I would like to speak with you this morning about the new birth. We just witnessed a new birth. You're in the maternity ward. The delivery room. We just saw a new birth, didn't we? That's the new birth. It's a wonderful experience. And we’re here at Christmas time, also celebrating Jesus, who was born anew. He demonstrated the new birth in His baptism, and what a precious privilege it is to be a child of Jesus. A child of the King. I want to urge that each of you would be born again. Born-again Christians.
Garwood Duncan told me a story one time. He said, "You know, Catholics, Roman Catholics, used to be you couldn't eat meat on Friday. You had to eat fish on Fridays." Remember that? “And a Protestant family moved into a mostly Roman Catholic neighborhood, and on Friday he got out his barbecue and barbecued a thick, juicy steak on there. And all the Roman Catholics couldn't eat steak. They loved it. And the aroma drifted through the neighborhood, and so after several Fridays of this happening, the Catholics sent over a delegation and said, ‘You have moved into a Roman Catholic neighborhood, and you need to convert, and you need to become a Roman Catholic yourself, and then we won't have this conflict.’ And so, lo and behold, he did. He took the catechism and he went to the Catholic church and the priest got some holy water and sprinkled it on him and he said, ‘You were born a Protestant, you were raised a Protestant, and now you're a Catholic.’
“Well the next Friday, the converted Catholic came out, got his barbecue, fired it up, and on there he put a steak. A juicy, big steak, and started it up, and the aroma began drifting through the neighborhood, and the Catholics were very upset. Here's this new convert to Catholicism, and he's not living up to what he believes, and so they all came over in one mass delegation, and before they could talk with Him, as they approached, they could see him sprinkling water upon this steak. ‘You were born a steer, you were raised a steer, and now you're a fish.’” Well, been born again. Born-again.
Is this what being born again really means? Do you really know, yourself? Have you experienced the new birth yourself? I hope you have. Being born in a hospital is not enough. Once you get old enough you need to do it again.
And this is recorded in the Bible, and I would like for you to go in your Bible to John the third chapter, and notice John 3, verse 3. Jesus spoke to Nicodemus at night, and notice what He said. "Jesus saith unto him, ‘Verily, verily I say unto thee. Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’" You must be born again. Verse four. "Nicodemus saith unto Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?’ And Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily I say unto thee. Except a man be born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not at this that I say unto you, you must be born again.’" And so we must be born again. This is a command of Jesus Christ. An absolute necessity that is listed here in the Scriptures.
Now, what is Jesus talking about? I want you to notice. He's not talking about church membership. Not church membership at all. Jesus’ new birth is when your spiritual life is born from on high. When you’re born-again from the Holy Spirit. From the water of life, and from God Himself. Look at Second Corinthians in your Bible. Come over here to Second Corinthians, chapter 5. I hope you have your Bibles with you. I love preaching from the Word. Second Corinthians, chapter 5 and verse 17. It says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come." You’re a new creation if you are in Christ. You must be in Christ and Christ in you, of course, and so the new birth is when you are infused into Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is infused into you, and you therefore become a new creature.
Look at Second Peter, chapter 1 in your Bible. You are given a new nature. Second, Peter, chapter 1, and verse 4, and I want to read this according to the New King James version of the Bible. It says, "By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." That's how we become a new person, and so we need to be new people. We have a new power. Look at First John, just a couple pages more in your Bible. First John, chapter 3 and verse 9. "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him, and he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God." So we need to be born of God, don't we? And we can be, and then we will have power for a victorious Christian life.
So why should we be born again? Well first of all, because Jesus commands it. Jesus says in John 3, verse 3, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he’s born again,” and in verse five, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he’s born of water and of the spirit.”
