Lesson Number Sixteen
The Second Birth
To be intelligent, kind, and good does not necessarily make a person happy, nor does it secure peace. Millions of people are unhappy and the cause of it is not always understood. A child is born, grows up, then from young adulthood finds that the same continuing problems exist—troubles and strife on every hand. Many do not recognize their purpose in life, don’t know their origin, or their destination, either during life or at the end of it. After an existence of uncertainty, misery, or suffering, one dies. What was the purpose? Yet is there or can there be a reason or purpose for living?
There is only one reason for our existence, and we need to think about this question seriously because our present and future security depends on a right understanding of it. It is of vital importance. If we have inner peace and the hope of a better world, then we will be happy and consider life in a very positive way.
In our present condition it is impossible to inherit the future kingdom of glory. Although many think they are good people, the fact still exists that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). Should we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). What must we do then, in order to qualify as heirs of the world to come? The answer is quite simple, we must fulfil God’s requirements! We must be born again, that is, we must change our way of living to be in perfect harmony with God’s will. This is what we will study about in this lesson.
Why Do We Need a Second Birth?
Many years ago one of the members of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus, came to Jesus one night to talk with Him. Nicodemus had previously heard Jesus’ teachings and had been deeply impressed. His heart was open, desiring to understand truth and the Master promptly gave the answer to all his questions.
“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.” John 3:3.
Then the meaning of the new birth was explained: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:5-7.
To be born of the Spirit means to be regenerated. That is, to detach the affections from the old desires and attach the will and affections to God. Unless this change takes place in the life, one cannot enter the kingdom of God.
When our motives in life do not harmonize with God’s will we are left to stumble along in our own sinful course and finally “. . . the wages of sin is death . . .” Romans 6:23.
The natural human heart is wicked and tends to choose all kinds of sin. Paul describes the condition of those without God:“Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” Romans 1:29-31.
The apostle Paul also explains that no relationship can exist between the carnal minded and the spiritual minded person: “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8.
In the sight of God those who do not obey His word are considered dead. Paul says that they work against God and they are children of wrath, and are therefore spiritually dead. Their plans only take in the short span of an earthly life, and they ignore heaven’s plan for this life and the next.
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Ephesians 2:1-3.
Those who are spiritually dead are insensible. Their conscience is seared, their minds benumbed, and in this state they are unable to comprehend their spiritual needs, nor do they have a desire for a better way of life. Something must be done to resurrect these people from their spiritual death. The answer is the gospel. Only the gospel can revive the spark of life, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” 1 Peter 4:6.
Regeneration is essential, without it sins cannot be forgiven. Note why the sinner must be converted: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out . . .” Acts 3:19.
The sinner must feel his need, plead for the grace of God, and abhor sin. Each person must recognize his sinful condition, repent and demonstrate a desire for a decided change, then they will be accepted by God.
How to Be Converted?
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will impress the sinner of their wrong course. The Spirit speaks to a person in different ways: by the word of God (written or spoken), by the Holy Spirit (via the conscience, circumstances, or daily experience), and through the works of nature. The Spirit convinces people of sin that each might see their true condition.
“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. . . . Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:8, 13.
Once convicted of wrongs done, the sinner can accept the invitation of Christ: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26.
The sinner comes to Christ, then there is something else to do. The will must be enlisted on the Lord’s side; then comes the beginning of the process of the transformation of the life.
The wicked acts previously committed must be abandoned. It is not sufficient to confess sins: one must repent of the deeds and forsake them.
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6, 7.
True repentance means sorrow for sins and a turning away from it. Note the example of David’s confession and repentance: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. . . . Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:1-4, 7.
What Is a New Born Person Like?
The regeneration or transformation of character is compared to a newborn child. Everything is new, full of hope and exciting. The old life of folly is altogether different from this vibrant new life of inner peace. A new journey has begun in an opposite direction, a direction of knowing you are doing God’s will. Paul said: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
A converted person does not seek after things which are of the earth but seeks first of all the kingdom of God. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1, 2.
One result of true conversion is evident in the deeds of a born again man or woman. Actions, words, thoughts, and everything in their life will reveal whether they are a genuine new creature or whether the old sinful person is still alive. It will be obvious that God is directing the new life. “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:21-24.
“If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.” Ezekiel 33:15.
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Romans 6:6, 7.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8.
How happy is the person who is a new creature in Jesus Christ. Such a transformed person is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. New thoughts form the foundation of his mind. New reasoning takes the place of old ways of thinking. The person possesses different feelings, and attitudes. New principles govern the life. Things in which he previously found pleasure he now hates. God’s kingdom is all his pleasure. Before, he delighted to do evil, now he hates it. Formerly there was no pleasure in doing good, but now this is his whole delight. Where time was spent in amusements, games and foolishness; now he loathes the time wasted on these things. Before conversion there was no desire to read the Bible, to sing, to pray, or to attend church, now there is delight in doing all these activities. Things which he loved before he now hates, and things that he hated before he now loves. Everything is changed. Here is a new person. It is so, because Christ dwells in the heart. The proud becomes humble, the drunkard becomes sober, the vicious is pure, the fickle now is sincere, the liar becomes truthful, the frivolous is circumspect.
A person may be the worst of evildoers, sunken in sin, but they can still be saved and made whole. This is the promise: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Isaiah 43:25.
“I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.” Isaiah 44:22.
What Is the Ultimate Reward of Being a Converted Person?
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12.
Just think of it! What a wonderful transformation! A converted person becomes a ransomed son or daughter of God. What an experience! From being a child of wrath one becomes an adopted child of the heavenly Father. To be a son or daughter of God means everything. To be a member of God’s family is the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon any person.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints and of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19.
To be honored as a member of God’s family is the highest honor one can receive. It makes us an heir to a glorious, eternal kingdom.
“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:6, 7.
The inheritance promised to the children of God will be granted at the glorious second coming of Jesus Christ. He will invite the heirs to possess the new earth: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34.
The inheritance of the children of God will be the whole earth made new. They will inherit it throughout eternity.
“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. . . . The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever. . . . The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.” Psalm 37:11, 18, 29.
Quiz For Lesson Number Sixteen
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