MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (November 29, 2021)

Jesus often used natural phenomena to illustrate spiritual truths. In the agrarian society in which He preached, He used many farming examples (e.g. sower and seeds, wheat and chaff). These were examples that His listeners would have understood. You see, Jesus never played “hide the ball” – His words were meant to be understood by all of His children who possess a spiritual nature!

In the third chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus described spiritual regeneration by using three natural examples: the womb, the water, and the wind. When a prominent rabbi named Nicodemus came to Jesus and began to engage with Him about His earthly ministry, Jesus didn’t mince words but cut right to the heart of the matter: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. He then went on to elaborate on this “new birth” in a way that Nicodemus could understand.

Initially, Jesus uses the example of the womb: it is a “new birth,” which evokes the natural image of childbirth. There are several characteristics of a natural birth that help to inform us about our spiritual birth.

First of all, the natural birth happens without any action or will of the child being born. Let me ask you a question, dear reader: what role does the baby play in its own birth? Does the baby say to its mother, “I guess I’m ready to be born today, let’s get this process started?” NO!!!! The baby is completely passive in its natural birth. In other words, the natural birth occurs apart from any exercise of the baby’s will, or any volitional action on its part at all.

Likewise, the spiritual birth occurs apart from the exercise of the child of God’s will. A “new life” is truly a “new creation.” Paul tells us that the new birth is a new creation: “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17. Something that is created has no role in its own creation; Adam had no role whatever in the Creation, but rather was a part of that Creation. When God appeared to Job, He asked Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Job 38:4. Of course, Job could not answer because he was NOWHERE when God created this universe! Sometimes, we need to be reminded who we really are: the creature, and NOT the Creator! Spiritual birth comes not by the exercise of the child of God’s will, but by the sovereign power of God Himself.

Secondly, the natural birth happens without any hindrance from the child being born. Have you ever heard of a child speaking up during the birth and saying, “Hold on, mother, I’m not ready to be born yet!” That’s foolish even to suggest! In the same way, it is foolish to suggest that the child of God can hinder his own spiritual birth. Indeed, everyone who is ever born again is born apart from his or her will. As Paul tells us in Romans, “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” Rom. 9:16.

I realize that the most prevalent message in the denominational world focuses upon the sinner’s ability to “hinder” or “prevent” the Holy Ghost from doing His job in the new birth. Most preacher’s beg congregations not to “turn Him away,” but rather “accept Jesus today before it is too late.” In other words, the new birth is dependent upon the sinner “letting” God bring the new birth to bear. However, just like the natural birth, the new birth cannot be hindered by the child who is being born.

Finally, in regard to the womb illustration, the natural birth happens BEFORE evidence of life appears. I have heard it put this way before: a baby doesn’t cry in order to GET born, he cries because he’s ALREADY BEEN born! In a spiritual sense, Paul tells us that “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.” 1 Cor. 2:14. In other words, prior to being given a spiritual nature – which only occurs through the new birth – a child of God will not and cannot receive anything that is “of the Spirit of God.”

I think the gospel message is “of the Spirit of God,” don’t you? Many people admonish a dead alien sinner to “accept Jesus,” or “receive Him into your heart” – but I can’t imagine ANYTHING that is more “of the Spirit of God” than Jesus, can you? In fact, Jesus the Son of God is co-equal with, and in fact ONE with, the Spirit of God. In John’s gospel, we read that “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. . . .” John 1:12. But the verse doesn’t stop there: in the very next verse, we are told about a condition precedent to “receiving” or “believing” on Jesus: “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13. “Were” is past tense; thus, the new birth had to have occurred BEFORE anyone received or believed!

As I said earlier, Jesus never played “hide the ball.” Instead, He made things as clear as possible through the illustrations that He used. Next week, we will look at the “water”, and see how it is a clear reference to the Spirit of God Himself.

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Eld. Chris McCool, Pastor