“BORN OF THE SPIRIT”
1. Turn in your Bible to 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 0 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?
2. 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.
3. 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, this passage also shows the vital connection between the Spirit of God and being born again.
4. 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 sins.
5. That said, this sermon is about the Holy Spirit of God, the third of the divine persons of the godhead. And I tread on this subject delicately, since the Spirit of God is not usually the appropriate subject of a sermon that pleases God.
6. 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.
7. Of importance to us at this point are verses 13 and 14, wherein the Lord Jesus Christ instructs that the Spirit of God’s primary purpose is to focus attention on the Savior and to glory 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.
8. Tonight, however, I feel compelled to bring a message from God’s Word about the Holy Spirit because there are several 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.
9. My text for tonight 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.”
10. You know that you are dead in trespasses and sins and that your soul is condemned to Hell by your sins. You know that the Spirit of God convicts sinners of their sins and makes them feel bad about their wrongdoing and their guilt. And you know that when you feel bad about your sins for a while and then later don’t feel so bad, you have succeeded in grieving the Spirit and driving Him away to eliminate His influences and effect on you.
11. However, it is likely that there are some truths born out in our text that you do not know:
1A. First, YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS SOVEREIGN
1B. In the first phrase of our text, the Lord Jesus Christ chose to paint a word picture to describe one 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.
2B. What is it about wind that the Lord Jesus Christ likened to the Spirit of God? “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” That is, the wind blows wherever it chooses. 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.
3B. 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.
4B. 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.
5B. 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.
2A. Next, THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS DETECTABLE
1B. 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 the five senses He cannot be seen or smelled or heard or tasted or felt.
2B. 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.
3B. 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 the activity of the Spirit of God 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 into 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 man’s life.
4B. And what effect does He produce in a man’s life? Well, it depends upon the man’s spiritual condition. The effects He produces in a Christian’s life are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, and the fear of God. The effects He produces in the life of an unsaved person is guilt and fear and foreboding and a sense of condemnation, as He reproves of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
5B. So, after you have heard strong law preaching you may feel sad, and you may feel despondent, and 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 grieved the Spirit of God away and His beneficial convicting has ceased.
6B. 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 men to produce discernible results.
3A. 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”
1B. 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.
2B. Do we not read in Genesis 6.3, “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man”? Do we not read in First Thessalonians 5.19, “Quench not the Spirit”? And listen to what we read in Hebrews 10.28-29: “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 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?”
3B. You need to think seriously about doing despite unto 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.
4B. And if this seems like something less than the most serious issue you will ever deal with, then consider,
4A. 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.”
1B. “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.
2B. This phrase emphasizes that it is the Spirit of God Who regenerates and quickens. Thus, you who grieve and quench the Spirit of God, who presume that there will 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.
3B. 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. Only the Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself human flesh and shed His blood for sins. Only the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of sinful men’s souls. Only the Lord Jesus Christ is the proper object of a sinner’s saving faith.
4B. Just know this: You do not have to know anything about the Spirit of God in order to get 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.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is held up before you as the all sufficient Savior to look to, to believe in, to flee to for safety from the wrath of God.
2. 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 Him that He will leave you never to return.