In our daily meditations, we focus our attention on some of the teachings of Jesus. Yesterday, we saw one of the elders and Pharisees of Israel, Nicodemus, talking with Christ and asking Him about eternity. Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).
It is hard for a man who looks at life only from an outward point of view to get his mind around such talk as the need for spiritual birth. Nicodemus responded the same way most of us would when hearing such a statement for the first time. He thinks only in natural terms. To him, there was no logical way to understand this statement, and it puzzled him. If taken at face value, he would have to enter his mother's womb to be born again. He was thinking in literal terms and wondered how this could be so.
Jesus told Nicodemus that he could not even perceive the kingdom of God without an impartation of spiritual life from God. The Lord was so emphatic that He spelled it out clearly to Nicodemus and us for our benefit. He said;
I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:5-6).
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but to enter a spiritual kingdom requires that your dead spirit receive the gift of the life of God. Jesus didn’t say that some people can’t enter unless they are born again, but He used strong words, saying no one can enter unless two things happen in a person’s life. You cannot become a Christian by trying to live a Christian life. Please reflect on that last statement, for many people are deceived into believing that just being good will get them into the kingdom of God. As it was with your birth into this world, you cannot do anything to contribute to your spiritual birth. Salvation is given as a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). What is needed, Jesus said, is two things: to be born of water and of the Spirit. We’ll look tomorrow at what Jesus meant by being born of water, but today, let’s concentrate on what He taught about spiritual rebirth.
Until we come to Christ and receive the gift of eternal life, death is still operative in our lives. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, he disobeyed God's warning that he would surely die (Genesis 2:17). Adam did not physically die until he was 930 years old (Genesis 5:5), so what did God mean by saying he would die the day he ate? Death began its work in him the day he sinned, but what was also affected was his relationship with God, evidenced by his hiding from God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). Without our connection to God, the author of life, we are without hope (Ephesians 2:12), a condition that God calls being dead. Jesus came to restore that connection. He said, “I have come that they may have life [zoe] and have it to the full” (John 10:10). If Jesus came to give us this new life, then that which we have before we receive His life is inadequate.
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul the Apostle wrote about similar things: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1 and 5). When people come to Christ, repent of sin, and receive Christ into their lives, they are born-again: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). New life is imparted to the spirit of new believers. The sin issue that separates us from God is taken away when we place our trust in Christ. Let’s talk more about this tomorrow. Keith Thomas
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This meditation is a shortened version of the in-depth study: You Must Be Born Again.