Unconverted and Unconcerned
“The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 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. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:2–4 KJV)
Nicodemas came to Jesus by night, perhaps, to ask some questions. Many people today are asking questions like, “Why is there so much evil in the world?” or “Why are so-called Evangelical ministries compromising on homosexuality?” “Why are Christian ministers more afraid of holiness than sinfulness?” Nevertheless, our generation must insert itself into this passage in John 3:2-4 in order to understand what is happening in our times.
Jesus, knowing the thoughts of all men cut to the very heart of Nicodemas’ lack in understanding. No need for Jesus to answer a hundred questions and the man end up as confused as ever or even arguing the finer points. 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. Jesus is saying that until a person is Born of the Spirit, they have no perceptive and reasoning capacity- nor experience in the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. There can be no aliens in the Kingdom of God; one is either Born Again or they are not a partaker of it. To try to explain the principals of the Kingdom of God to the unregenerate is to speak gibberish to them. However, this reality changes the moment a person is Born of the Spirit.
Blind to the Main Thing
It is shocking to hear the Lord asked Nicodemas, Are you a teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things? Jesus reveals the main problem with mankind as a sort of “master key” to all relevant subjects, and yet dear Nicodemas did not have a clue. He was a teacher but did not have a grasp of the very subject he was teaching. I recall how one of my son’s math teachers in High School was a genius and had such a grasp of the subject that he did not need or use the text book to teach. He could explain the subject to even the most difficult students so that they could grasp the concepts. This is what happens when the teacher actually understands what they are teaching. Nicodemas was a teacher in Israel and did not know the main subject.
I don’t believe the Lord was angry that he did not know, maybe disappointed. Nevertheless, the Lord suggests that Nicodemas should have known. It would almost be like a doctor not knowing something as basic as CPR or that a person needs food and water to live. New birth is as basic to Christianity as it gets; however, like Nicodemas, many teachers and ministers simply do not understand. Multitudes of Christians have never been told “you must be born again” from a person that actually understood the statement. It became cliche between the 50s and 80s until everyone that “started to church” and “agreed with basic evangelical doctrine” was considered a “born again Christian.” This fact has muddied the waters to the point that only a miracle of God’s grace will once again bring clarity to the subject.
Born of the Flesh
Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:7-10 NKJV)
There are two categories of people in the world: they who are of their father the Devil and they who are of their Father in Heaven. It is a hard saying, but we have to come to reality. We are all born into this world in a sinful, selfish-state. This selfishness manifests first as rebellion against authority, and later as full-on rebellion against God (usually about the time a person becomes a teenager). People generally spend their whole lives doing things that they know are wrong (we call it sin) – resisting every dealing of God and conscience. When the person knows they are doing wrong, they just push on through the uneasiness. This hardens the person into a sinful, calloused person who needs a whole lot more than a new years resolution or a makeover. They need new birth.
As a consequence of the fall of man, we are all born “in Adam” by first birth. That is, we are born “in the flesh” and “of the flesh.” God is bringing many sons unto glory, but to accomplish this we have to be reborn of the Spirit. Perhaps you are asking now as Nicodemas, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? This is where modern evangelistic practice proves itself to be in a spirit of Nicodemas that has taught many things without understanding what they were teaching.I suggest, this is why we are losing Christianity.
Nobody knows better than God that people must individually be born again. Nobody knows better than God that man is totally helpless to accomplish this by himself. The principal of New Testament scripture is that God knows what we need and desires to give more than we desire to receive. God does not pass out stones where He knows we need bread, etc. So we need not stress on the thought that God is somehow up in heaven playing games with people telling them they must have something – and then refusing to provide it. The question is not on God’s end – it is on man’s end. Paul asked the great question, “How shall they hear without a preacher?”
In the last 120 years the goal of preaching changed from getting folks genuinely born again, to convincing them to pray a little prayer and start to attend church. I trace the history of this fact in my latest book Televangelicalism. When the evangelist does not know the purpose for which he is preaching, how could he possibly achieve the goal? Moreover, if he downplays the necessity of being born again, because everyone else is doing it, how long will it be until absolutely nobody is being born again? If Jesus says, “you must be born again” how dare a man come along and undermine the emphatic nature of the fact. The problem over the last 120 years has been than men got bolder in repackaging the words of Jesus until it has made the word of God of no effect. You must be born again is a stand alone fact. How we get to that reality can be discussed, but it is an absolute truth that we cannot side step. it is a necessary process that cannot be substituted or circumvented.
Unconverted and Unconcerned
If ten generations of preachers in a row decided to follow the popular trends until few now live that still believe in regeneration (New Birth), it is the responsibility of those who rediscover the discarded truth to begin studying and preaching it. More importantly, they must know with certainty that they are in fact born again. Take John Wesley for an example. He began preaching at a young age having been raised to know God and his word from his mother Suzanna’s knee. It was finally at the age of 35 (thirty-five), on board a storm tossed ship on the Atlantic that he finally realized that he was not truly regenerated. What a shocking revelation! He had never truly placed his faith and trust in Christ. He was raised in church and even preached. He had strict codes of living, but he was not truly changed. Converted at 35 he preached for 53 years and died at 88. However, he had had 88 years of teaching with 35 years of them in an un-reborn state.
Likewise many today are in the same boat. They have been in church all their lives, but cannot tell of a time when they truly surrendered to God, repented of their sin, and placed their 100% faith in Christ alone for salvation. Many have a “learned faith” in which they figured out how to do it and because they can imitate Christian conduct they believe they are one. How about it? Have you ever come to a place in your life where you realized you were not really born again? Can you remember a time when you were in anguish for your sinful condition and cried out to God to change you? We mustn’t fool ourselves. Are you concerned that you have not really been born again or are you trusting in the powerless words of a well intended, but incompetent evangelist who told you to pray a prayer and you will be born again? The first step is to be concerned. Take yourself to the night where Nicodemas came to Jesus and let God lead you to truth from there.