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Sermon Notes

Please note that these are only notes, not transcripts, and as such are not identical to the recorded sermons. They also contain frequent abbreviations.

  1. INTRO: Our subject this evening is “What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?”

    1. The term “born again Christian” is common.

      1. Some people think that “born again” Christians are a separate category of Xians. But Jesus says, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God …” and adds “ … he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Therefore ALL Xians are born again.

      2. Others think that to be born again means that you have to ask Jesus into your heart.”

      3. The New Birth does not mean that! When Nicodemus met Jesus Christ that night in Jerusalem, Jesus did not say to him, “Nicodemus, if you want to see the Kingdom of Heaven, you need to ask me into your heart.”

    2. There are other things which the New Birth does not mean.

      1. The New Birth does not mean turning over a new leaf, making an attempt at moral improvement. Nicodemus was already very moral. He was a teacher of the Law. He spent all his days studying the Law and living as strictly as he could.

      2. The New Birth does not mean that you become a “good-living” person. For example, a drunkard who becomes sober, an adulterer who returns to his wife, a covetous man who turns from greed. We must turn from such sins. But one who does so is not necessarily born again.

      3. The New Birth is not an emotional or a religious experience or religious excitement. A man can be religiously or emotionally excited without being born again. A man may do miracles, may preach, may cast out demons, but not be born again. Many will hear these terrible words on the Last Day, Matt. 7:22-23 (“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”).

      4. In fact, the NB is not an experience at all because no one feels the NB. The New Birth is a hidden work of God in the heart which cannot be seen, heard or felt. That is what Jesus says in verse 8 when He compares the New Birth to the wind, “thou canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” The NB, then, is mysterious, a wonderwork of the Spirit in the heart of a man. It is known in its effects.

  2. THE NATURE OF THE NEW BIRTH [six biblical figures which explain what NB is].

    1. First, the New Birth is quite simply a new birth or even a being begotten again. The word “again” can also be translated “from above,” and it shows that the life of the new birth is heavenly, of a different quality than the life we have by nature.

      1. The new birth is the beginning of spiritual life, just as physical birth is the beginning of physical life. The Bible often uses the verb “beget” to describe this. Begetting is the activity of a father. Read for example John 1:13 (“which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”); I John 5:1 (“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God”); James 1:18 (“Of His [God’s] own will He [God] begat us”); I Peter 1:3 (“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”).

      2. The new birth is the implanting into the heart of a man the new life of heaven, life which the Bible everywhere calls “eternal life,” “everlasting life,” or simply “life.”

      3. This receiving of new, spiritual, eternal, everlasting, heavenly life is called the new birth, a being begotten or begotten again or regeneration.

      4. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” He meant: “Nicodemus, you need a new birth, new life, life from heaven. You need to be begotten by God Himself.”

    2. Second, the New Birth is the sinner’s receiving a new heart, a heart which loves God.

      1. In Scripture, the heart of a man is not simply his blood pump, but is his spiritual centre. A man thinks in his heart, a man loves from his heart, a man reasons from his heart. That heart is changed in the new birth.

      2. Ezekiel describes this as a spiritual heart transplant. God takes the stony heart of a man out of his flesh, and replaces that heart with a heart of flesh. In so doing, God puts His Spirit within a man and causes that man to walk in God’s commandments. Ezek. 36:26-27 (“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them”).

      3. The result of this spiritual heart transplant is that a man has a heart of flesh, one responsive to God, one which loves God and which begins to keep God’s commandments. God causes him to walk in His commandments. That is the result of his being born again, of his receiving a new heart.

      4. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” He meant: “Nicodemus, you need a new heart, you need God to take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

    3. Third, the New Birth is the breathing of spiritual life into someone who is spiritually dead, a kind of spiritual resuscitation or a spiritual resurrection.

      1. Ezekiel describes it as a valley of dead, dry, dusty bones, which when God breathes upon them, receive flesh and life and become active again. Ezek. 37:3-6 (“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD”).

