ADDoration Ministries
Friday, December 15, 2017
God is SO GOOD; although I have ADD.

Spiritual Birth

A SPIRITUAL BIRTH, AS EXPLAINED TO NICODEMUS (INCLUDING JOHN 3:16)

The scriptural text for this page is John 3:1-18. I suggest that you print this page and you have your bible nearby. I prefer NRSV (New Revised Standard Version); however any version bible will do.

"BORN AGAIN"
(SPIRITUAL LIFE VS PHYSICAL LIFE)
 

Instead of words "born again," I prefer "born from above." The King James Version says "born again." Consequently for more than three hundred years "born again" was the standard scripture for English speaking Christians. "Born again" still is riveted into the minds of many Christians. Some modern versions, including New Revised Standard Version, instead say, "born from above."

As a preliminary word of caution, "born again" is probably the most distorted terminology in all Christianity. The crusades of some traveling evangelists have a session on, "How to be born again." Fundamentalists emphasize "born again" very much. And after saying "born again," fundamentalists rightfully continue that you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless you are "born again." Consequently common usage of "born again" has evolved into meaning a strict set of rules that must be obeyed (or else you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven). Many mainline Christians avoid saying that they are "born again;" although they certainly have been "born from above." The mainline Christians avoid saying "born again," because they humbly know that they don't strictly adhere to any set of rules. And many mainline Christians believe that a personal relationship with Jesus is preferable to a set of rules.

"Born from above" better says what "born again" is supposed to mean. A spiritual birth is the true meaning. John 3 makes clear that a spiritual birth is different than physical birth. "From above" clearly says "spiritual."

Now I will go verse by verse of John 3. I hope your Bible is handy.

I start with verse 1. I need to tell you a little about Nicodemus, who was a lead character in John 3. Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was a very experienced leader of the Jews. He was much respected among local Jewish people. Nicodemus had status among the religious people. He knew the Jewish Levitical Law extremely well. What does Leviticus say about such and such, Nicodemus would have an answer. He hyperfocused on Leviticus and other rule book scriptures.

In verse 2, Nicodemus humbled himself to consult Jesus. He traveled by night because he wondered, "What would my Jewish students think if they saw me consulting Jesus?" Nicodemus knew of miracles accomplished by Jesus. The miracles proved that Jesus is not an ordinary person. Nicodemus felt the need to find out why Jesus can accomplish those miracles.

Developments of verses 3-5 overwhelm Nicodemus. Leviticus never says anything like that. Jesus told Nicodemus that first you must be "born again" (read, "born from above"). To Nicodemus that was ludicrous. Hey wait a minute, I once was born decades ago!!! Come on, get serious, how can I go back into Mother's womb to be born a second time!!! That was extremely ridiculous to Nicodemus. Jesus was very serious. What's more, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless you are "born from above."

Jesus knew that Nicodemus had only book knowledge about the Torah. Nicodemus was lacking any spiritual relationship with the Lord. He never had a spiritual birth, until he met Jesus.

Verse 6 begins to tell how different is the spiritual dimension of life. The spirit is different from flesh. When you came out of your mother's womb, that was your flesh birth. But "born from above" means a spiritual birth.

In verse 8, Jesus used an illustration to clarify the spiritual. The wind blows. You see that the wind is causing trees to bend and leaves to sway. You hear the wind. But you can't see the wind. Where is the wind coming from? Where is the wind going? Nothing you see can answer either those two questions. Today's meteorologists can only give vague answers as to where wind is coming from.

Likewise with a person who has been "born from above," observation cannot tell you what is driving him/her spiritually. The spiritual is like the wind, in that you cannot tell where it is coming from. You cannot explain it with anything evident.

Verses 9-13 are more dialog. Nicodemus missed the point of the wind illustration. Nicodemus still incredulously asks, "How can this be." He is a teacher and authority to Jews, but yet he has a problem with the idea of a spiritual birth. Jesus asks Nicodemus, "If you cannot believe this, how will you ever grasp on to anything spiritual?" Verse 13 says that nobody's fleshly body has gone into heaven. We deduce that spiritually people regularly go to heaven.

