The New Birth

Posted: December 15, 2014 in John
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John 3:1-13, “The New Birth”

Birthdays are wonderful.  It’s difficult to imagine a more joyous day in the lives of most parents than the day that their new child comes into the world.  To be sure, there was much pain and hardship on the mother leading up to that point, but the moment they hold their child in their arms, the pain fades to memory and moms and dads are filled with joy.  So wonderful is that day that we mark it with celebrations on an annual basis for their rest of our lives, throwing parties, sharing gifts, and more. 

As good as physical birthdays are, how much better are spiritual birthdays?  Jesus taught that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who need no repentance.  When a person experiences a spiritual birthday, the angels rejoice!  It’s one thing for someone to be born into a life that lasts 70-80-90 years; it’s another thing when someone is born into a life that never ends.  THAT is something worth celebrating!

It’s that kind of birthday that Jesus is talking about with Nicodemus.  The birth of the spirit is something that is joyous, but more than that – it is something that is essential.  Just like it is impossible to live physical life without a physical birth, it is impossible live eternal life without a spiritual birth.  Nicodemus needed to learn of what it meant to be born again, and he had come to the only teacher in all Israel who had the ability to tell him about it.

The context of their conversation actually comes out of Ch. 2, when Jesus has thrown the money changers and sellers of livestock off of the temple grounds.  He had come in to Jerusalem for the annual feast of the Passover (along with the rest of the nation of Israel), and found all kinds of corruption in the temple, as the people of God were being fleeced by the priests (or at least at their approval).  The people were basically being charged admission to come worship God, and Jesus wasn’t going to stand for it.  He cleansed the temple, and threw out those who had corrupted it.  This was a massive assertion of His authority, and the basic beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  In response, the Jews asked what sign He would do that would prove His authority, and Jesus gave one: the resurrection.  It would not come for several years, but it would be the definitive proof of His authority because it would be the definitive proof that He is God.

The Jews misunderstood Jesus’ sign, but that did not stop Jesus from ministering in Jerusalem.  He continued on during the Passover Feast, performing other miraculous signs among the people.  The resurrection would be the definitive sign, but there would be other miracles that would point to His identity as God, if people would be willing to look and pay attention in faith.

It was the combination of all these things that caught the attention of Nicodemus, and that is when he goes to Jesus to find out more.  This particular teacher in Israel is going to find out that he has much more to learn.  He won’t yet be able to learn of the greater things until he believes the basics: it all begins with a birthday…the spiritual birth.

John 3:1–21
1 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.”

