10. What is the new birth about which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus?



The new birth is a spiritual regeneration which takes place in a man when he repents of his sins and believes with his heart that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification. A man is regenerated by the water, which symbolizes the Word of God, and by the Holy Spirit.

As for the work done by the Word of God, the apostle Peter says to the saints: “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23 – NKJV); the Word of God is the Gospel. James confirms the words of Peter, saying that “of his own will begat he us with the word of truth” (James 1:18).

Instead, as for the work of the Holy Spirit, first of all it must be said that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts a man of sin, and of righteousness and of judgement (John 16:8); and secondly that since He is life (Romans 8:10) when He comes into the heart of a man who believes He brings spiritual life to him. And I would like to make it clear that the Holy Spirit enters a believer when he believes and not when he is baptized with the Holy Spirit because in this case (that is, when he is baptized with the Holy Spirit) a believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, that is to say, he receives a measure of the Holy Spirit which is bigger than that he received when he believed.

This spiritual regeneration can be called a spiritual resurrection because he who experiences it is no longer dead in his sins and trespasses for he becomes spiritually alive (Ephesians 2.1-6).

This spiritual regeneration causes a man to see things in a different way, he has new desires, new aims, and as a consequence his behaviour also is different, for it becomes holy, right and good. He who has been born again does not present his members as slaves of sin, but he presents them as slaves of righteousness to honour his Saviour and to bear fruit to God (and not to death as he did formerly through his wicked behaviour). That’s why Paul says to the Corinthians: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When this regeneration takes place, it does not pass unnoticed. It can be seen by everybody, whether believers or unbelievers. And whereas on the one hand it produces joy in those who are already born again, on the other hand it causes indignation, regret, and shame in those who know the person who experienced the new birth, who are still dead in their sins.