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A Transforming Birth

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 26, 2023 12:01 am

A Transforming Birth

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 26, 2023 12:01 am

What changes in us when God brings about our new birth? Today, Steven Lawson describes the miracle of a sinner's transformation from spiritual death to new life.

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When the Holy Spirit brings new life, when salvation comes... There will be an increased practice of righteousness in your life. Righteousness is godliness. It's the pursuit of holiness. There's no way you'll come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and still live like the devil. Those days are over.

Those days are gone. Those bridges have been burned behind you, and there will be the increased practice of righteousness. When God saves a sinner, He creates a new person. The new birth brings new life. Hello and welcome to the Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Lee Webb. It's interesting, though, that the more we grow in this new life, as our practice of righteousness does increase, the more we recognize the depth of our sin. And that's a good thing.

Here's Dr. Stephen Lawson. In this session, we want to consider that the new birth is a transforming birth. By that, we mean that the new birth will radically and dramatically change your life from the inside out.

There's no way that you can be born again without your life being significantly altered. It's not just that your life is changed. It's that you have a new life altogether.

The old things passed away. Behold, new things have come. It's been well said, if your religion has not changed your life, you better change your religion, because the real thing will change your life. There's no way you can come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and for you to continue to be walking the same path. When you come to Christ, you recognize His Lordship. You've been bought with a price.

You belong to Him. Your life is rerouted. You once were walking according to this world.

You are turned around completely, and you are now walking in a new direction. You are walking towards heaven. It's not that we've become perfect. There's no perfection in our life, but there is a new direction for our life, and we are now headed in the path that leads to life. All of this is brought about by the new birth, by receiving a new heart, a new mind, a new disposition, new affections, and a new will. There's no way we can receive all of that as new and our life not be rerouted and dramatically changed. So that's what I want us to talk about in this session, that the new birth is a transforming birth.

It is life-changing. I want you to look in John chapter 3 again, and I want you to note, for example, in verse 3. John chapter 3 and verse 3.

Your Bibles ought to just be automatically opening right now to John chapter 3. Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. To be born again, we have studied, means to be born from above. It means the life of God has come down from above, and it has been implanted into our soul. There is a totally new life that now dwells within us. It's not just that we've received a new start in life. We have received a new life period. We are not what we once were.

I want to show you just a couple examples of this. If you would turn back to John chapter 1 and verse 41, one of the very first ones who came to Christ. I'm referring to Simon, who became Peter. And in John 1 and verse 41, we read, he, speaking of Andrew, found his own brother Simon and said to him, we have found the Messiah, which translated means Christ. Verse 42, he brought him to Jesus.

And by the way, that's the greatest thing you can do for anyone else, is to bring that person to the Lord Jesus Christ. He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, you are Simon, the son of John. You shall be called Cephas, which is translated Peter. And in that moment, Simon Peter was converted. And taking one step back, the reason he was converted is because he was regenerated, and that change was so dramatic, and it was so real that Jesus changed his name. He changed his name from Simon to Cephas. Simon was his old name and it represented his old life and what he once was before Christ.

We call those our BC days, before Christ. And now, he has come to Christ, and God used Andrew, his own brother, to bring him to Christ. And though it's not directly stated in the text, nevertheless, it is clearly implied, and I believe the reality, this is when Peter entered into the kingdom of heaven and God changed his name. Christ changed his name because he had changed his life. Everything about Simon was totally different.

That's the way it is with you and me as well. In fact, even in the book of Revelation, it says we're given a new name in heaven. It's because of the dramatic change of the new birth.

That's what happened with Simon Peter here. In the next chapter, in John chapter 2, you know that very well as the first miracle that Jesus performed in public, and you also know in John's gospel that these miracles are referred to as a sign. You'll note that in verse 11 of John chapter 2. There are three different words that are used in the Bible for miracle, and the first two refer to the power of God that is on display and the wonder that they provoke in the hearts of the ones who see it. But John's gospel is unique.