  1. Who was Nicodemus?
    1. A “Pharisee.”  Because the Pharisees as a group were often opposed to Jesus, it’s easy to assume that all the Pharisees were opposed to Jesus all the time.  Apparently that wasn’t the case.  At least one Pharisee seemed to have an open mind about Jesus, and that was Nicodemus.  The Pharisees actually would have had quite a bit in common with Jesus, in regards to their high view of God, the belief in the resurrection, their love for the whole of the Scriptures, and much more.  The problem was that they took everything that was good and placed it under the burden of religious legalism.  They began to see themselves as the authority & not the word of God – and that was why Jesus reserved some of His harshest words for them.
      1. This kind of legalism wasn’t only a danger for the Pharisees; it’s a danger for us today, too.  We need to beware!
    2. A “ruler of the Jews.” What kind of ruler Nicodemus was, we don’t know.  Some have speculated that he was the rich young ruler, unwilling to give up his wealth – but there’s no cause to think so.  The only thing they have in common is that they were both “rulers” who approached Jesus.  The Pharisees were all looked at as leaders, but apparently Nicodemus had some sort of official capacity (something which Jesus references in vs. 10).
  2. This ruler “came to Jesus by night” in order to meet with Him and get some more information about who He was.  Much has been made of the fact that Nicodemus came by night, but we’re never told why he did.  It’s possible that Nicodemus was coming under the cover of darkness, in order not to raise too many eyebrows among his fellow Pharisees, and John seems to give that impression later on when referring to Nicodemus.  But it’s just as possible that Nicodemus came by night simply because that was when Jesus was alone & away from the crowds.  Nicodemus wanted to have a personal conversation with Jesus, and that wouldn’t be possible as long as Jesus was performing signs among the people of Jerusalem.  (The good thing is that Nicodemus came at all!)
  3. He acknowledges Jesus as a “Rabbi” and a “teacher come from God,” which is rather notable in itself.  Jesus had no formal training that would have been recognized by the other rabbis, and Jesus had already set Himself up in opposition to the Jewish leadership when He cleansed the Jerusalem Temple earlier that week (or however many days ago it was by this point).  Nicodemus is able to see something about Jesus that commanded Jewish attention, and that Jesus had the authority to teach and act the way that He did.  It’s possible that Nicodemus even saw Jesus as an equal.  After all, Nicodemus was a ruler, and would have been called a “rabbi” – and now he extends the same courtesy to Jesus.
    1. All of this is nice, and would have been viewed as a step up from how Nicodemus could have addressed Jesus, but the reality is that Nicodemus didn’t go far enough.  Jesus is a teacher that came from God, but He’s far more than that.  Jesus didn’t merely get His doctrine from God and the Scriptures (as all of us might do); Jesus literally came from God in that He came from heaven (something which Jesus explicitly tells Nicodemus in vs. 13).  Jesus isn’t just a rabbi; He is the Messiah – He is the Son of God.
    2. It’s nice to come to Jesus politely and extend an attitude of respect to Him, but respect isn’t the same thing as faith.  Many people respect Jesus, but they don’t worship Him.  Many people who respect Jesus will die outside of His grace.  Only those who receive Him as God the Savior will actually experience the salvation He gives.
  4. How did Nicodemus know that Jesus was a “teacher come from God”?  By the “signs” that He did.  Signs and miracles are not always a proof of Godly authority and blessing – Jesus specifically taught that in the last days there will be false messiahs and false prophets who perform lying signs and wonders. (Mt 24:24)  That said, Jesus had done many signs among the people, and one of His purposes in doing so was to establish Godly credibility.  One difference between a false miracle and a true miracle is seen in whom it glorifies.  If it gives glory to man, then it can be ignored.  If it gives glory to God, then that’s something to which we need to pay attention.

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

  1. So Nicodemus carefully and politely approaches Jesus, and simply opens up a conversation.  He doesn’t yet even ask a question.  He doesn’t have to.  Jesus knows what’s on his mind, and He abruptly cuts to the chase.  Nicodemus may have been looking to get more information about Jesus, and interview Him the way other Pharisees had interviewed John the Baptist.  Jesus, however, just gets to the bigger issue at hand.  If Nicodemus really wanted to know Jesus’ teaching, Jesus would give it to him – and it was something that directly applied to this teacher of Israel: he must be “born again.” 
  2. Something is necessary to see and enter the “kingdom of God,” for without it, a person cannot even “see” the kingdom of God.  It is not enough to be a rabbi, or a ruler, or a Pharisee, or have any other human claim.  It is not enough to be a Jew and a physical descendent of Abraham.  Something else is required: a person must be born again (or “born from above.” The word ἄνωθεν could be translated either way.  Jesus seems to intend the double meaning purposefully.)  Jesus will define this more in a moment, but notice this much for now: it is an additional, but foundational act.  Although every living person has been born once, not every person is born twice (or born from above).  Obviously some people will not see the kingdom of God; the only people who do will have received this 2nd birth.  This 2nd birth is not merely beneficial to people, or somewhat important; it is absolutely crucial.  Without it, a person “cannot see the kingdom of God.”  It is absolutely impossible to enter heaven any other way.
    1. Some people have problems with Christians being narrow-minded and exclusive about their claims about eternal things.  Jesus says that there is absolutely no other way into heaven, apart from being born again.  This is as narrow as it gets…and it’s a good thing.  How is that good?  Because it’s the truth.  If you’re blindfolded & standing at a cliff, you want to be told the right direction to move, because any wrong step would make for a very bad day. J  At that point, you would follow very specific instructions because you would understand that only one set of instructions would lead to life.  Narrow news becomes good news…and so it is with Jesus.  We’re blindfolded to the things of God, but Jesus is not.  Every other human teaching their own version of religion has no real authority or experience, but Jesus is different from them all.  He knows the truth of heaven because He came from heaven.  So if He tells us that there is a narrow way, then we need to listen!  If Jesus says we must be born again, then we’ve got to be born-again.

