Friday, March 18, 2011

On being Born Again- A reflection on John 3:1-5

Being born (again) from above                     John 3.3 
 ‘…no one can see the kingdom of God without being born (again) from above.’
  • Jesus says the Kingdom comes when there is spiritual rebirth.
  • This spiritual rebirth happens when God’s Holy Spirit descends upon us and fills us, making us a new creation empowered for Kingdom Living.
          Jesus’ teaching has roots in the Old Testament expectations of the Messianic Age
          (the age in which we now live):
    • Joel 2:28-29 spoke of the pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh.
    • Isaiah 32:15-20 looks forward to a time when the Spirit will be poured out from above.
    • Ezekiel 36:25-29 speaks of God sprinkling Israel with clean water and putting a new spirit within them.
Entering the Kingdom                                   John 3.5   
 ‘…no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.

  • To enter the Kingdom of God is to enter into a new relationship with the Father characterized by submission and obedience to His sovereignty.  When this relationship exists, the Kingdom (Rule) of God is present.
  • The Kingdom of God is a society in which God’s will is perfectly done “on earth as it is in heaven.”
  • For the Spirit-filled believer, the Kingdom is not just a future hope but a present reality.
    • “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
By Water and the Spirit                      John 3:5   
  • Entering the Kingdom (being Born Again) happens through water (cleansing) and Spirit (the power of God).
    • The waters of baptism wash away our soiled past….               Jesus as Savior.
    • The Spirit empowers us to obediently live our future...             Jesus as Lord.
  • When the Spirit takes possession of you, the defeated life of human nature becomes a victorious life in Christ.
  • This Born Again experience of entering the Kingdom of God can therefore be characterized as a Sprit-filled life in which you are wholly “In Christ” and Christ is wholly in you.
So, How Do You Become “Spirit-filled?”
  • The good news is that the Holy Spirit has already taken up residence in you by virtue of your faith as expressed in baptism.  Your spirit has been regenerated and made eternally alive in Christ by His Holy Spirit.  
  • The bad news is that your body and soul (that is, your mind, will and emotions) are still very much subject to this world and your old nature.
  • And the reality is that you cannot leave behind that old nature though the power of your own will.  It is only by the power of God working in you that you can leave behind the kingdom of this world and enter the Kingdom of God.
  • Therefore, something needs to happen…
    • You need to invite the Holy Spirit, who has already taken up residence in your spirit,  to come and saturate (baptize) your body and soul also. (Baptize means to saturate).
    • You need to present your bodies as a living sacrifice to be consecrated to God (Romans 12:1)

  • This is when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Gifts of the Spirit (see I Cor. 12:4-11) and the Fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23) will come to characterize your life.
  • Thus, being Born Again and Baptized in the Holy Spirit are not about how much of the Holy Spirit you have; it is about how much the Holy Spirit has of you.

1 John 5.4:  …for whatever is born of God conquers the world.”
A Prayer
High King of Heaven, send your life-giving Spirit to fall afresh upon this your servant.  Fill my body and soul totally and to overflowing with your transforming presence.  Increase in me the Gifts of your Holy Spirit, and empower me for a Christ-centered life totally consecrated to You.  Amen.

Sources:  Dennis Bennett, The Holy Spirit and You;  William Barclay, Commentary on the Gospel of John.