The Old Covenant was a failure. Oh, that is not to say there was anything wrong with it. It was a gift from God so it was holy and good. But nonetheless it was a failure. The vast majority of people who tried to obey it could not fulfill their side of the agreement, and so ended up guilty and judged rather than blessed. Thats why God promised a new covenant. Six centuries before the birth of Christ He prophesied of a future day upon which He said, . . . I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone . . . and give you a heart of flesh I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes (Eze 36: 26, 27). He promised to transform the inner attitudes of a person to such a degree that it would change the way they lived. Now people would be guided by their hearts to obey His commands, and the Holy Spirit would give them the power to do so. No longer would people fearfully labor to obey under the threat of punishment. And the fulfillment of this promise is the New Covenant that Jesus introduced. His cross and resurrection now brings us this miraculous change. Today well hear Him call this miracle being born again or born of the Spirit, and then command all who would follow Him saying, You must be born again. And well discover that this command is the foundation of every other because unless we are born again, we cant understand, let alone obey, any of His commands.
A. Listen to Jeremiah describe this New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34)
-(v. 31, 32) There will be a new covenant on new terms.
-(v. 33) God will miraculously change the internal character of a person until he or she knows God personally and wants to obey Him.
B. Listen to Jesus describe this New Covenant (John 3:1-21)
-(v. 3) The new birth releases revelation.
-(v. 5,6) The Holy Spirit must produce a radical new beginning as profound as physical birth.
-(v. 7,8) A born-again person will be moved by the unseen power of the Spirit.
-(v. 13) I am the pre-existent Son of God who has come from heaven.
-(v. 14) I will become the divine remedy for those who are dying from sin. I will be lifted up on a cross and bear their curse.
-(v. 15) By beholding Me on the cross and believing what the Father says about Me people will escape the curse of death.
-(v. 18-20) All humans are already under judgment because they dont want God telling them what to do. Most prefer to decide for themselves what is right and wrong, and this brings death.
-(v. 21) But its still possible for people to love and trust God and willingly live in submission. Someday Gods light will reveal their obedient heart and that it was Gods power working through them.
C. Listen to John describe it around A.D. 90 (I John 5:1-12)
-Water (baptism): We wash ourselves by repentance.
-Blood (cross): He washes us by faith.
-Spirit (indwelling): He washes us with rivers of His presence.
D. How do we receive this miracle?
1. Repent (water)
-Stop loving darkness (Jn 3:19, 20)
-Reverse the curse
(Ge 1:26) in His image (choice)
(2:17) let God decide whats right and wrong
(3:5) you decide whats right and wrong,
(3:16-19) your rebellion has released a curse
-Repentance: change of mind
-Regret for past rebellion
-Complete surrender to the will of God
-A lifestyle of repentance: quick to evaluate my failure and to surrender afresh.
2. Believe (blood)
Believe what God says about His Son (Jn 3:13-18)
-Who He is (v. 13, 16): His eternal Son from heaven (Also 1:1-18)
-Why He came (v. 16-18): All humans were perishing because we love the darkness.
-What He did (v. 14): He became our substitute on the cross.
-Where He is now (Ro 10:9): That He was raised from the dead and is alive.
Note: Pauls statement about the righteousness of faith (Php 3:8,9).
3. Receive (Spirit)
Welcome the Holy Spirit to come and live inside you. The righteousness of Christ has made you a suitable dwelling for the Holy Spirit. He becomes joined to you like a husband and wife become one.
-Let Him indwell you (Jn 3:8; 14:17)
-Let Him refresh and empower you (Jn 4:14; 7:38)
-Let Him teach and guide you (Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13)
-Let Him lead you and thereby give you authority (Jn 20:22, 23)
E. How does God want us to declare these decisions?
Jesus has commanded His disciples to declare these decisions by being baptized in water (Mt 28:19; Ac 2:38)
F. What changes will take place when Im born again?
1. I will love God and desire to obey Him.
2. I will love people and desire to help them in whatever ways I can.
3. I will be aware of the Holy Spirits presence within me.
4. The fear of death will diminish and I will expectantly wait for heaven.
G. Things that do not produce the new birth.
The new birth does not occur because of:
-Giving to God
-Being conservative, self-disciplined
-Having a pleasant personality
-Believing Jesus existed, believing God exists.
-Calling myself a Christian
-Wanting to go to heaven
-Sincerely pursuing a false religion
Faith without truth is deception; faith without repentance is lawlessness; repentance without faith is gracelessness (condemnation, legalism).
H. Conclusion about the new birth
1. Its a miracle.
2. There are conditions which must be met.
3. Attitude and behavior of changes always occur.
I. Practical Applications
-A softened or partial gospel message can prevent someone from being born again. (Remember: the rich young ruler, Lk 18:18-30)
-The new birth must take place before discipleship can occur. Without it people cannot understand or obey spiritual truth.
-Dont expect Christ-like behavior out of people who are not born again.
1. Repentance isnt something we do just once. It happens often. Every time we choose to do what we want rather than what God wants we repent. Describe a recent example of repenting in your own life.
2. Have you seen someone change in their attitudes and behavior after becoming born again? What did you observe?
3. Practice giving a gospel presentation to each other which includes the elements in section D.