Born again?

Sunrise w man B&W

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?

Repentance!

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?

Kevin

What did you say?

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Have you ever been told something that seems completely unbelievable?  I don’t mean William Shatner is the son of an alien like you would see on a supermarket tabloid headlines.   I mean something that just really blows your mind…  You just can’t grasp the meaning of it.

Imagine if you were the foremost expert in brain surgery and you go to meet the new intern surgeon because you hear he is pretty bright and doing some good things and he begins to tell you every way you’ve practiced brain surgery in the past is completely wrong.  Then this new intern goes on to say to you, do you mean you are supposed to be the world’s greatest brain surgeon and you don’t know these things?

In an instant he destroys everything you ever thought about your system of brain surgery.

Can you imagine your reaction…?  How ridiculous does that seem?

This is exactly what happened to Nicodemus as he came to Jesus one night.  What did Jesus say to him that seemed so hard to believe?  Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews.  He was at the top level of Judaism and Jesus blew his mind.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus knew the Law of Moses better than anyone, he was a teacher of the law, he had the books of Moses memorized.  Can you imagine memorizing all those begots?

This is a big question for all of those who don’t understand what Jesus meant by being born again.  This is a common term among Evangelical Christians and I would guess not many truly understand its meaning and implications.

I know I didn’t.

First of all Jesus says this must happen for you to see the kingdom of God.  This is very clear right?  “Most assuredly”, the King James Version says “Verily, verily”, which is the word amen.   This is a word of Hebrew origin which means we are in agreement with it, that it is trustworthy, and sure.

Jesus says this must happen or one cannot.

How few messages in Christianity stress this point today!  How few people are having their minds blown to their present situation!  How many people will not see the kingdom of God (heaven) because they never knew they “must” be born again?  There are only two choices, heaven or hell.

I hope you will meditate on this today.  Next time I want to discuss what happens next, how can one be born again?  “Can you enter the womb a second time and be born?”  That’s also what Nicodemus asked Jesus.

Kevin

 

A Sure Guide to Heaven – Part 3 – The necessity of conversion

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

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This statement is every bit as shocking to people today as it was to Nicodemus at the time Jesus spoke these words.  John 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”  Here was a leader of the Jews, a religious man, with lots of training and he missed the simple fact that he needed to be converted to enter the kingdom of God.

Conversion is necessary.  That is exactly what Jesus is telling us today, just as He did when He walked this earth, just as Joseph Alleine is explaining to us in this remarkable third chapter of his book.  There is a “disconnect” among evangelicals today about what it means to be converted.

Conversion is radical and violent.  It comes at a great cost because there is pain involved, pain at the recognition of your sin.  Imagine your heart being ripped out of your insides and being replaced with a new heart.  This is major surgery and without anesthesia.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

The conversion described is not a high attainment of some advanced Christians, but every soul that is saved undergoes this change…

What is it that you count necessary?  Is your bread necessary?  Is your breath necessary?  Then your conversion is much more necessary.  Indeed, this is the one thing necessary.  Your possessions are not necessary; you may sell all for the pearl of great price, and yet be a gainer by the purchase.  Your life is not necessary; you may part with it for Christ, to infinite advantage.   Your reputation is not necessary; you may be reproached for the name of Christ, and yet be happy; yes, you may be much more happy in reproach than in repute.  But your conversion is necessary; your salvation depends upon it; and is it not needful in so important a matter to take care?  On this one point depends your making or marring to all eternity.  But I shall more particularly show the necessity of conversion in five things. Page 50-51

Does this resonate with you today?  If not I plead with you to read it again and meditate on these words.  It is all that really matters.  Your conversion is necessary.

1: Without conversion your being is in vain

Verily you are in vain, except you are for God.  It were better you had no being than not be for Him.  Would you serve your end?  You must repent and be converted; without this you are to no purpose; indeed, to bad purpose. Page 51

Did he really say that?

What a blow to our self esteem…

This is a reality check…

2: Not only man, but the whole visible creation is in vain without conversion

O dreadful thought! That God should build such a world as this, and lay out such infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness thereupon, and all in vain; and that man should be guilty, at last, of robbing and spoiling Him of the glory of all!  O think of this.  While you are unconverted, all the offices of the creatures are in vain to you. Page 54

3: Without conversion your religion is vain

O soul! Do not think when your sins pursue you, that a little praying and reforming your ways will pacify God.  You must being with your heart.  If that is not renewed, you can no more please God than one who, having unspeakably offended you, should bring you the most loathsome thing to pacify you; or having fallen into the mire, should think with his filthy embraces to reconcile you. Page 55

4: Without true conversion your hopes are in vain

The hope of comfort here is vain.  It is not only necessary for the safety, but comfort of your condition, that you be converted.  Without this, you shall not know peace (Is. 59:8) Page 56

Spiritual sloth is but a scurvy in the mind, and carnal security a mortal lethargy. Page 57

Now, to say God is merciful and to hope that He will save us without conversion, is in effect to say, ‘We hope that God will not do as He says.’  We must not set God’s attributes at variance.  God has resolved to glorify His mercy, but not to the prejudice of His truth, as the presumptuous sinner will find to his everlasting sorrow. Page 58

5: Without conversion all that Christ has done and suffered will be, as to you, in vain

That is, it will in no way avail you to salvation.  Many urge this as a sufficient ground for their hope, that Christ died for sinner; but I must tell you, Christ never died to save impenitent and unconverted sinners, so continuing.  A great divine was accustomed in his private dealings with souls to ask two questions.  What has Christ done for you?  What has Christ wrought in you?  Without the application of the Spirit in regeneration, we have no saving interest in the benefits of redemption.  I tell you from the Lord, that Christ Himself cannot save you if you go on in this state. Page 59

It would be dishonourable to God to bestow His choicest riches on them that have more pleasure in their sins than in the heavenly delights that He offers.  God would lose the praise and glory of His grace, if He should cast it away upon them that were not only unworthy but unwilling. Page 61 & 62

Are you unwilling? 

Hear then His own words; ‘Except ye be converted, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.’  ‘Ye must be born again.’  ‘If I was thee not, thou hast no part in me.’  ‘Except ye repent ye shall perish’ (Mt xviii 3; Jn iii 7; Jn xiii 8; Lk xiii 3).  Page 63

These are powerful words.  Very few preachers say these things anymore because it seems so harsh to the listener.  Yet imagine if your child was playing on the train tracks and a train was coming.  How would you want me to communicate the impending disaster that was coming his way?  Should I do it in a gentle easy tone or scream at the top of my lungs to “GET OUT OF THE WAY!”  So why would those living a life that will condemn them to hell be any different?

If you don’t have testimony of your conversion, maybe you aren’t converted.  Do you know when God removed your heart of stone and placed in you a heart of flesh?  Do you know the day you were born again?  If not do something about that.  I suggest get on your knees and beg Him to show you your sin and then beg for His converting grace.  This is sorrow not to be regretted.

Kevin