Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Unification of Logos & Houtkruis . The New Birth (Part 5) Mystery A

. The New Birth (Part 5) Mystery A

THE NEW BIRTH (PART 5)

THE MYSTERY OF THE NEW BIRTH (PART 1)

 

John 3:1-8 (ESV) 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Introduction

 

We get to our two final sermons on the New Birth. Now I wish we had time to summarise in detail, but we don’t, but let me just highlight a few things that we know so far based on our weeks on this topic.

What do we know?

 

  1. We know that there is a New Birth and we know that without it no one will be saved. Even a man like Nicodemus who was a religious man, a gifted man, a man of integrity and honesty and a man who knew much about Jesus needed to be born again. He was a natural man and faced a dilemma.
  2. We know it must happen if one is to see or enter the Kingdom of God.
  3. We know that it is not through receiving and believing and a decision that we enter into a state of the New Birth.
  4. We know that it is because of the New Birth that we through believing and receiving which is made possible by the New Birth enter into the Kingdom of God.
  5. We know that it is a birth from heaven. It is life from the same source from where man was originally given his life. Remember that God made man and breathed his life into him. Man is now spiritually dead and in order to be born again God must give spiritual life.
  6. We also know that this spiritual birth is not explained by blood, or by the will of the flesh, or by the will of man, or by a decision. It is explained by God.
  7. We also know that the reason man cannot believe and receive without this New Birth is because by nature according to Ephesians 2 we are dead, deviant, demonized, disobedient, deranged and damned.

 

But despite all that we know of the New Birth, the New Birth in many ways is still a mystery. That is why Jesus says to Nicodemus; 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

I want us think about this mystery together. The first thing I want you to see with me is the attitude of Nicodemus in response to what Jesus said. Jesus says in verse 7; 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

1. The attitude of Nicodemus.

 

We have been reminded over the last few sermons that Nicodemus is a representative man of those who would believe in Jesus or entrust themselves to Jesus but Jesus would not believe in them and Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, because Jesus knows what is in the heart of all men. So, all throughout Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus Christ is identifying not only the truth of what Nicodemus needs but His personal knowledge of Nicodemus. So, notice what the attitude of Nicodemus is right now as this conversation carries on.

 

Remember that Nicodemus comes to Christ after seeing the signs. He makes bold statements about Christ but there seems to be this underlying question that he does not ask namely ‘Who are you’, ‘how do we understand you?’ ‘What is your significance?’ Well Jesus cuts past everything that Nicodemus is about because he knows that Nicodemus is not ready for the answer. For Nicodemus to understand anything spiritually and for him to see the Kingdom or enter the Kingdom he needs a birth from above. So, what is Nicodemus’ response to all of this? Well, Jesus identifies his response as ‘surprise or marvel’. You see, Nicodemus is amazed; he is taken back by Christ’s response to him. This is not the direction Nicodemus expected this conversation to go.

 

Now how does Jesus deal with this amazement? Jesus gives him an analogy, a comparison to explain just why he will not understand until New Birth has taken place. John 3:8 (ESV)
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Now before we see the application of the analogy, let’s understand the analogy.

 

2. The analogy given to Nicodemus

 

Jesus is talking about the wind and He mentions several things here about the wind. First of all, He says that the ‘The wind blows where it wishes’. We don’t control the blowing of the wind, we cannot tell it when to blow and where to blow. When He says that it ‘blows where it wishes’, He is not assigning intelligence to the wind, even though the application of the analogy is to the Holy Spirit and He as God does have intelligence and He does make choices.

 

The second thing that He says in verse 8 is that we “hear its sound”. We don’t see the wind; we simply recognise its effects. We know that it is blowing, we can hear it and feel it and see its effects. We see trees and clouds moving, we hear leaves rustling, we see the dust blowing but we don’t see the wind itself.

 

The third thing he says about the wind is that we do not know “where it comes from or where it goes”. It’s another way of saying that we do not completely understand the wind, do we? There are things about the wind we don’t know. You can never sit outside and say, look a wind is coming. You only know it’s there as soon as it arrives by its effects. There are many things about the wind that remains a mystery. So, we see the effects, but we don’t understand it and we cannot control it. This brings us to the application in verse 8: “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

 

3. The application of the analogy.

Verse 8: “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

 

I believe the application of the analogy works in the same three ways.

