Let us then enquire into the nature of the change intended in our text - notice some of its evidences - and consider its necessity.
In general, it is that change in which sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, are made alive to God. He who was once darkness is now made light in the Lord, and he who was born a child of wrath now becomes a Child of God, and heir of the kingdom of heaven. It is a change which brings him into a new world, a new state of existence, and gives him a new capacity for action.
1. It is a divine and supernatural change, by the agency of the Holy Spirit.
2. It is an instantaneous change and herein it differs from sanctification, which is a progressive work.
3. It is an internal and invisible change, yet may be known by its effects.
4. The change is universal, extending to the heart and life.
5. It is an abiding change.
1. Those who are born again ‘do not commit sin; yea, they cannot sin, because they are born of God’ (3:9, 5:18).
2. They have ‘overcome the world’ - its frowns and smiles, hopes and fears (5:4)
3. They have a sincere love to all the saints; for ‘everyone that loveth is born of God’ (4:7).
4. All their hope if salvation is founded on the mediation of Christ. ‘Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God’ (5:1).
5. Their walk and conversation is holy and exemplary. ‘Every one that doeth righteousness is born of God’ (2:29).
Nicodemus seemed to marvel at this doctrine, as if it were liable to great objections; supposing it to be new and strange, and altogether impracticable and absurd. Thus ignorant was this master in Israel of one of the first principles of the oracles of God. Let us also beware that we do not stumble at this stumbling stone. We must be born again.
1. Do not marvel at it as if the doctrine were new and strange.
2. Marvel not as if the doctrine were unintelligible.
3. Do not consider this new birth to be impossible.
4. Marvel not at this change as if it were unnecessary.
1. What has been said upon the subject may convince us of the evil of sin, and its baneful effects upon mankind.
2. Let us not rest satisfied in anything less than this entire renovation. Arise and call upon thy God! Pray for the teachings and influences of his Spirit, to show thee the way of life, and to guide thee in it. Pray that he would wound thee deeply, and heal thee thoroughly.
3. The less marvellous it is that we must be born again, the more surprising it is that we should be less about it.
Nor rites that God has giv'n
Nor will of man, nor blood, nor birth
Can raise a soul to heav'n.
The sov'reign will of God alone
Prepares the heirs of grace
Born in the image of his Son
A new, peculiar race.
The Spirit, like some heav'nly wind,
Blows on the sons of flesh,
Renews the spirit of the mind
And forms the man afresh.
Our quickened souls awake and rise
From the long sleep of death
On heav'nly things we fix our eyes
And praise employs our breath.