Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Born Again?

One night long ago a religious man approached Jesus of Nazareth with compliments.

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

Why didn't Jesus tell him to believe on Jesus?

Notice that Jesus doesn't tell Nicodemus to DO anything.  He doesn't say to repent, believe, follow, choose, accept, receive or to take any other action.  Jesus tells him that he needs something to happen TO him.   "Being born" is a passive voice verb.

Nicodemus is perplexed.  "How can a man be born when he is old...?  Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb...?"  He has no idea what to DO about it.  And it is interesting to me that Jesus doesn't help him out by making it a simple action that "closes the deal" on eternal salvation.  He doesn't ask him to raise his hand, walk down front, pray a prayer, "pray through," or get baptized.

Instead Jesus confuses him further:
(John 3:5–6 NKJV) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

And He explains that it is like when the wind blows... you can't see the wind and you don't know where it is coming from or where it is going.  All you see is the results - things are moved because the wind blew on them.  You can't control it, you can only observe it.

Jesus says again - "you must be born again."
Nicodemus is at a loss.  "How can these things be?"

It seems to me there are some important points in here that we would do well to be reminded of.
1) Salvation is not essentially an action that is in man's hands.
2) Salvation is essentially an action that is in God's hands.
3) Salvation is brought about by the Holy Spirit of God.
4) Salvation is not something you can control, but it brings about results you can see.

Too many would-be-evangelists are in a hurry to give people the magic words to say that will cast the spell that will make them eternally secure.  They would do well to remind themselves of the approach of Jesus the evangelist, who started out by telling Nicodemus that he couldn't save himself - that he needed to look to God to save him.

Faith in Jesus is not a prayer you pray that brings you salvation.  Faith in Jesus is the result of the Holy Spirit's work of regeneration, by which people are born again.

It is as thrilling as a tornado!  You are talking to someone about Jesus - about His sinless life, sacrificial death and resurrection.  You are urging them to repent of their sins and to trust in Jesus for salvation.  You can see that they don't get it.  They don't understand.  They don't believe it.  It isn't registering with them.

Then the wind blows through, their eyes widen, they say something profound like "OH!"  Now they believe!  Now there are tears, laughter, prayers and maybe jumping up and down (that's me.)  They have been born again right in front of your eyes!  WOW!

Don't settle for cheap imitations.  Don't rush to give people something they can DO (especially not something they can do whether or not they are born again.)  Remember, they must be born again.  Tell them all about Jesus and let God do the DO-ING in your evangelism.

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