Sunday, January 2
- Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
- 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
- Victory In Jesus
- Title: Spirit of Regeneration: How Are We Born Again?Text: John 3:1-8One of the greatest and most beautiful truths of the work of God is the often the most misunderstood. Specifically, what does it mean—and how does it happen—that we are born again?We usually look at the question from the human perspective. A preacher preaches. A hearer believes. God saves.This is true.However, is it possible that we can look at the event of salvation from a divine perspective? What does salvation look like from the angle of Heaven?This is where the Holy Spirit comes in.If we miss the work of the Holy Spirit in the process of a person being born again, we will miss a beautiful truth.The goal of this sermon—and really of this whole series—is to encourage us to be more aware of the Holy Spirit who renews our hearts and strengthens our failing faith. He rekindles our love for Christ daily. He deepens our faith in God.If we have an inadequate view of the Holy Spirit, we will have an inadequate view of the Christian faith.We will have an inadequate view of how we came to the Christian faith.Now—let me say at the outset—just to get the question out of the way for some of you who may be wondering where I am going.I do not believe that there are an elect few or a just a small number who have been predestined to salvation. I believe that this teaching is a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually says.Let me say clearly, salvation is not reserved for a select few that God has chosen. His salvation is free to everyone who hears and responds in faith.But I do believe that the Bible clearly teaches that a person is born again only because the Holy Spirit has convicted them of their sin, shown them the beauty of the Cross, and then transformed their heart when they have placed their faith in the beautifully horrendous event of Jesus’s crucifixion.No one—under their natural mind—would be able to say that a crucifixion is beautiful. Indeed, it is the most horrendous death that any one could imagine.It is not a neat and tidy death. It is bloody. Torturous. Shameful.But it is the Spirit that opens our minds to see that it was upon the Cross that our salvation was wrought.Apart from the work of the Spirit in our lives, we have no capacity to see what Jesus Christ has accomplished on the Cross.The Cross defies reason. It does not make sense. We would never plan to do things this way and we would never understand that God has done things this way if the Spirit did not show us.1 Corinthians 1:18 (CSB): For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.In John 3, Jesus shows us the magnificence of the Spirit to give us salvation. It is this text that teaches us the phrase “born again.”The Bible not only uses the term “born again.” It also uses the term “regeneration.”To “generate” something means to “give it life.”When your electricity goes out, you might get a generator in order to give life to your house for light.In salvation, the Spirit is regenerating us; He is giving us new life.Titus 3:4–7 (CSB): 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 5 he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.Ephesians 2:3–5 (CSB): 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!The great miracle is that God would look upon sinners such as ourselves. That He would, first, send His Son to make atonement for our sins. And second, send the Spirit to give us new life when we have trusted in the Son.Salvation—regeneration—is a miracle of God from beginning to end.This morning we are going to look at John 3 and see how the Spirit operates in regard to our salvation. How He gives us new life. How He regenerates us.Read John 3:1-8First, The Spirit performs the impossible.The reason that Nicodemus was dumbfounded was because the words of Jesus did not make sense. They defied human reason.When Nicodemus asked what must a man do to see heaven, Jesus’s words “a man must be born again” tested what Nicodemus understood about life.Nicodemus said, “can a man be born again when he is old?”Jesus sort of explained:“Unless someone is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.”To be born of water is a reference to our physical birth. Jesus shows us that when He alternates born of water (5) with born of Spirit (6).So to be able to enter the Kingdom, one must experience a rebirth that is accomplished by the Spirit of God.The same Spirit who was hovering over the waters in Genesis 1:2 in order to accomplish the impossible task of Creation is now hovering over individuals in order to accomplish the impossible task of regeneration: giving new life.This is impossible! But He does it.You may have someone in your life that wish the Lord would change. Someone that seems an impossibly hard case.You may be praying for them. You may be witnessing to them. And you may be giving up hope.But the Spirit can accomplish the impossible.Or maybe your—yourself—are