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The Message of John (Lesson 9)
Born Again | John 3:3
"Truly, truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."
In John 3, Jesus is speaking with a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader in the Jewish community.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, likely because he's afraid of what his fellow Pharisees will think of him seeking out Jesus.
Whatever the reason for being under the cloak of darkness, Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order to see the kingdom of God, he must be "born again."
Nicodemus is confused by this statement and asks, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
In response, Jesus explains that being "born again" is not a physical birth, but a spiritual one.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."
Being "born again" is a fundamental aspect of the good news, as it represents a spiritual transformation that occurs when an individual experiences the supernatural awakening of regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When awakened to new life, an individual is empowered to confess their sin and receive Jesus by faith as their Lord and Savior.
It's important to understand that regeneration is not something that can be achieved through human effort or works, but it is a sovereign work of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. As a work of God, new life is a gift.
Being born again through regeneration is a spiritual resurrection.
This is confirmed by Paul in Ephesians 2, where he says that apart from the intervening work of God in our lives to give us new life, every human is spiritually dead in sin.
But when we are spiritually awakened, we can "see." We see our need for a Savior to die in our place and are able to believe upon Jesus as that Savior.
As the hymn Amazing Grace says,
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind but now I see
Jesus also uses the metaphor of wind to describe the work of the Spirit, saying that just as one cannot see the wind but can see its effects, so one cannot see the Spirit but can see the effects of the Spirit in a person's life. Those with the gift of spiritual sight not only have a new heart, but also a renewed mind and a desire to follow the ways of Jesus–for his glory and our joy.
What does it mean to be "born again?"
How is this new birth grace rather than merit or reward?
What role does the Holy Spirit play in the process of being "born again"?
How does being "born again" change an individual's relationship with God?
What are some of the effects of regeneration that we can see in a person's life?
A Suggested Prayer
Dear Lord Jesus,
We thank you for the gift of new life through the power of your Holy Spirit. Give us the ongoing grace to live all of our lives in view of your cross and in dependence on your Spirit to enable the newness of our hearts, minds, and desires.
In your name, we pray, Amen.