Author Topic: Why you need the New Birth  (Read 47 times)


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Why you need the New Birth
« on: November 30, 2017, 10:28:06 AM »
It would be a tragedy to spend your life studying the Bible and yet end up perishing on judgment day. What a waste to be a Bible scholar and yet miss the central message of the Bible! James Boice (Does Inerrancy Matter? [International Council on Biblical Inerrancy], p. 9) told of a gathering of ministers where an evangelical pastor argued a point based on the Bible’s teaching. He referred to Jesus’ words and to His promise to return.

When he had finished, a professor from a leading Protestant seminary stood up to counter what the pastor had said. He said, “You cannot appeal to the teaching of Jesus Christ, because we do not know what Jesus really taught. The Gospels are contradictory at this point. Each of them has been written to correct the others. So far as Christ’s return is concerned, we have simply got to get it into our heads that Jesus is never coming back and that all things are going to continue on as they have from the beginning.”
Dr. Boice added that it would be nice to think that such views are held only by a few liberals. But he cited a survey of over 7,400 clergymen in five major denominations. One question was, “Do you believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God?” This was not asking whether they believed the Bible to be without any error, but rather only if they believed the Bible to be inspired by God in some undefined sense. But in spite of the level at which the question was asked, 82% of the Methodists, 89% of the Episcopalians, 81% of the United Presbyterians, 57% of the Lutherans, and 57% of the Baptists answered, “No”! Dr. Boice wrote that booklet in 1979. I would guess that things have not improved much, if at all, in the three postmodern decades since then.

In our text, Jesus is talking with a leading religious teacher in Israel (Jesus calls him “the teacher of Israel in 3:10) who does not understand the basics of spiritual truth. Nicodemus had devoted his life to the study of the Scriptures, and yet he did not understand Jesus’ words (3:3), “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” To gain entrance to God’s eternal kingdom Nicodemus was counting on the fact that he had been born as a Jew and that he was not just an average Jew, but a Pharisee. But Jesus yanked the rug out from under his feet and said, in effect: “Your natural birth, your religious devotion, and your religious studies mean absolutely nothing. You must be born again!”

The main reason you need the new birth is so that you can see and enter God’s eternal kingdom and avoid His judgment (3:3, 5). Without the new birth you’re spiritually dead and cut off from God. If you die without the new birth, you will perish (3:16, 36). But the verses that we are considering today also teach that …

You need the new birth so that you can understand and respond to spiritual truth.

Nicodemus had studied the Old Testament and yet he didn’t get what Jesus was saying because he was not born again. Most scholars agree that by the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, Nicodemus had come to faith, as evidenced in his courage in helping with the burial of Jesus (19:38-42). But at this point, he had not been born again and so he was spiritually confused, in spite of his years of religious studies and devotion.

Perhaps the apostle Paul (a former Pharisee) had talked with Nicodemus or knew about this story when he wrote (1 Cor. 2:14), “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”


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