, training, love, hate, compassion, personal prejudices, and so forth can twist your understanding into something that conforms to YOU not the Lord. Even dedicated Christians can be bent more toward humanism than Christ-centric thinking.
The Indwelling of God
When you accept Christ, you do more than accept Him “into your life” as the modern fad suggests. You accept Him to actually live inside of you (see again the above verses on this subject in the first section). This also means an exchange of spirit so He is in you and you are in Him. You become part of His “body” and part of His “bride” (John 14:20; 17:21; II Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 5:30-32).
This is how you know you can have confidence in the Lord’s instant accessibility for prayer and for help in understanding. You are part of Him.
If you are not saved, the only understanding you can hope for is the pseudo-understanding you can get from others when you listen to them talk or read what they write. If this is the case, you are a parrot, not a person of true understanding. Unfortunately, many born again children of God have become parrots themselves these days by rejecting the Bible for the words of men without using their discernment.
This is a gift saved people get when they are saved. It is spiritual in nature and corresponds to the physical senses. It can be strong or weak depending on how you feed and exercise your spirit.
The spirit is like your body in that it must be fed and exercised in order to be healthy and operating at peak functionality. Your body is physical and eats physical things. Your spirit is immaterial and eats immaterial things. This is why The Scriptures are likened to milk (I Corinthians 3:2; I Peter 2:2), bread (Luke 4:4), meat (Hebrews 5:12-14), apples (Proverbs 7:2), honey (Psalm 119:103), and wheat (Jeremiah 23:25,28). Be aware there are other things to “eat” as well. Some of them are not good for you.
Also, like your body, your spirit needs to be exercised (Hebrews 5:12-14). Following what God tells you to do is spiritual exercise. This will develop your discernment and allow God to show you things from His perspective. This is what you want. Don’t get lazy. Don’t go off the deep end either. Remember what we have said above: unclean spirits can grant a form of spiritual discernment as well. Stay in the Bible, keep your prayer life in good standing and you can avoid a lot of pitfalls. If you feel the urge to change the Bible to prove a point, you are not guided by the Holy Spirit on that point. He is the boss. Not you.
**This concludes part 1 in this study of “Understanding the Bible. Stay tuned for part 2, Precepts and Lines, coming soon**