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?”

  1. Nicodemus misunderstands, or at least has a bit of difficulty with the concept.  He has in mind a physical 2nd birth – something that is plainly impossible.  It’s an amazing enough miracle that a 8-9 pound baby can come out of the hips of a woman; it is unimaginable for a 180 pound person to do the same.  Whether or not Nicodemus actually thought this is what Jesus taught is uncertain.  The way Nicodemus asked the question anticipates a negative answer.  It’s possible that he is pointing out the logical problem with a 2nd birth, and nothing more.  Either way, Nicodemus plainly missed the point.  Jesus was teaching about being born again, as being born from above – a spiritual birth; not a physical one.
    1. Actually, a 2nd physical birth (although impossible) is far easier to accomplish than a spiritual birth.  Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mt 19:24).  If it’s easier for a 1000 pound camel to pass through a sewing needle than to go to heaven, than it’s surely easier for an adult man/woman to go back and be born from a womb than to enter into the kingdom of God. That doesn’t make it possible; it just emphasizes how much more impossible it is to enter heaven apart from a miracle!
    2. We need to understand just how impossible it is to go to heaven.  We have this idea in our culture that everyone goes to heaven, no matter what.  We might not call ourselves “universalists,” but that is how our culture acts in practice.  It doesn’t matter what someone believed in life, or how rotten they acted – unless they were a serial killer (or whatever), surely God will forgive them & they go to the big mansion in the sky…or so our culture thinks.  No…a thousand times no.  It is impossible to go to heaven apart from a miracle.  There is no other way there.  Even Nicodemus understood that what Jesus was saying was impossible (even if he didn’t understand what Jesus was truly teaching).  But that’s where the good news of the gospel comes in.  What is impossible with man is possible with God. (Mt 19:26)  Jesus makes this impossible 2nd birth possible; that is why we must believe upon Him to be saved!
  2. Why does Nicodemus misunderstand Jesus?  His problem is that he’s still looking at the capability and potential of men; he isn’t looking at what can only be accomplished by God.  Jesus was teaching of a spiritual work; not a human physical act.  Judaism by this point had turned into a works-based religion…something it was never meant to be.  The law of Moses most certainly had works to be done, but all of the works of men were supposed to be sincere acts of faith in response to the love of God for them. True Jews were circumcised in the heart; not just the flesh. (Deut 10:16)  The sacrifices of God were brokenness and humility (Ps 51:17).  The greatest of the commandments was to love God wholeheartedly (Deut 6:5).  This was all at the core of the law of Moses; everything else was supposed to flow from that starting point of faith.  But over time, it became about the letter of the law instead of the spirit.  It became a works-based religion, rather than a way of life walking by faith in communion with God.  That’s why Nicodemus couldn’t understand what Jesus was saying; he couldn’t see past the works of men to the grace of God.
    1. Many men and women in churches have the same difficulty today.  They see only the things they can do, and not the things that only God can do.  They’re stuck in a works-based Christianity, which isn’t really Christianity at all.  They believe as long as they are somewhat “good” people, then that’s good enough for God…and they miss the whole point.  We don’t need to be halfway-decent people; we need to be recipients of a 2nd birth…and that’s something that is only given by the grace of God.

