Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:3, NKJV
This is a word we do not commonly hear these days. Regeneration is defined as being reborn or formed again. Easton’s Bible Dictionary explains regeneration as follows:
This word literally means a “new birth.” The Greek word so rendered (palingenesia) is used by classical writers with reference to the changes produced by the return of spring. In Matthew 19:28 the word is equivalent to the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). It denotes that change of heart elsewhere spoken of as a passing from death to life; becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus; being born again; a renewal of the mind; a resurrection from the dead; a being quickened. This change is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. It originates not with man but with God. As to the nature of the change, it consists in the implanting of a new principle or disposition in the soul; the impartation of spiritual life to those who are by nature “dead in trespasses and sins.” The necessity of such a change is emphatically affirmed in Scripture.
Here in John 3, Jesus describes regeneration as being born again. The instruction to Nicodemus was not something that could be accomplished through his efforts in studying the law or through good works. Nicodemus could not be regenerated by being in a dignified, prestigious religious office. Regeneration occurs only as a work of the Spirit of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6, NKJV)
This is the life of God at work in the soul of man. As we repent, we are made new. Redemption’s effect is this work of regeneration. This is more than turning over a new leaf or endeavoring to be a better you. Regeneration is a complete overhaul of what was. What was once dead is now alive. The sin that was once acceptable is now detestable. The enjoyment of divine things surpasses the hobbies and interests of this life. That which is godly and honorable are now delightful and pleasing attributes.
The sin that held your conscience captive for so long is erased and the skeletons in the closet of your mind are removed. The Spirit of God transforms you finally and forever. His work is complete and permanent.
Regeneration makes Christ and His work appealing and attractive. Nicodemus was a ruler in the church, and should not be associated with Jesus’ ministry. Regeneration changed His life and changed His desires. The same man who should not associate with Christ was found burying Him after the crucifixion. He brought 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes to anoint the dead body of Jesus and prepare Him for burial. What changed in Nicodemus? What made him go from a man that sought Christ in the secrecy and cover of the night hour to one who would publicly remove the body of Jesus from the cross and care for the mutilated remains? Regeneration! The words of Jesus echoed clearly that day as Nicodemus anointed that precious body for burial. Nicodemus, unless a man is born again. Nicodemus, I am the resurrection and the life. As you anoint my body for burial, this body will not remain in the grave. Just as those who come to me, they will be born again. Though they may appear to be dead, I will make them live!
It is time to allow the anointing of Christ to come upon you that you may live. The regenerating power of God can flow through your life and make you come alive—really alive. Christ is the King who makes all things new. If He can regenerate the lost person, He can certainly quicken you. If you are saddened or discouraged, His anointing power can awaken you. The one who came out of the tomb can bring breakthrough in your life. Like Nicodemus, go to Him at the cross and let the power of Gethsemane’s hill flow into you. Run quickly with Nicodemus to the garden tomb where Christ’s body was laid, and see the resurrection life that can flow into you. Behold Christ today and He will bring life into your weary world!