Regeneration (John 3:1-9) Part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 17 May 2017

How, then, can one be born again? Billy Graham wrote a book titled, How to be Born Again. With all due respect, this is an oxymoron, isn't it--the idea that we can do something to be born again? The idea of being born again is intended to show the total passivity on our part. A baby does not will herself to be born. A baby is totally passive in the whole process of birth. Similarly, being dead in our trespasses and sins, we cannot will ourselves to life, because there is no life in us. Even if we could, we would not want to be born again if that meant being alive to God to worship and love and obey Him: "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot" (Rom. 8:7); "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14).

 

 

Then how can we be born again? We have already established that there's nothing we can do. We must be born of the Spirit. In other words, the Spirit must give us life. When we say a child is born, that means her mother gave her birth. Her mother is 100% active; the baby is 100% passive. So it is with our regeneration: the Holy Spirit is 100% active; we are 100% passive.

Regeneration (John 3:1-9) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 17 May 2017

What Paul describes here is the condition of our spiritual death. Spiritual death is somewhat different from physical death. When we die physically, our body is not able to do anything. There is no animating energy left in our body to do anything, even to breathe. But the way Paul describes our spiritual death is anything but inactive and impotent. One who is spiritually dead is very active: he is busy walking, following the course of this world, following Satan; he is busy living in the passions of his flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. So, in what sense is a person spiritually dead? 

 

 

The Bible speaks of three different kinds of death: physical death, spiritual death and eternal (or second) death. I mention these different kinds of death because, for man, death is not the end of his existence. For sure, man is not eternal because he is not self-existent as God is; he is created. Man is immortal, however--that is, he never goes out of existence once he is born. Death for man, then, is not the end of his existence. Death is to be separated from the source of life. So, physical death is for our body to be separated from the source of its life--our soul/spirit. Spiritual death is for our spirit to be separated from its source of life--God. And eternal (or, second) death is for the whole man to be separated from God forever, both in body and soul.

Regeneration (John 3:1-9) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 17 May 2017

Why do we need to be born again? Interestingly, the answer is found in Jesus' words in v. 8: "The wind blows where it 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." Here, Jesus is alluding to Ezekiel's vision of the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezek. 37. You know how the dry bones of the valley came to life and became a great army of God as the wind blew over them when Ezekiel prophesied to them at God's command. (Many of you know also that in Hebrew the same word is used for both wind and spirit.) When Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit blowing like the wind, causing sinners to be born again, He was pointing out our spiritual condition--as dead as the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision.

 

Regeneration (John 3:1-9) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 17 May 2017

What does a new birth imply? Not just an improvement. Not just some fixing up. It implies a complete new beginning, a new creation, if you will. This is a radical idea, isn't it? Consider to whom Jesus spoke these words. To Nicodemus. Who was Nicodemus? He was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews. As a Pharisee, he was zealous for keeping God's law, including the oral laws handed down from the rabbis, which were designed to help the Jews not to break God's law. He must have been a very prominent Pharisee, too, since he was also a ruler of the Jews--most likely a member of the Sanhedrin Council, which was the highest Jewish court at that time. He was indeed a man of admirable credentials. He must have led a godly life, observing God's law in the strictest manner possible. He was conscientious, too--unlike many of his colleagues, he really wanted to find out about this young prophet before he dismissed him as a fraud. So, despite his position and prestige, he came to see Jesus with a humble and open mind. In so many respects, Nicodemus was a respectable Jew, even an ideal Jew.

Our Glorious Redemption (Rom. 8:28-30) part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 04 May 2017

Do you see how we need Christ in every aspect of our salvation? This is why Paul speaks of being in Christ and doing everything in Christ. It is not that Christ helps us from the outside to do what we cannot do because He is almighty in power. That's true but there is so much more. You see, Christ has already accomplished our salvation, every aspect of it! When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we don't just get a second chance at life to try harder and make it better this time around. If that were the case, we would fail again and we will need a third, fourth, fifth chance and on and on! Even ten thousand new chances would not be enough for us to get our act together as long as we live in this world. No, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are allowed to participate and share in every spiritual blessing Christ has earned on our behalf--His atonement for our sin, His righteousness for God's favor, His justification, His sonship to God, His inheritance, His sanctification, His glorification, His resurrection, and His eternal life and everlasting joy! We don't have to earn this on our own--we can't do it! We just need to receive it by faith, both passively and actively. This is why the Bible describes our salvation as being grafted to Christ, the true Vine! This is why we are said to be members of the body of Christ!

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