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

  1. Jesus repeats and emphasizes His teaching.  Nicodemus didn’t get it the first time, so Jesus is going to clarify it and say it again.  Notice that “seeing” and “entering” the kingdom of God is a reference to the same thing.  If one is to enter a kingdom, one must first see that kingdom – both are impossible without the 2nd birth.  It’s the 2nd birth that is the stumbling block for Nicodemus, and that’s what Jesus clarifies.
  2. To be born “again” or born “from above” is to be born of “the Spirit.”  John does not record Jesus specifying the Holy Spirit here, and the text could just was easily refer to a person’s own spirit (and a lowercase “s”).  Either way, the teaching would be the same.  The Holy Spirit gives birth to our spirit.  It is being born “again” in that it is an experience that is in addition to our physical birthday, and it is being born “from above” in that it originates with God the Holy Spirit.
  3. Question: Why must we be born of the spirit?  Why is this so crucial?  Jesus emphasizes the whole concept here with His “Most assuredly/Amen, amen,” as well as repeating the idea that we cannot enter the kingdom of God by any other means.  What is the big deal about being born of the spirit?  This actually goes all the way back to Genesis, and mankind’s 1st father, Adam.  Adam had sinned in the Garden of Eden, by eating of the tree that God specifically told him not to eat.  Genesis 2:16–17, "(16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; (17) but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”" []  Adam ate, his sin was found out, he was cursed…and yet Adam went on to live many more centuries.  Had God lied?  No.  Adam received the promise of death the very moment that God cursed him (Gen 3:19).  But Adam received more than a future guarantee of physical death; he received the immediate consequence of spiritual death.  He had been created whole, and lived in perfect fellowship with God, but in an instant, everything changed.  Adam’s eyes were opened to what he had done, and there was now an obstacle of sin between him & his Creator (which is why he & Eve hid from God in their nakedness).  Adam had died spiritually, and he passed on that death to every single human that followed.  Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—" []  This is the concept of federal headship.  Adam is Mankind’s head, and we inherited what he was able to pass on to us, which is mortal life and spiritual death.  What Adam lost in the garden is what is regained in our spiritual birth.  As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22)  That’s why this 2nd birth is so necessary.  Without it, though we breathe we are already dead.  We’re just corpses waiting to drop.  But through faith in Christ, everything changes!  Through Christ, we are made alive – we are given spiritual birth, and we can look forward to an eternity in heaven with God because our spirit will live on.  That’s why it’s so important, and that’s why Jesus emphasizes it the way that He does.
  4. Jesus gives an illustration to help Nicodemus understand: that of water.  To enter the kingdom of God, one must be born of both water and spirit.  What exactly does Jesus mean by “water”?  That’s the subject of much debate.  Some believe this is a reference to Christian baptism, in that when we come to faith in Christ, we get baptized in water as an expression of our faith.  Though we definitely do get baptized as believers (not as babies), I it is unlikely Jesus was referring to that with Nicodemus.  After all, there’s no way Nicodemus could have originally understood Jesus in that way.  Jesus’ command to baptize was not given until after His resurrection from the dead (Mt 28:19-20), and that was still several years off.  Others think this might be a reference to the ministry of John the Baptist.  Contextually, the Baptist has been prevalent in John’s gospel to this point (and will be seen again in Ch. 3).  The Pharisees had sent messengers to John the Baptist inquiring about his ministry, and it’s possible that Nicodemus would have been aware of it, if not personally involved.  The idea here is that John baptized unto repentance, awaiting the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Mt 3:11).  This idea could work, in that true repentance is essential when someone puts their faith in Christ to be saved.  The problem is that it tends to stretch Jesus’ illustration too far.  Yes, everyone who believes upon Jesus does repent, but not everyone experienced the direct ministry of John the Baptist & his water baptism.  A third option is far simpler, and probably the best: being born of water is simply being born.  Nicodemus had just objected to the idea of a 2nd birth based on the impossibility of a 2nd physical birth.  Thus Jesus distinguishes between the two.  One must be born physically, and one must also be born spiritually.  Every parent knows how babies are kept in a sac of fluid while in their mothers’ wombs.  We even refer to the “water breaking” when birth is imminent.  That’s the idea here.  We must be born of water to experience earthly life; we must be born of the spirit to experience eternal life.
    1. If you’re breathing, you know you’ve obviously had the first.  The question is whether or not you’ve had the 2nd.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

  1. Again – the water birth is a fleshly birth.  Anything born of flesh will be flesh – that just makes practical sense.  Apple seeds produce apple trees, fish produce other fish, etc. – it cannot be any other way.  Human parents produce human children.  We are born of flesh, and we pass on the stuff of flesh to our offspring.  We cannot pass on the stuff of the spirit because we ourselves were not born with it.  We must be RE-born with it.  The stuff of the spirit must come from a spiritual source: God.
  2. There are children of God, but God has no grand-children.  You may have been raised in a Christian home, but that doesn’t make you a Christian.  You may have been born of God-fearing parents, but that doesn’t mean you fear God.  You received a physical fleshly birth from your parents, and for that you honor them – but you did not (and cannot) receive a spiritual birth from them.  That can only come from God the Holy Spirit.  Those who rely on the faith of their parents or grandparents to save them will find that they themselves are not saved.  We must be born of the Spirit…it is an individual experience and a necessary one.

