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How to be Born Again

John 3:4-8
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (NIV)

Nicodemus was the leading theologian of his day. He knew the spiritual and moral rules according to Moses, and he had studied the Old Testament. But when Jesus told him that God’s Kingdom was only for those who were born again, Nicodemus had no answer: so he asked a question, “How is it possible to be born again”? Clearly it was ludicrous for a grown man to re-enter his mother’s womb!

Jesus responded by pointing him back to the promise of Ezekiel 36:25-27: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” The water is the Old Testament sign of purification, and the Spirit is God’s Holy Spirit who would change people’s hearts from the inside. In other words, the new birth is God’s work. And the meteorological analogy about where the wind starts and finishes, underlined that the new birth is not under human control, but God’s.

Many people think that they are ‘all right for heaven’ because they have always gone to church, have had believing parents, have studied the Bible a lot or are morally good people. No! Trying to keep religious rules and giving money to a church does not let anyone into God’s Kingdom. They all need to be born again! And that is the Holy Spirit’s work! In the same way that a new born child has the parents’ characteristics without any effort, so the Holy Spirit lives within each person who is born into God’s Kingdom to enable them to live like Jesus. As Jesus explains later, people are born again when they appeal to Jesus Christ to save them. So none of us can earn or study our way to heaven; but the Holy Spirit will enter everybody who repents of their sins and asks Jesus to give them new life. It is such good news, why not watch www.crosscheck.org.uk and discuss it with your family and friends.

Life-giving Lord. Thank You that You have not abandoned sinners like me, but have provided a way for us to be saved. I am sorry when I forget how much You have done in my life and when I feel virtuous because of the good things I do. Please forgive me for taking away from Your glorious work which saved me and made me Your child, and a citizen of Your Kingdom. Help me to learn to expect You to give new life to all who repent and turn to Jesus as their Saviour. Help me to invest time and love in telling them how to be born again. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams