your church in many ways and I first want to thank you, those of you who have served in
the conference, what a joy it was to be a part of this conference and the way that you have
thrown your arms open to us as we come in and minister the word and so I want to thank
you for your service and I want to thank you for the way that you support your pastor and
the encouragement that you give to him and he is one of the most gifted young men that
we have in America who preaches the word of God. You have a treasure from heaven
entrusted to you and I just got an amen from him. Was it from you, Josh on, on that? No,
it was over here. Okay. I thought you were amening that and lacking a bit of humility.
No, I got the amen from over here. All right. That's funny. You do have a wonderfully
gifted pastor and how I thank the Lord for him and his friendship and he has an amazing
ability to invite people and people respond to that invitation and come and so I am here as
a result of that.
It's difficult to know what to preach when I have just one opportunity to speak. Our
conference was on the Trinity and I preached twice on the Trinity but I want to bring to
you a message that I think is so foundational and so fundamental to the Christian faith
that it would be strategically important for us to look at this text once again. I feel like it
needs to be preached once a year in every church. It needs to be continually before us and
so I want to invite you to take your Bible, if you would, and turn with me to the Gospel of
John, to John 3, and today I want to speak to you on the new birth.
John 3, and beginning in verse 1. The word of God reads, "Now there was a man of the
Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and
said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher, for no one is
able to do these signs that you do unless God is with him.' Jesus answered and said to
him." By the way, let me point this out: Nicodemus never asked a question. Jesus read
him like an open book. Jesus read the letter without ever opening the envelope. Before
the question could even be asked, Jesus answered him, just like Jesus sees into your heart
and into my heart and he knows exactly what your thoughts are.
"Jesus answered and said to him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you,'" and whenever Jesus says
truly, truly, I say to you, that signals our attention that what follows now is of supreme
importance. Everything that Jesus said was inspired, inerrant and infallible, but some
things that Jesus said rose to a much higher level of importance and Jesus would signal
the intention of his listeners by accenting the importance of it by introducing it with this
signature phrase, "Truly, truly, I say to you." Amen, amen, I say to you, "'unless one is
born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Nicodemus said to him, '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?' Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and
the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and
that which is born of Spirit is spirit. Do not wonder that I say to you, "You must be born
again." The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but do not know
where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.'"
The greatest miracle that God ever performs is the miracle of the new birth. Greater than
when God created all of nature is when he creates the new nature inside of a sinner.
Greater than when God creates physical life in the womb is when God creates spiritual
life in the heart. Greater than when God births someone into an earthly family is when
God births one into his spiritual family above. Greater than when Jesus turned water into
wine is when he transforms sinners into saints. The greatest miracle that God ever
performs is the miracle of the new birth and I want to tell you, you need to be a miracle
of God's grace. This is the focus of this private encounter between a man named
Nicodemus and the Lord Jesus Christ and the subject is the miracle of the new birth
which Nicodemus so desperately needs.
By way of introduction, I want to tell you three things about Nicodemus before we begin
to dig into this text and number 1, you need to know that he is a Pharisee. We see it in
verse 1, Nicodemus was a man of the Pharisees. There were about 2,000 Pharisees within
the nation of Israel and they were the most arch-conservatives in the entire nation. They
were to the right of right. You couldn't be any further to the right than the Pharisees. They
believed the Bible; they believed the whole Bible. They believed in the sovereignty of
God. They believed in the coming kingdom of God. They believed in miracles. They
believed in angels. They believed in chapter and verse before there was even chapter and
verse. They believed it all. They knew the Bible inside out. They grew up with the Bible
flooding their minds. He was a Pharisee and the word "Pharisee" means "a separatist or
one who is set apart from the foul pollution of the culture." They saw their nation going
down the drain; they saw the moral corruption that was going on all around them; they
withdrew from the foul society in which they lived; they wanted to be so set apart from
all of the filth that was around them. That was Nicodemus.
And then, second, we see that he was a member of the Sanhedrin. In verse 1 it says he
was a ruler of the Jews. This means he sat on the ruling body of the Sanhedrin. This was
like the Supreme Court and the Senate combined together. There were 70 who had risen
to the top, who had climbed the ladder of respectability and influence and power within
the nation and Nicodemus was at the very apex of his day. People looked up to
Nicodemus. He was a power broker and he presided over the affairs of the nation and
sought to do everything that he could to maintain the tradition of his fathers and the glory
days of the nation from long ago.
