King's Business - 1913-10



birth for a grown man. It seems an impossibility for a man wh«se whole nature has become confirmed by years of development of character to be so transformed as-to start life anew with a thoroughly altered character. The philosophical difficulty‘is just as great as the physical difficulty of a man’s entering his mother’s womb a second •time and being born again. But, how­ ever great the philosophical difficulty, we know by countless instances as well as by the Word of God, that the hew birth is a fact*, as a matter of demonstrated fact men are radically transformed in the deepest depths of their moral and spiritual being in a moment. How it can be we do not know; that it can be, we can readily recognize if we realize that God is omnipotent; that it is so we know from experience, and this experience demonstrates that there is a God, that He is omnipotent and that the new birth is from Him. It has been well said that “the great mystery of re-, ligion is not the punishment of sin; not the natural permanence of char­ acter, but spiritual regeneration.” Nevertheless, forgiveness of sin and regeneration are facts, facts that we know to be facts in our own experi­ ence. We are compelled to believe them because we know them to be facts from our own experience, and believing in and knowing these in­ credible facts, ought to make it easy for us to believe the other things that God teaches but of which we cannot understand the philosophy. There is a clear indication in the words of Nicodemus that he was al­ ready an old man when he came to the Lord Jesus, and Jonathan Edwards commenting on this fact says, “Al­ though one of our Lord’s first con­ verts was an old man, yet by far the greater number were gathered in youth.” Nicodemus’ ignorance 'and confusion was very much like that of the ignorant and vicious Samaritan

woman at a later day, who when the Lord Jesus had spoken to her about the living water stupidly said, “Sir, Thou hast nothing to dfaw with, and the well is deep: from) whence then hast thou that living water?” (John 4:11). The words here attributed to .Nico­ demus are one of the many incidental proofs of the genuineness and ac­ curacy in details of the conversation here reported. Certainly, no one making up many years afterward a story of a conversation that never took place would ever have dreamed of putting such words as these into ,the mouth of Nicodemus. But as we study them, we see how natural' and true to life they were to. a man in the position of Nicodemus. .To have all that he had clung to so long utter­ ly annihilated in a moment by- so young a teacher as Jesus was more than this old and generally respected teacher could at once bear. V. 5. “Jesus answered, Verily, verity, I say unto thee, Except a man (rather, any one ) be born of (or, out of) water and of the (omit, of the ) Spirit, he cannot enter into the king­ dom of God.” . Jesus does not tell Nicodemus how a man can be born when he is old; He reaffirms in the most solemn way, but more explicitly, the statement which He had already made and at which Nicodemus was so startled. In a sense, He does answer the “How ” i. e., He states the agencies through which a man is born “from above,” even when he is old. These agencies are “water” and “Spirit.” There has been almost endless controversy as to what the water refers to. It has been widely taught that it refers to baptism and upon this verse has been founded the doctrine of baptismal re­ generation, but even if the “water” does refer to baptism, the verse would not teach “baptismal regeneration” ; ' because the words “And the Spirit”

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