      2. Ezekiel describes it in another place as a dead, stillborn child, polluted in its blood, cast out into the open field. God saw her, He had pity on her, and said, “Live” and she lived. Ezek. 16:4-6 (“And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live”).

      3. Or Ephesians 2 speaks of man being dead in his trespasses and sins and then being quickened or made alive by the power of God.

      4. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” He meant: “Nicodemus, you are dead, spiritually dead, dead in sin, as dead as dry bones, as dead as a stillborn child, and God must breathe life into you so that you live.”

    4. Fourth, the New Birth is the radical change in the very centre of a man’s being so that he who was natural becomes spiritual, and one who was evil and fruitless becomes good and fruitful.

      1. Jesus describes that in John 3:6. Flesh produces flesh. Spirit produces spirit. Here Jesus uses the word flesh in a different sense than Ezekiel did. Ezekiel made the contrast between hard stone and soft flesh. The NT often makes the contrast between sinful flesh and holy spirit. The flesh is the weak, sinful, fallen nature of man. All the achievements of man are flesh, and as flesh they cannot please God. Rom. 8:5-8 (“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”). But, when a man is born again, he becomes spiritual.

      2. Jesus uses another figure in Matthew. There He speaks of a tree. There are two kinds of trees, good trees and evil trees. Good trees produce good fruit because they are good trees. Evil trees produce evil fruit because they are evil trees. For an evil tree to produce good fruit, you first must make the tree good. In the New Birth, God radically changes the nature of man so that he changes from being an evil tree to a good tree. Matt. 7:17-20 (“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” Matt. 12:33 (“Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit”).

      1. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” He meant: “Nicodemus, you are of the flesh. You must be made spiritual by a spiritual birth of the Spirit. Nicodemus, you are an evil tree. You must be made into a good tree by a radical transformation within you.”

    1. Fifth, the New Birth is the circumcision of the heart.

      1. Physical circumcision is the removal of flesh from the male reproductive member when he is eight days old. That circumcision is a picture of a spiritual reality. Col. 2:11 calls it the “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” Rom. 2:29 also describes this (“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”). The idea is the cutting away of the sinful flesh by X’s blood.

      2. The Jews boasted in their circumcision but the prophets often condemned them for being spiritually uncircumcised, e.g. Jeremiah 6:10 (“behold their ear is uncircumcised and they cannot hearken”); Jeremiah 9:26 (“All the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart”). Stephen cries, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears …” ( Acts 7:51).

      3. But, God promised to circumcise His people and their seed (their elect children) in their hearts, which means, He promised to cut away that sinful flesh and give them in principle the life of holiness, Deut. 30:6 (“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live”).

      4. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” He meant: “Nicodemus, you are uncircumcised in ears. You cannot hear. And in heart, so you cannot believe. God must circumcise your heart so that you love God.”

    2. Sixth, the New Birth is a new creation in the image of Christ.

      1. When man was created, he was made in the image of God, but through the fall man lost that image and became the image of the devil. Thus Jesus says to unbelievers, “Ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

      2. But when God regenerates a man or causes him to be born again, he recreates that man in the image of Jesus Christ, restoring the image which was lost.

      3. That, the Bible calls, a new creation in II Cor. 5:17, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” And Eph. 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship (or masterpiece or handiwork), created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Or II Cor. 4:6, “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

      4. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” He meant: “Nicodemus, you are in the image of the devil. You need to be recreated in my image, as I am the image of the invisible God. Nicodemus, you are darkness. God must shine into you the knowledge of His own glory.”

    3. So to recap: The New Birth is a spiritual begetting, a new heart or spiritual heart transplant, the breathing of life into one who is spiritually dead or a spiritual resurrection, the radical change in the center of a man’s being, the circumcision of the heart and a new creation after the image of Christ.


    1. From those 6 things we see that the NB is God’s work alone. Man plays no part in it.

      1. The New Birth is produced by Almighty power! None but God can give life. None but God can resurrect from the dead. None but God can create.

      2. Just as you did not cause, will or cooperate in your physical birth, so you do not cause, will or cooperate in the new birth. Apply that to the other figures.

