RS: All right. We are in the third chapter of John. If you would, how about turning to John chapter 3 and let me make a couple of comments. We’re going to spend two weeks on John 3, and we’ll finish up next week. We’re going to spend our time today; it’s kind of interesting, in my opinion, two of the most significant encounters where Jesus interacts with individuals, two of the very significant, one is in John 3, and one is in John 4. His conversation with Nicodemus and His conversation with the woman at the well. And so we’re just going to look at the first 15 verses today and we’ll finish the rest of John 3 next week. So, if you don’t mind, take a minute and let’s just – I’m assuming all of you have already read John 3 – but we’re going to take a few minutes to read the first 15 verses of John 3, silently.
Okay. In this conversation that Jesus has with Nicodemus, we’re introduced to this great truth about being born again. The idea of a new birth. There is another word that Paul uses that means the same thing. It’s used not only by Paul, but it’s used by the Church, and that is the word regeneration. If you’ve ever read the Episcopal Prayer Book, it uses the words regenerate and regeneration a good bit. And regeneration, if you go and look it up in the dictionary, there are three definitions in Webster’s. One, is to generate and produce anew, two, to change radically and for the better, and three, to be spiritually reborn. Now, before we proceed, before we look at Jesus’ words with Nicodemus, I want to make a couple of comments. When you look out at our culture today, and if you were in a place where you could ask a random sample of people in our culture, what do you think when you hear the word “born-again Christian”, what do you think? How do you think they’d respond? Hey Beau. We got one [seat] back there.
[Chatter and comments relative to late arrival.]
John: I think they’d think of a religious nut.
RS: John said, they’d think maybe a religious nut. What else? It’s usually negative. For a lot of people, it’s negative, whatever it is.
Unidentified audience member: Zealot.
RS: Zealous. Overzealous. Somebody that’s very zealous. Anything else? Tim Keller says that it has connotations that are far removed than what the Bible means by it. He says today, born-again Christianity means, to many people, either “a conservative type of Christian”, a real emotional type of Christian, someone who has a dramatic conversion experience, or they may equate it to being a charismatic Christian. In fact, years ago, not that many years ago, the media used the word born-again to identify a block of voters. They were generally very conservative, but they’ve really kind of replaced that word, the born-again Christian vote with “Evangelical”. And, in fact, I don’t know if you’ve noticed that, but in the last election, when you heard some analyzing how Trump won, they said he had heavy favor with the Evangelicals.
Now, the bottom line is, when we talk about this, all the different perceptions people have, it just shows you the ignorance of people, and their ignorance of the Bible, and really what it has to say about regeneration. Most, really, they don’t understand how wonderful it really is, and what it means to a person’s life. It’s kind of like, this is what it reminds me of, when we were talking about this. I remember reading about how really good scientists, when they run into some troubling information, they do everything they can to understand it. They move towards it, because this is how you make progress in science. But it seems spiritually, when we do the opposite, when we run into something that might be troubling or something we don’t understand, we run from it. Particularly if it makes us feel uncomfortable, or if we find it to be troubling. Now, when I first became a Christian back in college, I have to tell you, I recoiled at the thought of being one of those born-again type Christians. I really did. I didn’t want to be that kind of a Christian, until I realized it’s one of the great things that God does for us.
And I’m going to give you an example, and I don’t mean to be crass, but, when I was a kid, when I was 11 and 12, when I first heard about human sexuality, and what men and woman do, my first reaction was, that is something that is gross. I can’t believe my parents would even think about doing something like that. Well, now here I am 63 years old, 22 years in a great marriage, and I have completely different ideas about human sexuality. I think it’s one of the greatest things God gave us in the covenant of marriage. As I look at my life and history of being born-again, that’s kind of the direction it has gone. That’s why I say it’s one of the great things God has done for us and when you leave today, I’ll be shocked if you don’t agree with me. Now, most people don’t realize that the Bible says a lot about it. I remember years ago teaching on this, and some guy looked at me and said, man, I didn’t even know this was in the Bible. I thought this was something made up by the press, talking about these born-agains. You see it throughout the scriptures. In fact, let’s look at a couple of verses. If you would, turn to I Peter, we’ll look at a couple of verses, and then I’ll stop and see what comments you have. Let’s go to I Peter chapter 1. All right, is everybody there? I Peter 1, verses 3 and 4. Billy Blair, you got them?
Billy: Yes. NIV. “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His great mercy He has given us new birth, and the living hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And, into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in Heaven for you.”
