Calvary Road Baptist Church

“BORN OF THE SPIRIT”

John 3.8

 

My text for this message is once more found in John chapter 3. When you find John chapter 3, please stand for the reading of God’s Word:

 

1      There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2      The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3      Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4      Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5      Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6      That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7      Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8      The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

9      Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10    Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

 

It is quite obvious to every one of you that this passage is one of the most important in the entire Word of God, showing the absolute necessity and urgency of being born again. Amazing, is it not, that despite what we have just read from the Savior’s own lips there are people who claim to be Christians who nevertheless make statements along the line of, “I am a Christian, but not one of those born agains.” As well as emphasizing that no one who is not born again can see the kingdom of God, and that no one who is not born again can enter the kingdom of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Savior of sinful men’s souls, shows in this passage the vital connection between the Spirit of God and being born again.

Let me emphasize that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, is the unique Savior of sinful men’s souls. The three divine persons of the Godhead are involved in this miracle of salvation, but the Second Person is alone shown to be the Savior, the Object of our faith, and the vicarious Substitute Who suffered and bled and died to atone for our sins. As the Apostle Peter once declared in the presence of this same Gospel writer in Acts 4.12,

 

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

 

That understood, this message is about the Holy Spirit of God, the third of the divine persons of the Godhead. And I tread on this subject delicately, since those of the Charismatic and Pentecostal persuasion of doctrinal errors the Spirit of God is not usually the appropriate subject of a sermon that pleases God. I say this because of words the Lord Jesus Christ spoke in John 16.7-14:

 

7      Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

8      And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

9      Of sin, because they believe not on me;

10    Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

11    Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

12    I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13    Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14    He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

 

Of importance to us at this point are verses 13 and 14, wherein the Lord Jesus Christ instructs the eleven apostles that the Spirit of God’s primary purpose is to focus attention on the Savior and to glorify Him. In a word, the Spirit of God is selfless. So, beyond showing sinners that it is the Spirit of God Who makes them feel bad about their sins and Who frightens them about their tragic destiny, not much is usually said about Him to the unconverted.

At this time, however, I feel that it is appropriate to bring a message from God’s Word about the Holy Spirit because there are several people in our midst who I greatly fear are about to make soul damning errors because of their stubborn love of sin and their ignorance of the workings of the Spirit. My text is John 3.8:

 

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

 

I am sure you know that you are dead in trespasses and sins and that your soul is condemned to Hell by your sins if you are without Jesus Christ. You know this if the Spirit so illuminates your understanding. I am sure you also know that the Spirit of God convicts some sinners of their sins and makes them feel bad about their wrongdoing and their guilt. However, He does not so convict all sinners. Many sinners are left quite alone by the Spirit of God and become quite arrogant and sure of themselves. Perhaps you also know that when a sinner is so blessed of God so as to be dealt with by the Spirit so that he feels bad about his sins for a while and then later doesn’t feel so bad, he has only succeeded in grieving the Spirit and driving Him away to eliminate His influences and effect on him. Of course, unless that attitude changes things do not end well for the sinner.

Thus, there are a number of things you likely know and appreciate. However, it is likely that there are some truths born out in our text that you do not know:

 

First, YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS SOVEREIGN

 

Though I touched on this last week, it is needful for me to point out once more that in the first phrase of our text the Lord Jesus Christ chose to paint a word picture to describe one particular attribute of the Holy Spirit. He said about Him, “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” So, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead likened the Third Person of the Triune Godhead to wind. What is it about wind that the Lord Jesus Christ compared to the Spirit of God? “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” That is, the wind blows wherever it chooses to blow. To look at it another way, you have absolutely no control over which direction the wind will blow. Neither do you have any means of deciding the course, the direction, or the activities of the Spirit of God in the lives of men.

The single word for this faculty is sovereignty. What is sovereignty? Sovereignty speaks of the absolute right and prerogative to do as one chooses, independent of any requirement of approval, cooperation, or aid from another. Thus, the Holy Spirit does as He pleases, seeking neither your permission nor your help to do what He, alone, can do. Children seek to demonstrate sovereignty while living at home, but are not allowed the pretense of sovereignty while living at home by wise parents. This understanding of the Holy Spirit is decidedly alien to those decisionists who insist that the Spirit of God operates according to the pattern of their own witnessing and tract reading, supposing that when the so-called “soul winner” is speaking the Spirit must also be dealing, and that when the “soul winner” has decided that it is time for the sinner to pray some formula prayer the Spirit is then bound to impart life.[1] Of course, this approach to evangelism is demonstrably false.

Heads up, as well, to you who are lost and who think that when you make up your mind to become a Christian the Spirit of God will necessarily be close at hand to impart life in accordance with your wishes. The Spirit is sovereign; you are not sovereign. I suggest you raise your children so that they do not think they are sovereign, making it so much easier for them to grasp that the Spirit of God is sovereign. There can only be one who is sovereign, and it is most definitely not anyone’s child.

