MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (December 20, 2021)

Previously we have considered Jesus’ use of analogies in John 3 to instruct us on regeneration. We saw that He used the womb, calling regeneration a “new birth” or being “born again.” This would have evoked images of natural childbirth in Nicodemus, and he would have understood that a man cannot cause his own spiritual birth any more than he can cause his own natural birth. Then we saw that Jesus used the water as a reference to the Spirit of God, much like Old Testament writers had often done. Nicodemus would have understood this analogy as well, and realized that the new birth is effectuated by the Spirit alone.

The last thing to which Jesus compared regeneration was the wind. Notice what He said: “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.” (John 3:8). There are three important lessons in this passage.

First of all, the wind cannot be harnessed by man – it blows where it “listeth,” or wishes. In fact, the Greek word here carries the idea of “determination,” i.e., that the wind determines where and when it blows, and not man! Nicodemus would have understood this, and so can we: have you or anyone else you know been able to harness the wind? I think not! In April 2011, a tornado passed by our house on a path of destruction in our community. Did we stand on our porch and forbid it from blowing? Did we attempt to lasso the twister and redirect its path? NO! We got out of the way, and that right quickly! Do you know why we fled to the basement? You guessed it – we were NOT able to harness the wind, and knew that it would blow wherever it wished!

Child of God, the Spirit of God is like the wind. Man cannot harness the Spirit, man cannot direct the Spirit – rather, it goes where it alone determines and effectuates the new birth in every single child of God at the time He determines! Jesus is making sure that Nicodemus – and we, by proxy – understand that the new birth is a heavenly birth, wrought by the sovereign power of the Holy Spirit alone. Man no more cooperates with nor hinders the Spirit of God than he cooperates with nor hinders the wind!

Secondly, the wind leaves its mark wherever it blows; likewise does the Spirit in the new birth. In years past, some have promoted a “hollow log” theory of the new birth: i.e., that the effect of the new birth is no different than that of a rabbit running through a hollow log. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The new birth ALWAYS leaves its mark on the one to whom it occurs.

To be sure, not every born-again child of God possesses the same level of knowledge: some may have a full understanding of grace, others may not even know the name of Jesus. The Spirit operates independently of what they have heard or what they believe, and quickens whom He will! The gospel brings “good news” of salvation to the one who now possesses a spiritual nature via the new birth, but the gospel does not bring life – only the Holy Spirit can do that! Some in the religious world mistake the purpose of the gospel: it does not bring “life and immortality” to the dead alien sinner; rather, it brings that life life and immortality to light, and uplifts his or her downtrodden soul! 2 Tim. 1:9-10.

Finally, we must not miss the last phrase of John 3:8: “so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” This means that every single person who is born of the Spirit is born in EXACTLY the same way! The time of life and the circumstances may be different, but EVERY ONE who experiences the new birth does so by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul, the thief on the cross, John the Baptist – all born the same way!

Some would have us believe that the gospel message is a prerequisite to the new birth; i.e., one must hear the gospel before he or she can be born again. I realize this is the mainstream message you hear in the religious world; but what if I could point you to one person who was born again apart from hearing the gospel message? According to John 3:8, if we can find ONE PERSON who is born again before they heard the gospel, this means that EVERYONE is born again apart from the gospel!

It just so happens that the Scripture provides us with this very example. In Luke chapter one, we read about Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth before either Jesus or John the Baptist were born. When Mary, who was carrying Christ in her womb, met with Elizabeth, who was carrying John in her womb, the following episode occurred: “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lordshould come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded inmine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. ” Luke 1:41-44.

No one preached the gospel to John the Baptist in his mother’s womb, and yet he “leaped . . . for joy”. According to Galatians 5:22, joy is a fruit of the Spirit. John the Baptist was born again right there, my friends! And if HE was born again apart from hearing the gospel, then EVERY ONE is born again apart from hearing the gospel! This ought to make us rejoice, especially when we consider how many babies are lost every year through miscarriage and abortion. The salvation theology of the world cannot account for the salvation of infants and mentally challenged, nor can it account for those in dark reaches of this world who never have the opportunity to hear the gospel. But the true doctrine of the new birth accounts for it properly: God effectuates the new birth BY HIMSELF, apart from the efforts (or lack thereof) by men!

This message of the new birth should have brought comfort to Nicodemus. I know it brings comfort to me! It tells me of a Savior Who purposes to bring each and every one of His covenant children into a vital relationship with Himself by the sovereign act of the Holy Spirit. He does for them what they cannot do for themselves!

I hope this message is a comfort to you. May the Lord bless you is my prayer!

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor