Marveling at the Gospel

In John 1:6 Jesus says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” 

Your flesh and human effort cannot attain spiritual life. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh…” Only the Spirit can grant spiritual life and He does it through the proclamation of the gospel.

Hear the voice of the Shepherd, the voice of Jesus, and follow Him through faith in His finished work on the cross. And thank Him and praise Him for the rest of your life. This is the affection of a regenerate heart toward the Lord!

When Jesus said in verse 6, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” Nicodemus began to marvel. How do we know that?

Even though there’s no recorded response from Nicodemus between verse 6 and verse 7, verse 7 is where Jesus tells Nicodemus, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

So I infer from the words of Jesus in verse 7 that Nicodemus must have been marveling at what Jesus has been saying up to this point. The phrase that made Nicodemus marvel in particular were the words, “You must be born again.”

Do you remember how we explained the meaning of “born again?”

We saw that it means ‘born from above’ or ‘born of the Spirit.’ It also means the same thing as being ‘born of water and the Spirit.’ The word we sometimes give to the new birth is the word “regeneration.”

This word means to be formed anew, referring to a spiritual birth from spiritual death. You and I are born into this world as spiritually dead.

None of us are born without sin. We must be born again to live spiritually or we cannot see the kingdom of God.

Seeing the kingdom of God and being spiritually reborn has everything to do with the free will of the Spirit of God as we’ll see in verse 8.

Until next time,
Pastor Kevin

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The Shepherd’s Voice

In the previous blog, I ended by talking about hearing the Shepherd’s voice. This is the evidence that the Shepherd — Jesus Christ — has opened our ears to believe the gospel.

The way God has arranged for people to be saved from sin and judgment and hell is by hearing the true gospel and believing it. God enables His sheep, like Nicodemus, to savingly hear His voice in the gospel call and to respond with obedience.

In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Jesus says you and I come into this world as sinners and our sin has separated us from the blessing of God. But God sent His Son to die for the sins of all who would ever believe on Him for salvation.

Those people who believe are called His sheep. He paid for their sins on the cross and they will come to Him because the Father draws them to Christ.

Has He drawn you to Christ? Have you obeyed the gospel by putting your trust for eternal life in Christ alone and are you following Him?

Hear the voice of Jesus in the gospel. You are a sinner; turn from your sin by putting your trust in Jesus and His finished work on the cross, believe that He died for your sin and that you must be clothed with His righteousness to enter heaven.

Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord. You will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

Have you heard the Shepherd’s voice?

Pastor Kevin

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Our Predicament

In the last post, I closed by asking some questions. What did Nicodemus need? and what do all spiritually dead people need which Jesus said must come from above?

Have you thought about what Nicodemus needed that he didn’t have? Have you thought about what all spiritually dead people need which Jesus said must come from above? The answer is spiritual regeneration… which is another word for new birth.

But this is our predicament. We can’t give birth to ourselves. It must come from outside of us and be done for us and to us.

When Nicodemus asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” that was a reference to natural birth.

Nicodemus didn’t need to be urged to be physically born. He had done that.

But “born of water” we saw in verse 5 was something that an OT teacher like Nicodemus was expected to know. It’s an OT reference to cleansing.

It likely referred to the passage in Ezekiel 36:25-27 about the inner cleansing from sin that comes with a new heart and a new spirit.

It’s an OT reference to being born again through spiritual regeneration. But Nicodemus was spiritually blind to the meaning of this OT passage despite the fact that he was called the teacher of Israel!

Jesus says that being born of water and the Spirit (which isn’t two separate events, but one act that God performs at regeneration) is necessary for entrance into the kingdom of God.

Then in verse 6 Jesus says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

If all you have is a natural birth, then all you are is natural and nothing more. No spiritual birth comes as a result of being born of the flesh.  But, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. So there is a spiritual birth that must come after physical birth

The only way to enter heaven is to be born of the Spirit. As the old couplet says, “Born once, die twice; born twice, die once.”

The way God has arranged for people to be saved from sin and judgment and hell is by hearing the true gospel and believing it. God enables His sheep, like Nicodemus, to savingly hear His voice in the gospel call and to respond with obedience.

In the next blog, we’ll go further by considering how Christ’s sheep hear His voice in a way that leads to new life in Him.

Until then,
Pastor Kevin

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Born of the Spirit

In this blog post, let’s review what we’ve seen in John 3:1-4 and then look at verses 5-6 about the difference between being born of the flesh and being born of the Spirit.

We have seen in verses 1-4 where Jesus teaches Nicodemus and us that it’s possible to be very religious, and yet be very lost and spiritually separated from God.

Nicodemus was a type of Jewish leader who was at the top of the religious counsel in Jerusalem. He was called “a ruler of the Jews” referring to his position on the Sanhedrin which presided over religious and judicial matters.

But he wasn’t born again. So, Nicodemus was spiritually dead to the true God… he needed more than religion or virtue or sincerity to get to heaven… and the same is true of you and me.  

The only remedy for spiritual deadness to God is something that must come from God Himself. Jesus said – “you must be born again.” God must enable you to want this salvation before you’ll ever be inclined to believe it. He has to change our heart.

So that brings us back to verse 5 of John chapter 3. Look at verses 5 and 6…

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, 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. [ESV]

We began looking at verse 5 the last time we were together. We saw that the phrase “born of water and the Spirit” was just another way of describing the new birth. Being “born of water and the Spirit” means the same thing as being “born again.”

We saw that “born of water” isn’t referring to water baptism, because baptism is the external symbol or sign of new birth, but never the cause of new birth.

And born of water isn’t referring to natural birth, because Nicodemus already knew he had been naturally born – he didn’t need to undergo another biological birth.

But what did Nicodemus need? What do all spiritually dead people need which Jesus said must come from above? We’ll consider the answer to these questions in our next post.

Until then,
Pastor Kevin

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