Friday, January 4, 2013

Jesus' Teaching on the New Birth/Regeneration P2

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

It cannot be emphasized enough that the New Birth represents the entry way through the gates of salvation.  We have learned from previous studies of the New Birth that it comes from God, comes with change for the heart and includes faith and repentance.  Just as life naturally begins at conception, New life in Jesus Christ begins at this juncture called "The New Birth".  As we began to explore Jesus' conversation with Nicodemas on this most fundamental subject of salvation, we noted two ideas brought out by our Lord:

1. He demands people to be born again. John 3:1-3
2. He describes what it means to be born again. John 3:4-8 
Today we continue on with Jesus, observing further how He demonstrates the New Birth. 
Jesus demonstrates the New Birth John 3:9-19
In this conversation between Nicodemas and Jesus, Nicodemas raises two questions, the first one being a two part question in John 3:2 - "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?"  The question of course is dealing with the need for clarification and description, which Jesus does in John 3:4-8.  With the description of the New Birth complete, Nicodemas asks the second question in John 3:9 - "Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?”  It is in answering this question that Jesus aims to demonstrate the reality of the New Birth to the inquisitive Nicodemas by three types of testimony. 

1. Divine Testimony demonstrates the New Birth 3:9-13
Jesus demonstrates the reality of the New Birth by starting with first hand testimony from the Triune God.  How do we know Jesus is speaking of Himself in union with the Father and the Spirit?  He has already explained to Nicodemas about the role of the Holy Spirit as the Agent of the New Birth. (John 3:3-8)  With the Holy Spirit being a member of the Trinity, that leaves two Members.  Jesus identifies Himself as being included in this Divine testimony, asserting what is probably one of the clearest declarations of His Deity in John 3:13.  The Scripture elsewhere describes the believer being united to Christ at the time of the New Birth/Born Again experience. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)  Thus we are left with the person of the Father, Whom scripture ascribes as Being the Father of the New Birth, its Proper Orgin and Author. (James 1:17-18; 1 Peter 1:3,23)  God in all Three Persons is the Divine Testifier of the reality of the New Birth. 

2. Historical Testimony demonstrates the New Birth  3:14-15
For this Jewish Teacher of the Old Testament Law, no greater example of history could be cited than Moses Himself.  In appealing to Numbers 21, wherein Moses was commanded to raise up a brazen serpent to stave off a plague, Jesus is connecting the basis of the miracle of healing to what would be the basis for the miracle of the New Birth.  The people of God had grumbled against God, which resulted in a judgment of fiery serpents biting them.  By fashioning this serpent, God said all who look to this symbol raised on a pole would be saved from physical death.  Christ was showing Nicodemas that a far greater miracle was being referred to by Him - the New Birth.  What was its base to be?  The cross!  So powerful was the cross that not only can it reach forward into time and be the grounds of the New Birth for all who believe, but it could reach back as well.  Salvation is a miracle that is grounded in the historical event of the cross - the greatest testimony ever. 

3. Living Testimony Demonstrates the New Birth 3:16-19
If Divine and Historical testimony were not enough, Jesus appeals to the third demonstration of the reality of the New Birth - Living Testimony.  We all hear John 3:16 all the time, but do we ever stop to realize what it is really saying?  The miracle of the New birth is real.  Furthermore, faith and repentance are not only necessary, but sufficient means for receiving and experiencing the New Birth.  In this particular set of verses, Jesus deals mainly with the faith expression of the sinner.  It can also be just as easily included to that repentance is involved, since those who have not believed on the Only Begotten Son are those who love darkness rather than light. (John 3:19)  A person who is truly born again believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and in repentance loves the light and hates the darkness. 

More tomorrow.......