John does not refer to it as a dunamis, as a display of power, or as a wonder. John refers to it as a sign. Now, a sign, you know what a sign is.

You drive down the highway, you see a sign. There's a message on that sign, and a sign is a miracle with a message. The miracle becomes a visual snapshot picture of the spiritual truth of the new birth, of entering into the kingdom of heaven. For example, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11, that's a picture of the new birth, our being raised to walk in newness of life, we who were dead in trespasses and sin, when Jesus healed the blind man. That's a picture of our new birth. We were blind by sin. We could not see, and God gave us sight. Well, here in John 2, this is a beautiful picture, a sign of the new birth, the changing of the water into wine.

Did you hear that? The change, the transformation of dirty, foul, stagnant water into the best wine the headmaster had ever tasted. I'm not going to take the time to read through the entirety of this account, but you are very familiar with it, how they took in verse 6, six stone water pots used for the Jewish custom of purification. Jesus said, verse 7, fill the water pots with water, so they filled them to the brim. He said to them, draw some out, take it to the head waiter, so they took it to him.

When the head waiter tasted the water which had become wine, verse 9, and did not know where it had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew, the head waiter called the bridegroom, verse 10, and said, every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poor wine, but you have kept the good wine until now. And then you see the next verse, this beginning of his signs. So what is the message behind the miracle? What is the message of the miracle? What is the message that's posted on the sign of this miracle?

Well, the answer is, this is a picture of what Jesus is teaching in John chapter 3. This is a picture of the new birth. The new birth, if you will, is a miracle of transformation. It is a miracle of change from the inside out. It is the radical transformation of our lives from, we were just like that water, dirty, stagnant, dingy, no taste, and in a moment, just as they were carrying the water to the head waiter, it happened. There was the miracle from heaven, and it was changed, and when he tasted it, he couldn't believe it. It was the most perfect wine ever made in the history of the world.

God Himself made it. He said, this is the best wine I have ever tasted. You have saved the best for last. It's the way our lives are. Before Christ, we were nothing. Before Christ, we were just like that water, polluted, dirty, and then by the new birth, we're changed, we're transformed, we're cleansed, we become new people in Christ, and it is the very best possible life any of us could ever live. Jesus said, I've come that you might have life and have it abundantly. That's what the new birth gives us. We gave up dirt for diamonds in the new birth. We gave up the worst thing about us, a life of sin in order to receive the best thing about Him, this new life that He has to give. If we had not been so blind and so deaf, we would have come running to Christ years earlier to receive this new life that only He can give. This is the transformation that takes place every time, every time someone is born again.

There are no exceptions. We become a new person from the inside out. And what kind of life is this that is put inside of us? Well, it's the life of Christ Himself. Now, what happened to Nicodemus? Was his life changed? Was his life transformed?

Well, there's only three times in John's gospel that Nicodemus is mentioned. Here in John chapter 3, he comes to Jesus by night. Night there, really emblematic of the cloak of darkness. He comes in darkness. He comes as a man who lives in darkness. He comes to Christ.

He's lost. That's why Jesus said, you must be born again. The second time in John's gospel we read about Nicodemus is John chapter 7 and verse 46 and following. And there we read, the officers answered, John 7, 46, never has a man spoken the way this man speaks. You remember Jesus was speaking at the Feast of Tabernacles and the Jewish leaders appointed the temple guard, the temple police to go arrest Him and bring Him back here. So, they were men under orders. They were commissioned to go out and to arrest the Lord Jesus Christ. And as they go, they hear Him teach.

If any man thirsts, let him come into me and drink and out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. And He spoke the truth of God and they were captivated. They were so overwhelmed by this deluge of truth that they turn around and come back to the Jewish leaders and they go, well, where is He?

We sent you to go arrest Him. And they said what we have here in verse 46, never has a man spoken the way this man speaks. The Pharisees then answered, you have not also been led astray, have you? No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?