RS: Very good. The NAS says pretty much the same thing. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who, according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is unperishable and undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you.” So, you see, Peter talks about this new birth, and through it, we obtain an inheritance which is unperishable, which is reserved in Heaven for you. Then Paul talks about it in the book of Titus, and if you’ll turn back about 15 pages, you’ll run right into Titus, which is right past I and II Timothy. And go to Titus 3, 5 and 6. Everybody there? Dave Dresher, would you read verses 5 and 6 from Titus 3 please?
Dave: Sure. “He saved us, not because of righteous things that we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth, and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
RS: He saved us through the washing of rebirth. Now, if you read it in the New American Standard, it says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds we have done in righteousness, but because of His mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” So, basically, you see in the new birth, we see God’s mercy. And notice the wording, it says, He saved us, not on the basis of what?
Unidentified audience member: Things we have done.
RS: Things that we’ve done that are good. Guys, again, we have talked about this many times. We can’t save ourselves. He saves us by the washing of regeneration through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because when it comes to salvation, and this is good news, we don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it, and we certainly can’t repay it. Now, if you move to the book of I John, you don’t have to, but the verse is, four times in the book of I John, uses the phrase “to be born of God”. “To be born of God.” Now, if you really think about it, guys, this isn’t rocket science. Each of us sitting here today had a physical birth. You had a beginning of your life, and what he’s talking about here is you have a spiritual birth, a new beginning in Christ. When you come to faith in Christ, that’s when you are born again. Most people think it’s got to be something dramatic, and I have this great feeling. And, as we go through it, you’ll see that’s not the case.
Now, before we look at what Jesus said to Nicodemus, I want to make an important observation, and I want ya’ll to think about this. A lot of people think that there are different types of Christians, and that born-again Christians are one of the many types of Christians.
Let me give you an example. This was probably 25 years ago. I was in New York. I was in Manhattan, and I was invited by a friend to go to this birthday party, and there were probably 50 or 60 people in this big old apartment up in a high-rise, and I didn’t know a soul. And all these Wall Street types and they didn’t pay any attention to me, and I didn’t know anybody, and I’m an introvert. So, that kind of situation is not something I enjoy. So, I did notice they had this big food spread in the dining room, so I thought, at least I can do something. I’ll go get something to eat. And I noticed, while in there, there was another guy that didn’t know anybody, but he was this kind of bohemian looking fellow. He had long hair, he was not dressed like everybody else, and he was by himself in the corner, and so I went over and kind of got into a conversation with him, and it was an interesting conversation, and he was asking me about me and myself, and I said, tell me about you. What do you do here in New York. I’ll never forget it. He said, man, I’m on a search for truth. I said, really? Well, tell me about that. And, as we got to talking, I said, have you ever thought about looking to God, looking to Jesus, since I am convinced He is the source of all truth? And he said, you must be a Christian. I said, yeah, I am. Then he asked me a really interesting question. He said, well, what kind of Christian are you? I said, what do you mean by that? Well, are you one of those Baptists? Are you a Methodist? Are you a Catholic? Are you Pentecostal? Are you a fundamentalist? Are you one of those born-again types? What kind of Christian are you? And I told him that, and this is what came to me, and I said, I’m a Bible-believing Christian. And he kind of liked that answer. But, I share that because this is a question that I would throw out. Is a born-again Christian, just a certain type of Christian? What is Jesus telling us here?
Unidentified audience member: It’s the only type.
RS: It’s the only type. I mean, it’s like, I talked to a guy today who is really new in his faith, and he was here on Wednesday morning, and he was asking, you know, everything you said Wednesday was really interesting, I had never kind of really heard that. I said, well, Jim, whether you understand it or not, or whether you recognize it or not, you are born again. And he did not know that. Now, it really doesn’t matter what denomination you’re in. I have an interesting story to tell you about a guy, have any of you ever heard the name Thad Barnham? Do any of you know who Thad Barnham is? Anybody? He is British. He’s from England originally. I heard him preach a couple of times and he is phenomenal. Really good preacher. And I Googled him the other day to see what he’s doing now, and he’s here in the states, and he’s a bishop in one of these little Anglican off-shoots. But, for years, he was an ordained Anglican priest. I guess in England somewhere, and I heard him share his story a number of years ago. And, it’s really interesting, he said, I can’t remember if it was after teaching a Bible study or after a church service, I think it was after a church service. He said, one of the people that was there at the service had the audacity to come up to me and say, Thad, are you born-again? And Thad looked at him and said, born again? Why do I need to be born again? I’m ordained. And the guy said, well, look at what Jesus says here in John 3. And Thad said, it was like I had never seen that before. It was liked it jumped off the page because when Jesus said, unless you are born again, you will not see the Kingdom of Heaven. He said it was like a bolt of lightning, God struck me. And he said, for the first time in my life, I realized that I was spiritually lost. Here, I’m an ordained priest, and I was not born again. I had never, by faith, truly received Christ into my life. And so, this is a big issue. Jesus says very clearly, unless you are born again, you will not see the Kingdom of Heaven. Now, let me stop here. This is a good stopping place. Comments or questions? Billy.
