Have you ever experienced a miracle? You have if you are a follower of Jesus Christ! The Bible teaches that the entire human race, because of Adam’s sin, is born spiritually dead and in need of new life in Christ. Consequently, if you have entrusted your life to Jesus the Savior of the world, several miraculous things have happened to you. You have been given eternal life, experienced a spiritual resurrection, and become a member of God’s family. This miraculous change is what the Bible calls being born again and it is something that only comes about by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. This means there is hope for your loved ones even if there’s no indication that they’ll ever turn to Christ. For the Holy Spirit is able to change hearts when we least expect it. Let me describe three miraculous ways in which He changes the sinner into a saint –
1. His Work of Conviction. Conviction is the path by which the Holy Spirit leads sinners to repentance. It is a legal term describing the skillful prosecutor who presents his evidence, presses for a verdict, and convinces the jury that the defendant is guilty. But in this case, we are both the defendant and the jury! Jesus said, “When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me.” (John 16:8-9) The great crime of which the Holy Spirit convicts each of us is our unbelief in Jesus. Jesus’ death paid for all our other sins, but the one sin for which no one will ever be forgiven is rejecting the Savior that God sent us in the Person of His Only-Begotten Son. This is the fear John Newton wrote about in his great song, “Was Grace that taught my heart to fear, and Grace my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed!”
2. His Work of Regeneration. Regeneration means giving life to something that is dead. In our case, it means receiving new life in Christ. Why do we need this? Because the moment Adam broke God’s Law in the Garden, the sentence of death fell upon all humanity. God said, “Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat of it dying you will die” (literal meaning). At that moment the dying process. Their spiritual life was lost making them hide from God, and their bodies began to decay until one day they physically died. This is the disease that we’ve inherited which neither education, science, or religion (man’s efforts to appease God) can undo.
But there is a cure. As Jesus explained to the great religious teacher at the time, we can be born again. Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Like a branch cut from a dying tree, we can be grafted into a healthy tree and enjoy new life.
That is my story. Raised in a religious home, I knew what I ought to believe and do, but I found I had no desire or ability to do it. It wasn’t until the age of 19 that I learned why. A friend said to me, “You need to be born again!” “But how?” I wondered. “I can’t give birth to myself, can I?” So I read the Gospels and found that this is something the Spirit does for us. At that time He was also convicting me of my need to believe in Jesus. In fact, I’ll never forget how it happened. I was sitting in a philosophy class, when the Holy Spirit seemed to say to me, “You need to believe in Jesus.” Instead of fighting Him like I had a dozen times before, I submitted my spirit to His Spirit and in that instant I was born again.
3. His Work of Sanctification. Sanctification means to be “set apart” as holy and belonging exclusively to God. In one sense, this is what happens the moment we trust in Christ. Ephesians 1:13 says that having believed, we “were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” who is the guarantee of our salvation in Christ. In ancient times, the king’s image was pressed into the wax seal affixed to a document authorizing its contents and keeping it safe until it reached its destination. Likewise the Holy Spirit is the seal guaranteeing that the King of the Universe loves us just as we are in Christ. But He also loves us too much to leave us that way. Therefore, as soon as we believe, He begins the lifelong process of sanctification by which He transforms us from glory to glory into the very likeness of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 3:18)
This is such a crucial topic that I want to return to it in a few weeks. But for now, marvel at this miracle – if you love Jesus, it’s because you’ve been born again into God’s family and are now a prince or princess of the Most High King! And take additional comfort in this – the same Holy Spirit who has changed your heart can by the power of prayer change the hearts of your loved ones too!
To listen to the full audio message, left click on the following link. To download it, right click and save it to your computer – “The Saving Power of the Spirit.”