(click “watch on YouTube” when prompted)
Text = John 3:1-15
John 3 is a familiar text for those of us that grew up in church. That is exactly the point I mean to get at. When Jesus says the words born again, we know what he means by that. But to a person on the outside looking in, our choice of words can alienate the very people we are trying to reach. Terms like born again, regeneration, converted or even saved have meaning to the Christian believer but require explanation to those not versed in our church jargon. So, perhaps you are trying to find out what it means to be born again. Otherwise, we could all use a reminder from time to time; it helps when explaining it to others.
1) Our natural state is spiritual death. The day Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they did not die a physical death. But the sin disturbed the relationship they had enjoy with God previously. When they sinned and God issued the curse, Adam and Eve suffered a spiritual death. We are born in a natural state of being in rebellion to God. Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born of water and the spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Water represents our physical birth into the world and born of the Spirit is the second birth.*
2) The good news is that we can be made alive. In our natural state we are slaves to sin. We do what sin would have us do. To that extent we are dead to God. We can see and hear, and think we understand, but our spiritual eyes are blind. Just like Nicodemus, one cannot truly understand the things of the Spirit of God until after having those spiritually blinded eyes open. An unbeliever can read the words of scripture and come to some understanding of their meaning. But spiritual discernment is required to understand the deeper truths God has in store. The Gospel message is that even while in our sins, God provided a way. Jesus came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly.
3) The life we have is not our own. Paul told the Galatians that he was crucified with Christ, nevertheless he lives; but it’s not he that lives, rather Christ lives in him. We were dead. Christ gave his life for ours. So, we are bought with a price. We can be made alive, but with the life of Christ. Since we are bought with a price, we are no longer our own. To some, it sounds like we are asked to give up a lot. The rich young ruler walked away from Jesus disappointed. To him, the cost was too great. Paul explains it in terms of trading masters. Before he was a slave to sin; now he is a slave to the Gospel. It’s not as bad as it might sound, though.
This life is short and filled with pain (If I had hope in this life only, I’d be above all men most miserable). We are actually giving up very little in exchange for an eternity of incorruptible glory. God’s plan of salvation, as always, in our best interest. The life we have in Christ – or could have if you’re still on the fence – does not even compare to this temporal life here lived in a body of corruption in the world of the curse. We swap a miserable, short and broken life here for an eternity in the presence of God. This present heaven and earth will pass away and God will make all things new. It’s a win-win situation for us I promise. More importantly, God promises.
The challenge for the Christian is the same as that of Christ himself: to share with those spiritually dead (and blind, and deaf) that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life. We must choose our words carefully. We’ve all been taught that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. God’s plan of salvation defies conventional wisdom. Good thing for us.