WHAT IS THE NEW BIRTH?
This may best be answered by stating firstly what it is not! It is obvious from the Scriptures that being born again does not mean a mere reformation, turning over a new leaf. Nor is the new birth found in baptism, nor in the dedication of infants, nor in church member- ship. A person can be a church member all his life and yet not be born again! This can be illustrated by one of the best known stories in the entire Bible, the visit of Nicodemus to Jesus late one night (John 3:1-9)
Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was one of the rulers of the Jews, a man who was rich and powerful, a member of the great Sanhedrin which was the supreme judicial body in ancient Jewry. Jesus called him “a master” of Israel. He was a brilliant, gifted man, a counselor whose ministry and wisdom was widely sought.
As one of the leading teachers in Israel, he had a thorough grasp of the Scriptures. Nicodemus knew the Old Testament prophecies. He believed the Scripture to be inspired and, from the prophecies, he knew that the time of the Messiah’s birth was already past. He knew that the Messiah should now be a grown man; and he wondered if Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Christ. the Messiah sent from God as so many people acclaimed him.
Nicodemus was determined to find out the truth. So he made diligent enquiries, discovered when he could find Jesus alone, and went to see him late one night.
He came to the Lord Jesus Christ with his brilliant mind, his strong logic, and began to reason with the Lord: “Rabbi. we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him.” But before Nicodemus could go any further into his argument with the Lord, Jesus interrupted him and struck home to the real need in the life of this great man. Bluntly, forcefully, Christ said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” At no time did Jesus speak words any more arresting than these, especially when we see them in the light of the man against whom they were thrust…..
He was a ruler;
He was rich;
He was a great preacher;
He was active in religious affairs;
He believed in the Scripture;
He respected Jesus –
YET HE WAS NOT SAVED.
CHURCHIANITY IS NOT CHRISTIANITY!
It is the same today: people are relying on their social standing, or their Bible knowledge, or their respect for God, or their church activities, to bring them eternal life. But the Bible says that “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness’s are as filthy rags; and we do all fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”
(Is. 64:6) It is impossible for the natural man to do anything pleasing in the sight of God; all our self-activities are stained by sin and made unpleasant to the Lord. No man by his own self effort or good works can gain the kingdom of God. Salvation, eternal life, entrance into the kingdom of God, can be gained only by faith in Christ. So we discover in the following references .
THE ONLY WAY OF SALVATION
“ Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses.” (Acts 13:39).
” Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Rom. 3:20, 28).
” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9).
“who has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done, but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Jesus Christ before the beginning of time” (2 Tim. 1:9).
” At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7).
We conclude that salvation. the experience of the new birth, is not something which a man, of his own will, can produce within himself: far from it – the new birth is a divinely wrought change of heart making one a new creation in Christ. So we read, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).