      3. In the New Birth or regeneration we are passive. We do not act. We are acted upon. That is the difference between active and passive verbs. God begets (active). The sinner is begotten by God (passive). God resurrects (active). The sinner is resurrected by God (passive). God creates (active). The sinner is created (passive). Always in Scripture, the sinner is passive in regeneration and Almighty God is active in regeneration.

      4. Therefore the “MUST” of the New Birth is not the “MUST” of what we must do, but the “MUST” of what God must do in us. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” He did not mean, “Nicodemus, I am going to give you four spiritual laws you must follow to be born again. Nicodemus, here are instructions on how to be born again.” He meant, “Nicodemus, if you are ever to be saved, ever to see the kingdom of God, ever to enter the kingdom of God, this is what must happen to you.”

    2. If this is true, the following statements are false.

      1. The New Birth is something which God does for man when he is willing to yield to Him. FALSE.

      2. All you have to do to be born again is to repent and believe. FALSE.

      3. To be born again you have to ask Jesus to be your Savior. FALSE.

      4. To be born again you have to ask God to give you new life. FALSE.

      5. God will give you the New Birth if you are willing to accept it. FALSE.

      6. To be born again you have to accept the invitation of the Holy Spirit to surrender your life to Christ. FALSE.

      7. The Holy Spirit will help you be born again if you are open to His leadings. FALSE.

      8. If you pray the “sinner’s prayer” you will be born again. FALSE.

      9. All of those ideas are false because they teach that man must do something to be born again. He cannot. God alone does it!

    3. The positive teaching is set forth by Jesus Christ Himself in John 3:8

      1. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth, so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.

      2. Jesus here is not speaking about the various strengths of the wind, so that sometimes the Spirit is like a gentle breeze whereas at other times He is like a hurricane. He is speaking about the freedom, the sovereignty of the Spirit. The wind blows where it wills, or where it wants to. That’s the meaning of listeth! Wills! Wants to! The Spirit blows where He wills, or where He wants to. The Spirit wills to give the New Birth to a person. He does so. None can stop Him. None can dictate to Him and say to Him, “You must give the New Birth to everybody. You must give the New Birth to this one, or to that one!” Not at all. The Spirit gives the New Birth to whomever He wants to. And the Spirit never works independently of Christ who sends Him, or of the Father who sends Christ. The Spirit gives the New Birth to those God the Father and God the Son choose to give it.

      3. This means, too, that the power of the HS in giving the New Birth does not depend on the freewill of man. The HS cannot be thwarted or stopped by the freewill of man.


    1. Some teach that the New Birth comes by water baptism and they say that Jesus taught this when He said, “born of water and of the Spirit” (v. 5). Baptismal regen!

      1. The water in John 3:5 does not refer to water baptism.

        1. First, Jesus drops the “water” figure in the rest of the chapter. Clearly, water is subordinate to the idea of Spirit. In verse 6 He says, “that which is born of spirit is spirit.” No mention of water! In verse 8 He says, “so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” No mention of water. Water is not the main idea.

        2. Second, Jesus chides Nicodemus for not knowing about the New Birth. Verse 10, “Art thou a master of Israel and knowest not these things?” Water baptism was not an OT ordinance, and therefore Nicodemus, supposed expert in the Law, could not be rebuked for not knowing it. But, regeneration under the figures of circumcision of the heart, the removing of the heart of stone, the giving life to dry bones, etc, was an OT concept and Nicodemus should have understood it.

        3. Third, to make regeneration depend on water baptism would mean that all those not baptized in water are lost. Jesus says that this New Birth by water and the Spirit is so necessary that without it a man cannot even see the kingdom of God! No exceptions! It proves too much to the advocate of baptismal regeneration.

        4. That would make salvation depend on a work of man. That would mean that Paul was wrong when he wrote, “Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel” (I Cor. 1:17). If regeneration depends on water baptism, we should give up preaching and baptize as many people as we can.

