The New Birth – John Chapter 3: 1 – 17
“Salvation is of the Lord.” Jonah 2: 9
Last Sunday in our four part series on Back to Basics, we looked at the subject of Sin, that is, “the bad news.” We studied:
- The Explanation of Sin
- The Etiology or Sin
- The Effects of Sin
- The Eradication or Elimination of Sin
The conclusion was that due to Adam’s fall, and the entrance of sin into the world through Adam, the entire human race is now sinful by imputation, and is under the condemnation, and wrath of God. We also saw that every human being that is born into this world is born in sin, and is also born spiritually dead, and is on a path to eternal damnation, which the Bible calls as hell. According to the Holy Scriptures there is nothing that human beings on their own can do to escape from this inevitable destiny. In other words, there is nothing that a fallen, sinful man can do, or give, that can please, and appease a Holy & Righteous God, to atone for his sins. That, my brothers and sisters, is bad news indeed.
But this morning, I am here to share the good news that there is a way of escape from the curse of sin. It is called “the Way of Salvation”. (Acts 16:17) Friends, this is not a way that you can find on your own. It is not attained by following a set of rules, or performing certain rites, or offering something to God. You cannot attain Salvation by resolving to live a good life, or a religious life, as we shall see. You cannot buy it, or give anything in exchange for it.
Beloved, Salvation is only found in a Person, and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ, who said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” And, I want to reiterate this truth with another passage of Scripture which I mentioned last week from Acts 4: 12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” – Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ – there is no other means that a man or a woman can escape the wrath of God, and be saved.
What does the word Salvation mean? – According to the broadest meaning as used in Scripture, the term salvation encompasses the total work of God by which He seeks to rescue man from the ruin, doom, and power of sin and bestows upon him the wealth of His grace encompassing eternal life, provision for abundant life now, and eternal glory (Eph. 1:3-8; 2:4-10; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; John 3:16, 36; 10:10).
The study of the Doctrine of Salvation in the Bible is known as Soteriology. The word “salvation” is the translation of the Greek word “soteria”, which is derived from the word “soter” meaning “savior.” The word “salvation” communicates the thought of deliverance, safety, preservation, soundness, restoration, and healing. In theology, however, its major use is to denote a work of God on behalf of men, and as such it is a major doctrine of the Bible, which includes redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, conviction, repentance, faith, regeneration, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, preservation, and glorification. On the one hand, salvation is described as the work of God rescuing man from his lost estate. On the other hand salvation describes the estate of a man who has been saved and who is vitally renewed and made a partaker of the inheritance of the saints. (https://bible.org/article/soteriology-doctrine-salvation)
So, this morning let us look at question – “How does God save lost sinners?” Note: I deliberately did not say “How can one be saved?” – because as we saw last week, the scriptures are very clear that sinners who are dead in their trespasses and sins, are incapable of turning to God on their own, and can do nothing to save themselves. That is why the Bible declares “Salvation is of the Lord”. (Jonah 2: 9) – Dear friends Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
I am sure that many of you would have heard about the ABCs of Salvation.
- Admit that you are a sinner
- Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
- Confess Him as your Lord
These steps are scripturally based. Romans 10 – 9 “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Now all of these steps are true and necessary, but before a person can take these steps, something else needs to happen which is totally outside of that person, which will enable him or her to take these steps. In order for a person to recognize that he/she is a sinner, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and confess Him as Lord – he/she needs to be born again. The Bible calls this event as the New Birth.
From the passage that was read this morning – John 3, we can learn this great truth from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself. This chapter which most of us are quite familiar with, deals with a conversation between a man named Nicodemus, and the Lord Jesus.
Nicodemus is mentioned three times in the Gospel of John. (Ch. 3:2; 7:50; 19:39) From a careful reading of this man’s conversation with Jesus, we can know that he was sincere, courteous, earnest, intelligent and influential – “a member of the Jewish ruling council” and a Pharisee (verse 1). These facts tell us that he was a very religious man. This member of the Sanhedrin was “Israel’s teacher” (verse 10). We also know from the record that he was a moral man, that is, he lived a good and upright life. There is nothing on record against Nicodemus. But, we see Jesus telling him that he needed to be born again. Good people need to be born again as well as bad people! – look at verse 3.
