John 3:9 Commentary - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New TestamentObserve here, 1. How Nicodemus, consulting only with carnal reason, persists in his apprehension concerning the absurdity and impossibility of our Saviour's notion of regeneration, or being born of the Spirit. Nicodemus said, How can these things be?
Learn hence, That the great cause of men's ignorance in matters of salvation, and the mysteries of religion, is consulting their own natural reason without submitting their understandings to the authority of divine revelation. Till they can give a reason for every thing they believe, they cry out with Nicodemus, How can these things be?
Whereas, though we cannot give a reason for all gospel mysteries which we believe, we can give a good reason why we believe them, namely, because God hath revealed them. No man can be a Christian who refuses to submit his understanding to the authority of divine revelation.
Observe, 2. How our Saviour reproves Nicodemus for, and upbraids him with, his ignorance, ver. 10, and his infidelity, ver 12. First his ignorance is reproved, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? As if Christ had said, "Ignorance in any, as to the fundamentals of religion, is shameful, though but in a common learner, much more in a teacher and master, and he a teacher and master in Israel: now thou art one of them, and yet knowest not these things!
Learn hence, 1. That a man may be very knowing himself, and take upon him to teach and instruct others. and yet be very ignorant of the nature, and much unacquainted with the work, of regeneration upon his own soul: a man may be very sharp-sighted , as the eagle, in the mysteries of art and nature, and yet blind as a mole in the things of God.
2. That ignorance, in the fundamentals of religion especially, is very culpable and shameful in any that enjoy the means of knowledge, but especially in those that undertake to teach and instruct others. Art thou a teacher, thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?
Next, our Saviour upbraids him for his infideltiy, ver. 12. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not. This infidelity received its aggravation from the facility, and perspicuity of our Saviour's doctrine. I have told you earthly things; that is, I have set forth spiritual things by earthly similitudes, not in a style suitable to the sublimity of their own nature.
Let the ministers of Christ learn from their Master's example, in all their discourses to accommodate themselves, and descend as low as may be, to the capacities of their people: I have told you earthly things.
2. That even spiritual things, when they are shadowed forth by earthly similitudes, and brought down in the plainest manner to the capacities of their people, yet are they very slow to understand them, and very backward to believe them. I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe them not.
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Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
William Burkitt (1650 - 1703) was a Church of England clergyman, bible expositor, and devotional writer.
Volume 1: Matthew - John, was published in 1700.
Volume 2: Acts - Revelation was published 1703.