Throughout my Christian life I have heard many messages on the subject of the New Birth. I have heard simple explanations of what it means, elaborate definitions, unreasonable conclusions, and incomprehensible applications. I must admit that while I knew and understood the fact that I had been born again, being able to take you back to the very time and place when I was saved, I had no understanding of exactly what it meant. It was a mystery to me. When I went out soul winning I would rarely mention the new birth for fear of not being able to explain it.
The world knows nothing of this precious doctrine. To the world, the New Birth usually ends up being a pun. As you flip through the TV channels you find comedians mock preachers and the New Birth. One country song says, “I was born to love again, I’m a brand new man.” When I was lost, I too made fun of this experience and the people that claimed it I labeled fanatics. I remember a heavy metal song that came out shortly before I was saved written by a group that hated Christ, which said “End your suffering, get born again, I’ll pretend your still alive.” Though the terminology is popular, the world is in darkness concerning the New Birth.
Sadly, though, when I had the experience and knew that I was born again, I was still ignorant concerning its implications. I found that even within the Christian community, most professing Christians knew little or nothing about the New Birth. They, like me, knew that they were born of God but were unable to explain what it meant. I Found only some of the great preachers and seasoned Christians to have any understanding of what it means to be born again. I began to dig into the Scriptures and books on the New Birth. It was there through much attentive studying, as well as much prayer, that God began to “open my eyes, and show me wondrous things out of His Word.”
We begin our study in John 3:1-21 where Jesus speaks openly about this new birth: There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, 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. (Jn. 3:1, 2)
Jesus shocked the flatteries of this nighttime visitor with the declaration, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” It must have been quite a shock for a man, an Israelite, who had waited all his life for this kingdom to come, to hear from Jesus that unless he, as an individual, had this experience he would not even see it. So much did it intrigue him that he asked Jesus how he could be born again? In the fourth verse he asked in absurdity if he had to enter his mother’s womb again.
The discourse then breaks up into a couple of different sections. First, in verses 5-8, Jesus tells us what the new birth is. Secondly, after Nicodemus asked the important question of “How”, Jesus explains to him how the new birth is accomplished, in verses 10-21. In His explanation of how it is accomplished Christ hits on several important doctrines. He speaks of man’s total depravity (19-21), the deity of Christ (v.13), the work of Christ (vs. 14, 17), and ends with the simple plan of salvation (vs. 15, 16, 18).
I personally believe that old Nicodemus was saved that night, for we see him mentioned only two other times in the Scripture. One time we see him being accused of being a disciple of Christ. (Jn. 7:50) Then, we see him again, out of love for Christ, coming to bury Him at His death. (Jn. 19:39) I am comforted by the fact that the first one to hear John. 3:16 was not a child in Sunday School but a doctor of the Law. The Bible declares him to be a ruler (Jn. 3:1) and Christ Himself says that he was a master (Jn. 3:10).
Nicodemus who came by night so that nobody could see him associate himself with Christ. A man named among the Pharisees, the strictest religious sect of his day. Wise concerning the Law of God, who memorized the books of Moses, was undoubtedly a teacher of the Scriptures, and yet knew nothing of the message that Christ espoused concerning the New Birth.
As touching religion, Nicodemus was undoubtedly a pillar in his community, a regular at the synagogue, faithful in giving and praying, yet when the subject of the New Birth was taught, he stood and scratched his head. With a curious mind he sought out Christ, whom he testified to be ‘of God’ because of the great signs which he had seen Him do. With an honest heart he inquired of Christ the meaning of the message and how it was to be accomplished. Christ, in His love and patience, gave him what he sought for. Nicodemus walked away that night not only with a new understanding but also with a new life.
How much more will Christ, through the help of the Holy Spirit and His precious Word, open up our hearts. He longs for us who are already saved to know more about this precious doctrine by which we have obtained eternal life. May we prayerfully approach the Word of God, and with our own eyes behold these wondrous things.