A newborn infant cannot in this life rejoice in the experience of its physical birth; neither can it at any time remember that day or time. The record of a baby’s birth is filed in the county and country in which it is born. The parents and others who love this child will remember its birth in years to come.
Jesus told Nicodemus, a religious leader of His day, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5
When we read and study the third chapter of John we come upon truth that was spoken by Jesus Christ to one who knew the law, who taught the Scriptures from the Old Testament, yet he was no better off than the newborn infant. We are born blind and cannot see spiritual things. We cannot understand this life, nor any that is to come. We are deaf and helpless to know the things of God. We do not understand truth because it comes from God only through the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ. In truth, we enter this world under the sentence of death.
When Jesus prefaced His statements with the words truly, truly (verily, verily, in the KJV), He was bringing attention to the truth that followed, though Nicodemus could not understand it; and he had been brought up with the Law and the Prophets. He knew of Ezekiel 36:26 where God promised to take away the stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh.
The writer of Hebrews quoted the promise, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (8:10). When He puts within us the new heart and spirit He has a new tablet on which to write and record His law and promises, so that they will not be forgotten, and through which His Spirit can speak and work the truth. We are given new eyes to see the kingdom of God and to live in light of His truth. We have His Spirit that brings us into His kingdom, so that we may live in proclamation of our new birth.
The Secret of New Birth
Jesus told the Jews who believed in Him, “If you abide (continue) in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
Their faith was not a saving faith, (the power of the new birth). They were still blind to the truth that was in Jesus. They would know the truth and be set free from their blindness and the power of sin if they continued in the truth that Jesus was speaking to them. We cannot have true faith in something we do not know. We cannot truly know Jesus Christ, who came to bear witness of the truth unless we continue in God’s Word.
“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart” Jeremiah 24:7
He has graciously provided and preserved the truth through The Holy Bible for centuries for us to know the truth; for those who are His people to be set free from blindness and sin; that they may see and enter into the glory of His kingdom.
If we continue in God’s Word the Spirit of truth will convict us of our sin, enable us to see our blindness, our helplessness; and the need for salvation. The power of the gospel will work in this new heart and spirit for our regeneration; so that we are enabled in faith to turn in repentance from our darkness and the old life of sin and misery, to Christ.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
A Conception of Love
We cannot speak of new birth ~ a spiritual birth that is wrought in the hearts of men ~ as a work that man can claim as any of his own. Just as we cannot conceive or birth ourselves to this human life, neither can we conceive of a new life spiritually. It must be a supernatural act of God and only in God’s power. Just as the first creation was by God’s Word only so is the new creation in us.
But, more importantly, we must see it as an act of God’s love. It is a father whose seed is planted that sires a natural child. It is the heavenly Father who plants the seed of His own Word, His divine word of Christ into the hearts of His own children. Let’s look at this work of His own love working through His Word and Spirit to produce this new birth.
A Penetrating Love
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of the power of God’s Word; living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) Here is the penetrating power of God’s love (the seed of His Word) that He alone can plant wherever He wants it. “The wind blows where it wishes (where God wishes) and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
A Love That Permeates and Reshapes the Heart
Where it penetrates, it permeates, saturates, and reshapes, “because God’s love has been poured into (spread abroad in KJV) our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10
“God shows us His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
A Perpetuating Love
The love of God penetrates, permeates and perpetuates His Word in and through us forever. Neither he, nor anyone else will stop this love, or take it away. (Romans 8:38)
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-5
“According to his great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
“You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;…. for the word of God remains forever.” 1 Peter 1:23, 25
We continue in His Word that has given us new life. The same word and power that gives us new life is the same truth that sustains us and enables us to grow and mature. From our justification in Christ we continue in sanctification until we are fully glorified in the day of redemption.
“Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.” 1 John 4:10
Unlike our physical birth, the experience of our new birth is something that we cannot forget, but we continue to speak of it. It is the beginning of being set apart for Him for sanctification; and His witness through us of the proclamation of His kingdom here on earth. Through our witness God brings others to His Word and freedom in the truth of Christ. Those who love us, others who are born of His Spirit, rejoice with us. We love to hear their experiences of new life and living by the Spirit. We rejoice together and worship the heavenly Father who desired us and sired us through His Spirit and His Word. He keeps us and teaches us, in and of His kingdom here, preparing us to share His glory in eternity.
(Next: Part 2 ~ Proof of the New Birth)
Excerpt from The Purpose and Delight of Bible Study