Title: “Ye Must Be Born Again”
Text: John 3:7
Subject: The new birth
Date: Sunday Morning - August 18, 1985
My subject this morning is The New Birth. I take the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to Nicodemus as my text and the title of my message - “Ye must be born again.” Today almost everyone talks about being born again.
Illustration: Larry Flint and Pat Robertson
Homosexual man and Jerry Falwell
Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale.
The religious world around us, in its apostate rejection of the truth of God, has made the new birth to be nothing more than making a decision, walking an aisle, and saying a prayer. Because of their abuse and error regarding the doctrine of the new birth, our tendency is to shy away from using the term “born again”, lest we be identified with those who deny the gospel of Christ, But, no matter how much men may pervert the language and the doctrine of Christ, our Lord’s admonition to Nicodemus still stands. It is as necessary and urgent today as it was when he first made it two thousand years ago. This is my message to you today, “Ye must be born again.”
Look at these five words, and ask God to give you wisdom and grace to understand what they mean. Here is A Personal Word - “Ye.” This message is for you. I know you are moral. I know you are religious. I know that you are well instructed in doctrinal truth. So was Nicodemus. He was a well respected religious leader, a Pharisee, and a ruler among the Jews. Nicodemus was a teacher who taught the teachers. He was a man of highest rank in the Jewish church. But he was dead. He was without life before God. He was totally ignorant of all thins spiritual. He was a lost man. My friend, if you are yet without life toward God, my message is to you. I have this word from God for you - “You must be born again.”
Here is A Pressing Word - “Must.” “Time is short.” “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” This is not a good recommendation. This is not wholesome advice. This is imperative. This is vital. This is a necessity. “You must be born again!” Otherwise, you will perish in your sins. You will die under the wrath of God!
Here is A Passive Word - “Be.” The new birth is not something you do. It is something God does for you. A man has no more to do with his spiritual birth than he does with his natural birth. In this matter of regeneration man is passive. He has nothing to do with it (John 1:12-13). You cannot save yourself. You cannot give yourself life. You cannot be born again by something you do (Tit. 3:4-6).
· Not by moral reformation.
· Not by baptism.
· Not by religious fervor and devotion.
· Not even by faith in Christ - Faith in Christ is not the cause of the new birth. Faith is the result of the new birth (Eph. 1:19; 2:8; Col. 2:11-12).
Here is A Powerful Word - “Born.” I am talking to you about a gift; but it is not just any ordinary gift. I am talking to you about the gift of life, eternal life. When our Lord declares, “Ye must be born again,” he is saying you must be the object and recipient of Divine power. Just as God created the world, God must create life in your soul. Just as God breathed into Adam and made him a living soul, so God must breathe into you the breath of life by his Spirit, or you will perish in your sins. This is what I am saying, you are spiritually dead, helplessly lost. Your only hope is that God the Holy Spirit will give you life.
Here is A Profound Word - “Again.” The new birth is a mystery of grace. It cannot be explained, nor can it be fully understood. It is a work of God beyond our comprehension. When our Lord says, “Ye must be born again,” his meaning is twofold. The word again has two meanings.
· First, it means, “You must be born from above.” James tells us that “every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Then he tells us what he is teaching in the next verse. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth” (James 1:17-18).
· Secondly, it means, “You must be born a second time.’ Your first birth was of sinful parents, and you were born in their image. The second birth is of God, and we are born in his image. The first birth was of corruptible seed. The second birth is of incorruptible seed. Our first birth is in sin. Our second birth is in righteousness. By our first birth we were polluted and unclean. By our second birth we become holy. Our first birth was fleshly and carnal. Our second birth is spiritual and makes us spiritual. By the first birth all men are foolish and ignorant. By our second birth we become wise unto salvation. By our first birth we were slaves to sin and the lusts of the flesh. By our second birth we are made free from the dominion of sin. By our first birth we are all children of wrath. By our second birth we are children of promise. Our Lord says, “Ye must be born again,” because we were all born wrong the first time.
“Ye must be born again,” our Lord said, because none shall ever enter into glory except those who are born again by the power and grace of God and made to live in and by the Lord Jesus Christ.
In order for God to save a sinner two things must be done. God must do something for you. And God must do something in you.
· Redemption is the work of God for sinners.
· Regeneration is the work of God in sinners.
Both are the works of God. Man has nothing more to do with regeneration than he has to do with redemption. “Salvation is of the Lord!”
Not all the outward forms on earth,
Nor rites that God has given,
Nor will of man, nor blood, nor birth,
Can raise a soul to heaven.
The sovereign will of God alone
Creates us heirs of grace;
Born in the image of His Son,
A new peculiar race.
Let me answer four questions for you from the Word of God about the new birth -
1. Why must you be born again?
2. What is the new birth?
3. How are men and women born again by the Spirit of God?
4. When is a sinner born again?
I. WHY MUST YOU BE BORN AGAIN?
There are many answers that are given to that question in the Word of God. But we will stay with our text. Our Lord gave Nicodemus three reasons why he must be born again. These three things make it imperative that you must be born again.
A. Unless you are born again you cannot understand anything spiritual (v. 3).
The natural man is totally void of spiritual understanding. You may be a logical, reasonable, rational, and well educated person among men, but with regard to the things of God you are as ignorant, foolish, and unreasonable as a madman. You have no capacity for spiritual knowledge (Rom. 8:5; 1 Cor. 2:14). The heart of stone is hard, cold, unbending, unaffected.
