I find the famous story of Nicodemus seeking out the Lord Jesus Christ in the middle of the night as recorded in John 3 so fascinating. He must have followed Jesus around to know where He lived. He must have been contemplating paying a visit for a period of time before he actually took action. Furthermore, the exchange between Nicodemus and Jesus was extremely interesting. Jesus could see through him and knew his every thought and doubt and need. For the purpose of this magazine, I want to focus on verses 5 to 8.
Jesus says that “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” This new birth gives us a new identity – a gospel identity that we receive when we have the life of Christ. From that moment onwards, our lives are changed. I believe it’s extremely important to understand the meaning of this transformation.
First of all, this transformation happens in an instant at our conversion. We are born again in an instant. We receive a new identity and start a new life in an instant. We must understand that while the Bible consistently teaches us to be holy, which is termed sanctification, we are already pleasing in our Father’s eyes and completely accepted by Him. This is all because of Jesus. When we believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins and that the Creator of the universe is our Daddy, and is crazy about us, everything changes. The purpose of our lives changes instantaneously.
Secondly, this new life and identity gives us the strength and motivation to live out a gospel-centred life. I’ve seen Christians who misunderstand the Christian life to be ticking off a to-do list and then return to a life lived chasing their own dreams. What Jesus wants to see in us is a life being formed out of our gospel identity. Indeed we live in light of this truth in all of the normal rhythms of daily life. But our life is no longer about seeking approval through doing good works. We are set free to pursue His glory. This becomes the ultimate meaning of our Christian life. Truly we seek to please Him, but not in order to be accepted by Him. Our sanctification is not about sin management or trying hard to live a life pleasing to God.
I recently came across an interesting story. When you were born, a long-lost uncle placed a billion dollars into a bank account under your name. He planned to give it to you when you became an adult, but on the way home from the bank that day he was killed in an accident, and all records of that money were burnt up. The deposit has now sat in that bank account accruing interest for twenty, thirty, forty years or more. With interest, this treasure has grown to be worth a zillion dollars.
One day, miraculously, evidence is finally found proving whose money this is. You can hardly believe it’s true even after being told this mind-blowing news and shown the proof. You’ve never known it was there and you have lived your life, like a lot of people, working hard to make ends meet. At times you have even done a few things to get by that you were not all that proud of. How different would-could-your life be if you had only known about this amazing, incredible inheritance that was yours all along?
Now imagine this inheritance multiplied in unfathomable ways and given to you, because this is what is now true for you as a child of God. You have become co-heir of all things in the world with Jesus. God’s own Spirit has come to live in you and love you through every step of your life from here on. It seems too good to be true.
But it is true. This is the new life in Christ.