Whose Faithful Companionship
For More Than Thirty Years
Has Been a Constant Source
of Strength, Encouragement,
And Spiritual Stimulus,
My Wife Harriet,
Is Affectionately Dedicated
Over a period of more than thirty years, the writer has been studying the Gospel of John giving special attention to chapter three. He is now convinced that the central issue in salvation is the New Birth. This is not to deny the foundation laid by CHRIST at the Cross, nor the effect of salvation in sanctification, nor the final outcome of salvation in glorification. But it is to affirm that the essential nature of salvation is the life of GOD experienced by New Birth. This explains the efforts of Paul to discover the experience of the disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-5).
During the thirty and more years of the study of this important chapter in the Word of GOD, the writer has had occasion to measure its meaning in the atmosphere of religious conditions as they exist today. The externals of religious form and ceremony prevailing everywhere prove to be but a shell, empty and devoid of life. Like the great pagan religions of the world; like Catholicism in its various divisions; like Judaism as it exists today; even Protestantism in general has degenerated into an empty formalism, denying the power thereof (II Timothy 3:5).
Many there are who move in circles of the most orthodox and conservative, but somehow have never sensed anything more than mere forms as the need in their lives. They are without life. They have not been born again. But they do have their names on church books, and with the most amazing capacity for imitation are able to recite the creeds and chant the testimonies of the redeemed.
It was this sort of thing that confronted CHRIST when He came the first time. With the same indignation as the prophets of old, He denounced it in terms so blistering that He aroused the leaders of His day (Matthew 23). But He went beyond that. He promised something better and provided for it by His work on the Cross and the sending of the Spirit of GOD. It was the New Birth. To Nicodemus He explained the need for life, life from above, the life of GOD. From Pentecost to the present this life has been available for those who would willingly and humbly bow at the foot of the Cross where the barrier of sin can be removed and where GOD is set free to impart Himself in new life to the suppliant.
It was necessary that a crushing blow be dealt to the mistaken and entrenched notion that religion is all that is necessary for salvation. If that is true, then there is no difference between the various denominations in Protestantism. In fact, Protestantism does not differ from Catholicism, Judaism, nor Paganism. And it is not difficult to see that the thinking of Christendom today is following this pattern. If there is no life, then mere forms cannot make the difference to separate the religions of earth. Pursuing this pattern of thinking, the merging of Protestant denominations is increasing. Ecumenicity is in the air everywhere, so that even Catholicism has voiced its interest in it. And it is not hard for the student of prophecy to see that at last the ground work is being prepared for the merging of all false religion into one great super church of the end time. But this church will be "without Christ . . . having no hope, and without God in the world . . . being alienated from the life of God" (Ephesians 2:12; 4:18).
For this reason, the writer has been delivering in popular form a series of messages on the third chapter of John's Gospel. Through the years GOD's message in this chapter has enlarged in his own heart and consciousness. As the truth has unfolded, the messages have multiplied in number. And as these messages have multiplied, those who have heard them, have insisted that they be put into print so that they might be available for further study. Even after completing this series as they appear in this book, the writer feels that he may have yielded too readily to the pressure of time and space, and in view of the importance of the subject should have extended the study.
These messages take the form of exposition. Believing that the Word of GOD can best speak to the human soul, it has been the purpose of the writer to unfold the subject of New Birth as it appears in the third chapter of John's Gospel in the natural setting provided by the Spirit of GOD. For this reason, every effort has been made to explain the text, to make it stand out bold and strong, and to refuse place to material that might easily divert attention from the message itself.
It is the desire of the writer that this series of expositions will do more than merely excite the intellect or arouse the passions of those who read them. It is his desire and prayer that these messages will command the will and compel conduct. It is his desire that this series will bring each reader into the inner sanctum of a new relation with the Lord JESUS CHRIST, where looking upon His face they shall be changed from glory to glory into the same image, even as by the Lord the Spirit (II Corinthians 3:18).
The doctrine of New Birth as taught in the Bible is much larger than the message recorded in John 3. So the reader will understand that there is much more to be said on the subject in its various ramifications. It has been the purpose of the writer to confine himself to this one chapter and cite other portions of the Word of GOD only as they bear upon the exposition of this one chapter.
Throughout this entire series of messages, the writer has used the King James Version. This is the version with which most people are familiar. Every effort therefore has been made to explain the text as it appears in this version. The writer has drawn freely upon his knowledge of the Greek text. Being a teacher of the Bible in the languages, he has found his own heart thrilled over and over again with some fresh facet of truth which it was impossible to convey in the regular English translations. He has not hesitated to share this fresh truth with his readers.
Desiring above all else to exalt the Lord JESUS CHRIST; moved by a consuming passion for truth; and with a yearning to make an eternal investment in the lives of men and women, the writer humbly places this offering in the hands of CHRIST for whatever glory it will bring to Him.
Herman A. Hoyt
Winona Lake Indiana
It is fitting that the author of this book express his gratitude to those who have helped him in one way or another in bringing this book into being. In the good providence of GOD it was his privilege to sit under teachers of the Word of GOD who encouraged the careful study of the Bible. To one, especially, he owes far more than he knows or can express in words, Dr. Alva J. McClain, the President of Grace Theological Seminary. It was he who unfolded systematically the message of the Word of GOD to him as a student, and then nurtured that truth in him as a colleague through these twenty-five years.
The writer is also indebted to many authors whose books on the Gospel of John and other portions of the Word of GOD have come into his hands. There is no conscious quoting from these men, but it is evident that their writings have made an indelible impression upon his thinking.
The writer is grateful to Dr. Homer A. Kent, Jr., a colleague and professor of New Testament and Greek in Grace Theological Seminary, for reading the manuscript and making very helpful suggestions concerning interpretation and also presentation of the material. He is also grateful to Dr. T. Richard Dunham, the publisher who not only read the manuscript and made wise suggestions concerning many things relating to its preparation, but humanly speaking, is personally responsible for encouraging the author to prepare the work for publication.
To Mrs. Herbert Bess and Mrs. Max Hoyt, the secretaries who typed the manuscript, the writer acknowledges his debt of gratitude.
Though many have entered into the preparation of this manuscript as the author acknowledges above, the writer wishes at this point to express thanksgiving for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. At no time has the writer allowed the opinions of men, no matter how great their scholarship, to control him in matters in interpretation, if the Spirit of GOD seemed to indicate that the text taught something different.