“Ye must be born again.” —John 3:7
Those who have had the opportunity to fly understand that the flight to a destination and the flight back home don’t necessarily take the same amount of time. In fact, on long distance trips such as a transatlantic flight, the duration of each route can vary considerably.
Some have mistakenly believed this has to do with the movement of earth’s rotation. The reality is that the culprit of cutting flight times is nothing more than the jet stream, an air flow that is found at an altitude thousands of meters into the atmosphere. Airlines have intelligently chosen to utilize these air currents to save gas and reduce the hours of a flight.
In his sermon “The New Birth,” John Wesley poses four questions: Why must we be born again? How does one receive it? What is the nature of new birth? What is the goal of receiving it?
First, we remember that through Adam, all are bound to death (1 Corinthians 15:22); each human being has come into this world with an inheritance of eternal death. Given that we are born in sin, it is necessary that we be born again.
Second, the way of receiving new birth is to be enlivened by God through His Spirit. God breathes over us, and His grace inundates our hearts. This is a miracle in that we exchange death for eternal life! The result is that we can experience a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and God’s unspeakable and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8).
Third, the nature of new birth is a total change in our lives. We are recreated in the image of God (Colossians 3:10). Love of the world is replaced with love of God; pride is replaced with humility; uncontrolled passions with meekness; and hate, envy, and malice with sincere, tender, and selfless love for all people.
Fourth, the ultimate objective of new birth is the sanctification of the heart and life that restores the image of God within us. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
Wesley closed his sermon with this prayer: “Lord, add this to all thy blessings, — let me be born again! Deny whatever thou pleasest, but deny not this; let me be born from above! Take away whatsoever seemeth thee good, — reputation, fortune, friends, health, — only give me this, to be born of the Spirit, to be received among the children of God! Let me be born, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever; and then let be daily grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!”
Returning to our initial illustration, airline pilots cannot see the wind, but they know it exists and they take advantage of it! It cannot be explained to us how a soft breeze in the afternoon becomes a strong storm during the night, but we can hear the sound and see the results.
The wind blows without any effort from us. It is not dependent on our power, ability, or knowledge. It simply blows, and we can bear witness to it. In the same way, we cannot explain the marvel of new birth, but we can experience the movement of God as well as admire the results in our lives and in the life of the Church.
Mónica E. Mastronardi de Fernández, originally from Argentina, has been a global missionary in the Church of the Nazarene since 1995. She currently serves at the Nazarene Seminary of the Americas in San José, Costa Rica (SENDAS). Mónica is the author and editor of several books on discipleship and formation of lay leaders in the Mesoamerican Region.
To read the full text of the sermon, click here.