Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Baptism: Birth from above
Rev. V.M. Mathew
3. Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above."
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, which meant he lived by the strictest possible religious rules. He came to Jesus by night, maybe not because he was afraid of being seen, but most likely because he wanted to have a quiet uninterrupted conversation with the new Teacher who had “come from God.” The fact that Nicodemus used the plural pronoun “we” and Jesus responded with the plural “you” (John 3:7) may indicate that Nicodemus was representing the religious leaders. He was a man of high moral character, deep religious hunger, and yet profound spiritual blindness. Being a patient teacher, our Lord picked up on Nicodemus’ words and further explained the new birth. To be “born of water” is to be born physically but to be born again means to be born of the Spirit. Our Lord began with that which is familiar, since birth is a universal experience. The word translated "again" also means “from above.” Though all human beings have experienced natural birth on earth (born from water), if they expect to have an experience of salvation, they must experience a spiritual birth from above.
Jesus was not teaching that the new birth comes through water baptism. In the New Testament, baptism is connected with death, not birth; and no amount of physical water can effect a spiritual change in a person. Water baptism is certainly a part of our obedience to Christ and our witness for Christ (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 2:41). But it must not be made essential for salvation, otherwise, none of the Old Testament saints were ever saved, nor was the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43) What is the meaning of this new birth and what is the difference between natural birth and new birth?
Birth involves life; and spiritual birth from above gives us eternal life. John uses the word “life” thirty-six times in his Gospel. The opposite of life is death, and the person, who has not believed in Jesus Christ, does not have eternal life or abundant life. The life, that is generated through natural birth, is perishable but the life, that is received through being born again, is eternal and non perishable.
Birth involves a future, and we are “born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). When you are born again to eternal life, your sins are forgiven and forgotten, and your future is bright with a living hope. The history between your natural birth and new birth will be automatically deleted when you are born again and the only focus will be on the future. When we are born again we will live with the eschatological hope and that hope will be the guiding force of our life on this earth.
The new birth is a birth with the spirit so the life after this new birth is a life with the Holy Spirit. A person, who is born of the spirit, will be controlled and guided by the spirit. A born again person will be a spirit filled person and lives a life with the Holy Spirit. Let us submit ourselves for an experience of being born again and to lead a life with eternal life, with hope and filled with the spirit.
Living God, help us to be born again to have an eternal life filled with your spirit and hope. Amen
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” John 3:6