7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

  1. We can only imagine the look of Nicodemus’ face as Jesus was telling him these things.  “Do not marvel…” This was blowing his mind!  On one hand, we can certainly understand & relate.  On the other hand, this should not have been new teaching to someone as studied in the Scriptures as was Nicodemus.  Again, the true spiritual worship of God is something that is taught throughout the Old Testament.  The Messianic Age (something which the Pharisees awaited) is consistently described as an age of the Spirit.  Isaiah 44:3 speaks of God pouring out His Spirit upon the descendants of Israel – Ezekiel 36:26-27 speaks of a time when God gives His people a new heart and a new spirit – Joel 2:28 speaks of a day when God pours out His Spirit upon all flesh.  The Scriptures are replete with teachings about a new work of the Spirit.  That Jesus spoke of a spiritual renewal and birth should not have come as a surprise to Nicodemus; it should have been an expectation.  That is exactly what the Scriptures taught about the coming of their Messiah – and that is of course, who was sitting front of Nicodemus right at the moment.
    1. BTW – true worship of God is always spiritual, and has always been spiritual.  That’s why it only makes sense for Christians to be empowered by the Spirit when we worship and serve God.  …
  2. The idea of “wind” is interesting here, because in Greek (and in Hebrew) the word for “spirit” and “wind” are exactly the same. (πνευμα)  The only way to determine the usage of the word is by looking at the context.  In fact, the vast majority of the NT usage of πνευμα is in reference to “spirit”; not “wind,” and even here the idea could be interchangeable (which is no doubt Jesus’ point).  The only real way that we know Jesus refers to wind at all is by the context of blowing & sound, and its contrast with water.  Otherwise, we could easily translate this as “The Spirit blows where it wishes…”  It’s with that dual meaning in mind that Jesus teaches about the Spirit.  Like wind, the Holy Spirit cannot be contained nor controlled.  Like wind, the Spirit cannot be seen.  We cannot see the actual wind on the horizon; we can only see the effects of it.  We can see clouds blowing in, or leaves rustling, or even feel the air on our faces – but we cannot see the wind itself.  Jesus says that the same thing is true for “everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  How so?  We cannot see the exact coming of the Spirit upon someone.  We cannot see the split second that someone receives the new spiritual birth.  A person might pray a prayer, but that prayer does not save them.  It is the Holy Spirit who gives a spiritual birth, and that is something that cannot be seen.  What we can see are the effects of the Spirit who has come.  We can see the change in a person’s life when he/she has been born again.  The proof of a spiritual birth is not found in an experience with a sinner’s prayer, but in the evidence of faith.
  3. This is not something that can be quantified – it’s not something that can be manipulated.  It might be faked for a while, but it can never be faked for long.  It can never be forced.  You either have the new birth, or you don’t.  You know when you have received the birth of the Holy Spirit, and you can know if you have not.  We’re commanded to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith – to see if Jesus Christ is in us (2 Cor 13:5).  If He’s not, we cannot force Him in, but we can invite Him.  We can ask Jesus to give us the new birth of the Holy Spirit, and He will give it unreservedly.  Luke 11:13, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" []  You can ask today.

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?

  1. Nicodemus still doesn’t understand, and Jesus chastises him a bit.  Nicodemus is “the teacher of Israel,” and apparently held a position of high honor and respect, even among the Pharisees.  If anyone should have understood the need for a spiritual birth, it should have been him.  Obviously Nicodemus was a smart man; Jesus isn’t insulting him in the slightest.  But as a teacher of the Scriptures, Nicodemus was responsible for understanding them personally, and apparently he had missed the point.
  2. We can know a lot and still not know anything.  Nicodemus knew a lot of religion, but nothing about salvation.  The same thing can happen to us.  People can know a lot about church, and nothing about Jesus.  Be careful you don’t fall into the same trap.

