As I hold Tabitha, many thoughts swirl through my mind. There are hopes and dreams. There are plans for the future. There are the joys of life to share with her. There are many things to teach her. My wife and I will need to prepare her for this life and, more importantly, for eternity. While we look forward to celebrating life with Tabitha on this Earth, without a doubt the most important news we have to share with her is the news of the second birth.
In John 3:3, Jesus told a very religious man named Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The birth that brings a baby into this world is marvelous and precious, but a second birth is necessary in order to bring a person into a relationship with God. Nicodemus expressed some confusion at this statement because he was thinking only in the physical realm. He asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Jesus answered the question by saying, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The first birth is physical and brings a child into a knowledge and interaction with the physical world. The second birth is spiritual and brings a person (when they are old enough to understand) into a knowledge and interaction with God.
In John 3:9, Nicodemus asked the next logical question, “How can these things be?” In answer to this question, Jesus gave a beautiful and hope-filled answer. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Our life on this Earth only lasts for a little while, but because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ we can enjoy eternal life with God in heaven. Ever since Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, man’s sin has brought death and has ruined any hope of a relationship with God (see Romans 5:12). So God sent “his only begotten son,” Jesus Christ, to pay for our sins. “Whosoever believeth in him” is born again and will “have everlasting life.”
As my family experienced this past Sunday, a new birth into this world is a sweet and precious event. A new birth into the family of God is even sweeter!
• The Rev. Timothy Benefield is pastor of Golden Valley Baptist Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.