And the third thing that you need to know about Nicodemus is in verse 10, he was the
teacher of Israel. Not a teacher, the teacher. Nicodemus was a walking Bible. Nicodemus
knew the Bible inside out and outside in. Nicodemus had such a head full of knowledge.
He was the Bible answer man of his day. If you had a question to ask about the Bible,
there's only one man you would go to, that's Nicodemus because he teaches all the other
teachers of Israel. He's sitting at the top of the pyramid. He's the teacher of the word of
God in Israel. And Nicodemus had everything going for him: arch-conservative, morally
pure, set apart from the corruption, man of influence, respect, revered, knows the Bible,
serves God, teaches the Bible. He had everything except the one thing, he had never been
born again and I may be speaking to some people today that fit right into the category of
Nicodemus. That's your profile. That's your resume. You may be the arch-conservative of
all arch-conservatives. You may think Fox News is liberal. You're to the right of right.
You may have grown up in the church. You may have started attending church nine
months before you were born. You've been here for a long time. You may be a Sunday
school teacher. You may be a deacon. You may work with a youth ministry. You may
sing in the choir. You may have been involved in Awana, won the Timothy Award. You
may know the Bible inside out, but you've never been born again from above. Hell is
going to be filled with arch-conservatives who believe the Bible. Hell is going to be filled
with people of influence and respectability who are just strutting their way to hell.
I want us to look at the miracle of the new birth and I want us to look at it for two
reasons. 1. For those of us who have been born again. I want us to have a sharp
understanding of what it is that God did in my life 50 years ago. What was that all about?
And having a more clear understanding of the new birth, it will cause me to give honor
and glory to God all the more because I want to tell you, this is the biggest thing that has
ever happened in your life. This is bigger than you being married. This is bigger than you
graduating from high school. This is bigger than you going to college. This is bigger than
you getting a promotion at work. This is the single biggest thing to ever happen in your
life. Everything else is subordinate and we need to understand what actually happened
when I was born again. Then second, for those here today who have not been born again.
I pray that God by his mercy will find you out today. You may be the most respected
person in this church, you may be the most long-standing member of this church, you
may be the one who serves in the kitchen more than anyone else, you may be a charter
member of every committee here just like Nicodemus, but if you've never been born
again, today's message, I pray, will be a trumpet blast in your ear of the necessity for you
to be birthed from above.
Now, I want to walk through this passage. I want to begin in verse 3 and I want to walk
through this passage with you and I want to set before you several truths about the new
birth and as we do, I'm just remembering I need to tell you what the new birth is because
that's a term that gets thrown around a lot and people use the term, I mean, we have born
again refrigerators; you know, we have born again whatever. I mean, what does it mean
to be born again? Let me give it to you in the simplest term: it is the life of God in the
soul of a man. It is God implanting new life, eternal life, spiritual life, into the empty
spiritually dead soul where there has never been life before. It is a spiritual conception
that creates a new person in Christ.
Now, understand this: over the last 20 years there has been a glorious resurrection of
many Bible doctrines. We are living in a very wonderful time and justification by faith
alone has been put to the forefront and rightly so, Romans 3, Romans 4, Galatians, but let
me tell you, there is something that precedes justification by faith in the ordos salutis, in
the order of salvation, and it is what we're talking about today and until this happens,
there is no justification by faith. This is where faith comes from and justification by faith.
And justification by faith is, in a sense, a legal transaction that takes place in heaven in
which God imputes, credits, reckons the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to the
account of the condemned sinner who believes upon Christ. That is a legal transaction
that takes place in the courtrooms of heaven but what we're looking at today is something
that takes place on earth. It's something that takes place inside of you. It's something that
dramatically and radically changes and transforms your life. It is a spiritual resurrection
that raises to life the one who has been lying in the grave of sin. It is like when Jesus said,
"Lazarus, come forth," and the one who was dead in the grave was raised and he came
walking out. That is what the new birth is. So my question: has this happened to you?