In the postseason playoff games, there was a baseball team that found itself batting at the bottom of the ninth inning, and it was tied, 5 to 5. So here was their chance, their opportunity. The batter stepped up to the box, up to the plate, and the count was 2 and 2. The fifth pitch, the hopeful batter connected. He could feel it in his bat. He knew he had hit the ball well. He hit it with his strength and he knew that ball was going somewhere. And sure enough, it went way out clear to the edge of the fence, bounced against the fence and the fielder finally scooped it out of the grass. Well the batter ran for all he was worth. He came to second and looked at the third base coach, and he was waving him on so he ran and he was told to run for home and he ran as fast as he possibly could. He slid into home, and about that time the catcher caught the ball and immediately the ump said "You're out!" Well there became a lot of confusion. A lot of people siding with the runner. A lot of people siding with the ump, and people were booing, people were cheering, and the umps all got together and they had a powwow, or whatever you call it, and they decided their decision. And the plate umpire spoke, and he said the runner is out. Not because he was tagged at home, but because he never touched first base.
Now I would submit to you that a lot of Christians are like that. We've never touched first base. Do you know what I mean by this? You've never been born again. Unless you're born-again, you've never touched first base and you're out. If you were born in a hospital, that's great. That gives you an opportunity to experience the spiritual new birth, but until you do that, you're out. You're never going to make it.
John Bunyan said, "An egg is no chick by dropping from the hen, nor a man a Christian till he's born again." You must be born again, to experience a brand-new life. You'll never do it on your own. You've got to be born again to fulfill God's purpose for your life.
Nicodemus was a very fine man, a good man, but he needed to be born again. Being good is not enough. The rich young ruler of Luke 18, he was a fine young man. He was rich, he was young, he was a ruler, he had everything going for him, but he needed more. And to Nicodemus, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Jesus does not want good people in His kingdom. He wants born-again people, who are empowered with a new nature, who live a victorious life. Just being good is not enough.
So number 3. The third question. How does the new birth take place? Well, God has a part, and you have a part. God's part, come over here to Titus in your Bible, chapter 3, right before the book of Hebrews, sort of. Philemon, and then Titus. Chapter 3, and verse 4. "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done." You see, living a good life won't save you. Not because of the things you have done that are righteous, “but because of His mercy, He saved us through the” what? “Through the washing of rebirth.” You've got to be born again, and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. We had a beautiful communion here last night. We washed our feet. We sang Christmas carols. It was just; the main part of the church here was full. I was so thrilled. What a beautiful experience we had. And we prayed for the new birth, and I want you to have that new birth. God has a part in that. He'll provide it, and you have a part in that. What is your part?
Well come over here to Colossians, chapter 3, and verse 9. Colossians 3, and verse 9. And I'll read this according to the New Living Translation of the Bible. It says, inferring that it's you, it says, "Strip off your old evil nature and all the wicked deeds." You need to give up the old nature. You need to give up, you need to repent, you need to give those things to Jesus. And then verse 10. "In its place, you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature." He will give it to you, and you need to put it on. You need to clothe yourself with it. “That is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.” So you need to accept it. You need to clothe yourself with it. Ephesians, chapter 4, and verse 22. It says, "Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires." And verse 23. "To be made new in the attitude of your mind." So let me tell you where the new birth happens. Don't miss this. The new birth happens between your ears. That's where it happens, is in your mind. You will never be born again until your mind is changed. You must change your thinking.
I like that new book by Sister White, the new devotional book for 2009. It tells all about the inward experience and the change of your mind. So you need to change your mind. The newness begins in your mind, and God will change your thoughts for you. By changing what you think about all the time, it’ll affect your whole life. You need to think on heavenly things. Dwell on heavenly things. Instead of thinking about the world, think about Jesus. We need to have control of the screen on our Internet. We need to have control of the magazines that enter our homes. We need to dwell on heavenly things.
Number 2. We need to believe in Jesus. John chapter 1 and verse 12. John 1, and verse 12 says, "But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become the children of God." Verse 13. "They are reborn." This is not a physical birth resulting from a human passion or a plan. This rebirth comes from God. That's where we get it. So you need to believe in Jesus and accept Jesus as your Savior. James 1, verse 18. "He chose to give us birth through the Word." The word of truth. You are reborn through Jesus. He is the Word of Life, and so to acquire this fresh, pristine life that you want, this holy life that you can’t live on your own, you need the power of Jesus Christ in your life. Now First Peter chapter 1, I want to read you verse 23. First Peter 1:23. "For you have been born again. Your new life did not come from your earthly parents, because the life they gave you will end in death, but this new life will last for ever, because it comes from the eternal living Word of God."
