Bible Society of South Africa

The Holy Spirit and rebirth – 12 May 2021

By Carina Francke

Bible text(s)

3Jesus answered, “I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again.”

4“How can a grown man be born again?” Nicodemus asked. “He certainly cannot enter his mother's womb and be born a second time!”

5“I am telling you the truth,” replied Jesus. “No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6A person is born physically of human parents, but is born spiritually of the Spirit.

John 3:3-6GNBOpen in Bible reader

What would you think or say about someone that comes to your house in the middle of the night and declares that he knows who you are and where you come from. Eerie, don’t you think? And to top it off, he motivates why he knows so much about you! Without a shadow of a doubt, I would have immediately questioned the person’s motives and let the individual know this in no uncertain terms.

A similar scene plays itself out when Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the ruling Jewish council, comes to Jesus and says that he knows Jesus comes from God. But Jesus reacts surprisingly differently and takes the wind out of Nicodemus’ sails, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3) Nicodemus’ comment that surely a man cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born reveals his ignorance as teacher, as well as his carnal understanding of Jesus’ words.

Jesus drops two clues intended to put Nicodemus on the right track: “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (John 3:5-6) Do you see the keywords water and flesh, Spirit and spirit? Two sides of a coin – on one side of the coin, we have water and flesh, on the flip side, spirit and Spirit.

Man becomes part of an earthly, fleshly family by normal birth “through water.” Colossians 2:13 teaches that all men are dead in their sins and in the uncircumcision of their sinful nature. Add to this the continued work of the devil in people’s lives, and it becomes clear that man (water and flesh) is estranged from God’s kingdom and in dire need of a Saviour!

The flip side of the coin illustrates a new, changed believer whose spirit was reborn and renewed by the Spirit – now a member of God’s family. This person can boldly testify: “But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” (Titus 3:4-6) Now the believer is part of God’s family and his kingdom.

Take note: This new person is not born anew by his or her own will, intellect, or human persuasion, but by the working of the Holy Spirit in the individual. It is only the Holy Spirit that convicts the world – that includes you and me – of sin, righteousness, and judgement (John 16:8). It is also the Holy Spirit that works with and in us when we suffer, but also when we overflow with joy.

Prayer: Father, with my hands lifted high, I praise you for my rebirth and the immanence of the Holy Spirit. Thank you that these miraculous events have given me free admission to your kingdom. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.15
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