14. Three agents of rebirth. (Part 3 of the born again series.)

Why is rebirth a miracle? Firstly, because the miracle of rebirth is beyond our human will! ‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.’ (John 1:12-13) We might have been born in a christian household but that doesn’t make us a Christian. “Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to the spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying,’You must be born again.’ (John 3:6-7) Yet it is not in our efforts but in His Sovereign choice! ‘I will have mercy on whom I want to have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. It therefore does not depend on man’s desire or effort but on God’s mercy.’ ( Romans 9:15-16) Secondly, rebirth is a miracle because it is a mystery! “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.” (John 3:8) Though it seems to be mysterious, yet the Bible sheds light on the three agents of rebirth and it is the coming together of these three that results in the greatest miracle! ‘ ‘For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.’ (1 John 5:7-8) What is said of Christ, the first born of God, is true of us who have been born of God as well.

The three agents of rebirth are as follows:-

1. The Spirit – The Holy Spirit is the central agent of transformation responsible for the rebirth because it is he who reveals the  Saviour to us and convicts us of the need for salvation. “When the counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, he will testify about me.” (John 15:26) “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness and judgement.” (John 16:8) The Holy Spirit ministers the word of God and the blood of Christ, which are the other two agents of rebirth he works with. Though it is men who minister the word of God, it is the Holy Spirit who opens the heart of the listeners to believe in the person of  Christ. ‘One of those listening was a woman named Lydia … The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.’ ( Acts 16:14) Therefore, Paul said: ‘ Our Gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.’ ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5) On the day of Pentecost, the three thousand who heard Peter speak were cut to heart because the Holy Spirit convicted them. ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation …’ ( 2 Corinthians 7:10)

2.  The water“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” ( John 3:5) Many assume that the water means baptism but it doesn’t cleanse a man inwardly! Instead, Paul called it the ‘washing of rebirth through the word’.  ‘ … Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the WASHING WITH WATER THROUGH THE WORD and to present her to himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any blemish but holy and blameless’. ( Ephesians 5:25-27) ‘He saved us through the WASHING OF REBIRTH and RENEWAL BY THE  HOLY SPIRIT  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour…’ ( Titus 3:5) The Word of God is rightly called the ‘sword of the Spirit’ because it is the word of God which the Holy Spirit uses to cut our hearts. ‘For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’ (Hebrews 4:12) Hence, Peter affirmatively wrote: ‘ For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.’ (1 Peter 1:23) ‘He chose to give us birth through the word of truth …’ (James 1:18) Without experiencing this ‘washing of rebirth by the word of God’ and ‘renewal by the Holy Spirit’, baptism in water is meaningless because ‘it is not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience towards God.’ ( 1Peter 3:21) It is the outward expression of an inward experience without which it becomes a ritual that will never save you, whether you were baptized as a child or as an adult, because salvation is by faith and not by works.

3. The Blood – Following the washing with water through the word of God, the Holy Spirit washes us in the blood of Christ, all who have believed in Him and have confessed their sins. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1:9) Once the foundation of sin is done away with, then curses begin to break and bodies begin to heal in the name of Jesus because that is the order in which it happened during the fall of man and therefore, it will be the order in which it is undone by the Holy Spirit. ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.’ ( Romans 8:1-2) The Holy Spirit then takes permanent residence within our hearts, at which point we are most assuredly born again and are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When the Spirit left Adam, he felt naked but now when the Spirit returns, we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, just as the prodigal son was clothed with the best robe. ‘Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet … Let’s have a feast and celebrate for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate. ( Luke 15:22-24) “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the Angels of God over one sinner who repents .” (Luke 15:10) We too are given a ring for our finger, meaning the authority ( Matthew 28:18) and sandals for our feet meaning our assignment on earth.

The three agents of rebirth ie the Spirit of God, the word of God (water) and the blood of Christ, have to come together for the miracle of rebirth to happen and it is not in our own making. However, it is God’s will for everyone of us but the Holy Spirit waits for the perfect time to indwell within our hearts because once he resides, he is never supposed to leave. The day this happens will be the greatest day of your life because that is the best thing that could ever happen to you. What prepares you for that day is the Word of God and prayer. ‘As for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of … how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.’ ( 2Timothy 3:14-15) We see the three agents come together even in the life of Jesus, to testify to his Sonship, Christship and Lordship. ‘He did not come by WATER only, but by WATER and BLOOD. And it is the SPIRIT who testifies because the SPIRIT is the truth.’ ( 1 John 5:6) Amen. (To know more about this topic, read the article titled: ‘The gospel about Jesus and the three fold testimony of God’, under the header ‘Bible study’. Thank you.)

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