Baptism: Born from Above
3. In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again." 4. "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" 5. Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."
Baptism is the outward act of an inner experience. It is one's union with Christ as well as an identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:3-5). While under house arrest in Rome, Paul wrote to believers in Colosse (Turkey) that, "having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (2:12).
The idea of rebirth - new creation, new life, regeneration - in the passage (John 3:1-15), can be seen all through the New Testament. Peter speaks of the new birth by His great mercy into a living hope (1 Peter 1:3), and again talks about being born again, not of perishable seed, but imperishable (v. 23). James speaks of God choosing to give us birth through the Word of truth (1:18). Paul says, if anyone is in Christ it is as if he had been created all over again (2 Cor. 5:17).
When we come into spiritual union with God through the new birth, we didn't add a new, divine nature to our old sinful nature. What we did was that we exchanged natures. Salvation is not a matter of God forgiving our sins and just issuing a passport to heaven when we die, as some profess. Salvation is regeneration and a renewal of our soul. God changes us from darkness to His light, from sinner to saint. There is a newness about us that wasn't in us before. In a sense, it is like the filling of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2). The Spirit, we receive when we become a new creation, empowers and helps us to live and act like Christ. Then, as we depend on the Holy Spirit, the "living water" flows through us and provides refreshment and goodness to people around us.
Pentecost doesn't need to be repeated, because the indwelling Holy Spirit has never left. He is the Spirit of power and works through believers yielded to Him. The Apostles witnessed with great power (Acts 4:33). This power still present and available today. To be in the kingdom of heaven is, therefore, to lead a life in which we have willingly submitted everything to the will of God. The Holy Spirit stand for the cleansing and the strengthening power of Christ, which wipes out the past and gives victory in the future.
Merciful Lord, let Your Holy Spirit help us hear Your inner promptings, and know Your still, small voice, so that we may make Your will our choice. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
We are to be spiritually poor only for the sake of becoming spiritually rich, detached from what we can own so that we can be attached in a different way to what we cannot own, detached from consuming so that we can be consumed by God. Peter Kreeft