The Birther from The Preposterous God

Chapter 11

The new birth, born from above, conversion, salvation, redemption, reconciliation—all are synonyms, and all are brought into being by the Birther, the Creator God. 

It must be so; we simply cannot birth ourselves. 

None of us birthed ourselves physically. And this is the point Jesus makes in the third chapter of John, which we examine below. We know we did not physically birth ourselves and so it is with the new birth. This is perhaps the most difficult fact that humankind has ever been faced with. Why? Because we are convinced we have to save ourselves. 

The greatest story ever told 

Now a look back to the early days of Jesus’ ministry. A distinguished and mature leader of Israel named Nicodemus approached Jesus at night. He said to the young man, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). 

Jesus performed many miracles, and this did not go unnoticed by the religious leaders in Jerusalem. “What does this mean?” must have been on their minds. Could it be that this young fellow from Nazareth is someone to be reckoned with? 

Whether Nicodemus came to Jesus on the sly or as an emissary from other members of the Council of Israel, the Sanhedrin, is unknown. He started with what might be referred to as flattery. Jesus stunned the learned rabbi by stating, “I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). 

Nicodemus said nothing that might have inspired Jesus to say what He did. Though Nicodemus might have been looking for information, Jesus aimed straight at his heart, because He knew his heart. 

Nicodemus immediately stated the impossibility of being born a second time; no going back to the mother’s womb. Jesus followed up with the fact that no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born again, not even an esteemed and righteous man. Jesus cautioned Nicodemus not to be shaken by what He said and further explained that the new birth can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit. 

It is necessary to know, if we are to understand the next thing Jesus said, that the Greek word for spirit is the same word used for wind and breath. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (v. 3:8).1 The translation “wind” is used due to the idea of wind blowing, a sound that can often be heard, and the same can be said of the Spirit of God (see Acts 2:1–4). 

1 The word in John 3:8 translated “wind” is the Greek word pneuma. It is the same word “spirit” as in Holy Spirit. 2 

What did Nicodemus hear? Jesus told him that all his wonderful righteousness could not open his eyes to see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was actually looking at the King of the kingdom of God. No, Nicodemus would have to be birthed into that kingdom. 

At the conclusion of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, as related by the Apostle John, Jesus says to Him: 

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:14-16) 

What Nicodemus was looking for was standing right in front of him. His heart’s desire, like that of all people, was to know the Creator God and live for eternity. Nicodemus was at a stage in his life when he knew that all the other enticements his decadent culture meant next to nothing. 

Jesus’ words echoed and affirmed by the Apostle Peter. In the first letter attributed to Peter is this: 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5) 

Peter knew birthing by the Holy Spirit, who alone brings salvation, is a gift of mercy and grace, accomplished by God alone. He is the Birther. 

A new creation 

Those born again, born anew, or born from above (these are synonyms) are, in Paul’s lexicon, a new creation. He said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

A new creation, a new race, a new people—are those birthed through the working of the Holy Spirit who reveals to us our sinful nature and the Savior, all for the purpose of preparing us to be re-birthed. 

Always and forever unimaginable 

Saved by grace reigns as the very most preposterous concept. And why? We simply cannot come to grips with the fact that we cannot earn the favor of God is some manner. In our attempts to do so we must lapse into some form of agnosticism or atheism. I have often said that if I were not a Christian I would certainly be an atheist. 

All the religions of the world save Christianity provides paths, ways, means, or  directions that a human can pursue to obtain some ultimate goal. Herein are the counterfeit means of salvation, which lead to nothing more than deception and hopelessness. To be saved, redeemed, converted, born again—is something only the Holy Spirit of God can do. 

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