Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 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.” John 3:5-8

The conversation between Jesus and the religious leader named Nicodemus continues. Jesus is following up on his statement that you need to be born again because Nicodemus doesn’t understand the spiritual implications of what Jesus is saying. All he can think about is the impossibility of being physically born twice. Jesus wants him to understand that he is talking about a spiritual birth.

The new birth is something that happens because the Holy Spirit moves. We don’t know why He moves when He does but we can be aware that it is the Holy Spirit just as you can be aware of the wind blowing. What is important is that we respond to that move of the Spirit and place our trust in Christ.

One of the ironic problems with folks who focused on being born again in the 70’s is that they assumed their experience of the Spirit was the norm and anyone who did not have that experience was not really a follower of Jesus. But the reality is some people are born from above with a powerful and dynamic experience. Some people are born from above with a very internal, contemplative experience. Some people are born from above all at once and some seem to be in spiritual labor for years. What matters is not how you came alive in the Spirit but that it has happened.

Can you look back on a time in your life when it was obvious that you were not spiritually alive but today you are? You don’t need to be able to identify the moment of your new birth any more than you need to identify the moment of your physical birth. But you do need to be able to affirm that once you were not alive and now, because of the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit, you are alive in Christ.

3 comments

  1. How do you counsel a brother who does not “feel” the assurance of being born again? He struggles with Matthew 7:21-22. I can see evidence that he is a child of God but he has been crying out for years for the “feeling.” He worries that he may not have been “chosen.”

  2. Jim, this was a huge issue for the Puritans and others in history. What always needs to be remembered is that it is not our behavior that saves us and even once coming to faith in Christ we still wrestle with sin and doubt. The fact that someone is even concerned that they may or may not be chosen by God is an indicator of a heart that is inclined towards God and is softened to him. The Gospel is about Jesus doing what is necessary for our salvation and not us living up to a legalistic standard in order to be approved by God. You friend needs to be reminded of scripture that says God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. He has promised to do so for all who call upon him. As long as your friend is trusting in Jesus he needs to rest in the comfort of God’s promise.

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