MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (December 13, 2021)

*I apologize for last week’s absence; I was out of town, and unable to post Monday Minutes. Today is the second part of the previous post from November 29, 2021.*

In our last edition of Monday Minutes, we saw that Jesus often used natural phenomena to illustrate spiritual truths. He never played “hide the ball” – His words were meant to be understood by all of His children who possess a spiritual nature! We looked at chapter three of John’s gospel, where Jesus described spiritual regeneration by using three natural examples: the womb, the water, and the wind. Last time, we looked at the illustration of the natural birth, and its comparison to the spiritual birth. Today, I want to take up consideration of the “water” example.

In John 3:5, Jesus told Nicodemus, “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.” What does this mean? Is this a reference to baptism? Does it refer to some other action that must be added to the work of the Holy Spirit in order for the new birth to occur? The answer lies in the context: Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, a “master of Israel” – i.e., a teacher, or a rabbi, who was no doubt proficient in the Old Testament scriptures. Nicodemus would have gotten the message clearly, through this illustration of the “water”, that the new birth occurs solely by the act of the Holy Spirit!

You see, the Holy Spirit was often symbolized by water in the Old Testament. In John 3:3, Jesus had already pointed Nicodemus to the Spirit by using the Greek word ἄνωθεν (anothen), an adverb that literally means “from above, [or] from a higher place” (Thayer’s Greek lexicon). In fact, in my KJV Bible, the translators placed a note in the center column to denote their understanding of this clarification. By His use of this word, Jesus is clearly referencing the fact that the new birth is brought about by the Holy Spirit alone.

There are many examples in the Old Testament where the Holy Spirit is compared to water; for lack of space and time, I will point out two of the most clear examples. First of all, God tells the prophet Isaiah that “. . . I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. . . .” (Isa. 44:3). In this verse, “water” is aligned with “my spirit” in illustrating the way in which God will bless His people. God is saying, “Just like I send water to quench thirsty souls, and floods of water to drench thirsty ground, I will send my Holy Spirit upon my people to quench their spiritual thirst.”

An even more relevant passage is found in Ezekiel 36. In these verses, the prophet makes a direct reference to the new birth itself: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:25-26). How much clearer could God be? The sprinkling of clean water is compared directly to the regeneration of the Spirit!

Jesus Himself uses water elsewhere in His earthly preaching to symbolize the Spirit. In John 4:13-14, He tells a woman at a well that “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14). He is obviously not speaking of a literal well of natural water appearing within a natural person; rather, He is using water to symbolize the Holy Spirit that will dwell within regenerated children of God.

An even more striking analogy is found in John 7:37-39: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”. Again, He is NOT speaking of some literal river of water flowing naturally from the stomach of a child of God! John himself clarifies Jesus’ meaning: He was speaking of the HOLY GHOST, using water as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (John 7:39).

As a “master in Israel,” Nicodemus would have clearly gotten the message: regeneration is brought about by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit alone! Earlier in his gospel, John wrote about those who believe in Jesus, and told us that they “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13). The message Jesus is preaching to Nicodemus aligns perfectly with this verse: Nicodemus, the new birth is brought about solely by the Spirit of God!

May we remember this great truth as we go about our daily lives! Only when we recognize that we owe our spiritual lives completely to Him will we be able to serve Him in the way we ought.

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Eld. Chris McCool, Pastor