Have you been born again? And if you have, do you more fully understand what all took
place when God imparted divine life to your empty, dead soul?
Alright, now let's walk through this passage. I want to give you several headings. Some
of you are note-takers. This will be very easy to track with me. I'm an outline guy. What I
like about an outline is it's like a roadmap: I know where I'm going and you know where
I'm going. 1. The new birth is a necessary birth. If we get anything out of this text, it is
that the new birth is a necessary birth. Notice verse 3, "Jesus answered and said to him,
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot, he cannot, he cannot, he
cannot, he can not enter the kingdom of God.'" Do you know the difference between
"may" and "can"? My parents taught me that early at the dinner table. "May" is a word of
permission, "can" is a word of ability. I would be at the dinner table, "Can I go to the
little boys' room?" "Well, I hope you can but what you need is, 'may I.'" Jesus does not
say, "Unless you're born again you may not see the kingdom of heaven," he says it is
absolutely impossible for you to see the kingdom of God unless you're born again; that
you and I are so plagued with a moral inability that we cannot even sniff the kingdom of
God unless we're born again. Jesus puts it in the negative in order to have an edge about
his words. He is intentionally provocative with Nicodemus and let me tell you, no one
has ever talked to Nicodemus like this, this is how Nicodemus would talk to others. And
Jesus puts this in the negative to have a shock value, just like, I pray, it will have a shock
value with some here today.
He says, "Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." In verse 5, he
says, "he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." In verse 7, he says, "You must be born
again." George Whitefield was a great evangelist who traveled up and down the eastern
seacoast preaching in the 1740s into the 1750s and 60s and he had a sermon that he
trumpeted all over this nation in the Great Awakening in the early colonies, it was on the
nature and the necessary of the new birth, and Whietfield preached the new birth and
basically our country was born out of the flames of the Great Awakening. Whitefield has
been called the true founding father of America. More people saw Whitefield than ever
saw George Washington. One woman came up to him and said, "Mr. Whitefield, why do
you keep saying to us you must be born again?" To which Mr. Whitefield said, "Because,
dear woman, you must be born again." And I say the same to you, you must be born
What is the kingdom of God? Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of
God. The kingdom of God is the sphere of salvation over which the King of kings rules
and reigns by his grace. It is the government of his grace. It is the realm of redemption.
That is what the kingdom of God is and if Jesus said this to the most religious man who
ever walked the earth, how much more so does he say this to you and me today?
That's 1: the necessity of the new birth. You can't see it, much less enter it, unless you're
born again. Second, it is a second birth. Notice verse 3 again, "Truly, truly, I say to you,
unless one is born," what's the next word? "Again." Unless one is born again. That means
a second birth and that's exactly how Nicodemus understood this because look at the next
verse, "Nicodemus said, 'How can a man be born when he's old? He cannot enter a
second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?'" Jesus talks about two births.
In verse 6 he says, "that which is born of flesh is flesh." That's your first birth. Everyone
here today has had a first birth. And then Jesus said, "and that which is born of the Spirit
is spirit." There must be this second birth in order to enter into the kingdom of God.
Now, this implies two things. You need to jot this down if you're taking notes. 1. This is
clearly an indictment on your first birth. Your first birth was so plagued and polluted by
sin that you cannot enter the kingdom of God with simply your first birth. You were born
in sin. You were born under sin. The venomous poison of sin was in you at the moment
of your conception. The Psalmist says, "In sin did my mother conceive me." The Psalmist
says, "I went forth from my mother's womb speaking lies." That is why you must have a
second birth because your first birth has ruined you spiritually before God, and if all you
ever have is a first birth, you will wish you had never been born at all.
The second implication is that when you were born the first time, you were born outside
the kingdom of God. That's why you have to enter into the kingdom of God. That means
you're on the outside. You were a stranger. You were a foreigner. You were an alien. You
were a rebel against this King who ruled over a kingdom of grace and you need to come
into the kingdom but by virtue of your first birth, you are outside the kingdom and it
mattered not if you grew up in a church, if you were sprinkled as a baby, if you were in
vacation Bible school, if you were a nice kid, if your mother thought you were wonderful,
all of that is fine except you were outside the kingdom of God and there must come a
time, there must come a place when you enter into the kingdom of God and that only
happens with a second birth. Have you had the second birth?
