Monday, August 23, 2010

From Caterpillars to Butterflies

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I LOVE butterflies!!! Who doesn't? They are just the prettiest insects God has ever made. The many colors we see on their wings and the different shapes their wings come in make them such majestic creatures that flutter effortlessly from one flower to another.

Of course we all know they didn't start out that way. These amazing and beautiful flyers come from a very different and unexpected start. Where they begin don't even give a hint of where they'll end! As we all know, these beautiful winged friends start out as an egg. (Don't we all start from that? haha...) The egg then hatches into a larva (otherwise known as "caterpillar"). This caterpillar spends its entire day doing one thing - munching on leaves. Day in and day out, the life of a caterpillar is as boring as that. It munches this leaf and then crawls to another and then munches that one. Munch, munch, munch! It doesn't really care about anything else but to get bigger and fatter as it munches along. The only job a caterpillar does is eat! (Ain't that something! Hehe) It thinks of nothing else but itself. It couldn't care less of the damage it does on the host plant.
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Interestingly, as the caterpillar grows bigger it's skin stays the same size and this become its problem. Because nothing can stop it from munching away and growing bigger, the caterpillar would have to want a newer and larger skin to accommodate his growing size! So, it undergoes what we call "molting". As he gets a newer and larger skin, the story begins again... munch, munch...grow bigger and bigger... munch some more and grow a lot bigger... this skin's too tight... newer and larger skin coming up! 

The caterpillar undergoes this phenomenon about 5 times before it molts the last time. This last molting will have the caterpillar form a  "chrysalis" (generally called a "pupa"). From the outside, this is the stage where we can see nothing but a covered-up caterpillar. It is not until the caterpillar "dies" that it emerges to become a new creation - the butterfly! Think of it this way, until a caterpillar decides to die to himself and change, it can never become a beautiful butterfly! Butterflies are totally different from caterpillars. Their anatomy and physiology, including the very nature of how they live, is so different that we can safely say that the caterpillar was, sort of, born again or "reborn" when it emerges as a butterfly. Jesus speaks about our lives this way, too. 

In John 3:3, Jesus said 

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (KJV). 

And take note that Jesus repeats it as He said in John 3:7, 

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." (KJV) 

He used the word MUST in this sentence when he spoke of us being born again in order to see the kingdom of God. Why would Jesus say so? Why would he talk about being "Born Again"? And why was it a MUST for all of us to be born again? Here are the reasons why...

First, in John 4:24, we read that: 

"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (KJV)

And when we speak of God's kingdom, Romans 14:17 says this:

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (KJV)

The kingdom of God is spiritual! Why can't we get into this spiritual kingdom while we are where we are right now? Because the bible clearly speaks of what we all are:

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" 
(John 3:6) KJV, emphasis added

"These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." (Jude 1:19) KJV

We do not have the Spirit in us unless we've been "born of the Spirit". Jesus himself describes being born again in John 3:5 this way:

"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." (KJV)

Second, we read in John 2:23-25, the verses before the chapter where Jesus talks about being born again, that "many believed in His name when they saw the miracles which he did, but He did not commit himself unto them for he knew what was in man." It mentions that Jesus knew what was in man. He is, after all, Omniscient. He knows the heart of man. He knows what happened to man. Look at the following verses to understand what Jesus saw in us: 

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7) KJV, emphasis added.

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" (Romans 5:12) KJV, emphasis added.

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Romans 3:10) KJV, emphasis added.

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) KJV, emphasis added.

Yet, it doesn't end there. Jesus also knows that we have this in us:

"But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:" (Matthew 15:18-19) KJV

Even the great apostle, Paul, was aware of this when he said:

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Romans 7:18) KJV

"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." 
(Romans 7:14-15) KJV, emphasis added.

Contrary to what most of us believe in, this truth lies before us: Apart from God, we are all depraved, unspiritual, dead human beings! And unless we're born again in the Spirit, we will continue to be as such. 

Yet, there are those who say that being "BAPTIZED" is being born again. I used to believe that it is very important to be baptized as an infant because it is going to make us be born again and become regenerated into a new creation that could enter the kingdom of God. Without such, the soul remains unsaved. Unfortunately for this belief, there is a stark contradiction on what the bible tells us. For when Jesus said we must be born of water and of Spirit, he also continued to say this:

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." 
(John 3:8) KJV, emphasis added.

"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36: 25 - 27) KJV, emphasis added.

All this is the work of our Lord God who is sovereign over everything. It is not the work nor decision of man. It's not merely being sprinkled with water and getting wet with it during baptism that we get saved from our depravity and damnation. It is God who so chooses to sprinkle this clean water upon us to cleanse us and it is HIS Spirit that He will put within us! Water baptism is a symbolic burial by which a new Christian publicly declares that they have died, and are now beginning a new life in Jesus Christ. If we read the new testament, the people who are baptized are those who have first, heard the gospel and second, repented of their sins and believed in Jesus Christ. Baptism doesn't cleanse us of our unrighteousness. Just read what the bible tells us on how to be cleansed:

"And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) KJV, emphasis added.

This is our hope, our LORD JESUS CHRIST! We call upon His name, whose name is the only one given under heaven for our salvation (see Acts 4:12)! We must REPENT and turn from our wicked ways and trust HIM and believe in HIM and confess with our mouths that HE IS LORD! (see Romans 10:9)

A new creation in Christ Jesus! Wow, we're just like caterpillars and butterflies then, don't you think? For before trusting in the Lord Jesus and dying and rising up again in Him, a person is just like a caterpillar. He thinks of nothing else but himself and how to get more for himself! We live savage lives that have us running for more and caring less of the damage we leave behind us! All we ever really think of is what SELF could achieve and what self could acquire. 

But when we become a new creation in Christ Jesus, the old things are gone. We become like butterflies! We float effortlessly as we're no longer "heavy laden". Instead of thinking only of ourselves, we help with the growth and proliferation of those around us like the butterflies do with their role in pollination. We are no longer self-minded, we are "Others-minded". On top of this, just as a butterfly becomes a source of food for birds and other wildlife, we too become a source of "spiritual food" for others as we share to them the very good news of the kingdom of God! And doesn't this beautiful new creature just glorify God and reflect his awesome power? 

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17) KJV

Don't remain a caterpillar for the rest of your life. Pray that God will grant you the grace to see His truth in Jesus Christ! 

I am praying for you and will always be... all this with much love!

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