1. You cannot see the spiritual nature of God’s law (Matt. 5:21, 27, 38, 43, 48).
2. You cannot see the spiritual nature of sin (Matt. 15:17-19).
3. You cannot see the glory of God in redemption (Rom. 3:24-26).
4. You cannot see the spiritual condition of your own heart (Jer. 17:9).
5. You cannot see the spiritual nature of salvation - It is a heart work (Ezek. 36:25-27).
6. You cannot see the spiritual nature of obedience to God (1 Sam. 16:7; Rom. 14:17). Human religion is carnal. It has to do with carnal things!
7. You cannot see the spiritual nature of faith and worship (Phil. 3:3).
8. You cannot see the true character of God (Ex. 33:18-34:7).
9. You cannot see the glory of God in Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
· His suretyship
· His incarnation
· His substitutionary atonement
· His ascension and exaltation
10.You cannot see the gospel of the grace of God (2 Cor. 5:18-21).
B. Unless you are born again by almighty grace you can never enter into the kingdom of God (v. 5).
You can reform your life without the new birth. You can be baptized without the new birth. You can join the church, be zealous in religion, teach a Bible class, serve as a deacon or elder, you can even preach with great success without being born again. But unless you are born again, you will never enter the kingdom of God.
1. You will never be a part of the church and family of God.
2. You will never have eternal life.
3. You will never enter into the worship and fellowship of God’s saints.
4. You will never be admitted into the presence of God’s glory in the bliss of heaven (Rev. 21:27).
Only new creatures will enter the new Jerusalem. Only holy men will walk into the Holy City. Only heaven born citizens will possess the bliss of heaven.
C. “Ye must be born again” because by nature you are a fallen, sinful, depraved child of human flesh (v. 6).
All flesh is defiled. All flesh is corrupt. All flesh is sinful. All flesh is condemned. All flesh must die. Unless you are born of the Spirit, you will die in your sins, and your flesh shall be justly damned.
NOTE: The flesh is your natural, sinful self (Psa. 51:5; 58:3; Rom. 5:12; Rev. 20:11-15).
II. WHAT IS THE NEW BIRTH?
I cannot explain to you the mystery of the new birth. It is one of God’s incomprehensible works. But there are several things in the Word of God which identify God’s regenerating grace.
A. To be born again is to be raised from the dead (Eph. 2:1-4). (Illustration: Lazarus - Ezekiel’s vision.)
B. To be born again is to be made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).
In regeneration a divine like nature is created in our souls, so that men and women upon the earth are born in the image of God (Gal. 5:22).
C. To be born again is to have Christ formed in us (Gal. 4:19).
To have eternal life is to have the Lord Jesus Christ living in you (Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27).
D. To be born again is to have a good seed implanted in you by grace (1 John 3:9-10).
By nature we are all sprung from bad seed - Adam. But in regeneration we are sprung from good Seed - The Lord Jesus Christ.
NOTE: The seed virtually contains all that is in the full grown plant.
E. To be born again is to be made a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
· A new heart
· A new will
· A new mind
· a new nature
III. HOW ARE MEN AND WOMEN BORN AGAIN BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD?
Anyone who understands the nature of man and the nature of the new birth realizes that Divine, sovereign power and grace is required to give dead sinners life.
· Moral reason cannot give men life.
· Eloquence and logic cannot give men life.
· Emotional stirrings cannot give men life.
· A mere exercise of the will cannot give men life. “Ye must be born again.”
I want you to see three things here:
A. Regeneration is the sovereign, irresistible work of God the Holy Spirit (v. 8).
At the time appointed by God, the Holy Spirit comes to the sinner who was chosen by God in eternal election and redeemed by Christ at Calvary, and creates life in that sinner by his sovereign, irresistible, effectual grace (Gal. 4:4-7).
B. The instrument by which the Holy Spirit causes men and women to be born again is the gospel of Christ (vv. 12-16).
“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” “Of his own will begat he us with the Word of Truth.”
C. In preaching the gospel to you, I am calling upon dead men to arise (Eph. 5:14).
I know that I am preaching to dead sinners. I know that you cannot hear me and cannot obey me. But if God the Holy Spirit will be pleased to speak through me to your heart, though you are dead, you shall hear and you shall live (John 5:25).
IV. WHEN IS A SINNER BORN AGAIN?
I have no interest in answering the foolish questions of men about the chronological sequence of events in a man’s salvation. I will leave that to theologians who have nothing better to do than dissect the scriptures and dissect my sermons. But I do want to tell you when a person may with confidence say, “I am born again by the grace of God.”
A. When you know Christ, you are born again (John 17:3).
B. When you believe on Christ, you are born again (John 3:15, 36). (See Isa. 45:22).
C. When you have Christ, you are born again (1 John 5:11-13).
Get Christ and you get life. Miss Christ and you miss life.
“Ye must be born again!”
1. Seek Christ and you shall find him. (Illustration: The Farmer).
2. Believe on Christ and you shall have everlasting life.
· “Seek, and ye shall find.”
· “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
· “Ask, and it shall be given you.”
· “Look, and you shall live.”
“Come from the four winds, O Spirit of God, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”
Tonight - Are you born again?