 

3.1 We have no control over the New Birth

 

First of all, we have no more control over who receives the New Birth than we have over the wind. That is the choice of God by the sovereign working of the Spirit of God. The only guarantee you and I have is that when the Holy Spirit moves in saving grace someone is born again.

 

Do we have any role to play? Of course, yes. We act in faith upon what God has told us to do. He has told us to pray for the salvation of others, He has told us to preach the Gospel to all men, and He has told us that even our personal example can be used to bring people to Christ.

He has told us that an unbelieving husband can for example be sanctified through his wife. Somebody can come to Christ because they see the outworking of salvation in the life of a family member, a friend, a colleague. But, in all these efforts God is at work. But you and I must realise that after all of those efforts, through all of our praying, through all of our preaching and through all of our examples, unless the Spirit of God blows life into man, no one is saved.

 

So, we keep praying, preaching and setting an example, but unless He does a work in a soul granting a new birth no one sees, no one understands, no one repents and no one believes, and no one comes to Jesus. Why not. Well Romans 8:7 tells us why: 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” That free will that man was created with, is no longer inclined to God due to the fall. You give it a choice between God and the flesh, the mind of man will always choose the flesh, as it is set on the flesh. What is the problem? John 3:19 (ESV) 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil." So, you give man a choice without the work of the Holy Spirit, where it is simply dependent on his will and efforts, what will he choose, darkness or light? Darkness. Without the work of the Holy Spirit you cannot get past that fallen will. And we must also realize that you cannot control the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

I cannot say, ‘Lord here is a gentleman or lady here who needs a new birth and I have determined this morning that you will grant new birth unto him.’ Or ‘Lord you know this man that I’ve been working with at my job, and I’ve been sharing the gospel with him and I would just delight in him being born again today, and I choose that this will happen today’. Or ‘Lord, you know this child of mine, he is already in his forties and I fully believe that it is time for him or her to be saved and today will be the day I choose it to happen.’ We don’t have any control over that and neither does the person who needs to be saved. Why not? Because he is all those things that we saw about man in Ephesians 2. He is dead, deviant, demonised, disobedient, deranged and damned. You cannot get past that, only the Holy Spirit can.

 

Strangely even those who believe it is all of man to decide for Jesus, to accept or to reject Jesus, still pray to God to save someone, to convict them by His Spirit. Why pray to God if it is the man’s choice, pray to the man. Or do we need a little help from God? Let me tell you this, if he is saved because of his clever choice, then grace is a reward and not a gift. But church family, you don’t give up praying, preaching and being an example because not only don’t you control where the wind blows, you don’t control when the wind blows. To our pastors here today I have one thing to say. You may labour hard in the Word and go a long time with few conversions and then at a time when you least expect it, the wind blows with great force and great numbers come to faith in Christ.

 

All you need to do is to read about the great awakenings or revivals in history. No one saw them coming. No one controlled the timing or the location; it was the Lord’s work. Sadly, there are men who claim to be baptised in the Holy Spirit who are actually opposed to the Holy Spirit because they believe we can just organise a revival or schedule it. They actually pull up their noses at the sovereignty of God, and in so doing they actually pull up their noses at the work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation. Listen to a quote of Rodney Howard Brown the South African who was instrumental in the whole Toronto Blessing thing;

 

“If ever we need revival it is now. Now we’ve been taught that revival is sovereign. It is a sovereign move of God. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be), the future is not mine to see, ‘the Doris Day doctrine’. If God wants to do it He will do it and we will just keep having services till one day He comes. That’s like a farmer saying, a crop will just come up if it wants to, it will just be there. ‘I am not going to go out there and plough the field, I am not going to go out there and sow the seed, I’m not going to go out there and water the ground, I’m not going to go out there and tend the field, I’m not going to go out there and reap the harvest. It will just come. Whatever will be will be’; No! Revival is something that can be planned; revival is something that can be scheduled.”

Firstly, his use of the farmer in this context is pathetic, because nobody who believes in the sovereignty of God says, don’t sow. Sovereign God told us to do just that. Further, his use of the ‘farmer who sows and reaps’ is not a valid example because you can do all that a farmer does, but if God does not give the rain, the crop fails. I don’t know where his verse is that says that we can plan or schedule revival, but our verse is before us. You do not control the work of the Spirit. By the way the same speaker was in Polokwane a few years ago with a promised revival, and we are still waiting to see it happen.

