After Jesus rose from dead, on the morning of the first day of the week, he appeared to the women and to Peter. Then towards evening, he appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:1,13,29) They returned at once to Jerusalem to report it to the Apostles. ‘While they were taking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you” … ‘Then he opened their minds’ so they could understand the Scriptures.‘ (Luke 24:36-45) Speaking of the same incident, John wrote, ‘On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together … Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you” … And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. (John 20:19-22) How did Jesus open their minds to understand Scriptures? We can infer from the above Scriptures that their minds were opened when they received the Holy Spirit.
The three evidences of rebirth are as follows:–
1. Opened mind – The first evidence of rebirth is therefore an ‘opened mind’. But why should our minds be opened? ‘The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.’ ( 1 Corinthians 2:14) Therefore the Holy Spirit will have to bypass our minds and come into our hearts to take control of our minds. ‘The mind of the sinful man is death but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so … You, however are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.’ (Romans 8:6-9) All the doubts that cloud our minds suddenly disappears and a new understanding dawns. It is said that we don’t surprise God with our questions but He surprises us with his answers and it is true! ‘As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.’ ( 1 John 2:27)
2. Prayerful heart – The second evidence of rebirth is a fervent heart. Soon after the Apostles experienced an opened mind, ‘they all joined together constantly in prayer …’ (Acts 1:14) ‘And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.’ ( Luke 24:53) Although the Apostles had been with Jesus for three and a half years, they were never seen praying but were found sleeping, when he instructed them to pray. “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” … When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them.”Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” The reason they couldn’t pray as Jesus did was because they had not received the Holy Spirit yet. But the moment they received the Holy Spirit, they began to pray earnestly as Jesus did. Suffice to say that anyone who doesn’t have a secret prayer life is not born again. Jesus was often found praying in a solitary place and this was his instruction to his disciples as well: “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then you Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” ( Matthew 6:6) ‘And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.’ ( Ephesians 6:18)
3. Sanctified Body – The third evidence of rebirth is Holiness. ‘No one who is born of God will continue to sin because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God ‘ ( 1 John 3:9) This might seem unrealistic and unattainable to us in this generation but the Apostle Paul taught otherwise and exhorted Titus to teach the same. ‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and wordly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ … These, then are the things you should teach.’ (Titus 2:11-13) The apostle John taught that those who love God will inevitably overcome the world. ‘This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. ( 1 John 5:3-4) The reason why his commands are not burdensome is because we have the means to overcome, which is the Holy Spirit. ‘And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.’ (Romans 8:9) but ‘those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.’ (Galatians 5:24) ‘Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your reasonable act of worship’ (Romans 12:1) and ‘without holiness no one will see the Lord.’ (Hebrews 12:14)
These three evidences are for us to know whether we are born again but others around us might never get to see these evidences. Instead, they get to see the fruit of the Spirit in us as a result of our rebirth. “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good or make a tree bad and it’s fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) “This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8) If you haven’t experienced an ‘opened mind’, a fervent heart and a sanctified body, then you are probably not born again because immediately after our justification by faith, the process of sanctification begins, when our hearts are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God, our minds were cleansed by the word of God and our bodies were cleansed by the Spirit of God. This is an ongoing process until glorification happens at the coming of the Lord. ‘May God himself, the God of peace, sanctity you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.’ ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) If you are not sure of your rebirth, then “Repent and believe the good news” today! ( Mark 1:15) The primary requirement is to believe or else, how can you repent? Ofcourse, there might be those who need not repent but they still have to believe. Nathanael probably had nothing to repent about but he had to believe. ( John 1:47,50) That is why the sacrament is rightly called ‘Believer’s Baptism’ and it doesn’t matter whether a person is an adult or a child, as long as they personally believe for themselves. Therefore, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ (Acts 2:38-39) Amen.