Third, it is an unmerited birth. Let me ask you this question: what did you do before you
were born physically to deserve to be born? I'm waiting. There's nothing. There's nothing
you did. There's nothing you could have done before you were born physically in order to
be born physically.
God simply chose to cause you to be born physically and by
extension of the metaphor, the same is true spiritually, and when Jesus says that we must
be born again, we are to understand that there is absolutely nothing that we can do to
deserve to be born again: not by good works, not by church membership, not by water
baptism, not by personal integrity, not by spiritual service, not by giving money, not by
attending church, not by your own personal character. It is all of grace. Titus 3:5 says,
"He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness but
according to his mercy," listen to this, "by the washing of regeneration." The word
"regeneration" is a theological word, it's a biblical word and it's a theological word that
means "a new birth." There is nothing that you and I can do to be born again. What did
you do to be born the first time? Nothing. What can you do to be born spiritually? It's all
of God and it is all of grace.
Fourth, it is a heavenly birth. Look at verse 3 again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one
is born again." This word "again" can be translated "from above." In fact, I looked it up
this morning in a Greek dictionary and the primary meaning of this word that is translated
"again" into our English Bible, the primary meaning is "from above" and that is exactly
how it is used in verse 31 of this same chapter, "He who comes from above is above all."
What Jesus is saying here, and it also means "again," which is the secondary meaning of
the word. What Jesus is saying, this second birth is a birth from above. It's an out-of-this-
world experience. It is the life of God coming down into our empty soul. It is this: heaven
must come to you long before you go to heaven. If heaven hasn't come to you in this life,
you will not go to heaven in the next life. It is the supernatural eternal life of God that
comes down from above. It doesn't arise from within us and it doesn't arise from what is
around us, it is not the result of any church, any ministry, any denomination, any
preacher, any evangelist. It comes exclusively from the throne of grace above.
It is a heavenly birth that brings eternal life, and the word "eternal" literally means "the
life of the ages to come." That supernatural quality of life comes to reside within us
unlike anything this world has to offer. It is unlike any experience you will ever have in
this world. It is unlike any occurrence that could ever be brought to bear upon your life. It
is unlike going to school, unlike being married, unlike sports, unlike business, unlike
recreation. It is from another realm that comes down into our soul. Has heaven come
down into your soul? Has God himself come down to reside within your soul?
Fifth, it is an illuminating birth. Illuminating birth. Look at verse 3 again, "Truly, truly, I
say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." In verse 5, he
will say, "you cannot enter," but in verse 3, he says, "you cannot see," and you cannot
enter what you cannot see. There is an intentional order here with theological precision.
This word for "see" that Jesus used means "to see with understanding." It's not referring
to physical eyes, having a physical sight, it's talking about spiritual eyes, having spiritual
perception with spiritual understanding, with spiritual insight. Until you are born again,
you are spiritually blind and you cannot see and you come to church and you hear a
preacher or you turn on the radio and you hear a Bible teacher, you might as well be with
your Bible closed, upside down, you're in a dark room and it is midnight. You have eyes
but you cannot see and unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God
because in the new birth God gives you new eyes with which to see.
There have been times and I've been preaching for many years, and there has been more
than a few times I will be out in the lobby after church and an old businessman who is
used to having his way at work bossing people around, doesn't like to hear a preacher
telling him what to do, will come up to me in the lobby and will say, "Preacher, I just
don't see it." And I'll think, "You know, that's really true. You really don't see it because
you are blind. You're blind as a bat." I won't say that and I'll want him to see but until
God gives him eyes, it doesn't matter the quality of my teaching. Blind is blind. You can't
dress up blind. But in the new birth, we are enabled to see the kingdom of God and
suddenly in a moment I see who God is. I see me. I see who I am. I see my need for
grace. I see the cross. I see Christ. I see grace. I see the transactions that must now occur
between God and me and in a moment, the veil is pulled back and I see it. I am so weary
of hearing people sometimes in their testimony say this, "Oh, I've always been a
Christian." That tells me you need to be born again because you haven't always been a
Christian. John Newton said, "I once was blind but now I see." It's an illuminating birth.