 

In contrast, it was on the 8th of July 1741 when Jonathan Edwards walked into the pulpit at Enfield Connecticut and he preached a sermon entitled ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’, and suddenly people were rising from their seats crying, some even wanting to take their lives because they were so broken in their sin and revival started to sweep New England. Nobody predicted it, nobody planned it. What is interesting though is that Jonathan Edwards preached the exact same sermon to his congregation at North Hampton a few weeks prior to preaching it at Enfield and nothing happened?  Now, why would people in one place yawn at the very same sermon that awoke others in another place? Edwards did not control the timing of that. He just preached the Word, the Holy Spirit did the rest.

 

In fact, as I said earlier that even the man who experiences the New Birth has no control over it. This idea of, ‘I think I’ll give my life to the Lord in a couple of weeks’ time’ is sinful and presumptuous, you might be dead by then. Who controls the New Birth according to this analogy? No human being, not even the person who receives it. Therefore the Scriptures shout forth ‘today is the day of salvation’. You need to respond to the work of salvation in your heart, this day. Why? I believe it is to take away our sinful presumption that I can be saved whenever I want to. The Lord wants you to know that the New Birth is not in your control and your response to the Holy Spirits conviction, your response to the Father drawing you, must be immediate.

 

There is a second application to the analogy.

 

3.2 We cannot see it when people receive the New Birth.

 

The New Birth is a secret work to us. Because it is God’s work it is known to God. It is not secret to God even though it is not visible to our eyes. 2 Timothy 2:19 (ESV) 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” So, the Lord knows where there has been a New Birth. That’s why this side of heaven we go on professions of faith and visible fruit, because we cannot see in the hearts of men and women. We don’t know where there has been a new birth and where there hasn’t. What we do know is that everyone who is truly saved has experienced the New Birth. But, notice in the analogy that even though you don’t see the wind you hear its sound, don’t you? You still encounter the effects of the wind. So even though we don’t see the New Birth we see the effects of the New Birth, there are Biblical evidences that someone is born again.

 

Now we can look all over the New Testament for the effects of a New Birth, but let’s stay with John who in 1 John gives us evidences that the Holy Spirit has caused a New Birth in someone’s life. This brings us to our third application of the analogy.

 

3.3 We can see the effects of the new birth.

Now what effects are there? We will deal with 1 today and then next week with a few more.

 

3.3.1 There is a belief in and a love for God.

 

Let me point out a few. 1 John 5:1 (ESV) 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.”

Now, notice carefully. It does not say that he who believes that Jesus is the Christ will be born again. He who believes that Jesus is the Christ, has been born again. Nicodemus knew stuff about Jesus. He knew that Jesus is from God, that He performed miracles, but one statement that he could not yet make, was that Jesus is the Christ. To make that statement was not simply an intellectual statement, but a spiritual statement, that can only be made when the Spirit of God has birthed us from above.

 

Wherever there has been a new birth there is a right belief about Jesus, and there is a love for God the Father and a love for Christ. When someone is wrong in their doctrine of Jesus then they are not born of God. Take for example the Mormons. Are we harsh to say that they are not Christians when they say that ‘Jesus was the brother of Lucifer’? We can say for certain that they have not experienced the new birth, because their understanding of Jesus is wrong. The Jesus they believe in is not the Jesus of the Bible. So, one of the things that demonstrate the New Birth is that God has given us an understanding of His Son.

 

It is when you see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ because God for a reason unknown to us, through grace, has caused His light to shine into our hearts, giving us the knowledge of that glory and an understanding of His identity so that I could believe and receive and enter the Kingdom of God. This is what Nicodemus wanted to know. Who are you? What Jesus is saying is that you must have the New Birth to understand the answer to that question. And when you have been given a New Birth this is the result. You do understand who Jesus is because God has given you the understanding of His Son. You believe that He came in human flesh, born of a virgin; you believe that He lived a sinless life on this earth, died on the cross as a substitute for our sins, and has been raised from the dead to save forever all who come to him by faith.

 

God has given you an understanding of Him which is not just an intellectual understanding of those facts, but a New Birth which has put you in love with Him, so that you understand Him and love Him, see Him and desire Him, you bow before Him, submit to Him and worship Him; you follow Him and trust Him. You have become His disciple. This is what the New Birth produces.

 

Is that your life? Are you able to say that Jesus is the Christ, that He is your Saviour and Lord, that He is the source of your living, that He is the passion of your heart, that to know Him is your one simple desire in life. If you cannot say that, then you are not born again.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 17 September 2017