        5. Fourth, if regeneration occurs by water baptism, Christ’s words are not true, “the wind bloweth where it listeth …” We do know where the Spirit goes and comes. He comes and goes from font to font, wherever water baptism takes place.

      2. What, then, does Christ mean by water here?

        1. Well, remember He is speaking to an OT scholar. What did Nicodemus understand by water? What was the role of water in the Old Testament? Answer: Cleansing! Here is Ezekiel 36:25, just before the “heart of stone to heart of flesh” passage: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”

        2. When Jesus says, “born of water and the Spirit” He means born of the Spirit who is like water. The idea is, “born of the cleansing Spirit, the Spirit who cleanses.” The New Birth, then, is a cleansing work. That is why Titus 3:5 says, “by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Regeneration (the New Birth) is a washing and a renewal.

    2. Similar is, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matt. 3:11)

      1. Some have imagined from this language two baptisms, one in the new birth (baptism with the Holy Ghost) and one a later experience (baptism with fire).

        1. But that is not the contrast here. John the Baptist is contrasting water baptism, which he administered at the River Jordan, with the baptism which the Messiah will give when He appears.

        2. He does not mean that Jesus will give two separate baptisms, one with the Holy Spirit, and one with fire. He means that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is the New Birth, which all Christians have received, is a baptism with fire.

        3. John the Baptist does not even suggest for a moment that there will be two kinds of Christians, common Xians who have only received the Spirit in regeneration and then more spiritual Christians who have received an extra boost of the Spirit in the baptism of fire. “He shall baptize you.” Not, He shall baptize some of you.

        4. This fits with the rest of Scripture: there is one baptism of the Spirit, which all Xians receive in the NB. All Xians are born again Xians. A non-born-again Xian is a contradiction in terms and does not exist. Hear 1 Cor. 12:13, “For by ONE Spirit we are ALL baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been ALL made to drink into one Spirit.” And here Eph. 4:4-5, “There is ONE body and ONE Spirit, even as ye are called in ONE hope of your calling. ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism.”

      2. What is fire in the Bible? How would John’s hearers have understood him?

        1. Fire is a purifying agent. Look at the very next verse, “Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor …” (Matt. 3:12). Purge, cleanse. That’s what fire does.

        2. Read Mal. 3:2, “But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and he shall purify the sons of Levi …”

        3. The idea is that Christ shall baptize His people with the fiery HS who shall purify, cleanse and refine them. And this Spirit is given to them in the New Birth.


    1. The New Birth is impossible for man.

      1. Jesus makes that very clear in John 3

        1. Verse 6, “That which is born of flesh is flesh …” What do you expect from a pig but a grunt is a saying you may have heard. But what do you expect from a sinner but sin? Job put it this way, “How much more abominable and filthy is man which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Jer. 15:16); Jeremiah wrote, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23). And such a change is impossible, how much more impossible is a change in one’s very nature!

        2. John 3:19-20 says that “men loved darkness rather than light.” Then Jesus adds, “everyone that doeth evil HATES the light, neither cometh to the light …” Sinners, you and I by nature, HATE the light and we will not come to the light. But you say, I came to the light. Then you dare to contradict the Lord Jesus. He says that none come to the light, except verse 21, those whose deeds are “wrought in God.” If you have come to the light, which means if you have come to Jesus Christ in true faith, it is because He worked in you to cause you to come. And now you do truth, says Jesus Christ. Your coming was wrought of God.

      2. The NB is impossible for man b/c without it he cannot see or enter the Kingdom.

        1. The kingdom of God is not heaven. Jesus is not saying in verses 3 and 5 that we cannot enter heaven without the New Birth. That is true, of course. We cannot. Heaven is the final manifestation of the Kingdom of God. Heaven is the Kingdom when it has been completed, when all the citizens of that Kingdom are present and the kingdom of darkness has finally been destroyed.

