Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.…
I. THE SUBJECT WHEREOF CHRIST ENTREATETH. A second birth.
1. The contents of it. It contains the seeds and habits of all graces; as original sin, to which it is opposed, contains the seeds of all sin (James 1:17, 18): not only those natural graces we lost in Adam, but whatsoever belongs to our spiritual being in grace and glory.
2. The extent of it. The whole man, every part, answering to the infection of original sin. Hence described us leaven (Matthew 13.). Sometimes in natural generation a part of the body may be wanting, but there is no such defect in regeneration.
3. The notes and signs of it.
(1) Spiritual life. As generation produces natural life, so regeneration spiritual life; and every generator the life he bears — a man human life, an animal animal life, God divine life (Ephesians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 4:10; Galatians 2:20). This life may be discerned by its properties.
(a) Every life seeks its own preservation, so does this life that which is fit for itself (1 Peter 2:2; Colossians 3:1). Beasts seek after grass or prey: worldly men after worldly things; the regenerate after food for the soul and heavenly honours.
(b) Life feels that which is an enemy to it, as sickness. A dead man feels nothing. It is an evident sign of spiritual life to feel our corruptions.
(c) Life resists her enemy. So in the regenerate the spirit lusts against the flesh (Galatians 5:17), and rises in opposition to temptation.
(d) Life, if it be stronger than the enemy, is victorious. So the life of God being stronger than sin, the regenerate overcome the evil one.
(e) Life is active and stirring. We know that a motionless image, although it has the features of the human body, has no life in it.So professors, without the powerful practice of godliness, have not the life of God in them.
(1) Life, when grown to strength, is generative. So the regenerate labour to breathe their life into others.
(2) Likeness to God. The begetter begets in his own likeness: so does God (ver. 6; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 Peter 1:15, 16; Luke 6:36; Matthew 5:48).
(3) Change. In every generation there is a great change; existence from non-existence, order from chaos. So with the Christian (Ephesians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:17.).
(4) Love of God and His children (1 John 5:1; 6:7; 3:17).
4. The reason and ends of the name of it, viz., second birth.
(1) To show our passiveness in conversion.
(2) That as in generation, so in regeneration there is proceeding from little beginnings to great perfection.
(3) That as the first birth is not without pains, neither is the second.
(4) To show us the hopelessness of our nature. Mending will not do, we must be new born.
II. WHAT HE AFFIRMS OF IT, that it is necessary to salvation (Revelation 21:27; Hebrews 12:14). This necessity is set forth —
1. The certainty. Verily (Amen) is doubled for greater certainty (Genesis 41:32).
2. The universality.
Parallel VersesKJV: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.