Sermon Thirty Nine The new birth

john                                                                   audio clip

 

Wesley, I just love him and the way he describes the new birth. I mean I know he can’t describe it, that no matter how large a vocabulary you have it remains indescribable. I often think that CGI guys have an inkling of it but still there is more to it. I think that is why I remained silent about it for so long. Even using the imagery at my disposal both in terms of language, image and auditory perception I cannot fully describe it. Tardis thinking – the Tardis has a brain and a heart and it is bigger on the inside than the outside. George’s grandmother – when George feeds her medicine she grows and grows bigger than the house with her arms out of the window. Being swept under the surf in a riptide with no breath like in the Water Babies and then discovering breath as if for the first time. Alex Mack – morphing under doors and transforming on the other side. It took 3 ghosts to change the ways of Scrooge, perhaps Dickens was trying to describe this rebirth. Or maybe again from Dr Who the gestalt race of telepathic humanoids,  the Ood or Oodkind with their connectors in their hands. So much imagery, so much language but never enough.

For Wesley it was a strange warming of his heart, Bless him, it was more than that but quite rightly he doesn’t get into semantics about it and less is more often. He states that clearly in scripture it says we must be reborn. Before the Fall we had His natural form – immortal, understanding, freedom of will and various affections, we had His political image – we were to govern the earth having power over all creatures and we had His moral image – which as Paul puts it reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy (Ephesians 4:24) God is love and we were created full of it. God is just, merciful, truthful and so were we. God is pure and once we were so pure that God could look on everything he had created and was pleased by what he saw.

After the Fall we were unholy and unhappy and so we come into the world spiritually dead, born into a sinful world and so must be reborn.

I believe that everyone who is transformed by the Holy Spirit, i.e. reborn, has a unique story to tell – that they cannot tell in full. For a start we cannot know Holy Spirit does the work in us, we just know it has been done. A whole new way of thinking, speaking and acting takes us over. We can actually marvel over some of the words tumbling out of our mouths because they are not of our making. We wonder over the patience we have shown or the joy we have felt, not being boastful, just sort of looking at us from a different angle.

One of my mature Christian friends told me they were in awe of how I was handling a particular situation. I was doing nothing except what I was told to do by the Spirit. I was, if anything, obedient to the will of God and again I don’t say this lightly and full of pride. I equally can point to moments when I dug my heels in and basically said “Spirit be gone, I refuse”

New birth is necessary, without it we will not see the Lord. Follow all the rules you want, feed the poor clothe the hungry but without rebirth you will not experience the love God has ready for you.

God loves everyone on this planet but you must accept that love through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and that is the New Birth. Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.

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