HBC July 6, 1997

Series: First Peter, Sermon #22

PILGRIMS HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN


Scripture: I Peter 1:18-23; Jn. 3:1-8

TEXT: 1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

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

INTRO: Peter declares that these Pilgrims to whom he is writing have been born again. There is no question about it. They have been regenerated, born again, born from above, born of God, quickened into spiritual life by the power of God.

In the passage we read from John 3 the paramount importance and the inescapable necessity of the new birth are set forth. The effectual and instrumental causes of the new birth are also set forth. It is candidly evident from this passage that merely being religious and being a person of high moral standards is not enough to understand or enter the kingdom of God. It is also unequivocally obvious that being a religious leader does not qualify one for heaven for Nicodemus was a Master in Israel. It is also distinctly set forth in this passage that the new birth is a sovereign work of God as illustrated by the blowing of the wind where and when it wills. And, it is also manifest in this passage that the new birth is very much misunderstood by many, even religious leaders such as Nicodemus.

I want to ask each of you a question. I am not asking you if you are a member of some church, this one or another. I am not asking if you have had some kind of emotional religious experience. I am not asking if you have been baptized. I am not asking if you are a good citizen, a good husband, a good wife, a good father or mother, son or daughter. I am not asking if you tithe. I am not asking if you go to church regularly. I am not asking if you feel good about your spiritual welfare.

I am asking, "If you were arrested and charged with being a born-again Christian and you were judged by strict biblical standards, is there enough evidence in your life that you have been born from above, born of God, to convict you?"

Let me put it another way, "If you came to Jesus by night, as did Nicodemus, and began to speak to Jesus about his miracles and being a teacher come from God, would Jesus welcome you as one of his own saved children, or would he began to speak to you of the necessity of being born again?"

Let us now consider the new birth that is the subject of our texts.

THE PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE AND THE INESCAPABLE NECESSITY OF THE NEW BIRTH

In the third chapter of John we find the first recorded message of Christ found in the Scripture and its subject is the new birth.

The book of John is the only book that records the first few months of the ministry of Christ.

In chapters one and two we are told of some things which Christ did but not given any messages he preached.

In chapter one he gathers his first church composed of folks who had been baptized by John the Baptist.

In chapter two we have the account of his first miracleóthe changing of water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee.

In chapter two there is also the account of his cleansing of the temple.

Not until we get to chapter three do we find the first recorded message he preached; it was a message with the necessity of the new birth as its most prominent theme, showing the great importance Jesus placed on this matter.

The terms used by Jesus in setting forth this doctrine show its importance.

Twenty five times it is recorded in this book that Jesus prefaced statements with these words, "Verily, verily."

When used at the beginning of a statement Verily, verily means "Of a truth, of a truth."

When used at the end of a statement is usually translated "Amen" which means, "So be it," or "thatís the truth."

Twice in this discussion of the new birth Jesus prefaces his statements with this expression signaling that what he is saying is of the utmost importance and deserves their complete and undivided attention.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Jesus is saying, "This new birth is of the utmost importance. Heed what I say."

The importance of the new birth is evident from the fact that Christ said that without it one cannot understand the spiritual things of God.

He cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God referred to here is the same as referred to by Paul. Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Only a person whom God has regenerated can comprehend these spiritual things. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

This inability of a person who has not been born again to comprehend the things of the spiritual kingdom of God is seen in the response of Nicodemus.

Consider his questions. John 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

Again, Nicodemus manifested his inability to comprehend that which is spiritual. John 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

This inability of those who have not been born again is again evidenced by Jesus response to the questions of Nicodemus. John 3:10-12 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

The inescapable and imperative necessity of the new birth must also be considered.

Without it one cannot comprehend the true meaning of spiritual things. John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Without it one cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Without it one cannot believe on Jesus Christ. John 1:11-13 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Faith is not the cause of the new birth.

It is the result of the new birth. "them that believe on his name" do so because before they believed they "were born of God."

Without the new birth one is still dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.

Without the new birth one will never have a heart that can know Christ.

Eternal life is in truly knowing Christ and God. John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

One cannot know Christ and God unless, in the new birth, they are given a heart to know him. Jeremiah 24:7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BORN AGAIN

Let us look at the matter negatively for a few minutes.

The new birth is not being involved in religious activity, how ever good that religious activity might be. Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The new birth is not being baptized or being a member of the church. Judas Iscariot had done these things but it is indisputably evident that he was not a born again believer.

He was a thief. John 12:6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

He was a devil. John 6:70-71 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

He was a traitor. Luke 6:16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

He was the son of perdition. John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

He was a hypocrite. John 12:4-6 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

He was unclean. John 13:11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

He was a wicked man. Psalm 109:6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.

He was a man appointed to condemnation so could never have been a saved man. Psalm 109:7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. Jude 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

He was never the object of Divine mercy. Psalm 109:12 Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.

He was an unbeliever. John 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

A profession of faith, baptism, church membership, being church treasurer, being an apostle, preaching, and possibly even working miracles could never suffice for Judas Iscariot; the new birth was and is absolutely essential if one is to see and enter the kingdom of God; repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

The new birth is not just deciding and believing you are all right.

