The Bare Soul -
February 1, 2009
Born of Water and the Spirit
John 3:1-5 - Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
The first four verses of John chapter three helps set up Jesus' answer to Nicodemus in verse five. The aged teacher is perplexed regarding how one can be born again when one is old. Nicodemus had come to Jesus in a conciliatory manner, first stating that he and his Pharisee peers knew that He was from God. The learned rabbi wanted to establish a rapport with Jesus right from the beginning. He literally wanted to take control of the conversation, acknowledging that they were both spiritual brothers, or on equal footing since they were both striving after the same things. Jesus' first comment to Nicodemus was not "Well, thank you Nicodemus that you recognize that I am sent from God and that we are DEFINITELY laboring after the same goals." No, Jesus decided that the rabbi needed broad-sided with the truth, so He let him have it in verse three: Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. This answer so be-fuddled Nicodemus that he found himself speaking out loud his utter confusion about what Jesus had just said, How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he? Although Nicodemus thought he understood that Jesus was merely just another teacher of the law and the prophets, he did not yet understand that Jesus was indeed their fulfillment. Jesus was provoked to answer the aged teacher with the most mind-blowing prophetic fulfillment yet to be heard: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Nicodemus undoubtedly knew the scriptures. He assuredly studied exhaustively with his Sanhedrin brethren the Torah and the Law of Moses. Yet, when Jesus spoke of being "born of water and the Spirit" it totally escaped his comprehension. Jesus was not speaking of an outward or physical work, but plainly about an inner work within the heart and spirit of a man or woman as explained in the book of Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 36:24-27 - For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
What escaped Nicodemus, is that Jesus was indeed explaining salvation. However, He was more importantly stating that He was the cleansing power and Life-force behind the promised salvation of Israel and the world. So how does Jesus cleanse us from all filthiness and all of our "idols" that usurp his Lordship? He does so by the washing of the water of His word (Ephesians 5:26). When a man or a woman is truly open to God's words and invites Him in for a thorough "housecleaning", that is when the Holy Spirit can indeed begin to make our temple (our body, soul, spirit) a worthy place for His Spirit to abide. Once someone invites the Holy Spirit in for an "inspection", that person will never be the same. I am not saying that they have been born again once the Holy Spirit begins His work, but their minds and hearts are beginning a conversion to the thinking of God. They are beginning to realize that they indeed are filthy and without hope of salvation unless God decides to take up residence within and grant unto them the gift of rebirth.
It is not enough to be cleansed by the washing of the water of the word. There are many who have dipped their foot into the water of his cleansing only to withdraw it once again because the total immersion into the revelation of who He is frightens them. Just because someone knows the scripture and is titillated by its implications doesn't mean that one is born again, as was the case of Nicodemus. It would be as ludicrous as saying that if someone read and comprehended space flight that they were then an astronaut! In a very real sense, the demons of hell understand and comprehend the scripture yet they are doomed to their fate. To truly become born again, one must first be baptized or totally immersed into God's word and then be changed by it. Not that a person needs to know a volume of scriptures, but they must know the living and active word of the Lord being spoken to their wicked hearts -- that they are lost and doomed for eterniity without knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and the work of Calvary. One must know the TRUE meaning of His blood shed for our sins by receiving the word implanted in the heart with humility which is able to save a man's soul (James 1:21). Once the word has cleansed the heart, making it contrite and humble, then the Holy Spirit can take up residence within the spirit. Then, and only then can a man be born of the Spirit of God!
Lord Jesus Christ, I confess to you my sin. My mind and heart have been converted to know that your word is true and there is salvation in no other. Come, live within me and cause me to be born again. In Your Holy Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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