11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.

  1. Nicodemus couldn’t teach about the things of the Spirit because he had not personally experienced the things of the Spirit.  But Jesus had.  Jesus could “speak…and testify” of these things because He had experienced them in a way that no one else had.
  2. And it wasn’t just Jesus. “WE.”  Jesus specifically uses the 1st person plural “We” instead of the singular “I.”  Who is the “We”?  Jesus doesn’t say, and speculation abounds.  Some believe it might be a reference to the apostles, but there’s no indication that the disciples were teaching anything alongside Jesus at this stage in His ministry.  Besides, the ministry of Jesus had barely begun…the disciples didn’t have anything of which they could testify.  Others think (and it seems likely) that the “We” refers to the Godhead: Father, Son, and Spirit.  Jesus didn’t teach as just another rabbi or a ruler among Israel; He taught as the visible representation of God.  Jesus had come from eternal glory, and He could thus teach others of eternal glory and the things of the Spirit.  He could “testify” of it because He had been “witness” to it.  Remember from the prologue to John’s gospel that Jesus is the “Word” (λόγος) – He is the revelation, mind, and purpose of God.  He is uniquely qualified to teach the things of God because He IS God.
    1. Not only does this make Jesus unique among the Jews, but it is also unique among all religions of the world.  There are many who believed themselves to be prophets or otherwise enlightened spiritual teachers.  There is only One who has had a personal eyewitness testimony of the glory of God in heaven: Jesus.

12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

  1. Part of the problem for Nicodemus is that the teaching wasn’t going to get any easier.  The need to be born again/born from above is pretty basic.  This is absolutely foundational to the Christian life.  If we’re not born again in this life, we have no promise of eternal life.
  2. That’s the basic idea behind the “earthly things.”  It’s not that Jesus was teaching things of the earth or flesh; it’s that He was teaching the things of God that would take place upon the earth in this life.  Someone can be born again only while they are living upon the earth.  This is not something that can be put off until after death.  At that point, it is too late; this is our only opportunity to be born again.
  3. For Nicodemus, if he didn’t believe Jesus about the things of God that take place on the earth, how would he believe Jesus about anything else He taught about God?  If we don’t believe Jesus about the need to be born-again, how will we believe Him about our future inheritance in heaven?  About spiritual gifts?  About the glory of God?  These can never be experienced by us if we’ve never been born again – those things are all part of entering the kingdom.  If we want eternal life, we need to start where Jesus starts: being born again.  Without that, we won’t see anything else.

 
13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

  1. What makes Jesus qualified to teach these things?  Because of His witness.  Upon their first meeting, Jesus told Nathanael that Nathanael would see the “angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (1:51)  Jesus is the heavenly ladder – the only way between heaven and earth.  He has a testimony of heaven because He came from heaven, and He would be going back to heaven.  When Nicodemus was speaking to Jesus, Nicodemus was ready to hear the law of Moses, but Moses had never been back from heaven once he died.  No one had.  Only Jesus could accurately teach of the things of heave because that is where He came to earth from.
  2. The Son of Man is our heavenly teacher.  Do we believe the things He has said?  There is no one who speaks with more authority about the things of God than the Son of God.  Do we receive His witness?

Conclusion:
Nicodemus was schooled, but he didn’t know much.  He saw Jesus as a teacher, but not yet as God.  He knew much of the Scriptures, but not much of the Spirit.  Without the Spirit, not even this Pharisee and ruler of the Jews would see the kingdom of God.  But he could…Jesus was offering it to him, if he would but receive what Jesus had to say.  If Nicodemus would receive the birth of the Holy Spirit – if he would believe the teachings of the heavenly Teacher – then he would receive the promise of eternal life.

So will you.

Do you remember your spiritual birthday?  Do you remember the joy? Maybe you were raised in a Christian home, and you don’t remember the very moment you came to faith in Christ, but you know without a doubt that you’ve been born of the spirit.  You’ve seen the effects of the Spirit in your life, like the blowing of the wind.  Rejoice in that birth!  Cling to it! 

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