But this crowd which does not know the law is accursed. Look at the next verse, verse 50. Nicodemus, the one who came to Him before being one of them, any one of the Pharisees, said to them, and you can just tell the wheels are turning in Nicodemus' head. He's not yet crossed the line. He's not yet been birthed into the kingdom. But there's beginning to be rays of light are beginning like the dawn in the morning and beginning to shine over the horizon. It's not full day, noon sunlight yet, but there are rays that are penetrating the darkness of his heart, and he is being illumined, he is being enlightened. And Nicodemus says in verse 51, our law does not judge a man until it first hears from him. Nicodemus is sticking up for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, let us too hear from him. Well, you can see that God is beginning to work in his heart and in his life. Remember we said that regeneration takes place in a moment, in an instant. But there are steps that lead up to that moment as we are being convicted of sin, as we are being drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ, right?

And that takes place over a period of time. That's what's happening with Nicodemus. The Lord is reeling him in and drawing him to himself. Now turn to John chapter 19 and verse 38, and I want you to see this transformation that has taken place in Nicodemus. Jesus has just been crucified.

There could not have been a more unpopular time to identify with Jesus Christ than in Jerusalem before Pilate, the very time of our Lord's crucifixion. Even the disciples themselves had scattered to the four corners. The shepherd had been struck. The sheep had been scattered.

Only John even went to the foot of the cross. The others went and hid. It was a time to hide. They would assume they're coming after us next. They crucified our master, and he told us whatever they do to him, they're going to do to us because the servant is not above the master. What they do to the master, they'll do to the servant. So they're trembling like a leaf in a storm. They're hiding.

Now notice this. It is into this vortex, into this context, John 19 verse 38, after these things, referring to the crucifixion of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asks Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. That was a heroic step. We can't even imagine what courage and boldness. Everyone's running out, and Joseph of Arimathea comes running in. I mean, this is like the 9-11, those towers.

Everybody's running out, and the firemen are running in. Joseph of Arimathea now steps out of the shadows being a secret disciple. He knows it is time to own up his identity with Jesus Christ. So he asks for the body of Christ.

I'm going to say it again. It couldn't be a worse time to ask for something of Christ the day he's crucified. So he came and took his body. Now notice the next verse. Joseph of Arimathea is not alone. He has a brother in the faith.

He has a fellow disciple. Verse 39, Nicodemus, who had first come to him by night. The reason John includes that, it's not like we're going to think it's some other Nicodemus.

It's the only Nicodemus that's mentioned. But just to underscore what his life was like before Christ. Remember, he's the one who came by night. He was scared to even in broad daylight be identified with Christ, just to even ask him a question. He had to come slithering in under the cloak of darkness, lest anyone even see him be distantly connected with Christ.

Nicodemus, who had first come to him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds worth. Nicodemus steps out of the darkness. He steps out of the shadows.

He steps out of the back corner. He's no longer a secret disciple. Somewhere along the way, he has crossed the line and has entered into the kingdom of God.

We're not told when. What's important is that he has. And he now comes with Joseph of Arimathea and openly before Pilate, the very man who had brought his sentence of death, and brings this to embalm and to prepare the body for burial. I'd say that's quite a transformation, wouldn't you? This is always the transformation that takes place in the life of one who is born again. Very quickly, if you would turn to the book of 1 John, 1 John chapter 2, there are several identifying marks of the one who is born of God. These will always take place in someone's life, and not just two or three of these, all of them across the board, because it is a total, complete regeneration. Therefore, the entirety of our spiritual lives is changed.

And I'm going to have to speed through this, so follow with me. 1 John 2 verse 29, if you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of him. That's the first distinguishing mark of the new birth. There will be an increased practice of righteousness in your life. Righteousness is godliness. It's the pursuit of holiness.

There's no way you'll come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and still live like the devil. Those days are over. Those days are gone. Those bridges have been burned behind you. You're now a new person in Christ, and there will be the increased practice of righteousness.

Has to be. It will always be this way. Look at chapter 3 verse 9, 1 John 3 verse 9. Not only will there be an increased practice of righteousness, there will be a decreasing practice of sin. Heads and tails are the same coin.

