The new birth is something that God does to man. Period. Man plays no role in it except that something happens to him. Much like your physical birth, you didn’t do anything besides provide your presence. And you didn’t even do that intentionally or consciously. It HAPPENED to you.
This is all fine and good except that Jesus said that you must be born again if you are going to go to heaven. Read the first part of John 3. He told the old Pharisee that he shouldn’t be surprised at this. Nicodemus, according to Jesus, should have known the Old Testament Scriptures well enough to know that a person must experience the new birth if they are going to be reconciled to God. Ezekiel taught it. Jeremiah taught it. Moses taught it. David taught it. Nicodemus should have caught it. If the uber-educated Pharisee were going to make it to heaven, he would first have to be born again.
This is still true. A person must be born again in order to go to heaven. In order to live on earth, you must be born physically. In order to one day live in heaven, you must be born again, spiritually. You MUST. And yet, you play no active role in it. I don’t know about you, but this is a little unsettling, even unnerving to me. I’m commanded to be born again, and I really can’t do anything directly about it to make sure that it happens?
If you are not born again, if I were you, I would pray and beg God to do that work in you. If you are physically alive, you can do this. You can pray and ask God to do this work in your heart. You can ask him to cause it to happen to you. You can’t make it happen, but you can humble yourself before him and ask for him to do it. If you are going to get to heaven, he must first do this work in you. That makes it quite urgent. Actually, more urgent than anything else in life really.
I realize that I preach to a congregation comprised mostly of believers every Sunday. Or so I assume. I know that’s a mighty big assumption, and while I feel comfortable with it, I don’t ever want to assume that EVERYBODY who professes faith in Christ truly knows him. So, in the spirit of genuine concern, I ask all of you, “Have you been born again?”
If this question stirs up consternation in your soul, please come and talk to me about it. Or to somebody else whom you trust. We can look closer into what the Scriptures teach about the doctrine. We can pray together and ask God to work in your heart, either to convict you of your need to be regenerated or to encourage with the assurance that you are. Either way, it is an urgent issue, and I encourage you to consider it carefully today.