August 19, 2021
There is no greater question. It could be asked in multiple ways.
But regardless of how you say it, if you don’t discover the answer, you are lost in this life and the life to come—eternally separated from the God who made you. You have missed the whole point of this life.
A religious leader named Nicodemus once came to Jesus under the cover of night. His heart was searching, so he went to the one man he thought might have the answer. Jesus replied with stunning clarity.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
Born From Above
Jesus told Nicodemus (and us) that the answer to the great question was to be “born again.” The literal meaning of this phrase is “born from above.” Every man living has been born of the physical activity of an earthly man and woman. But the second birth does not originate on earth. It comes from God above.
Born of the Spirit
Jesus expanded his answer to indicate who accomplishes this second birth.
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into 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)
How does this amazing birth occur? There is a physical birth that occurs with earthly water—water birth. Every child is cradled and delivered through the activity of the water in his mother’s womb. We all understand this. It is natural.
But being “born again” entails a spiritual agent. The Spirit of God is this agent. The Spirit convinces a man of his need for God. The Spirit opens a man’s eyes to reveal that what Christ did through His life, death, and resurrection is the answer for his sin problem. The Spirit gives faith to believe, and as the individual turns to Christ and believes, the Spirit births him into a new domain—the Kingdom of God.
This birth is super-natural, for it is “from above” and “by the Spirit.” It is mysterious to our natural senses because it is accomplished in the spiritual realm by spiritual means, and this is the only way such a miracle could occur.
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Jesus has explained the necessity of this second birth and who accomplishes this miracle from above. But there is still one more great question.
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE BORN AGAIN?
Jesus did not answer this question with a laundry list of things you must do to make yourself acceptable to God. This would be man’s normal understanding. “I’ve done wrong. Therefore, to get out of this mess, I’ve got to clean up my act, reform myself so I can be born again.”
But this is impossible. The entire book of Romans is given to us through Paul to convince us that “by the works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20). Every religion except Christianity is based on this false premise that our works can accomplish this second birth.
But Jesus gives us in a single word the one thing we must do: “Believe!”
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:15-16)
To believe does not mean a mere mental assent. “Yes, I believe that Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins.” The word means to “trust in, rely on, depend upon.” You can believe that an airplane can fly, but your mental assent takes you nowhere. But when you step into the plane and depend on its power, you will get to your destination.
The process of being born again entails a moment when a man turns from his vain attempts to make himself right with God (realizing their futility) and has a change of mind that causes him to look to Jesus. He believes. He now trusts in, relies on, depends on Christ alone to save him. And the Spirit is active in every moment of this birthing process.
HAVE YOU BEEN BORN AGAIN?
This is the final, telling question. Has this ever happened to you? The question is not, “Do you go to church?” or, “Are you religious?” or, “Have you done some good things?” Have YOU been born from above by the Spirit, resulting in faith in Christ alone for your salvation? If not, Jesus said, you will never see the Kingdom of God.
Perhaps, right now, the wind of the Spirit is blowing from above in your life. If so, it may be time for you to believe in Him.
Father, thank You for the miracle of the new birth. Jesus, thank You for providing the way through Your death and resurrection on my behalf. Spirit, thank You for Your activity convincing me of sin, revealing the Savior, and ushering me through the birth canal into the Kingdom of God! I will ever praise You!
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