Friday, June 22, 2007

You Must Be Born Again

My Beloved is both my spouse and my Pastor. Last night my soul was fed bountifully by a sermon that he prepared as the kick-off message for a conference at our "daughter" church. It was from John 3:3, entitled "You Must Be Born Again." My initial impression, after hearing the title was a rather bored, "Oh, one of those basic-for-beginners messages." But I was wrong. As the apostle Peter stated, it is good to be stirred up, to be constantly sharpened as to the basic tenets of our faith by way of reminder.

John 3 tells of the nocturnal visit that Nicodemus paid to Jesus, and of the famous imperative that Jesus spoke to him: "You must be born again." Apart from being born again, Jesus said,

*He cannot see the kingdom of heaven
*He cannot enter the kingdom of heaven

Nicodemus had credentials, status, and power. He was a ruler of the Jews, a Pharisee. Perhaps he was sent to Jesus as a spokesman for others, for he approaches Jesus with the words, "WE know you that You are a teacher come from God...."

Externally, Nicodemus appeared to be righteous and religious. But there was something missing internally. Jesus put his finger on this lack when He said, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?"

Nicodemus had neither seen nor entered the kingdom of heaven. He saw the kingdom only from an earthly perspective; he needed to be born again before he could glimpse heavenly realities.

Birth is man's entryway into the natural world. Spiritual birth is the entryway into the kingdom of heaven. Before that birth takes place, our eyes are blinded to the heavenly kingdom and we cannot see it.

"....whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them." 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

In the Corinthians passage, the blindness is to be" wrapped with smoke" or to be surrounded by a smoke screen. It is impossible to see or enter the kingdom of heaven until that smoke screen is blown away by the wind of God's spirit. Then, our spiritual eyes can glimpse the things of another realm.

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:8

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
But God has revealed them to us through His spirit."
I Corinthians 2:9-10a

It is fascinating to study the wind, the breath of the Spirit. God breathed on Adam (Genesis 2:7) and he became a living being. But sin has caused man to literally "lose his breath." To be born again means that we have recovery of breath, or revival.

There is a beautiful passage in Acts that says "Refreshing times come from the presence of the Lord"~~~meaning that we have recovery of breath when we are refreshed by the Spirit. Conferences and retreats often provide for me that much needed season of refreshing and recovery. I get out of breath as I am busy about this life. Gratefully, I acknowledge my Lord's kind provision in giving me refreshing times, recovery of breath.


ichthys said...

Thanks for sharing this message.It has a particular impact in my life ...20 years back when I became a committed Christian at 48 years old.The phrase 'born again' exactly described what had happened to much so that when we(my wife and I were immersed at our baptism shortly after) the pastor commented that after 25 years of marriage my wife Kathy had a 'new ' husband.

Peregrina said...

What I appreciated as well was the reminder that Nicodemus then was there to assist in the removal of Jesus' body from the cross~the fruit of Jesus' powerful message of re-birth!