It is an eye-opening birth when you suddenly see with 20/20 vision. You just woke up in
a new world.
Number 6: it's a cleansing birth. Look at verse 5, "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to
you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
What does this "water and the Spirit"? I understand the Spirit, what is "water and the
Spirit"? Let me tell you what it's not saying first of all. You know what I'm going to say.
It's not talking about water baptism. My friend, the thief on the cross, they didn't tear
down, baptize him and nail him back up again. No amount of water can wash away the
foul pollution of your soul. Water here is a metaphor for the ministry of the Holy Spirit
and there are two metaphors in this passage. One is found in verse 8, the wind. The Holy
Spirit is like the wind who blows so powerfully. The second metaphor is here in verse 5,
it's like water. He cleanses and purges and purifies when he comes flooding through our
soul. These are the two metaphors. Jesus is the Master Evangelist and he is the Master
Teacher and he is painting a picture on the canvas of Nicodemus' mind. Not only is he
telling him, he is showing him what must take place in his life. Unless one is born of
water, comma, even the Spirit, comma, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, is how I
believe this should be more properly translated and that's exactly, those are the light bulbs
that would have come on in Nicodemus' mind, because remember, he is the teacher of
Israel. He has the Old Testament down cold.
One of the mountain peak passages of the entire Old Testament is Ezekiel 36:25 when
God, as the speaker, speaks through his mouthpiece Ezekiel and God describes the new
birth. And by the way, the new birth was not something new in the New Testament.
There's only one way of salvation, both Old and New Testaments, by grace alone,
through faith alone in Christ alone. There are not two tracks to heaven, there is only one
way to heaven and everyone in the Old Testament was saved the way people were saved
in the New Testament and they had to be birthed into the kingdom as well. That was a
spiritual circumcision is what it was in the Old Testament by way of metaphor. But in
Ezekiel 36:25, God says, "I," God, "I will sprinkled clean water on you." God's not
saying he's going to come down out of heaven and dip you in the river Jordan and
sprinkle water on you. That's not the intent. No, God says, "I will sprinkled clean water
on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness." It's obviously
he's referring to a spiritual washing of the spiritual filthiness of your life. And then he
adds, "and this water will cleanse you from all your idols." But Jesus is saying,
"Nicodemus, you need to be born again and you need to have that filthy, stinking, foul,
rotten heart and soul of yours purged."
You see, in the new birth, and he'll go on to say this in the Ezekiel 36 text, God removes
your heart of stone which is lifeless, hardened, unresponsive to the things of God; God
removes that heart of stone and he puts in a heart of flesh. It is alive. It has a spiritual
pulse. It is alive to God. It is responsive to God. But before God puts in the clean new
heart, God must first clean house and he washes out the filth from the inside of your soul
and then places the new heart into the scrubbed soul. This is what must happen to each
and every one of us and that's why in Titus 3:5 which I read earlier it says, "By the
washing of regeneration." God said through Isaiah, "Come, let us reason together, says
the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they be red
like crimson, they shall be white as wool." That's what the new birth does, it wipes the
slate clean; it purges the soul as God puts the new life on the inside.
Seventh, it is an instantaneous birth. Verse 3, verse 5, verse 6, verse 7, he keeps saying
you must be born again, you must be born of the Spirit, and implied in this metaphor
drawn from the human reality of a physical birth is the fact that a birth is not a
progressive act. It doesn't take place over an extended period of time. If your life is a
timeline, the new birth does not take place in an extended parentheses of time. There is a
pinpoint on that line in which you went from being unborn to being born. If I were to take
my driver's license and hold it up and you could read it, you would see that I was born in
1951. My mother would be very glad to know her labor was not a year long. That would
be quite an experience to go through. It says not only 1951, but that I was born in April of
1951, but my birth did not take a month. It says April 13, 1951. In fact, it was at 10:13 at
night. There was a moment, there was a time when I went from being unborn to being
born in the sense of being in my mother's womb to now being out of my mother's womb.
