Born-Again Of The Spirit
John 3:1-8 HCSB There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. (2) This man came to Him at night and said, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him." (3) Jesus replied, "I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (4) "But how can anyone be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked Him. "Can he enter his mother's womb a second time and be born?" (5) Jesus answered, "I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (6) Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. (8) The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus, the “teacher of all Israel” realized that he did not have what Jesus had and that the spirituality of Jesus was of a kind totally other to all Nicodemus’ devotion, to all his book learning, and to all his discipline and rigor. The miracles were astonishing and the teaching was deep. This was clearly “something else” and it was good. Nicodemus was a human being but Jesus was a human being who was also a spiritual being.
Nicodemus wants some deep personal teaching from Jesus. He comes humbly, though secretly, and admits that He sees Jesus as being from God. Nicodemus is clearly there to learn and not to argue. So Jesus immediately goes for a mind-stretching concept for his talented but very literal (Pharisee) pupil – the idea of being “born-again”.
Nicodemus protests at the concept and the Master-Pupil Socratic dialogue begins. Jesus makes it very clear that flesh and spirit are entirely different levels of being: “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
The Kingdom of God is spiritual so to dwell in it Nicodemus needs to be born into the spiritual level of existence: "I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
He even repeats it turning it around and adding extra meaning: "I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” The ‘water and Spirit addition indicating that is not only water baptism as a ritual that saves, but it must be accompanied by real spiritual transformation that comes from true repentance and grace received through faith.
So we are not Christians by joining a club or listening to Christian music or wearing a Christian T-Shirt. You cannot join Christianity the same way you can join a golf club! You have to actually experience a deep transformational inner moral and spiritual change that makes you an eternal creature made in the image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The caterpillar must become a butterfly before it can join the flying school!
Now being “born-again”’ has, in some circles been equated with “had a warm fuzzy spiritual experience”. This notion does not square with Scripture. Being born-again is a moral and spiritual experience, which may or may not be emotional. There is no mention of Nicodemus doing handstands!
However we can expect born-again folk to be quite puzzling and a bit different: “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Spiritual people operate on another plane of existence. The apostles are good examples of this – traveling the Roman world and following God’s leadings, but always profitably and not haphazardly.
The apostle may seem quite bizarre when compared to the trader or the politician but they are working God’s plan with a keen vision for God’s glory. Sometimes spiritual folk ignore what seems like a “big opportunity” to focus on a single person such as the Ethiopian eunuch, or they stay with an outcast on the edge of town like Simon the Tanner. Or like Jesus they seem to wait until its too late and Lazarus has passed away – only to bring him up from the grave.
Born-again folk may be misunderstood, or even be accused of fanaticism; however being born-again is the only way into the Kingdom of God. To be born-again you must be willing to let go of living merely on the earthly human plane of your own will and ideas and notions and desire a moral and spiritual existence as a God-indwelt human. You must realize that no matter how smart and moral and spiritual you are - you “just don’t have it” in yourself, that you are missing something important and that you need whatever it is that Jesus has got. That is the point that Nicodemus came to – and that is the point you need to come to as well.
Blessings in Jesus,