“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,’” John 3:3
Nicodemus was a prominent man, a Pharisee, a ruler among the Jews, and a member of the Sanhedrin. He had credentials and no doubt looked the part. But, he was so sensitive and so protective of his standing in the world that he came to Jesus at night. He was seeking the answer to a nagging question. He wanted to know how to regenerate his stagnant spiritual experience.
Jesus did not hesitate to speak candidly. He said, “Ye must be born again.”
Supposedly mystified, Nicodemus asked, “How?”
Jesus replied, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot
enter into the Kingdom of God.”
When Nicodemus still couldn’t quite comprehend, the Savior told him,
“Marvel not.” In other words, accept it by faith. Experience the new birth. Then you will understand. The revitalization of his spiritual life became his. Nicode- mus got the answer and the results he sought.
Although the Savior told this sincere Pharisee to “marvel not,” it is difficult not to ponder the wonder and the mystery of the new birth.
Nicodemus was thinking of natural birth. Christ was illustrating spiritual rebirth. The figure is apt, for there are similarities. There is quickening in both cases. In spiritual birth there comes a marvelous quickening of conscience, a renewed sensitivity to right and wrong, a new way of living, coming into be- ing. No other experience is remotely like it. This is the miracle of conversion.
Natural birth, as we know it, is wonderful. It is emergence from compressed quiescence. From close confinement in darkness, the tiny creatures come into a colorful world, the yellow sun in an overarching sky, the Earth in its mantle of green, the prospects of growth. So it is with human birth — a new life, a new member of the human race. The newborn baby is a person, a personality, an adult in embryo.
We ponder the deeper significance of this discipline of childbirth: of pain and weariness intermingled with joy and gladness. Its mystery quite eludes us. But, it is never so marvelous as that inner awakening, the mysterious spiritual regeneration by which we come to belong to the eternal world through Jesus Christ the Lord.
Amazing opportunities have been presented to us during the COVID-19 pandemic for the regeneration of thousands of people around us unto ever- lasting life. Multiple virtual evangelistic series have resulted in thousands of people being baptized within the territory of the Southern Union.
God never has, nor will He now, do what we can do — but neglect to do — in the task of giving the Gospel to the world. It is only as we carefully organize and carry out a systematic program of sowing, cultivating, and reaping that we will see the results that we all desire. Evangelism, God’s imperative for re- generation, is the goal to be reached. –RCS
Southern Union | June 2021
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