What happened on the day of Pentecost? Thousands gathered there that day and Peter
stood up and said, "This Jesus whom you crucified, God has raised from the dead
therefore let all of the house of Israel know for certain that this Jesus God has made to be
both Lord and Christ." They were cut to the heart, it was pierced to the heart. What must
we do? Peter said, "Repent." And verse 41 says, "And as many as received his word were
added to their number." In fact, down in verse 47, it says as the church began to spread
and percolate throughout Jerusalem, that the Lord was adding to their number, listen to
this, "day by day those who were being saved." Not week by week or month by month or
year by year but some were being birthed on Tuesday and others were being birthed on
Wednesday and others were being birthed on Thursday. It happens in a moment. It
happens in a day.
What happened on the road to Damascus? Saul of Tarsus had letters in hand going to
Damascus to apprehend the believers. He wasn't looking for Christ, he was looking for
Christians to put them to death just like Stephen had been put to death. And on that
Damascus Road, there was a light that shone out of heaven and the text says suddenly
and he was knocked off his high horse and in that moment, he looked up and said, "Who
are you, Lord?" He answered his own question. That's how suddenly, birthed into the
The Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8, goes up to Jerusalem to learn the way of salvation; buys a
copy of Isaiah 53; remains in darkness coming down that Gaza Strip; Philip is sent out
into the middle of nowhere to bring the message to him; he explains Isaiah 53 and in a
moment he is birthed into the kingdom of God and wants to be baptized immediately.
Paul goes to Philippi, he sees some women by the Riverside, they are God-fearing
women but they are not converted. They are still unborn and Paul begins to preach the
Gospel to them and God opens their heart and they are birthed into the kingdom right
then on the spot.
They will apprehend Paul, throw him into prison and at midnight there is an earthquake
the comes, throws open the doors of the prison cell; the Philippian jailer, "What must I do
to be saved?" "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." That very night,
not only was he saved, his whole household was saved, all who could believe upon the
Let me tell you, the new birth is an instantaneous birth. Now, you may not be able to
pinpoint that exact time but I believe it's the result of such poor Gospel preaching that
only by the sovereignty of God are the elect brought home and they have such a weak,
watered down, nebulous presentation of the Gospel, they may have gotten saved off a
hymn rather than the sermon. It was so bad. But nevertheless, I want you to know it is an
instantaneous birth. When was your instantaneous birth?
Eighth, it is a comprehensive birth. Again, it's implied in the metaphor in verse 3, verse 5,
verse 6, verse 7. When you were born, did you receive one eye, and one ear, and one leg,
and one ankle, and when you went to kindergarten, they gave you your second eyeball?
Just kind of screwed it in? Got to fourth grade, "Here, you're going to need another ear."
Scotch tape that on. Go to junior high school, "Where's your other arm? Oh, you need
another arm." FedEx brings you another arm. Is that how that works? Of course not. You
got it all when you were born physically from the beginning. It was simply a matter of
growth and development. Now, here's why I belabor this point: the new birth must be as
comprehensive as total depravity and total depravity does not mean you are as totally
depraved as you could possibly be. Total depravity means depravity as extended to the
totality of your being; that your mind is darkened; that your heart is defiled; your will is
deadened; from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, the foul pollution of sin
has contaminated you and corrupted you and in the new birth there must be the reverse of
the curse. There must be the total reversal of total depravity such that in the new birth, in
that instant, in that moment, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things
passed away, behold, new things have come. In that instant, God gave you the mind of
Christ. God gave you ears to hear the truth. God gave you a new heart with new desires
and new affections and new appetites. God gave you new eyes to see the truth.
God gave you new hands with which to lay hold of that which is pleasing to God. He gave you new
feet to pursue holiness and to run after God. From the top of your head to the bottom of
your feet, every inch, every ounce of you, you became a new creature in Christ and there
was not some little closet left in your life that was unregenerated, that just kind of
transfers into the Christian life, but the washing of regeneration never touched that back
room. No, that doesn't work that way because the new birth is a comprehensive birth.
Your mind is enlightened. Your heart is inflamed. Your will is engaged. This is what the
new birth is.