Now let me ask you a question. How many times have you been born? Well, you say, "Well, I've been born twice, because I'm a Christian." If you answer ‘Once’, then you’re lost. Right? You're dead. You're spiritually dead. If you answer ‘Twice’, then you could be spiritually alive or you could be spiritually dead. Now I don't want you to tell me that you are born again in 1982 or 1973 or in 2003. I don't want to hear that. Maybe that's the first time you were born again, but how often should we be born again? Paul said, “I die,” how often? “I die daily.” Now, I submit to you that if you die today, you need to be born to live tomorrow. So you need to be born again as many times as you die, and how often are we supposed to die? Daily. So how often should we experience the new birth? Daily. Not in 1973. Not in 1950, or whenever. Daily, you need to experience this experience. Every day. Yesterday, today and tomorrow you need to experience the new birth. A seasoned saint could theoretically have been born again 30 thousand times.
When I woke up this morning, my alarm went off. It always goes off too early. It went off, and I shut it off and immediately folded my hands and started praying cause I want my first thoughts to be of heaven. I want the first thing that I do in the day, besides shutting off the alarm, to be prayer. Don't you? I do that. Everyday I try to do that.
Let's suppose that you have never given your heart to Jesus. If so, then you are like an unborn fetus. In that fluid, amniotic? Is that right? You're in that fluid. You're comfortable in there. You don't have any bills to pay. You don't desire to be born. It's nice in there. It's kind of quiet. You never get in an argument with anybody. You never have acid reflux. You never have any problems of any kind. But that's not what you were created for. You must be separated from the old existence, and the exit signal, I should probably talk with Darryl Ford about this, but the exit signal, I suppose, comes from the baby, doesn't it? You’ll have to wise me up sometime. The baby says I'm ready, and so everything begins to happen, and then the baby is born. You've got to desire something from in you, and every birth is new, of course. I don't think of any births that would not be new. And you want to move outside of the old existence, the old life must be entirely abandoned.
When a little baby is born, it must be one of the most terrible things that happens in the whole world, because instantly they experience cold. You know how it is when you got out of the shower this morning and you stepped out. It’s cold. Steven, when he was baptized this morning, he was cold. It's cold. And it's noisy out here, outside of the womb. It's not good out here, and every baby that I've ever seen that’s born or that I hear about, cries. It's a painful, suffering experience. Every baby,
And you know, the successful Christian life requires some pain to be born. The born again experience is not easy. It requires hard, stern battles with self to maintain what you want to do. It's a daily effort, and I think today, so many so-called Christians are still submerged in the amniotic fluid. They've never found real life. The new birth is the genesis event of your life. You want to experience it and it elevates you to an entirely higher realm. A baby that's unborn doesn't even have the driver’s license. They never experience the thrill of driving.
Number 4. The fourth question. What are the results of the new birth? Well, you have a new self. You were created to be like God. Ephesians 4:24. “You will grow into the image of God.” You'll have more victory over sin. You're not a baby anymore. Not a baby anymore. And First John 5, verse 4. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world.” You need to be born again. Dr. Brown would say the new birth is a great thing. He's delivered, I don't know how many babies, probably a hundred or 2 hundred. I have no idea. But every one of us has to be born again. You’ll experience righteous living. First John 2:29. “Everybody who does what is right will be born of Him.” You'll be loving, if you're born again. You may be married to a hateful spouse, or whatever. Being born again changes you. First John 4, verse 7. “Everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God.” And if you're not twice born, it probably would've been better to be stillborn, although I think an atheist probably has fun, but there's no future to it.
