Summary: Explains Jesus’ command to be born again in order to draw the unsaved to faith and repentance and the believers to thanksgiving and surrender to God.
2. YOU MUST BE BORN FROM ABOVE
OBEYING EVERYTHING JESUS DEMANDS
Objective: Exalt the Triune God by preaching the gospel of NEW BIRTH. People who listen for the first time will be drawn to God in repentance and faith; and those who have been born-from above will lift their lives up to the Lord in complete abandon, thanking Him for His grace, His mercy, His salvation in Christ. I am preaching to make people celebrate their new life in Christ!
Welcome back to our series, Obeying Everything Jesus Demands. We have been looking more seriously at Jesus’ commission to teach disciples to obey everything he commanded. So far we have looked at two commands, namely: REPENT – the command to turn completely from sin, renounce it, and commit to follow God. Last week we look at Jesus’ command to “BELIEVE IN HIM”.
We pointed out that true faith comes from God. We do not manufacture faith. Faith comes to us from God as the Word reaches us. Another characteristic of biblical faith is confidence in Jesus. It accepts as true everything that Jesus said – taught, revealed, demonstrated about God, life, relationships, service, future, death, life. Faith accepts as true those hard sayings of Jesus – those exclusive claims of Jesus. Finally, we learned that biblical faith acts. It goes beyond knowing facts about God. For example biblical faith does not only know and accept as true that Jesus is the bread and water of life, it actually eats and drinks Jesus. Faith receives.
Today we are going to focus another demand that Jesus made. Jesus demands that “we be born from above”. This is the only command ever made with the adverb “must” expressing its seriousness and importance. I TELL YOU THE TRUTH YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN! Jesus is saying “You cannot see or enter my kingdom” unless you are born again. You cannot truly know me unless you are born again. You cannot – you will not understand, and worst you will misunderstand, nor could you know spiritual matters. You think you know but you really do not know unless you are born from above! You cannot understand the things of God unless you are born again.
Sadly it is a command that is difficult to understand (and I speak as a 51 year old person who has spent his life in serious study of the Word of God). One reason is the absence of Bible passages with detailed narration or description of the miracle of new birth – or better born from above. Most of the passages, and there are many of them, speak of this miracle as done – no explanations of feelings, what was said – there are no clues to make us exclaim, “Aha!” My favorite of course is the Samaritan Woman in John 4 and the apostle Paul. He narrates his conversion three times in the book of Acts (Acts 9; 22; 28)
The main reason for this “vague” picture is its being an “internal matter”. God does something within the person – without the person knowing it is happening, unaware that the most splendid work of God has just taken place – something so important has just happened in “secret”. It is completely the work of God. God utilizes His “special gadgets” to make the most “incredible miracle” – we wrongly call “born-again”. It happens only once. But it does not stop there!
Some people think of “born-again” as a religious group. They are people who read the Bible, they sing together, they raise their hands in worship, and they call their priests as “pastor.” Others think of the term to mean “to be changed” – to stop doing certain things. You used to smoke, now you don’t. You used to swear a lot – now you don’t. You used to steal now you don’t. You used to lie now you don’t. You used to be the jealous type – now you are not! (I can tell you that while these are good things, being born from above is more than seeing someone change some bad habits.)
Song: “T’was a grand day when I was born again (4X)
The things I used to do I do them no more
T’was a grand day when I was born again
Call to stop using the term
Sadly, there is lack of appreciation of this work of God. A few years several evangelical leaders said we should stop using this phrase. It has lost its meaning. And since then we don’t talk about it anymore. We use different terms – saved, change, reform, and renewal.
Most people don’t understand this work of God. Others ignore it. Even among God’s people there seems to be a lack of excitement about it. We’re more excited talking about the latest promotions going on the city; the latest blockbuster; the latest vacation we had; the latest gadget we bought or intend to buy.