From the Pulpit of a Holiness Preacher
An email newsletter ministry of Richard D. Swift publishing the sermons of Rev. Reed A. Swift (1899-1973), a holiness preacher
The following sermon was preached in the Free Methodist Church of Mira Loma, California 1953.
Ye Must Be Born Again
Text verse 7b "Ye must be born again."
Nicodemus said, "Can a man be born again when he is old?" Nicodemus no doubt was an old man and intelligent, but this was too much for him. Even in the natural anything that makes for life, whether a corn of wheat, a tree, a weed or a man, is all beyond a man's comprehension. For instance, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." Now who fully understands this? You might think you do, but you don't. No human being can make a seed that will grow life. God alone understands it. You just plant God's seed. He does most of the balance of producing fruit. He says, "Except ye be born again ye cannot enter heaven." Why? Because we have no germ for spiritual life in us unless Christ be in
us the hope of glory. We are dead! There is no spiritual life germ in a sinner. We must be born again for Christ to plant a spiritual life germ within us, which shall never die as long as we remain in Him and He in us. He makes us new creatures.
If you would have divine life, a spiritual birth must take place. You are not compelled, but if you would have a new life you must have a new birth. There is great ignorance concerning the new birth. A minister asked a business man on one occasion, "Have you experienced the new birth?" His answer? "Oh, yes!" He questioned him further, and he said, "Five years ago a little one was born into our home." That was his "new birth". How ignorant of salvation.
The Jewel of Heaven, Christ, God's only Son, left heaven's glory to give dying humanity a way to everlasting life. Aren't we foolish if we will not believe, accept,
and obey Him? The new birth is old fashioned but not out of date. It is up to date to meet every human need of man. It is the new birth or spring from heaven that never runs dry.
It wouldn't be a surprise tthat Nicodemus was a good church member. He most certainly wasn't a down and out sinner. He was an up and out one. He came to Jesus, but Jesus didn't lower the standard for him. Jesus told him, "Ye must be born again!" You may be respectable and have your name on a church roll without having it in the Lamb's book of Life.
You may keep the rituals of the church without salvation. The up and out and the down and out must all be born again to ever enter heaven. A spiritual birth is neccessary for all classes if you ever enter the kingdom of God. No qualifications of man alone are sufficient to merit salvation. "Ye must be born again."
Nicodemus said, "How can a man be born again when he is old?" That is a good question. Few who wait until they are old to get saved are seldom ever saved before they die and go into eternity unprepared to meet God. It is possible but not probable for one to be born again when he is old. Children readily come to the Lord and are easily saved and recieve the joy of Christ in their hearts. Many young people are easily converted, fewer middle aged, and seldom an elderly person accepts Christ as his personal Saviour. If you reject christ and then through youth and middl;e age, do think it will be easy when you are old? Never! as creatures of habit, you may say no until too late.
Men who live without Christ usually die without hope of eternal life. You can form the habit of saying YES to God and have eternal life, or form the habit of saying NO and have death. The youth has a life to live
to the Saviour as well a soul. Jesus said, "Marvel not that I say unto you, Ye must be born again." "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." "Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Then God is good not to keep innocent helpless children out of the kingdom, so until they are old enough to choose evil rather than good, He will take them to heaven when they die.
When Jesus was asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of God?", He drew a little child unto Him and said, "Except ye be converted an become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of God." Harmless, innocent, forgiving, believing. Oh God, may we be converted and be as innocent and pure as little children. How easily they forgive and forget their injuries.
Nicodemus said, "How can these things be?" With man, impossible, but
not with God! We donot understand the new birth, nor the natural birth, nor the atomic bomb, nor many other things of nature. We plant a tiny black seed and get beautiful flowers with various colors and sweet perfume. How? A black cow eats green grass and gives white milk, which after churned gives yellow butter! How? How is our food and drink of various clolors and kinds changed into blood, hair, finger nails, etc.? "How can these things be?" Yet, God rules, governs, and gives them all in the natural and in the spiritual. And He said, "If you hunger and thirst for God as you do for food, ye shall be filled."
"How thou canst be so good to me,
And be the God thou art,
Is darkness to my intellect,
But sunshine to my heart.
Oh Lord! How can these things be?"
Emperor Trajan, who ruled Rome in A.D. 98-117, said to a Rabbi named Joshua, "You say your God is everywhere. I should like to see Him." Rabbi Joshua answered, "Indeed His handiwork is everywhere, but you cannot look upon Him in the physical and live." Trajan insisted, so the Rabbi took him outside and told him to look at the sun. Whereupon, Trajan said, "Oh, I can't; it blinds me!" Joshua said, "Well, if you are unable to bear the light of one of god's creatures that He has created, how could you look upon the Creator and live?"
Herbert Spencer, in his Principles of Biology, volume 1, page 93, says that life is, "the definite combination of heterogeneous changes, both simultaneous and successive, in corresponence with eternal co-existences and sequences." Now that you have learned this definition of life, does it enable you to grasp its full meaning and enjoy life better?
We may not be able to explain the spiritual birth too well but, "Ye must be born again" to enter heaven. Have you ever seen a robot? A robot man? I have! Actions, etc. Have you ever seen a robot Christian? I have! Any robot may be improved upon over a period of time, but it never gives them real life. a man or woman may quit bad habits and be improved upon by good resolutions, but this is not he new birth.
When a sinner ackowledges his sins to God and sincerely asks our righteous God to forgive and believes God, in a moment the work is done. The Holy Spirit makes him alive. He is made a new creature with a new heart, desires, and aspirations. Glory be to God! This does away with all doubt. Some say, "I hope I am saved" or "I think so", etc. The Holy Spirit assures us we are born of God. IJohn 5:10- "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in
himself." Romans 8:16- "The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are born of God." John 6:37- "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Acts 2:21- "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Ephesians 2:8- "For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Romans 10:9-10- "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Have you been born again? Are you a new creature in Christ Jesus? Believing in Christ? Living in Christ? and Obey Christ? "Ye must be born again!"
"Long years my careless soul had led
A life, which
living, yet was dead;
I knew not God, knew not His love
Had sent His Son down from above.
In living death, o'erwhelming pride,
I thus God's patience long had tried,
Til one in pity came to me,
Showed me that Figure on a tree.
I looked at first with vacant eye,
Thot it not strange a man should die,
Then slowly from my stupid gaze
I woke with heart and mind amaze.
From thou crowned head, from pierced side,
From hands and feet, a crimson tide
Flowed down that tree, stained deep the ground
And in that flood, God's life I found.
God's blood poured out, sin to atone;
God's life given up without without a moan.
That guilty men, lost undone, blind,
Might look, might live, might true life find.
I looked, I lived, then first I knew
Life's meaning, power, and purpose true;
In Christ to live, to move, to be
One with the Lord, Eternally."
-J. Gordon Holdcraft
This concludes my grandfather's sermon. Reader how is it with your soul? Are you born again? If not, you can be! If so, I trust this sermon blessed you as much as it dead me. Especially the poem at the end.
Yours for Radical Holiness,
Richard D. Swift
505 Hickory Hills dr.
Dexter, MO 63841