Soon after Augustine's conversion; Augustine became a Christian, he became a born-again Christian, he was walking down the street in Milan, and he passed a lady that he had once known. She was a prostitute, and he knew her very well. And she called out and said, "Augustine." And he ignored her. And she called out again. She said, "Augustine, it is I." And he replied, without even looking at her, and he said, "But it is no longer I." A brand-new person he was. No longer the same old way. You can be brand-new. You can experience that every day. Galatians, chapter 5 and verse 16. "Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
I think of George Foreman, the heavyweight champion. Boxing. One day George Foreman had just finished a fight in San Juan with Jimmy Young. Remember the Jimmy Young fight? A famous fight. He said, “I felt my head with my hands, and I brought them down and they were covered with blood. Then I looked at my feet, and my feet were covered with blood, and at that instant I became born-again. I realized that these are the same areas that Jesus bled for me. He bled from His head. He bled from His hands, and his feet.” And so he said, “Right there, I gave my heart to Jesus. At that moment,” George Foreman said, “I died. And I died for God, and I got a new life. I was a new person. I became like a small trusting baby,” and he said, "now, I read the Bible all the time. I understand the Bible. I want to explain the Bible to other people so that they, like me, can know the truth." He was changed. He was born again. That's great. We need to experience that.
John, chapter 12 and verse 24 says, “I tell you the truth. Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed, but if it dies it will produce many seeds." How many of you had a garden this past summer? Let me see your hands. I think it was a few more at first church. Second church people, you need to plant a garden this summer. Until you plant that seed in the ground and it dies, it will never produce a lot of fruit. It just won't do it.
We also need to die to the old life. We need to be raised to a new life. You know, you can't be born when you're still alive. You can't be born. You have to die before you can be born spiritually, and only then will you experience the new life.
The Red Cross was collecting supplies for medicine and clothing for the suffering in Biafra. Remember that? It's not even a nation anymore, but they were getting supplies together and they received a box with a card in it, and the card said, “We have recently been converted and because of our conversion we want to try to help. We won't ever need these things again. Hope you can use them.” And you know, what was in the box? Sheets. White sheets, with 3 letters written on each sheet. K. K. K The Ku Klux Klan. We're not going to need these anymore because we are born-again Christians. It changes you. It changes your whole life. You're never the same again. And the Red Cross took those sheets, and they cut them into strips and they used those sheets in Biafra. They used them to bandage the wounds of black people in Africa that were hurting, and those sheets went from being symbols of hatred to being symbols of love, and that's what the new birth does. It changes your entire life. We need the new birth. You'll be a far better husband, Sir. You'll be a far better wife, Ma’am. You'll be changed. Your kids’ll be changed.
If you've never been born again, you're lost. You're dead in your sins. You're dead to God. You're dead to spiritual things. Maybe you were born a sinner. Maybe you were raised a sinner. But if you're born again, you will be changed. You will become a new creature. Sin maybe has been your master. Maybe you're hung up in these evil habits or somehow sin has got a hold in your life. You can break free from that by being born again. Leave sin. Choose a new Master.
I'm going to make a call at this time. You may have given your life to Jesus this morning, just like I did. Well you can’t do it too many times. I would like to call you to stand, if it is within your heart, if you would like to give your life to Jesus Christ, give it fully to Him, and to experience the rebirth, or just recommit your life to Him. Would you stand at this time please? I hope that in the fireside room, I hope here, all the areas of the Church, that you are standing. Up in the audiovisual booth, standing. Let’s bow our heads together.
Dear father in heaven. I thank you so much for the privilege that is ours of being born again and I pray that each of these individuals that have stood, and maybe some haven’t, but I pray that we would experience the new birth. Maybe some are not able to stand. Please send your Holy Spirit into our lives and our hearts and may Jesus indeed be alive in us. May we have the blessed assurance that Jesus is our Savior. So help us to this end and help us to always stay new and to never revert back to being a fetus or to die, and we pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Please be seated. We're going to sing our closing hymn, and I want you to realize that what you just did, you gave your heart to Jesus, and you are a changed person. Go home and maintain that. Let's sing our closing hymn, Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.
Now before I pray, I want to give you a warning, and the warning is this. You can lose the new birth. I’ve heard it said by those who say, ‘Once saved, always saved.’. No doctor ever warned you about being unborn, but every doctor does warn you about getting sick and dying. It can happen. Don’t let your spiritual life die. Stay close to Jesus. Let us pray.
Hymn of Praise: #122, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing Scripture: John 3:3-7 Hymn of Response: #462, Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 12/15/08