An increase in the positive, a decrease in the negative. Look at 1 John 3 verse 9. No one who is born of God practices sin. You know what that means?

No one who is born of God practices sin. It means exactly what it says. It's talking about habitual lifestyle. It's talking about the pattern of one's life.

It's not talking about every little snapshot of one's life. We all continue to sin. We don't become sinless, but we do sin less. There is a decreasing practice of sin in our lives. That's sanctification. That's growth in grace. He says in the previous verse, 1 John 3 verse 8, the one who practices sin is of the devil. Well, that couldn't be any more clear, could it?

There we are back again, two families, two fathers. You have a lifestyle of pursuing sin, drinking up sin, lapping up sin, devouring sin. You're of the devil. You've never been born again.

It's just the way that it is. It's clear-cut theology. Look at 1 John 4 verse 7.

There's another distinguishing mark. There will be an increased love for believers. You're in the family now. You love your brothers and sisters who are in the family. 1 John 4 verse 7, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. When you're born again, God puts in your heart. Remember, this goes back to the spiritual circumcision we talked about in Deuteronomy 30 verse 6. He gives us a love for God, and He gives us a love for the brothers and the sisters and the family.

We're in the family now. And John will go on to say, we know that you love God when you love your brothers and your sisters. We know that you love God whom you do not see and cannot see when you love your brothers and sisters whom you can see. And he says, if you don't love your brothers who you do see, there's no way you love God whom you cannot see.

And this isn't something that we just kind of work up within us, like getting fired up for a football game. We need to psych ourselves up for this to love some small-t'see Christians or whatever. God gives us a love, because God is love. When He moves into our lives, we now have a supernatural affection and desire for the fellowship of other believers.

We have kindred spirits. Look at chapter 5 verse 1, 1 John 5 verse 1. Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.

There's another mark. You have faith in Christ. You have abiding faith in Christ, and you will never stop believing in Jesus Christ. No believer will ever become an unbeliever.

If you walk away from Christ, you've never been born again to begin with. The faith that fizzles before the finish had a flaw from the first. The faith that fizzles before the finish had a flaw from the first. It was a bogus faith to begin with. You were playing a charade.

You were playing a masquerade. You were not a real Christian. But the one who truly has been born of God, even through trials and the dark valleys of life, even when you're persecuted, you will still trust Christ and believe in Christ. It doesn't mean there won't be times of doubt.

It doesn't mean that there won't be moments of weakness. But big picture, it's not a matter of you holding onto Him. It's a matter of Him holding onto you, and He's never going to let go.

He's got you in the palm of His hand. Well, I need to bring this to conclusion. This is the transforming birth. It changes your life.

There's no way it cannot change your life. You become a new person in Christ, and the fruit will be evident because the root is in Christ. We have just heard a powerful description of the new birth. That's Dr. Stephen Lawson. He's one of our teaching fellows here at Ligonier Ministries, and you're listening to Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Lee Webb. Thank you for being with us today. You may have heard that phrase, new birth, or born again, but you may be unclear about its meaning. In 12 messages, Dr. Lawson shows from Scripture what the new birth is all about and how it's applied. We invite you to request this two-DVD set when you give a donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries.

Again, the title of the series is The New Birth. You can give your gift online at, or you can call us at 1-800-435-4343. And when you make your request today, we'll also give you access to the digital study guide for the series.

There you'll find outlines for each lesson, study questions, along with suggestions for further reading. We will add it to your online learning library when you request The New Birth by Dr. Stephen Lawson. Your phone number again is 800-435-4343. Or if you prefer, you can give your gift and make your request online at

We do hope to hear from you. And on behalf of all of my colleagues here at Ligonier Ministries, thank you for your generous donation. Well for many Christians, the fear of losing their salvation means that they no longer fully enjoy having it. If you receive eternal life, it's settled for eternity. If you could be saved for ten years and then no longer be saved, you didn't have eternal life. You had ten-year life. Is your salvation permanent? We'll find out tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-26 03:31:42 / 2023-01-26 03:41:31 / 10

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