The fact that it seems to you that you are on the right way means nothing. Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

That you feel you are all right will carry no weight when you stand before God. Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.

It is evident from the passage in John 3 that Nicodemus thought he was alive spiritually and was probably shocked when Jesus began to preach to him the absolute necessity of the new birth.

Was he not a leader in the strictest religious group of Israel?

Was he not also a great teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures?

Did he not have a certain kind of faith in Christ? John 3:1-2 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Had he not confessed that Jesus was a teacher come from God and who did many great miracles?

Nicodemus shows us that a man may acknowledge Jesus to be from God, he may be a very religious person who sincerely believes he is saved, he may be a man with high moral principles and still not be born again and saved from his sins. If he dies in that condition he will go as straight to hell as any other unbeliever.

The matter considered positively; what does it mean to be born again.

It means to be quickened into spiritual life. Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

It means to be born spiritually as opposed to being born physically. John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

It means being born again by a sovereign act according to the will of God. John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

It means being washed with the washing of regeneration. Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

It means being begotten by God according to his own will. James 1:17-18 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

It means being made a new creation in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

It means being given a new heart to know God. Jeremiah 24:7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

It means that God has circumcised the heart. Deuteronomy 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

It means being given a new heart and a new spirit so that one is able to serve and be one of the people of God. Ezekiel 11:19-20 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

It means to have Christ formed in the heart. Galatians 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.

It means to become a partaker of Godís nature. 2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

THE SOURCE AND MEANS OF THE NEW BIRTH

The new birth is of God. John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

It is not something that runs in the bloodline; even those who could claim Abraham as their father after the flesh were not automatically regenerated because of their Abrahamic blood. Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

It is not something that is generated by the will of the fleshly nature that is enmity against God. Romans 8:7-8 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Man cannot and does not will the new birth for himself. Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

The birth is only experienced when God himself chooses to regenerate a dead sinner. James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

God is the efficient cause of regeneration and all that man may do himself can never produce the new birth.

It is he who quickens into life. Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. John 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

The truly saved are born of God. 1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

The true believer is enabled to believe as a result of being born of God. John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 1 John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

The one who truly loves other Christians is born of God. 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

Only those born of God overcome the world. 1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Only those born of God live a life that is what it ought to be before God. 1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

The moving cause of the new birth is the free love, mercy and grace of God.

He was moved by his rich mercy and great love and sovereign grace to regenerate us. Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;).

It is according to his abundant mercy that he has begotten us again unto a living hope. 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The instrumental cause of the new birth is the word of God.

Our text tells us that we are born again by the word. 1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Paul wrote that he had begotten the Corinthian Christians with the gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

James tells us that we were begotten with the word of truth. James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Jesus tells us that his words are spirit and life. John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

THE EFFECTS OF REGENERATION

The born again person is given a heart to know God. Jeremiah 24:7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

The born again person has spiritual life and it can no longer be said of him that he is dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Two of the immediate and instantaneous effects of the new birth are repentance toward God and faith toward Christ. John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 1 John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

The born again one loves other Christians. 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

The one born of God perseveres in the faith. 1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 1 John 2:29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. 1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

The born again person has assurance of salvation. 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 1 John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

SOME OTHER ASPECTS OR PROPERTIES OF THE NEW BIRTH

It is a work of God upon a dead sinner who is totally passive in the matter. John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

It is an effectual work of God that cannot be resisted. John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

It is an instantaneous act of God upon the dead sinner; it is not progressive nor are there steps through which one must go to arrive at this born again condition. Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.

God passes by and commands that the sinner live and he lives. Ezekiel 16:6 And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.

The resurrection of our bodies will take place in a moment, in a twinkling of the eye and the regeneration of our hearts is accomplished just as quickly at the command of God.

The person born of God can never be unborn of God.

This is obvious from verses 3-5 of the first chapter of First Peter. 1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The fact that the new birth is accomplished wholly according to the will and by the power of God upon a passive dead sinner indicates that there is nothing in man that caused it and that is nothing in man that can abolish, revoke, or rescind it.

CONC: Throughout this message evidences of the new birth have been set forth in Scripture. Therefore, I want to ask the question I asked in the beginning of this message. Again, I say I am not asking you if you are a member of some church, this one or another. I am not asking if you have had some kind of emotional religious experience. I am not asking if you have been baptized. I am not asking if you are a good citizen, a good husband, a good wife, a good father or mother, son or daughter. I am not asking if you tithe. I am not asking if you go to church regularly. I am not asking if you feel good about your spiritual welfare.

I am asking, "If you were arrested and charged with being a born-again Christian and you were judged by strict biblical standards, is there enough evidence in your life that you have been born from above, born of God, to convict you."

Let me put it another way, "If you came to Jesus by night, as did Nicodemus, and began to speak to Jesus about his miracles and being a teacher come from God, would Jesus welcome you as one of his own saved children, or would he began to speak to you of the necessity of being born again?"

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