Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again.
Here we have that aspect of regeneration which is so incomprehensible to the world. Men can understand reformation through fear of perdition and hope of immortality; but the great revolution of a new life inspired by God appears mystical and impossible. We speak of the age of inspiration being over. That of inspired writing is, but that of inspired living is not.
I. SPIRITUAL LIFE IS A DIRECT INSPIRATION FROM GOD.
1. That life is impossible without this inspiration. Spiritual life is an elevation above the natural will, inclination, tendency. Men have tried to reach this without the Spirit, by asceticism, but after all they have been still in the sphere of self. All they have done has been merely a self.culture which does not rise above the natural life. Try to change a man's character. Take a man worldly and selfish, and try to convince him by reasoning that his course is a wrong one. Perhaps he admits it: your logic has carried the outworks of intellect, but left the deeper nature untouched. Point out his degradation. He may admit that too, and hate you. Appeal to his interest with warnings of hell and promises of heaven. Suppose you have convinced him you have not elevated him — he is selfish still. Try another illustration. Men feel that they can do no great and noble deeds until raised above the natural level of life by a possessing Spirit. This is the great feature of all genius, poetic, artistic, political. So is Christian life. God's Spirit must enter us, or our endeavours will never raise us. We have instances of this in all ages, e.g., Jacob, Paul.
2. This inspiration enters man in mystery.
(1) We cannot tell whence it cometh. We may trace the early signs of the Spirit's power, but cannot penetrate the mystery of its origin. Just as the spring is a revelation of the secret energies which have been working in darkness through the cold winter gloom, until under the influences of sun and air the hidden power bursts into leaf and flower; so is spiritual life.
(2) Whither it goeth we cannot tell; its impulse ever advances amidst all impediments through the long, cold, dark watchings of life, waiting for the adoption.
II. THE RESULTS OF REALIZING THIS TRUST. It would work a mighty change.
1. In our faith.
2. In our prayers.
3. In the ease and joy it gives to the discharge of duty.
4. In the strength it imparts to manhood.
(E. L. Hull, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.