LEADING UP TO JOHN 3:16 

Before verse 14, I bring up some background in Exodus. Moses had real problems with his calling from God. Moses pleaded with God that he is slow in speech and that people won't believe Moses. God pointed out that Moses was holding a stick. The stick turned into a snake. Later the snake turned back into a stick. If you saw a stick change to a snake and then back to a stick, your attention would be grabbed. For the people Moses led, this stick changing into a snake and changing back into a stick, that was an attention grabbing sign from God that God is acting through Moses in leading the people.

Nicodemus knew very well the story about Moses and the changing stick or snake. He knew, because he was an authority on the Torah.

I now cover punch line verses of 14 through 16. God sent Jesus to us as a sign. That is a sign similar to the snake or stick that was a sign to Moses. Jesus grabbed man's attention, as effectively as the snake or stick grabbed Moses's attention. When we lift up Jesus, it is like Moses lifting up the snake or stick.

Jesus informed Nicodemus, and us too, that we are entitled to this spiritual new dimension, that is sometimes called eternal life. Verse 15 in effect says that you can have this spiritual new dimension, by believing in Jesus. Be patient with yourself, if you cannot this minute say that you believe in Jesus. The belief will come, as you evolve in your spiritual walk.

THE IMMORTAL JOHN 3:16 

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."

Verse 16 is probably the most quoted scripture. God gave us Jesus, his son begotten by the Holy Spirit in Mary. God did this, because he loves us so much. The love is beyond understanding. Praise God, for his love for us. God did this, so that you can have the eternal life, that is a new dimension. This new dimension is in contrast with mortal life, that is perishable. I suggest that you meditate for several minutes.

Verse 17 states that God sent Jesus not to condemn nor judge the world. Many ADD persons have guilt complexes with their poor self-esteem. Meditate on that Jesus did not come to condemn you. Instead Jesus is here to save you.

Verse 18 is about many people who have a problem with any belief in Jesus. When a person cannot believe in the new spiritual dimension, then he is locked into the perishability of mortal life. Especially with an ADD person's poor self-esteem, he/she could be condemned already. That is changeaable, whenever the person has the spiritual birth, to let Jesus be born in his life. Pray that Jesus's love prevail over the poor self-esteem, so that Jesus can be born in you.

MAYBE YOUR SPIRITUAL BIRTH EVOLVES.

I need to get this in -- spiritual birth might take place while a believer evolves over a time period. Your spiritual birth might not be as sudden as Moses's burning bush, nor Paul's Damascus conversion. I had my miracle of sudden sobriety; however I continued to evolve after then. Whether spiritual birth is sudden or evolves, Jesus loves you just as much.

As food for thought, there are those who believe that one pivital moment is your spiritual birth, but any further evolving is additional spiritual improvement. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, believed in one pivital moment of spiritual birth, such as when Wesley's heart was strangely warmed. John Wesley called it Justifying Grace -- the moment of spiritual birth. As for any further evolving, John Wesley called that Sanctifying Grace. From conversion until passing to eternity, Wesley calls that Sanctifying Grace.

HEART CONVERSION IS MOST DESIRED.

A real spiritual birth is a heart conversion. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, he spoke of being born again into a heart conversion -- different from your physical birth from your mother's womb. A web site can only give information toward head knowledge; therefore a web site cannot effectively tell you how to have the heart conversion. How to have a heart conversion, only God can show you how. But a web site CAN encourage you to pray for God to lead you to a heart conversion. Also ask other persons to pray for you (persons whom you admire for their walk with The Lord).

Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

Ezekiel's next chapter is about The Valley of Dry Bones.

TAKE A MEDITATIVE REST.

I have written some heavy stuff. At any rate, Jesus loves you, and that is why God sent us his Son.

<*(((>< your ADD brother in the Risen Christ,
Lester Hemphill
Founder of ADDoration Ministries