Billy: I understand the reference here to being born of your mother, and it clearly says it’s a rebirth, when you come to accept Christ as your Savior. So, I was born into the Episcopal Church, you know my parents. Until such time as we made that commitment, are those children not Christians? Until they could understand.
RS: Good question.
Billy: You know, there were a bunch of us years ago, at Young Life, that all stood up and you ran up and went, “Christ is our Savior”, and then we turned into the heathens that we all were. And so, are people born again and born again and then born again and then born again and then born again?
RS: Great question. Excellent question. Really two questions I think. The first thing that I would say is that for kids, most theologians would agree that you have an age of accountability where, at some point, you are accountable for your own belief. Now, where that is, or at what time, I don’t know. But the second is, let me put it this way. It’s like a guy said to me. Richard when I was at Auburn, I prayed this prayer to become a Christian a couple of times, kind of like you just described. Nothing happened. He said it wasn’t until years later when I went through the Investigative Study, he didn’t go through it with me, he went through it with somebody else, and he said, I truly, it took, that’s kind of the way he put it. He said what happened when I was back at Auburn, and my response was, I don’t think there was ever any real repentance on your part back then. You just prayed a prayer thinking, you know, I’ve got to take it to Heaven now. And there was no serious recognition that I not only have to acknowledge that I am a sinner, that I need forgiveness, but that I need to surrender, which is repentance. When you surrender, it’s kid of like you’re emptying yourself, and the Holy Spirit comes in. And so, does that make sense to what you ask?
RS: What else? Anybody else? All right, let’s talk about what He says to Nicodemus. From this, what do we know about – everybody needs to get back to John 1 – what do we know about Nicodemus?
Unidentified audience member: Pharisee.
RS: He was a Pharisee. But what else does it say about him?
Unidentified audience member: He was a big deal in Jewish…
Unidentified audience member: Smart guy.
RS: He was a ruler of the Jews. You know what that means? He was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was like the Supreme Court in ancient Israel. Which meant he was a very prominent and wealthy man, but it also meant that he was a picture of moral excellence, and religious observances. And he was also, he had to be, kind of like Supreme Court justice, he was an expert in the law. And you know what’s interesting guys? He’s coming to a man with really no great credentials. Jesus had obviously done some things and had taught some, but it was still early in His ministry. And what’s interesting, why do you think he comes to see Him at night?
Unidentified audience member: Nobody was going to see him.
RS: He doesn’t want anybody to know that he’s coming. I mean, this prominent guy coming to see this lowly Jew, Jesus. And asking for His advice? Inquiring about Him? And you see, in verse 2, very courteous, he came to Him, and he said, “Rabbi”. To say, “Rabbi”: that’s showing respect to Jesus. “Rabbi, we know that you’ve come from God as a teacher, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with Him. You know, Jesus doesn’t say, “Well, Nicodemus, thank you for saying that.” He just dives right in and says, Nicodemus, you come to talk to me about God and His Kingdom, but you won’t enter His Kingdom unless you’re born again. And he never said anything like, Nicodemus, you’re a good man, you’ve done good things. Never talks about his goodness. He’s talking about salvation and doesn’t mention anything about how good he is. He says you must have that spiritual birth. This is where is all begins. Now, guys how did Nicodemus respond?
Unidentified audience member: He said how could he be reborn.
RS: Yeah. What did you say, Dan?
RS: Yeah. He’s puzzled. What do you mean by that. And so, Nicodemus, I think was a little frustrated with Jesus. How did Jesus respond to him?
Unidentified audience member: You’re a teacher of the people. You should know these things.
RS: Yeah. I think Jesus was frustrated with him. I mean, what does He say down in verse 10? You’re the teacher of Israel? And you don’t understand these things? Yes?