        2. The Kingdom is the spiritual rule of Jesus Christ in the lives of His people here and now. And before we become citizens of God’s Kingdom, before we can know God as our Father, before we can know the forgiveness of sins, the righteousness of the Kingdom, before we can see such a Kingdom, we must be born again. That is because by nature, according to our flesh, we belong to a different kingdom. Col. 1:13 says this, “God has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” Notice, He did that to the Colossians before He took them to heaven.

        3. But we are not translated into that Kingdom by choosing to be citizens but by being born again as citizens of that Kingdom. And the characteristics of the citizens of that kingdom are given in the Beatitudes in Matt. 5.

    2. [The NB is the fruit of the cross of X] God cannot give any person the New Birth without the cross and resurrection of X. We need to understand that connection.

      1. All men are under the sentence of death because of sin.

        1. God said to Adam that if he disobeyed Him by eating the forbidden fruit, Adam would surely die. And true to His Word, God inflicted death upon Adam. First, Adam became spiritually dead, his whole nature was corrupted. Then, Adam died physically after a life of 930 years. And finally, Adam would have perished eternally in hell but for the grace of God given to Him through Jesus Christ.

        2. That death – spiritual, physical, and eternal death – passed upon all men, so that all men are born without life, and with no right to life or to deliverance from death.

        3. That is the clear teaching of Romans 5:12, “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned …” Romans 5:19, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

        4. In other words, “that which is born of flesh is flesh …” (John 3:6).

      2. Because of sin, it would be unjust for God simply to give men life. Man has broken God’s Law. Man is a sinner before God. He has no right to life. If God gave sinners life without satisfaction of His justice He would deny Himself and not be God.

        1. That explains Jesus’ words in verses 14: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up THAT whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” What is that connection?

        2. In Numbers 21, the Israelites were traveling through the wilderness, and as they often did they complained about God’s provision. God was angry with the Israelites and sent fiery serpents to bite them. After many died, God told Moses to make a serpent of brass, lift it up on a pole and everyone who would look at the serpent would be healed. He would have life. It did no good if a person tried his own remedy, tried to kill the serpents, or prayed to God for healing. The only solution was to LOOK at the serpent. Whoever looked at the serpent lived.

        3. Now, Jesus takes the same figure. In order for God’s people then to have life after the deadly serpent bite they had to look at the serpent. Now, says Jesus, the Son of man MUST be lifted up, lifted up on a cross, and lifted up too in His exaltation (His Resurrection and Ascension) SO THAT whoever believes in Christ should not perish but have eternal life.

        4. In other words, without the cross, there is and can be no eternal life, no new birth, no regeneration.

      3. On the cross, Jesus earned the right of eternal life for all His people.

        1. In verse 15 there is a purpose clause – THAT! In fact there is a twofold purpose. The “not perishing” and the “having eternal life.” The Son of Man must be lifted up THAT believers should not perish and THAT believers have eternal life.

        2. Now, because of that death of Jesus on the cross, God has a righteous basis for giving life to sinners. God can now give life to sinners without denying His own justice and truth. The death penalty for sin was inflicted but it was inflicted on a perfect substitute. That is the display of God’s love, verse 16. Rather than have His people perish, a people from all nations, tribes and tongues, He gave His Son to the death of the cross.

        3. But a dead Christ cannot give life to His people, so it was necessary that Jesus Christ rise again. He rose again and in Him is life. The life which He gives in the New Birth is not an earthly life. It is not endless undying existence on the earth. It is His own resurrection life, life of a higher, better, spiritual, everlasting quality, life with God. That is 1st Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

        4. So, here’s the relationship: X purchased for spiritually dead sinners the right to life by His death and has the power to bestow life by virtue of His resurrection. That’s why, later, Jesus calls Himself the Resurrection and the Life!

    3. Now, the question, how does a sinner come into possession of this life which Christ purchased by His death and which Christ bestows by the power of His resurrection?

      1. The majority view is that a person receives this life or becomes a born again Christian by believing, or as the common phrases put it “by accepting Jesus,” “by inviting Jesus into your heart,” “by making Jesus your personal Savior.”

        1. Appeal is made to the “whosoever believeth” in verses 15 and 16. You see, all you have to do to be born again is to believe.

