Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Listen to the dismay in the voice of Nicodemus. Jesus’ words caught him so off guard. Nicodemus had thought of himself as an “insider” since he was a child. He’d done all the right things, memorized all the right verses, lived a starched and pressed life beside his friends who’d kept him in check all those years. He had given of his possessions, said his prayers, fasted weekly. He had nothing but check marks on his spiritual “To-Do” list then Jesus messes it up! He gives him something that he can’t do for himself. “How can someone be born when they are old”? Literally that won’t work! I’m listening Jesus. How does someone enter the kingdom?
Jesus’ answer was so far from keeping the law, doing the work, repeating the process – to be born of the Spirit. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” That makes intellectual sense, but how does it happen? “The wind blows wherever it pleases.”
Is it possible for anyone to come into relationship with God apart from the Holy Spirit’s prior work in their life?
Titus 3:5 says that “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 says that “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all
things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”
Why is it impossible to find God without the Spirit’s help in our lives?
Can we pray for the Holy Spirit to speak and work in others’ lives? (Luke 11:11-13)
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, …
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.