To You, Not By You

December 16, 2022

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  John 1:12-13

Perhaps one of the most unsettling things about Jesus saying we must be born again is the realization that we cannot cause new birth. It is something that happens to us, not by us. In his conversation with Jesus in John 3, Nicodemus is confused by Christ’s words and asks, “How can someone be born again? Can one go back into his mother’s womb?” While Nicodemus was obviously confused by Jesus' words, on a fundamental level, he understood the point Jesus was making.

In other words, Nicodemus was saying, “I can’t birth myself again.” No one chooses to be born physically, do they?  It happens to a person. Nicodemus was looking for a way to enter God’s Kingdom. Even though he was a religious man who knew and followed the law, he risked everything to come to Jesus at night and have his questions answered. To take this risk, he must have sensed that religion was not getting him anywhere. He must have felt the draw of God’s Spirit for something deeper…something more. But because he was a man of the law, he wanted to know what more he needed to do. Jesus says, “You do not need to do, you need to be.”

Just as we are born physically, we must be born spiritually. And like physical birth, our spiritual birth is absolutely dependent on Someone else.  It is out of our hands.  Anything good in us is a result of being born again, not the cause of it. It is being “born of God”, as John 1:13 puts it. 1 Peter 1:3 says that God, in His great mercy, has “given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Ephesians 2:5 says that we have been made alive with Christ, “while we were dead in our transgressions.” A dead person cannot choose. He cannot ask. He can do nothing to come alive. The way that man’s choice and God’s sovereignty work together in salvation is a mystery. But what we do know is that a dead man cannot come alive. He must be born again.

Father, thank You for new birth in Jesus Christ. Thank You for not leaving me dead in my sin, eternally separated from You. Please help me to share the truth of being born again with love and boldness in Your power and by Your grace. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Topics: Holy Spirit

Bible Reference

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—