Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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The Birth of the Spirit
Steps of Spiritual Growth
Terry R. Baughman
“Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit’” (John 3:5–6).
A Jewish religious leader came to Jesus seeking to know more about this teacher and His unusual message. Perhaps due to his own position in the religious community Nicodemus came to see Jesus under the cover of darkness. He commented on the teaching ministry and miraculous signs that Jesus had done, recognizing that indeed He was a messenger from God. Jesus did not remain in the polite expressions of platitudes but rather spoke to the heart of the reason for his visit, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Beyond the niceties of congenial conversation there is an evident truth that must be shared. Jesus came with a mission to deliver souls from sin and to give them the hope of everlasting life. He did not come to earn respect and achieve acclaim by the religious elite, but rather He came to fulfill His mission. He had, “come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
It is no great accomplishment to share theological beliefs and debate doctrine. What is most important is that we share the good news of Jesus Christ to those who are seeking to know more about Him. Our message must be like Jesus’ message. At every opportunity we must share the reality of the new birth experience and the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is not possible to have that promised life without being born again of the water and of the Spirit. Jesus made that very clear. The experience that we are sharing is life-changing and brings the assurance of eternal life with Christ.
“You must be born again.” These were the words Jesus spoke to the seeker. They are still adequate words to provide direction to all who seek Him. This is not a self-help plan or a self improvement program. This is not a social club, a diet and exercise plan, or a gym membership. It is radical rebirth, offering everyone the chance to begin anew. His offer hold the potential for a whole new existence that we never knew was possible.
Not all the benefits of a new birth experience are planted in the hereafter. There are many present promises and daily benefits provided for believers who have chosen to follow Jesus. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Christ has offered us more than heaven. He promises us an abundant life here and now. Among His gifts are unspeakable joy (1 Peter 1:8), constant companionship (Matthew 28:20), and abiding peace (John 14:27). Jesus gives us a life of hope, freedom from the bondage of our past, and a new life of liberty in the Holy Spirit.
The transformation of spiritual rebirth is the miracle of a moment and an experience of a lifetime. Birth is sudden. After a period of labor the child is born and expresses himself with a gasp of air and a welcome cry to signal the arrival. However, the growth process extends throughout a lifetime. So it is with a spiritual new birth. There are miracles in the moment, but the process of become a new creation continues throughout our discipleship. Never stop growing. Never stop living the new life!
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Romans 5:12).