Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Must is a Good Four Letter Word

Meditation for the week of March 22, 2009

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Recently I was commenting on a radio preacher of the Gospel to a friend of mine.  I had thought the man preached quite clearly.  My friend asked me if I had ever had opportunity to ask the preacher if he was “born again.”  I said that I hadn’t since I really didn’t know him that well.  My friend told me that someone had asked the preacher that question, and the man did not know if he was born again.  I was surprised! Certainly he knew about the must in the above verse.

Some think the new birth takes place at the resurrection, but the resurrection is not the new birth spoken of in John 3.  In 1 Peter 1:23, Peter writes to living Jewish Christians and says, “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”  The new birth takes place the moment we receive Christ by faith according to John 1:12-13. 

There are a lot of misconceptions about the new birth.  According to John 1:13, it is not “of blood.”  That is, it is not a natural birth according to the blood line.  Just because our father or our mother is born again, does not mean that we are born again. 

Also it is “not of the will of the flesh.”  The flesh is the sin principle that is in each one of us.  It is the natural self-serving will.  It is the part of us that is attracted to sin.  We cannot save ourselves even though that appeals to the flesh, and we cannot be saved until we come to that point where we understand that we cannot save ourselves.  Then and then only will we be able to give God all the credit for saving us and then and then only will we be able to rely wholly on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ as the means of our salvation.  We cannot trust on something we are doing for God.  We must trust wholly in what God has done for us.

In addition, it is not “of the will of man.”  I can preach the Gospel, but I cannot save anyone.  This is not something I can do for my children, my relatives, or my friends.  I can pray for them.  I can preach to them, but one man cannot save another.  This of course means that I may even sprinkle or immerse them in water, but that is not the new birth and will not save them. 

It is “of God”.  The new birth is available to everyone who is willing to listen to what God says and is willing to trust in the truth that “Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).”  The new birth is brought about by the Holy Spirit as He uses the Word of God to convict us of our sin and point us to the Savior (See John 16:7-13).  The importance of the Word of God and the promises of God cannot be over emphasized when we preach about the new birth. 

The new birth is a new relationship.  It is not the ability to do miracles or speak in tongues.  Nicodemus did neither.  It is trusting in the Lord Jesus instead of trusting in ourselves, our good works,  our religion, our church, our pastor, or the church ordinances.  It does not make us sinless but it will give us a conscience about sin.  We will be grieved when others sin, but we will be more concerned with living right ourselves than in requiring others who are unsaved to live right.  Only the preaching of the cross will change people’s attitudes and lives.  This is called repentance.  And when people have truly repented, believing on the Lord Jesus will be the result of their change in attitude.   Then they should want to live right.

The new birth is not an option.  It is a requirement.  Must means must.  Don’t just assume that you are born again because someone else has told you that you are.  Let the Lord assure you of that through His Word.

Bruce Collins

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