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Born of The Spirit
Lesson 76

 

Before the Judean hills echoed the joyful strains of angel choirs, before the wondering shepherds sought the Bethlehem stable, before the Wise Men from the East brought their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, even before the existence of our world, the eternal Son of God decided to be born into the human family. In the councils of heaven before God created man, our Lord made the decision in which the Father concurred (Zechariah 6:13) to restore peace to the universe, to do this He had to tabernacle in the flesh as one with us. Thus, He became “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.”

 

Why did the Majesty of heaven leave the ivory palaces? (Psalm 45:8) Why did He promise to come and enter the body that God had prepared for Him? (Psalm 40:7; Hebrews 10:5) He Himself gives the answer, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10. Thus Jesus, the preexistent one, voluntarily chose to be born as a man that He might bring life to us.

 

However, what choices have we in deciding whether we shall come into the world and whether we shall leave it? There is a reason for our entering the world as we do. How could God allow man a choice as to whether to be born without first giving him some kind of existence? How could a man choose unless he first be a free moral agent? How could he choose without knowing what kind of life God offered him? God has given us an existence so that we may decide our destiny, be it life or death. The teachings of Jesus and their fulfillment in His life demonstrate the kind of life God offers to all. Man has been given the power of choice. Those who want the only kind of life that will continue forever will have to choose to be born again. He who refuses the rebirth forfeits eternal life. He chooses death.

 

Christ sacrificed His past at Bethlehem, where He became a man. We are to sacrifice our past at Calvary. At the place of death to “self” we receive the life of Christ. He who dies to sin at the cross inherits the life Christ there bequeathed to us. God even gives man the opportunity to live in this world as he would live in heaven. If after he has tasted the joys of life to come he feels he does not want that kind of life, he can reverse his decision. (Hebrews 6:4-6, 11:15.) Such is the absolute fairness of God.

 

Just as Jesus in His preexistence was a free moral agent, so man in his present existence is a free moral agent. Christ voluntarily chose to be born into the human family. You, too, are free to choose. God will not compel you; He will not force you.

 

How could the Son of God also be the Son of Man? The Incarnation holds mysteries that can never be solved in this life, nor need they be. Some truths we must accept by faith. Some truths we must accept by faith. Nevertheless, we should try to understand as much as possible about the Incarnation. Nearly all know the circumstances of our Lord’s Incarnation. To virgin Mary at Nazareth the angel Gabriel came with the message, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35. And the angel of the Lord told Joseph in a dream, “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 1:20.

 

Just as Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit into the human family, so we may be born of the same Holy Spirit into God’s spiritual family. Many teachers in the Israel of today are like Nicodemus of old. They are ignorant concerning the new birth. They have an idea that men and women may become new creatures in Christ by education, by training, by church membership, or by their own efforts to obey the law. But there can be no new life without the re-creative presence of the “Spirit of Life.” (Romans 8:2) Only life can produce life, and the Holy Spirit is not only the “Spirit of life, “but the “Spirit is life.” (Romans 8:10) Christ’s night-school student stood in darkness. It mattered not how much Nicodemus knew or what honors he had received. This man needed to be reborn. So positive was Jesus about this that He said, “Except a man be born or water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5.

 

There is no alternative: He that is born but once dies twice-the death all men face (Hebrews 9:27) and the eternal death following the judgment (Revelation 9:27) and the eternal death following the judgment (Revelation 21:8). However, he that is born twice dies but once, for after the resurrection he will live throughout eternity. Without the Holy Spirit, there can be no rebirth, and without the rebirth, there can be no spiritual life. All who be sons and daughters of God therefore must be born by the Spirit. Why is this? Why must man be born again?

 

At creation, the Father and the Son worked together. When Christ spoke, the Holy Spirit immediately carried His commands into effect. The Holy Spirit cooperated so that the thing that the Word called into existence existed instantly. In the second verse of the Bible Moses introduced the Spirit as moving upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2) In all the creative activities of God that followed, the Holy Spirit played a vital role. Job said, “By his Spirit he [God] hath garnished the heavens.” Job 26:13. And in Psalm 104:30 we read, “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created.” At creation the Holy Spirit, symbolized as the breath of God, infused life into the clay. Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”

 

However, man disobeyed God and partook of the forbidden fruit, thus causing the Spirit that had given him both spiritual and physical life to leave him. Adam then experienced spiritual death, though his physical existence persisted. He began to realize something of the awfulness of the sin he had committed. His nature had now become corrupt and vile; sin had poisoned his whole being. Man had become a slave-he had forfeited his power to choose. The Holy Spirit, the source of righteous life, had withdrawn. Adam felt a gnawing emptiness, a frightening aloneness; he shivered in a nakedness of soul, fearfully looking for judgment, a terror akin to that which the finally impenitent must suffer.

 

Then God stepped in to offer man a second chance. God again gave him the power of choice-He made it possible for him to receive the Spirit back into his life. In the gospel promise of Genesis 3:15 God promised hope for fallen man. Man could turn to God or stay on Satan’s ground. However, he must choose. All who turn from the world to God and accept the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to beget a new life within, are “born again.” God accomplishes this creative process by the same Holy Spirit that begot Jesus. The invisible working of the Holy Spirit resembles the wind that cannot be seen, but the evidence of the Spirit’s presence within will be seen in the daily life of all who are born again. (John 3:7)

 

Regeneration or re-creation may be likened to the process of metamorphosis, or transformation, by which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Putting wings on a worm does not make it a butterfly. A worm’s very nature has to be changed before it can become a butterfly. In conversion, the Holy Spirit infuses new life energies into our souls. New purposes thrill through our being, new attitudes develop, new motives prompt our actions, and the virtues and graces exemplified in the life of Jesus begin to be revealed in our lives. The same Holy Spirit that assisted in the creation of man brings about his re-creation. “God our Savior [that is, the Lord Jesus Christ] saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:4,5.

 

In Eden God generated man, that is, He brought him into being, gave him existence. By sin, man became degenerated; his life processes reversed, and instead of being a “living” soul, he became a “dying” soul. However, now through the merits of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary and the gift of the Holy Spirit man may be regenerated, made anew, having holy motives, nobles desires, the grand aims that God originally purposed he should have.

 

Christ’s nativity is a pledge that whosoever will may experience a rebirth and become a son of God. Unless a man is born again by the Spirit, he is only a dying man, without hope, wandering about in the wilderness of a doomed world. He who fails to be born of the Spirit locks the gates of glory against his own soul. Those who are born again and stay faithful know the freedom of sins forgiven and live in joyful anticipation of the great day when Jesus shall come in flaming glory to gather His own.

 

Memory Verse:

Hebrews 10:5-7. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am-it is written about me in the scroll-I have come to do your will, O God.’”




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