Ninth, it is a radical birth. If I could come up with a stronger word, I would. It is a radical
birth. To be born again? This is not a slight, subtle alteration of your life. This is a game
changer. This is life altering. This is the most dramatic change that could ever take place
in your soul this side of glorification. You go from death to life. Do you think that's big
or small? You went from darkness to light. You went from grunge to godliness. You
went from vulgarity to virtue. You went from profanity to purity because you suddenly
became a new person in Christ. Ephesians 4:24 says, "The new self has been created in
righteousness and holiness of the truth." Listen, this is the best, the greatest thing that
could ever happen to your life. This isn't just a makeover, this is a takeover of your life.
New life and a new person, never the same again. Has this happened in your life?
Tenth, it's a sovereign birth. Look at verse 8, "
The wind blows where it wishes."
The preacher has no power over the wind. The parents have no power over the wind. The
weatherman certainly has no power over the wind. No one controls the wind. The wind
has a mind of its own. The wind is going to do what the wind is going to do. No one can
start the wind. No one can steer the wind. No one can stop the wind. You know how
powerful that wind is. You don't see it. You've never seen the wind, but you sure see the
effects of it and you feel the power of it. I've been living for the last 21 years in Mobile,
Alabama, hurricane alley, and we just sit there in our little den watching the Weather
Channel and watching this hurricane just like a running back in the open field just
darting, moving. Who knows where it's going to make landfall. Let me tell you, when it
hits and makes landfall, it will just pancake the landscape.
Jesus says the ministry of the Holy Spirit is just like the wind. The wind of the Holy
Spirit will swoop down in a house and it will pass the first bedroom and pass the second
bedroom and pass the third bedroom until it comes all the way down to the end of the hall
and it will swoop down into that bedroom and there is a birthing that takes place, and it
has passed over a mother, a father, or passed over other siblings but this is the one and
this is the appointed time and it's powerful. And then that wind lifts up and it goes down
the block and it hits another house after passing over many other houses. Then it lands
and there is another birthing and then it lifts up and it goes to another town. It has a mind
of its own. That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God and there are some people that
think that the wind always blows on Sunday at 12 noon on the 28th verse of "Just as I
am," and they don't know that they don't know. They're clueless about the things of God.
It's a sovereign birth.
In fact, in John 1:13, John writes, "You were born," referring to the new birth, "you were
born not of blood," meaning it doesn't matter who your parents were. If they were saved,
it doesn't mean you're saved. If they are born again it doesn't mean you're born again. It's
not of blood. There are no legacies in the kingdom of heaven. There are no grandchildren
in the kingdom of heaven. It's not of blood. I don't care if you're a blue blood, it's not of
blood. And then it says, "nor of the will of the flesh," meaning you can't earn it, you can't
deserve it, you can't work for it. It's not of the will of the flesh no matter how determined
and how rigorous and how resolved and how whatever you want to be to push yourself to
try to hit a standard. It's not by the will of the flesh. Now, look at the next one. This is
sobering, "nor of the will of man." That includes, you sir, and that includes you ma'am,
and that includes this preacher. What can a dead man do? I remember my professor asked
that question in seminary one day, what can a dead man do? You could hear the grass
growing outside. There was no answer and one student in the back pew yelled out,
"Stink." That's all a dead man can do. A dead man doesn't have a will towards the things
of God. He is plagued by moral inability.
It's a sovereign birth and if you are born again, it's not because you have a higher IQ, it's
not because you're better, it's not because you're smarter, it's not because of anything
about you, it's in fact in spite of you, not because of you that God by his mercy has
chosen to direct that wind into your life. He says, "I will have mercy upon whom I will
have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." This is the
most humbling truth that God has blown the wind of the Spirit into your life. You are
very blessed person.
I want to wrap this up, number 11. I'm doing what I tell my students never to do, never
have this many points. I'm breaking every homiletical rule in the book. Tell me you're
hanging with me. Okay. Number 11: it is an inscrutable birth. Look at verse 8 again, after
he says in verse 8, he has already said, "The wind blows where it wishes," that's the
sovereignty of it. Now listen to what follows, "and you hear the sound of it, but do not
know where it comes from and where it is going." I always chuckle at churches that put
on the sign out in front of the church, "Revival, April 17-24." You must be smarter than
God because you do not know. Let me repeat that. I have translated this out of the
original Greek, here's what it literally means: you do not know where it comes from and
where it goes. And I want to tell you, just when you think you've got it figured out who is
going to be saved next, who is not going to be saved, what country it's going to hit, what
denomination it will come on, you don't know.
