John 3:4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
What a strange thing to be born again, what does this mean? Jesus tells us we “must” in order to see the kingdom of God but what is He talking about? We certainly cannot enter the womb a second time so we surely understand this is not a physical rebirth.
Jesus goes onto say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:5-6
Is Jesus telling us without a water baptism one cannot see the kingdom of God? Many believe this but we know that Jesus welcomed the thief on the cross into the kingdom and he certainly was not baptized nor was he capable of any sort of works. What does he mean by being born of water?
John Calvin gives a simple answer:
By water, therefore, is meant nothing more than the inward purification and invigoration which is produced by the Holy Spirit. Besides, it is not unusual to employ the word and instead of that is, when the latter clause is intended to explain the former. And the view which I have taken is supported by what follows; for when Christ immediately proceeds to assign the reason why we must be born again, without mentioning the water, he shows that the newness of life which he requires is produced by the Spirit alone; whence it follows, that water must not be separated from the Spirit Calvin Commentaries
Jesus affirms the doctrine of human depravity (Romans 3:10-12, Genesis 6:5), as he explains that in the flesh we cannot see the kingdom. Again, there must be a newness of life (2 Corinthians 5:17), a change that is recognizable to us and to the others around, a newness that produces a difference.
This newness of life is generated or I should say regenerated by God’s Spirit. The natural man is dead in sins and trespasses, all of humankind is dead from the moment they are born and without God’s work we will die in our corruption, and we are under the power of Satan. (Ephesians 2:1-2)
Unless the Spirit breathes life into the dead… we will remain dead.
The word Spirit is pneuma a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind.
If one is to truly comprehend the magnitude of this miracle it must be understood that God does the work in the heart of sinful man. Mankind cannot save himself… Many or I should say “most” will say, what do I need to be saved from, I’m not that bad. I’m a “good” person.
Unless you’ve been morally perfect your entire life, you are not a good person. You might be a good person by your standards, or even by the standards of comparison against others in the world, but if you hold your life up to the perfect standard of Christ you are incapable.
Have you ever told a lie?
Have you ever stolen anything?
Have you looked lustfully at another person?
Have you loved God with all your heart soul and mind?
This is the standard by which you will be judged and no man has met this perfect standard. In order to receive the Spirit you must recognize your need for the Spirit.
James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
If you’ve broken any of God’s law you are guilty of breaking it all. This puts you in the same class as the worst villains in all of history. Do you understand this; is it something you can really believe?
If you can recognize your sin you have an opportunity to be saved, to be born again. Jesus tells us we must receive the Spirit, but how? What causes His Spirit to come to us?
Acts 17:30-31 “Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Repent is the Greek word: metanoeō – to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction): – repent.
This is a complete turning from who you were to receive a new life in Christ, recognizing the need for a Savior, calling out to Him, the only One that can save. To recognize your sin has separated you from God and that separation has you dead spiritually. There must be a newness of life and a change of direction.
If this is new to you I ask you to consider the words of Christ. They are the words of life and without them you will not see the kingdom of God. That’s clear. Isn’t it?