the hard case. “If I walk into the church the roof is going to cave in. There’s no hope for me. I am just hardened by life.”The Spirit of God can change you, too, if you will ask Him.Second, The Spirit works in unseen waysThe lesson about the Spirit is that He accomplishes the impossible task of changing heart—giving people new lives.Now we see that the Spirit works in unseen ways. You can’t know where He is at work.Jesus goes on to say that the Spirit is like the wind. The wind blows where it pleases. You can hear it. You can see its effects as it kicks up dust.You may be able to see the effects of the Spirit. But you can’t always where He is at work.He often works in unexpected places.I want to introduce you to Seni. [slide].Seni is a Burknabi in West Africa.Though he considered himself a Christian for a long time, he says that he was a lackadaisical Christian at best.Then, one day, the Holy Spirit began to do a new work in Seni’s life.The area where he lives is largely illiterate. So, rather than giving out Bibles or tracts, Christians have to explain the Bible using a method called “storying.”This is where the witness takes the stories of the Bible and they simply tell the story.From there, the Spirit of God and the Word of God accomplish the rest as the power of the Gospel begins to change hearts.One day Seni was telling the story of the Bible to a large group of people as many began to respond.Seni was overcome when he realized that one of those who responded was the Muslim leader of that region.What made it even more exciting for Seni was that—not only the respondent the Muslim leader—he was Seni’s own father.Now revival has broken out in that area and there is a church of over 2,000 people in the Muslim stronghold.Impossible! But the Holy Spirit accomplishes the impossible.Third, The Spirit is sovereign.Not only does the Spirit accomplish the impossible and the Spirit work in unseen ways. But the Spirit is sovereign. He will not be stopped.Continuing to compare the Spirit to the wind, Jesus says that the Spirit blows where He pleases.He cannot be stopped.The Spirit is always at work around us. His work cannot be stopped.He uses individuals who desire to be used by Him.He uses churches who desire to be used by Him.Churches are not struggling today because the culture opposes them. Churches are struggling today because they are not seeking to accomplish and participate in the will of the Spirit.If you try to work with man’s strength, then you accomplish what man’s strength can accomplish.But if you work with the strength of the Spirit, then you accomplish what God can accomplish.We see churches struggling today because they have no desire to let the Spirit of God carry them.They are more concerned with music styles and personality conflicts and political upheavals and cultural debates than they are with the Gospel.It’s no wonder we see churches have so little impact on those around us.We can be more concerned about what we are having for lunch than we are for whether or not we have feasted upon God’s Word.We spend more time preparing to watch the Cowboys play than we do preparing to go to worship.There is only one hope for churches today. That Hope is that the Spirit of God will begin to do a new work.That is my prayer for GracePointe.With that in mind, next week, I am going to ask us to meet here at the church at 5:00 over the next few Sundays.We are going to do nothing but pray.But this time of prayer is going to be very specific.We are not going to be focused on praying for those who are sick. Or those who have financial needs. Or relationships that have been severed.All of these are worthy things to pray about.But we are going to pray for something more needed. We are going to pray for the Spirit of God to move at GracePointe Church. To revitalize us.Next week, we will focus our time of prayer on the attributes of God. And how those attributes mean that God is sufficient to accomplish to accomplish what He desires.I hope that you will join me. The hope of all of our churches is that the Spirit of God will once again blow upon us, convict us of our sin and negligence, revive our hearts, and do a new work among us.ConclusionIt is possible that the Spirit is blowing in your life today.One man said that we must “hoist our sails so that they catch the wind of the Spirit of God.”What is God calling you to today?If you are beginning wonder about Jesus Christ and whether you should commit to Him, that is the Spirit. He is showing you that the death of Jesus Christ upon the Cross was for your salvation.If you are feeling convicted for some act of sin that you’ve committed, that could be the Spirit.If you know that there is some decision that you need to make—baptism, church membership, commitment to a place of service—that may be the Spirit at work in your life.What should you do? Respond to Him with obedience.Let’s have a time of prayer:
- How Great Thou Art
- Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
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