under a special agreement with
presents "New Life in Christ" Course 3
under a special agreement with
In our last lesson we learned that there are two families in the world. The head of one of these families is Adam, the first man. The Head of the other family is Christ, God's second Man.
Some people think that God is the Father of all men, but this is not true. Only those who are in Christ's family have God as their Father. Those who are in Adam's family have Satan as their spiritual father. The Lord Jesus Himself said that God is not the Father of all men.
One day He was speaking to some religious leaders of the city of Jerusalem. These men claimed that God was their Father. But their hearts were bad, for they hated Jesus and wanted to kill Him. Jesus knew what was in their hearts, and He said to them,
"If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God…" John 8:42
When Jesus said, "IF God were your Father…" He plainly showed that God was not their Father. To make it even clearer, He told them who their spiritual father was. He said, "You are of your father THE DEVIL…" So these men did not have God for their Father but rather, Satan.
The same thing is true of all who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, no one has to remain in Satan's family, for the Lord Jesus has made it possible for each one of us to become a child of God. The Bible calls this being "born again." We are going to see what it means to be born again.
You must be born again
In the third chapter of the Gospel of John, we read the account of a man named Nicodemus who came at night to talk to the Lord Jesus. This man was a member of the Pharisees, one of the most religious groups of that day. Nicodemus attended the synagogue faithfully. He prayed much. He gave money regularly. He did many good deeds. He knew the Scriptures well. He was a teacher of the Jews. Yet, he came to Jesus.
We do not know exactly why Nicodemus came, but he must have recognized that Jesus had the power of God in His life. And perhaps Nicodemus thought that Jesus could give him some new teaching on the Scriptures which would help him. But Nicodemus needed something more than teaching—he needed to be born again!
Jesus said to him,
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3
This statement must have shocked Nicodemus. Was he not a Jew, a member of God's chosen race? Was he not a good, moral man? Was he not a teacher among the Jews? Yes, Nicodemus was all of these things, but he was still a member of Adam's sinful family. He was not a child of God.
Jesus spoke again to Nicodemus,
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'" John 3:6-7
The Lord Jesus declared here the absolute necessity of being born again. This applied not only to Nicodemus, but it applies to every person. "You"—no matter who you are—"must be born again." We must be born "from above" of the Spirit of God. There is no other way of becoming a child of God.
Faith—necessary for the New Birth
The requirement for the new birth is faith in Jesus Christ crucified for our sins. The Lord Jesus explained this to Nicodemus by reminding him of something that happened to the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness.
The people had complained against God and Moses, so God sent fiery serpents among them. Those who were bitten by the serpents died. The people confessed their sin and cried to Moses for deliverance.
Moses prayed to God, and the Lord told him to make a serpent of brass and put it upon a pole so that everyone who looked at it might live. Moses did as God had commanded. The Bible says,
"and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived." Numbers 21:9
Then Jesus said,
"…as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:14-15
Just as the Israelites were saved from physical death by looking in faith at the serpent upon the pole, so we are saved from eternal death by looking in faith at Jesus upon the cross.
The new birth is by the Word and the Spirit
The new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit using the Word of God. No one can be born again without hearing and believing the Word of God, and no one can be born again without the work of the Holy Spirit. Here are some verses which make this clear:
"Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of truth…" James 1:18
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God…" 1 Peter 1:23
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:6
Before a person can be born again he must realize that he is a sinner.
The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to show us that we are sinners in need of a Saviour. Then, the Holy Spirit uses the same Word to show us that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour we need.
The new birth is of God
Let us look at a further explanation of the new birth.
The Bible says that those who receive the Lord Jesus as Saviour are born "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13)
The new birth is NOT "of blood." This means that it is not of human parents. No one is born into this world as a Christian. Having Christian parents is wonderful, but it does not make you a child of God. Each one of us must be born individually into God's family.
The new birth is NOT "of the will of the flesh." This means that no one can make himself a child of God by his own efforts. Eternal life cannot be earned but must be received as a free gift from God.
The new birth is NOT "of the will of man." This means that no preacher or priest can make you a child of God. No sacrament, such as communion or baptism can do this. Joining the church does not make you a Christian. The new birth is of God. The Bible says,
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
Our part in the new birth
What is our part in the new birth? Our part is to come as a sinner to the Lord Jesus and receive Him as our Saviour. The Bible says,
"But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." John 1:12
When we truly believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and we receive Him as our Saviour, we are born again.
What is God's part in the new birth?
God does many, many wonderful things for us when we receive the Lord Jesus as our Saviour. Here are just a few:
God justifies us.
This means that He forgives US of all our sins and declares us righteous in Christ.
"Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:24
God takes us out of the family of Adam and puts us into Christ's family.
We are no longer in Adam, but we are in Christ. We are going to see more of what this means in our next lesson.
God makes us His child.
God does something for us that He does for no other creature. He makes us His very own children. The Bible says,
"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." 1 John 3:1
God gives us a new spirit, and He gives us His Spirit to dwell in our new spirit.
This is called regeneration.
"…a new spirit will I put within you…and I will put my Spirit within you…" Ezekiel 36:26-27
We need to make one thing clear here—our old nature is not removed when we are born again. God does not remove our old sinful nature, but He gives us His life to overcome it. Our old nature will not be removed until Jesus comes for us, but with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we can overcome its sinful desires.
God gives us eternal life.
We shall never be separated from God. The Bible says,
"And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1 John 5:11-12
God does many other wonderful things for us when we are born again. He puts us in Christ. He joins us to His Son. He delivers us from the kingdom of darkness and from the power of sin. He makes it possible for us to have victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are going to find out more about these things in our subsequent lessons.
How can we know that we have been born again?
Each one of us should know for sure whether or not he has truly been born again, and God has given us some definite ways by which we can know. Here are three:
The witness of the Spirit.
When we are born again, God's Spirit comes to dwell within us, and He bears witness with our spirit that we are a child of God. This is not something that we can explain or prove to someone else, but we know that it is true. The Bible says,
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." Romans 8:16
The Word of God.
When we are born again, God's Spirit will make the Word of God real to our hearts, and we will know from God's Word that we are saved.
The Bible says,
"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life…" 1 John 5:13
When we are truly born again, our actions will change. We will want to obey God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We will begin to love the things that are right and to hate the things that are wrong. We will have love in our hearts for unsaved people, and we will want them to be saved. We will also love other Christians. The Bible says
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." 1 John 3:14
All of these things will begin to happen because we have been born again.
Have you been born again?