1st January 2012

New Birth

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1 John 2:1-2

Christmas is not just about the birth of Jesus. It’s also about new birth for all humanity.

Considering the mess we human beings manage to make of our lives, who wouldn’t want a fresh start? Well, a new beginning, in fact a new birth, is exactly what Jesus came to give us.

Jesus once told a member of the Jewish high council named Nicodemus, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus knew Jesus wasn’t speaking literally, so he asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?… Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4).

Jesus explained: “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit (verse 6). Physical life requires a physical birth. Spiritual life requires a spiritual birth.

This new birth Jesus is describing is God’s gift to us. In John 3:16-18, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

When we are “born of the Spirit” we enter a new life, a life in Jesus. It is a life led by the Holy Spirit and in fellowship with the God the Father. If we trust Christ, we have fellowship with him and the Father. But if we do not trust Jesus, then we “stand condemned”, as John 3:18 puts it, because we haven’t accepted the only rescue that there is—God’s own Son.

First John 2:2 tells us that the atoning and reconciling work has already been done, and it already applies to everybody. That means God already loves you before and apart from your ever believing. But God won’t force the benefits of that atoning work on anyone who doesn’t want them, and a person can’t enjoy salvation if he or she doesn’t want it or doesn’t believe God has given it to them. But God earnestly wants every person to come to faith. Jesus said in John 6:40, “…my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

The Son of God came in the flesh so that we might enter life in the Spirit. Jesus became one of us and took our lives into his so that we can share the joy of his unity and fellowship with the Father. Call it glad tidings of great joy or call it good news. Any way you slice it, it’s the gospel truth.

Prayer
Most holy Father, your plan for us, how you have given us new birth, is unimaginably perfect. We wouldn’t have done it that way, Father, which makes it all the more important that we understand and accept what Christ did/does for us. Help us in our daily quest to understand and know you better. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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