Summary: An examination of the 4 births that God has designed for every person to experience.
I WAS READING A BOOK ABOUT HEAVEN RECENTLY in which the author compared the death of a Christian to birth. He said our world is like a womb; we are bound within her. Death for the believer is deliverance to a life beyond our imagining.
Interesting, isn’t it?---comparing death to birth. Well, that set my mind to thinking about the whole concept of birth leading to birth. After meditating upon the scriptures I came to realize that actually each person can and should experience four births:
1. Physical birth: out of our mother’s womb.
2. Spiritual birth: out of the womb of darkness and
condemnation—being “born again.”
3. A second spiritual birth: out of the womb of self-
centeredness to Christ-centeredness---the
4. Heaven: out of the womb of this life of sin and
sadness to the dwelling place of God
There are at least two characteristics that are common to all births---even these 4 aforementioned:
1. Pain: physical and spiritual
2. A transfer from one state of existence to another
One of these birth experiences is purely physical and involuntary in nature. Two of them are purely spiritual and voluntary in nature—salvation and sanctification.
And one of these 4 is both physical and spiritual: death and heaven.
The last two (sanctification and entrance into heaven) are completely dependent upon the second. In other words, as Jesus said in John, chapter 3: “You must be born again.” Because of the importance of this experience, we’re going to focus in upon it for a few moments.
I. What Exactly Is the New Birth?
A. It is spiritual in nature. It is like the wind—cannot be seen or touched, but its effects are clearly visible.
B. It is a new creation. II Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are become new.” Paul spoke from personal experience---from a persecutor to a preacher of the gospel; from a legalist to a lover of lost souls.
In 1833 Charles Darwin went to the South Sea Islands looking for the so-called “missing link.” As he studied the cannibals who lived there he concluded that no creatures were more primitive and hw as convinced that nothing on earth could possible lift them to a higher level. He thought that he had indeed found a lower stratum of humanity that would fit his theory of evolution.
Thirty-four years later he returned to the same islands. To his amazement he discovered churches, schools, and homes occupied by some of those former cannibals. In fact, many of them wore clothes and frequently gathered to sing hymns. The reason was soon learned. Missionary John G. Paton had been there proclaiming the truths of salvation! Darwin was so moved by their transformation that he made a generous contribution to the London Missionary Society. His “Missing link” remaining missing.
C. The new birth is a passing from death to life. Sin kills (Romans 6:23). Every person is dead in his trespasses until he is born again.
D. The new birth is a calling out of darkness into God’s light. Darkness is always associated with evil, confusion, uncertainty, and fear. But the light of God’s truth usher in a new life of certainty, clarity, purity, peace, and security.
The Apostle Peter wrote, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).
The new birth then, is spiritual in nature, a new creating, a passing from death to life, and a calling out of darkness into God’s light. All of our old sins, the darkness of our hearts, the drudgery of our lives are replaced by a new, living, vibrant freshness.
This is the new birth. It is a fresh start, a new beginning, a rebirth. And only God can do it. Have you been born again?
II. Why Do We Need the New Birth?
A. The Lord Jesus told Nicodemus that apart from the new birth a man will never see the kingdom of God. You see, there is something wrong with every man, something that can be supplied only by the new birth.
When a baby is born, the doctors examine it very carefully and give each newborn a rating that is known as the “Apgar Score.” Based on a scale of one to ten, the Apgar Score rates an infant in regard to heart rate, respiration, reflex sensitivity, muscle tone, and color. A perfect score of ten is rare, but not unheard of. But even those who receive a ten have a defect that the Apgar Score doesn’t test for---a sinful nature (Romans 3:10,23).
B. Someone said, “Man has made great strides. He can swim like the fish and fly like the birds. Now he needs to learn to live like a man”---like he was created to live, before the Fall. Even the great psychologist Carl Jung said, “All the old primitive sins are not dead but crouching in the dark corners of our modern hearts---still there and still as ghastly as ever.”