Think of it – this religious, moral man was spiritually dead and needed to be born again! There are many people like that, many of whom are in churches! They are God-fearing but have never been born again; they are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1); they need to receive Christ and be born into God’s family (John 1:11-13). But if it was only curiosity that made Nicodemus seek Jesus out, it is certain that before long his curiosity changed to concern – verses 4 and 9 assure us of this. It’s great when a man begins to feel really concerned about his soul’s salvation (Acts 16:30). This concern is produced by the convicting, or convincing, work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11). Compare Acts 2:36-41 where we have an illustration of this very thing! It’s only when we know and feel we are lost that we seek the way of salvation. (Study on Nicodemus – Word of Life)
There are three things that the Lord Jesus emphasizes about the new birth.
- The Necessity of the New Birth. Vs. 3 & 5 “3 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. 5 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
In order for a person to realize that he/she is a sinner, and to repent, the new birth needs to happen. In other words, we first need to be resurrected from our deadness. Ephesians 2: 1 – 9 (read) – Also in 1 Corinthians 12: 3, the Bible says, “…no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” So the scriptures are very clear that unless the Holy Spirit regenerates a person, he/she cannot be saved. The work of regeneration is of Sovereign grace, and we cannot do anything to bring it about in our own lives. Just as we had nothing to do with our physical birth, we do not have anything to do with our spiritual birth. We are regenerated by the bi-fold work of the Water and the Spirit. We all know that the word “Spirit” here is referring to God the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity. But many mistakenly think that the work water here refers to Baptism. Baptism is something that is done in obedience to the Word of God AFTER you are saved, and NOT to get saved. We should never think that baptism saves us. The word “water” here refers to the Word of God. The Word of God and the Spirit of God work together in the regeneration of the sinner.
There are several references to this truth in the OT, such as Isaiah 32:15; 44:3; & Ezek. 36:25–27. I will just read from Ezekiel 36 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Nicodemus as a teacher of the Law should have known this, hence the reproof by Jesus saying “are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?”
Here are some scriptures from the NT that confirms this truth – “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3: 5)
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.” (James 1:18)
“You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1: 23)
- The Nature of the New Birth.
- A New Experience – again
The new birth is not simply a change of circumstances but it is a whole new experience. We experience newness of life. It is a life that is vitalized the Spirit of God which enables us to live our new life in obedience to the Word of God which was never possible prior to our new birth due to the spiritually dead condition.
- A New Creation – anew
The new birth also means that we are a new creation. To be born again does not mean that we are refurbished. It does not even mean that we are revived. Revival is not for unbelievers – it is for Christians who are feeble in their faith. A dead body cannot be revived, a dead body can only be resurrected by the power of God. And that is exactly what happens at regeneration. That is why we read in 2 Corinthians 5: 17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
- A New Origin – from above
The Greek word for “again” is “Anothen” It means, again, or from the beginning, and it is also used to mean “from above”. The new life that we receive upon regeneration is a life that comes from above. It comes from the Father. It is not of this earth. Jesus said in John 15: 18 – 19 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
- The Nobility of the New Birth.
- We are Born of God – Beloved, our nobility is heavenly, not earthly. We are Children of God, not children of mere earthly kings. In John 1: 12 – 13, we read “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” When we are born again we become sons and daughters of the Most High.
- We are born of the Spirit – John 3: 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.”
- We are born by the Word of God – 1 Peter 1: 23 “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” The Word of God is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 1: 1, 14)
So we see that all three members of the Godhead are involved in the work of Salvation. It is by His Sovereign, express will that He chooses to save us. The Bible says in Ephesians 2: 4 – 9 that “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
As we conclude – my question to you this morning is “Are you born again?” Do you have the life of God in you? Or – are you a morally good person who has not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit? Please examine your heart this morning – your eternal destiny depends on the answer to this question. If this question is bothering /causing concern in you – then it is a good sign. That means that the Spirit of God is working in you. One of the signs that you are born again is that there will be a marked change in your behavior that is visible to all around you. Your speech will be changed, your attitude will be changed, your desires will be changed, everything about you will change. No one who comes into a relationship with Jesus will remain the same. If you claim to be a Christian, and born again – but there has been no change in you, you are only deceiving yourself. You are not really born again. You merely know the terminology. This is very common in those of us who have been born in Christian families and have been raised in a church environment all our lives. Please examine your heart today… Don’t leave this place without examining your heart. If you want to talk about it with someone please let myself, or one of the leaders know. We will sit down with you and pray with you and walk with you until Christ is formed in you. Please do not take this lightly as you eternity depends on it.
Let us pray…