Unidentified audience member: The term born-again, as I have always heard it, refers to Christians. And yet, here you have Jesus, who was a Jew, speaking to another Jew, talking about being born again. Does that mean also that Jews can be…?
RS: Good question. We’re getting ready to go back into the Old Testament, but what you’re going to see is that Jesus is really talking about the new covenant that’s coming. There’s a new way. There will be a new way to receive forgiveness of sins, which we talked some last week. And then we’ll have direct access to God. And being born again is part of it. But it’s a good question, so we’re going to turn to the Old Testament in just a minute, because that’s the frustrating part, I think, that Jesus has. All right, now, hold on. You are an expert in the Old Testament, and he’s saying, you don’t understand these things? And what He’s saying is He believes that with Nicodemus’ knowledge of the Old Testament, he should be drawing off that knowledge and understand what Jesus is talking about. Because there’s a very clear Old Testament reference to a birth that’s associated with water and spirit.
Look at verse 5, where Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” Now, some people think, what does water mean? Does it mean baptism? I don’t think it does. Some people think it might mean a physical birth, you know when you’re born of water, you’re enclad in this sac that’s got all kinds of liquid water, but I don’t think most commentators think that, and say, no, that’s not what it is. It’s referring to what God said through the prophet Ezekiel several hundred years before that. So, keep your finger in John and go backwards, into the Old Testament. Ezekiel is not that far back.
Unidentified audience member: Doesn’t He seem to be challenging Nicodemus, and Nicodemus is talking about the physical world and can’t go back to the womb, and He’s talking about the spiritual world, to say…
RS: Yes, yes, yes. And somebody even made the point this morning, what you just said, he said, and that’s also what happened with the woman at the well. She thought, you’re going to give me some physical water to drink, and He’s not talking about physical water.
Billy: Okay, when you get to 13, I want to ask you about the tenses down there.
Unidentified audience member: Going back to where?
Unidentified audience member: Chapter?
RS: Oh, I’m sorry. 36. Everybody there? We’re going to read verses 25 – 27. Everybody there? Dan, you want to read for us?
Dan: Sure. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees, and be careful to keep my laws.”
RS: This refers to the new covenant of the messianic age in which there will be a new experience of cleansing. You no longer have to worry about shedding the blood of animals. He uses the term water to express the cleansing that we will have because of what Christ did for us at the cross. And this is what Jesus is trying to explain to Nicodemus, and he is struggling to comprehend it. And what you’ll see, you know, Jesus, because of what He says so often is so radical, to the ears of the disciples, they often don’t get what He’s saying. I mean, you have to, if you look into Matthew 24, it talks about Jesus, He’s come back, He’s risen from the dead, he says, and He opens the minds of the disciples so that they can understand the scriptures, including, I’m sure, this. And they don’t understand, until then, the disciples don’t get Jesus. He talks about the Holy Spirit. He tells them the Spirit is going to be coming. In John 14, 16, and 17, He says, I’m going to ask the Father, and He’s going to give you another helper, that He might be with you forever. That is the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit, Whom the world can’t receive because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and one day, He will be in you. And they just don’t get it, until later. Now, I want to talk, I said a while ago, that I think that the reality of being born again is one of the greatest things that God has done for us as people, and that there are at least three significant benefits that come from being born again. When you leave here, hopefully you’ll have the appreciation of what God is providing for us through this new birth. Comments? Billy, what were you going to ask?
Billy: In 13, I’m in the NIV, it says, No One has ever gone into Heaven, except the one who came from Heaven, the Son of Man. In any case, He’s already been there.
Unidentified audience member: Is He talking about Himself?
RS: Well, I think if you look at the New American, it says “No one has ascended into Heaven, but He who descended from Heaven, the Son of Man.” I think He is saying that, at some point, talking about the Great Ascension, He will be the only one who has ever ascended from earth into Heaven.
Unidentified audience member: Is the Old Testament, back to John’s question and your comment.
Dan: You may have covered this, and I might have missed it, but is there an equivalent born-again for the Old Testament?
RS: I don’t think so, Dan. Because, you don’t, remember last week, we talked about in the Old Testament, you see the predominance of God the Father? And then you have God the Son, and in the New Testament, you see God the Holy Spirit that comes and resides in us. And that took place at Pentecost. Again, that’s all part of that new covenant, so, no, they don’t have that benefit that we do.
Dan: I was just trying to think of some Old Testament verses, like Proverbs, Wisdom, bind this to your heart, so I think the heart, it’s got to get in your heart, it can’t just be in your head, which is kind of the born-again.