        2. But the words “whosoever believeth” do not refer to what a man has to do to be born again but are a description of the man who has already been born again. Let me explain it this way, If you asked me to describe a person who is born again, I would say, “Someone who is born again believes in Jesus Christ. He does not believe in Jesus Christ in order to be born again. He believes in Jesus Christ because he has been born again.” The infallible mark of the New Birth is faith.

        3. The relationship between faith and the new birth is not that faith is the cause of the new birth, but that faith is the fruit of the new birth.

      2. And that is very easy to prove.

        1. First, one who is not born again cannot believe. He cannot believe because he is flesh. Believing is a spiritual activity. He cannot believe because he hates the light (v. 20). Believing is coming to the light. He cannot believe because he has a heart of stone; he is a dead, dry, dusty bone; he is an evil tree; he is uncircumcised in heart and ears and he is spiritually dead.

        2. Second, the order of Scripture is always new birth first, then faith. Read John 1:12-13 (“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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”). Notice the relationship. First, a person is born of God, then that person believes (he receives Christ by faith), and through faith the person receives the grace of adoption (receives power to become the sons of God). That’s the order: regeneration, faith, adoption.

        3. The book of 1st John is full of verses such as this. 1st John 2:29, “Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him.” That does not mean that in order to be born of God you must do righteousness. It means that the one who HAS ALREADY BEEN BORN of God does righteousness. 1st John 4:7, “Everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.” That does not mean that in order to be born of God you must love. Rather, it means that the one who HAS ALREADY BEEN BORN of God loves. 1st John 5:1, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” That does not mean that in order to be born of God you must believe that Jesus is the Christ. Rather, it means that the one who HAS ALREADY BEEN BORN of God believes that Jesus is the Christ And finally, 1st John 5:4, “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” That does not mean that in order to be born of God you must overcome the world. Rather, it means that the one who HAS ALREADY BEEN BORN of God overcomes the world.

        4. Now the point is this. If a sinner can believe, can experience true sorrow over his sins, can repent, can love God and can turn to Christ without the New Birth, what in the world do we need the New Birth for? If a man can do all these things without life from above, what is the point of the New Birth? The New Birth seems like a huge anticlimax. Then a man has exhibited all the signs of life, he has exercised spiritual sight, he has exercised spiritual hearing, he has exercised spiritual walking toward Christ, he has exercised spiritual hunger and thirst all without being spiritually alive. Worse, God is robbed of His glory because the New Birth is no longer ascribed to the power and grace of God but to man, dead, sinful man!

      3. So, this brings us to our final question. How can I, how can you, how can we know that we are born again?

        1. Remember that we are dead by nature. In being born again we receive spiritual life, and that life manifests itself immediately.

        2. Think of a new born baby. How do you know it is alive. It cries for its mother. It craves milk. How do you know you are alive today? Do you remember your physical birth? How do you know you had a physical birth? Because you show signs of life. Your heart beats. You are breathing.

        3. Spiritual life is the same. Spiritual life shows itself too. And it shows itself in faith. In a faith which clings to Christ and a faith which lives out of the life of Christ. Do you believe in Jesus Christ for all your salvation, for the forgiveness of all your sins? That is evidence of spiritual life. That is the main evidence. Perhaps your faith is not strong. You are still alive. A man may have labored breathing or a weak pulse, but he is still alive. That was the Israelite in the wilderness. He looked at the serpent on the pole. Was his faith weak, trembling, faltering, mixed with much fear and unbelief? He looked at the serpent and was healed. Looking anywhere else was fatal. Looking at his wounds did not help. Looking at his friends and family was no good. He looked to the serpent on the pole. There is no point in your looking at your sins, if you do not look to Christ.

        4. Oh, you cannot give yourself life. You cannot even desire to have life. But you can know that God has planted that life into you. A new heart will never be hidden. Its first and most fundamental activity is to look to Christ, to believe in Him and to experience the forgiveness of sins. That’s the NB: a wonder of God’s grace. Praise God for it. Amen.