“Ye Must be Born Again”
A. J. Pollock
The necessity for this is allowed by every true Christian, but few know what it involves.
When the soul is first brought to Christ all is bright and fresh. The first song in the Scriptures is the song of redemption (Ex. 15), and it is this song which bursts so loudly and rapturously from the hearts and lips of newly converted souls.
We heard of one who was converted, and who declared the next morning that even the grass seemed greener than it had done in her unconverted days. The song of redemption was loud upon her lips. Another thought in the happiness of his heart that he would never sin again.
But dull days came for both. The grass was not greener, and the young man made an ugly and unwelcome discovery of himself the first time he lost his temper.
Just as in the case of the children of Israel: scarce had the song of redemption on the, further bank of the Red Sea died away on their lips when we find them murmuring; and for forty years we hear no more of singing, as they trod the desert and learnt themselves.
“Oh!” says many a young Christian, “that is just how I was: so bright and happy at first, and then I seemed, the more I tried, as if I could not please God. There was so much evil within me, and I could not keep it down, and I did not know what to do. Shall I struggle on or give it all up?”
Follow me closely, and see if you can understand this parable.
Once on a time there was a large and magnificent ruin. Anyone could see what a grand place it had been before the terrible earthquake came and shook it to the ground. However, the owner was wealthy, and liked the place, and determined to have it rebuilt. So he called in the contractor.
He showed him the ruin, and told him his wish to have it rebuilt, and said, “I want you to go carefully over the old materials, and use them as far as you can in the rebuilding. Now go to work, and report to me when you have made a careful examination.
In due time the contractor made his report to the owner. It was couched in terms something like these:—
“I have carefully examined the ruin, and my report is this. There is not one sound piece of timber in it; no, not one. There is not one good block of stone; no, not one. All has become, through the earthquake, unprofitable, and is quite out of the way for using.
“If a new building is wished, it must be altogether new. The old cannot, either in whole or in part, be used; and, more than that, I beg respectfully to say that, having neither the means nor appliances to construct a new building, I must retire altogether.”
Cannot you read the parable, and put Romans 3 and John 3 together? Man is the ruin. God made him a wonderful creature. What he was like before the Fall we cannot say, but though ruined he still compels our admiration in many ways.
Nicodemus was a good specimen of his kind: a master in Israel; a teacher of the Jews; looked up to and respected; with a character for uprightness and honour. We all know the story. Under cover of night, feeling that all was not right with himself, he came to the Saviour with his question. He was not contented with his public character, but he was little prepared for the ground being out from under his feet as it was.
Let us bring Romans 3 and John 3 together. Man, we repeat, is the ruin. The contractor called in is the Law, who from Sinai’s quaking, smoking mount gave early promise of his inexorable search of the flesh, and his report unvarnished in its naked truth. For fifteen hundred years man was on trial, under law, till even a greater and more supremely testing trial came, and that was the presence on earth of the Son of God, revealing God in love and grace.
Under the test man utterly and miserably failed, demonstrating himself a hopeless, irrecoverable ruin. So Paul sums up the whole case, hands in the report, not for God’s enlightenment surely, but for ours, in Romans 3.
“There is none righteous, no not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
The Law demonstrated that if God wanted man in His holy presence (the old material being proved to be utterly and altogether useless, and unfit to be used), He must begin with fresh material, begin anew altogether.
What wonder then that the Lord Jesus used words that startled Nicodemus beyond measure: “Ye must be born again”! There must be a new start.
Many are not satisfied with themselves, but think that with good resolutions they will do better in future, only to find it end in utter and miserable failure.
Now, if young Christians had but learned what is involved by this new start, and not look to that which has been proved to be incapable of good, they would be saved many a bitter lesson.
If we wish to be saved from all this, we must count on help outside ourselves altogether, even the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul could say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
May God give us all to look in the right direction for help—outside ourselves altogether.
Simple Testimony 1900