 

Next, THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS DETECTABLE

 

Just because the presence and the activity of the Spirit of God can be detected does not mean that the presence and activity of God’s Spirit will be detected. I am strongly persuaded that there are some who think the Spirit of God can be felt, as though He makes skin crawl and gives goose bumps. But they are wrong. The Spirit of God is a spirit, meaning that unless He so chooses to be perceived by a person’s five senses He cannot be seen or smelled or heard or tasted or felt by that person. The Lord Jesus said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof.” Sound can be heard, because wind is physical. But the Savior was not likening the Spirit of God to the wind as being perceptible to the ears. He was likening the Spirit of God to the wind as being discerned indirectly.

Of course, if you take the analogy too far it breaks down. But the thrust of what the Lord Jesus Christ was saying is that as we usually discern wind indirectly, so much is the activity of the Spirit of God to be discerned. We see the wind move the leaves and bend the branches. We hear the wind rustle the dried leaves on the ground. We feel the wind drive sand and dust onto our cheeks. If you would detect the presence and the activity of the Spirit of God you must look for the effect that He produces in a person’s life. And what effect does He produce in someone’s life? It depends upon the individual’s spiritual condition, doesn’t it? The effects He produces in a Christian’s life are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, and the fear of God.[2] The effects He produces in the life of an unsaved person He does deal with are guilt and fear and foreboding and a sense of condemnation, as He reproves of sin, righteousness, and judgment.[3] However, there are some the Spirit of God never deals with, to their eternal regret.

So, after you have heard strong evangelistic preaching you may feel sad, and you may feel despondent, or you may feel frightened. But I detect the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in your life. As well, a few minutes later you may feel happy and contented and enthusiastic, while I would discern that you have by then grieved the Spirit of God away and His beneficial convicting has ceased. So, the Spirit of God is sovereign. The Spirit of God is also detectable. He cannot be directly detected, but indirectly, as He works in the lives of individuals to produce discernible results. Do you bother to pay attention to what He does? Perhaps you should pay careful attention. As well, reflect on the choice of who you sit next to in Church. Do you really want to sit near someone who distracts you, who entertains you, who preoccupies your thoughts before, during, and after Church so as to interfere with the Spirit’s work in your life or to hinder your worship of God?

 

Third, THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS NOT PREDICTABLE

 

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.”

 

You cannot tell what the Spirit of God will do next. That is to say, you cannot know whether He will come back to you after you have grieved Him away. You do not know which, of the opportunities you have had to yield to His ministrations, will be your last opportunity.

 

 

28    He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29    Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

 

You need to think seriously about doing despite to the Spirit of grace. When you refuse the Gospel, and resist His holy impulses to abandon your sins in favor of Jesus Christ, you become guilty of outrages against both the Savior and the Spirit. And you cannot tell whether the Spirit of God will ever come your way again or not. And if this seems to you like something less than the most serious issue you will ever deal with, then consider,

 

Finally, THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS THE REGENERATOR

 

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

 

Look again at that last phrase, “so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” This seems like an unusual way to conclude a sentence, but for the fact that there are decided similarities that exist between the way the effect of the wind is detected and the future course of the wind is unpredictable, and the fact that a Christian is the effect of the Holy Spirit and no one can tell who the next convert will be. This phrase emphasizes that it is the Spirit of God Who regenerates and quickens, or makes alive. Thus, you who grieve and quench the Spirit of God, who presume that there will always be a next time for you to consider the claims of Christ, need to keep one thing in mind: Though the Lord Jesus Christ is still sitting on His throne at the Father’s right hand, ready to save anyone who comes to Him by faith . . . none of this will happen except through the agency of the Spirit of God.[4]

My friends, I do not pretend to know all there is to know about the interaction that takes place between the Spirit of God and the sinner, or the line of demarcation that exists showing where the Spirit’s workings end and the Savior’s saving begins.

 

 

Just know this: You do not have to know anything about the Spirit of God in order to be saved. The sole criteria for salvation is faith in Jesus Christ. But some of you are dallying so much, tarrying so much, resisting so much, that I felt it necessary to inform you what you were doing and what the consequences will be if you do not quickly come to Christ.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ is held up before you as the all-sufficient Savior to look to, to believe in, and to flee to for safety from the wrath of God. The Spirit of God works (mostly behind the scenes) to invisibly glorify the Savior and prepare the hearts of sinners to come to Him. Be careful that you do not so grieve the Spirit that He will leave you never to return. Before that can happen, I urge you to come to Jesus Christ.

__________

[1] Decisionism is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a Lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion; it is the belief that a person is saved through the agency of a merely external decision; the belief that performing one of these human actions shows that a person is saved.

Conversion is the result of that work of the Holy Spirit which draws a lost sinner to Jesus Christ for justification and regeneration, and changes the sinner’s standing before God from lost to saved, imparting divine life to the depraved soul, thus producing a new direction in the life of the convert. The objective side of salvation is justification. The subjective side of salvation is regeneration. The result is conversion.

[2] Galatians 5.22-23

[3] John 16.8

[4] Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 13.1; 14.2-4; Acts 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; 6.9; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org