RS: That’s a good point. That’s a good point. They just did not have the outpouring of the spirit that we have that occurred when Pentecost, which you can read about in Acts chapter 2, if you want to go back and read how that took place. Anybody else? Yes, John?
John: In verse 11, it says I tell you the truth, we speak on what we know, and we testify unto what we have seen. Who is we?
RS: That’s a good question. That’s Jesus talking, obviously; truly I say to you, We…I’m assuming, John, the disciples are there with Him, and when He says “we”, but He could be talking, “we”, being me and God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure.
John: Well, I don’t think the disciples had figured it out by then.
RS: You wouldn’t think so, would you? We speak of what we know, and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. I don’t know why they’re “we-ing”, but I’ll have to look into that. Good question. All right, let’s think about the benefits. It starts, number one, with the cleansing of your sins. Titus 3:5, that we just looked at. He saved us, not on the basis of deeds that we’ve done in righteousness, but, according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. And in Ezekiel we read, where it says, and I will sprinkle water on you, and you will be cleansed. You will be cleansed from the sin, and the idolatry in your life. Now, that is of great significance, because that’s the basis first of our eternal life, that we’re cleansed of our sins, but it’s also the basis of having a relationship with God. The barrier between us and God is our sinfulness, and when we’re cleansed from our sins, we’re in a position to have a relationship with him, and that’s significant because the heart of everything that I teach is that God put you and I here to have a relationship with Him. That’s the reason for our existence, so, the new birth is the key there, because we’re cleansed of our sins when that happens.
But the second, and, as you’ll see, this is of great importance, this is the key to seeing change come into your life. This is how the Gospel changes you. I have an old, old sermon by Tim Keller, and there are two points that I’m going to make that come from him that are very profound. This is the first thing that he says. He says, “Think about the metaphor of birth. Think about it. It is the entrance into a new life, and the unfolding of the nature you were given at conception. For example, if you were born a bird, you are not going to develop into a human, because to be born means that you have a nature, and that nature is called DNA, and the rest of your life is the unfolding of that DNA into becoming the being that you have the nature to be. Does that mean when it says, to become a Christian you have to be born again, it doesn’t mean having a dramatic experience and it certainly doesn’t mean turning over a new life of life, or moral reformation. No. It can’t just mean that. It means that,” listen to this, this is really good, “it means that you have a new nature implanted in you. Something is being put into the very roots of your heart, which is going to change you from the inside out, organically for the rest of your life.”
And I would point out for the rest of your life. It’s the transformation process. It’s the process of becoming more like Christ. And this is the question only you can ask. Is that happening in my life? Is God changing me? Because I think as we’ve talked about over and over, you cannot change yourself. I mean, think about it. I bet there are a lot of guys in this room who had New Years’ resolutions, but every New Year’s resolution is usually to change some kind of habit you have or you do something. But most New Years’ resolutions are “I’m going to be more kind this year”, or “I’m going to be more loving to my wife this year.” I guess you could make that resolution, but it ain’t going to do any good, because you can’t change your heart. It is either true historic Christian faith has always been the life of God working in the soul of man. You see, God provides His power.
Ephesians 3:16 says that God would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power, through His spirit in the inner man. Now, Keller speaks of this new nature implanted in us, and that we will begin to become the type of man that God wants us to become, and that, of course, is to be Christ-like. But, I want to read to you, I think, a great picture, of Christ-likeness. And most of you are familiar with it, and it comes from Paul’s words in Galatians. Let me read this to you. Galatians 5:22. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, and joy, and peace, and patience, and kindness, and goodness, and faithfulness, and gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” Where he says, “against such things” there is no law, he’s saying this fruit is produced by the Spirit in you, and not from you trying to follow the law. And so, if you want another picture of what Jesus is like; of course, you can read the four Gospels, but, the fruit of the Spirit is the nature of Christ. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. God wants to generate that fruit in you and me, and He wants to see it grow in our lives. Now, guys, if that should happen in your life, where you, over time, are becoming more loving, and you’re becoming kinder, and you have more peace in your life, that you’re more gentle, and that you’re more joyful, what kind of difference would that make in your life? More significantly, what kind of difference would that make in your relationships with others? Particularly, your marriage, your kids, your grandkids, the people you work with. Guys, it would change everything. And so, that’s the second thing He wants to do. And it comes from this new birth – Christ working in us.