"So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Who has known the mind of the Lord? That's
a rhetorical question. The answer is so obvious, Paul quoting Isaiah does not even answer
it. Who has known the mind of the Lord? No one. Or who has been his counselor? No
one. It's inscrutable. It's mysterious. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are his
ways above our ways and his thoughts above our thoughts. He's not sitting on our
committees. He does this all by himself.
Finally, number 12: it's a permanent birth. You've heard once saved, always saved - once
born, always born. You're never unborn. Once you are born, you're in. You're in the
family and that's implied in this metaphor. And it's not in my notes but I'm going to throw
it out anyway, number 13: it's a clearly evidenced birth. There will be the evidence of a
changed and transformed life. You read the book of 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:9, 1 John 4:7, 1
John 5:1, 1 John 5:4, 1 John 5:18, there you will find every evidence of the new birth.
You can read it at home. And if there's no fruit, there's no root. This is the necessary
evidence of the new birth and it's not a multiple-choice. "I'll take 1 John 2:29, I'll take 1
John 4:7, but I’ll pass on 1 John 3:9 and etc. etc. etc." No, it's all or nothing. The one who
is born of God, those are all the marks, in fact, the entire book of 1 John bears all the
marks of the new birth. The Gospel of John is written that you might know how to be
saved, 1 John is written that you might know if you're saved and I have found in the south
when I preach 1 John, a lot of Nicodemuses get saved. A lot of arch-conservatives, Bible
believing, morally separated people look at their branches and see there is no fruit of a
So where are you today? Have you been born again? If you've never been born again, I
would urge you to pray to God, "O God, birth me into your kingdom. God, blow the wind
of heaven to me. O God, open my heart. God, give me the eyes. God, give me the ears.
God, do in me a supernatural work. God, put your life within my empty soul." And I
point you to the Lord Jesus Christ who brought this instruction, who came into this
world, he was born of a virgin; he was like us but he was unlike us. He got into our skin
yet he had no sin and he lived a sinless and perfect life under the law, the law that you
and I break day after day after day. He perfectly fulfilled it and it is that perfect obedience
to the law of God on our behalf, it is that active obedience and perfect righteousness that
is credited to your account as though you have lived in perfect obedience to the law of
God. That's why Jesus when he left heaven didn't go straight to the cross. Why the 33
years? It was to fulfill the law of God so that that fulfillment of perfect righteousness
could be put into your account, in my account, when we believe upon Christ. He then
went to the cross. He had no sin of his own to suffer for and him who knew no sin God
made to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him, and all of
our sins were laid upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and he suffered and bled and died bearing
our sins upon that cross and there is salvation in no other name for there is no other name
under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. They took him down from
that cross, they buried him in the tomb, and on the third day he was raised from the dead.
He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, and whosoever shall call upon the
name of the Lord shall be saved. I urge you to call upon the name of the Lord. I urge you
to put your trust in him, to repent of your sins, and to believe upon the only Savior whom
God has sent into this world.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you are born again you will not see and you will not
enter the kingdom of heaven," but today the gates of paradise are swung wide open and
you may never have an opportunity like this again the rest of your life. Behold, now is the
accepted time. Behold, today is the day of salvation. If you have never committed your
life to Christ, I would run to Christ, I would flee to Christ, I would throw myself upon his
mercy and, "Him who comes unto me," he said, "I will in no wise cast out." He loves to
gather in sinners. He stiff arms the self-righteous and throws them away. He is a
physician who has come for the sick, not for the well. Tell him how sick you are. Tell him how sinful you are. He came for sinners, not for those who are well, and he will
receive you, clothe you with his righteousness and you will be a member of his family
Let us pray.
Father in heaven, cause us to treasure this supernatural sovereign birth that you have
brought about in our souls. Cause us to meditate, cause us to contemplate, cause us to
truly think about this miracle that you have performed in our lives. Make it jaw-
dropping, make it knee-bending, make it praise offering. And Lord, for those here today
who have never been birthed into your kingdom, I plead with you to do what only you Pray's Mill Baptist Church