Peter Barnes: You Must Be Born Again, John 3:1-8 (7 June 2020 Evening Service, 6.00 p.m.)
Spiritual rebirth by the Holy Spirit is needed for sinners to trust Christ.
1. We can be religious without being reborn.
– 3:1-2. Nicodemus is a strict and earnest Pharisee, one of the 71 members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of Judaism, ‘the teacher of Israel’ (3:10). Strangely enough, he has a Greek name.
– he is respectful and humble, and calls an unqualified carpenter ‘Rabbi’. He comes at night,
for uninterrupted conversation, or out of fear of what people will think (John 12:42; 19:38-39).
2. We must be born of water and the Spirit.
– 3:3. Eternal life and the kingdom of God are two ways of referring to the same thing – Matt.19:16, 24.
‘Born again’ can also be translated as ‘born from above’ (3:4).
– 3:5; water may signify the Spirit (Don Carson, John Calvin; John 4:13-14), or baptism with water and the Spirit
(Martin Luther, also Roman Catholics), or physical birth and spiritual rebirth (Prov.5:15-16).
– 3:6. We are all either in Adam or in Christ. Rom.8:7-8. Calvin: ‘by the term “born again” He means not the amendment of a part but the renewal of the whole nature.’
– five times He speaks of the rebirth (vv.3, 5, 6, 7, 8) and three times He says that this comes about through
the Holy Spirit (vv.5, 6, 8). ‘You (plural) must be born again,’ says verse 7. See 2 Cor.5:17; Gal.6:15.
3. Regeneration is a sovereign work of the Spirit.
– 3:8; inscrutable and sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. See Eccles.11:5 for a comparison with physical birth.