Now, there’s one final benefit. I never would have come up with this. This is the second thing from Keller’s sermon that I think is quite good. Very enlightening. He says,
“Out in the world that we live in, there are different orders of life. For instance, there are plants. Plants can sense their environment to some degree, and then a plant can respond to heat and cold. A plant can respond to light and darkness. And then you move up to the animal world. Animals can sense more of their environment than a plant, because it can escape a predator in a way a plant cannot. So, an animal has the ability to sense more of its reality and therefore, can act in the real world more effectively than a plant can. Then you move up to us, to human beings, who have the ability to reason, and to see and understand life in a way that an animal cannot. In other words, he says, humans can perceive good and evil. Animals cannot.”
And, I’ve just got to read this to you. It’s very powerful.
He says, “Every order of life can perceive more of reality and act effectively in that reality. So it is with the new birth. When you show a pig a pearl or a diamond, it just goes on munching its corn, because it can’t sense the full reality or value of what it’s looking at. But we can. But without the new birth, you can look at words like ‘God’ and ‘holiness’ and ‘grace’ and ‘the love of God’ and ‘the Cross’, and you can say, yes, I understand those or I believe those, or you might not, but, for most people, it’s just kind of an abstraction that’s out there. It’s a concept in their minds. But you can’t sense the full reality of them. They are not real to your heart. They’re not electrifying. They’re not galvanizing. They’re not life-changing. They don’t change your life. You don’t act on the basis of them because you haven’t been born again. For example, take a person, who says, ‘I believe that God is in control of everything, but I’m worried, I’m anxious, I’m frightened. I’m frightened about what’s going to happen to me financially. I feel like I’m going off of a cliff.’ And then you have a second person who says, ‘because I believe in God, and I believe that He is in control, even though my finances are in peril, I am at peace. I trust Him with my life and the future.’ What’s the difference between these two people? They are looking at the same thing, and one senses the reality of it, and one does not. The new birth means you are now able to sense the reality of things that before were nothing to you. You actually didn’t see the reality of them. The new birth is a new order of life in which you finally begin to sense the full reality of what’s out there in the Universe, and you can live and act in accordance with it.”
Which has so much to do with wisdom, which is in the new book that I wrote. After reading this, understanding that he’s talking about being able to perceive reality in a way that you couldn’t beforehand, if I thought of these verses from Ephesians. In Ephesians 4:17-18, Paul speaks of those who live without God, who live without the new birth, and he says, this is their problem. They live in the futility of their thinking, they are darkened in their understanding, and they’re excluded from the life of God, excluded from the life He has for them, because of their ignorance. And then you read in Ephesians 1:17-18, that Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Ephesus was that, God, I pray that you would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation, and that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened. So, there you have it. This is what God wants to give us through this new birth. This is what God wants to give a person who becomes a Christian. This is the Christian life. To be cleansed of your sins so that you have a relationship with God. You have eternal life. He wants to change your heart. He wants to give you the fruit of the Spirit. He wants to impact your life and your relationships, and He wants to enlighten us, so that we would have a true perception of reality, and that we would see and understand how life really works. And you have to ask yourself, what more could a person want in life in addition to this? Any final comments or questions? John.
John: I was reading somewhere on eternal life and the perception that that means after death, matter of fact, one of the things we read earlier today says, “stored up in Heaven”, and the comment was that once you are born again, is that eternal life begins at that time while you are alive. And once you obtain that, then the fear of death is really nothing but the next step that you might just go to. Kind of like with the semicolon in the sentence, and you keep rolling. But when you read that part earlier, it says that this is “stored up in Heaven,” and kept in Heaven for you, I think it may be a little bit confusing. But I choose to believe that the terms aren’t contradictory.
RS: I kind of, in one sense, do agree that eternal life begins at the moment of faith and salvation, being born again, the Spirit comes in, and it begins and gives you a whole new picture and reality and what the future is, but you don’t really get to experience it in the way that you will when you actually go there. I’m in kind of agreement with that, that it really does begin with you at the moment of salvation. Anybody else? Yeah, Dave?
Dave: This whole subject of being born again, and the phrase born-again, regardless of your politics, many of you maybe have read it, but Chuck Colson’s book, Born Again, is one of the greatest books you could ever read and gives some perspective about what you’re talking about.
RS: Chuck Colson. Any of ya’ll remember who he was? When we were talking about the negative thoughts about being born again, Colson’s editors did not want to use that title. They said that does not sell well in America. But he insisted on it, and said, that’s what happened to me. That’s what happened in my life. Anybody else?