“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”
Ephesians 3:14-15 NIVUK
“Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’”
John 3:5-7 NLT
For this reason … what reason? Perhaps Paul considered the Ephesian church, that body of believers, as his “baby”, an infant birthed from his diligence in preaching the Gospel in a city dominated by its own particular deity, Artemis. A fellowship of baby Christians who he desperately wanted to be with, personally nurturing them with the love and grace of God. But they were having to stand firm on their own, dependent on God and His Spirit for all they spiritually needed. He couldn’t be with them, but he could pray. And there in that prison cell, Paul fell to his knees, to pray for the folks back in Ephesus.
Paul knelt before his Heavenly Father. Humbly and fervently praying. And he went on in his prayers to think about the huge family God has. Every person in every family who call upon His name. All those who claim the surname of God. All those who have a “born again” birth certificate. And there in his attitude of prayer, Paul felt a glow of encouragement about how many there were in this wonderful family. There may have even been a faint sense of pride, quickly extinguished, as he went through the names of all the friends he had made, remembering the times when he introduced them into the Kingdom of God, right into God’s family.
Nicodemus came for a cosy chat with Jesus, but right at the start, Jesus pointed out to him that we go through two birth experiences. A natural birth from our parents, a man and a woman. And a spiritual birth through the Holy Spirit. Jesus was quite explicit. He said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again“. We have no choice in being born naturally. But we do have a choice, sadly rejected by most people, of being born again of the Spirit. Something amazing happens, beyond natural, worldly comprehension, when someone is “born again“. But when it happens, through faith we are immediately adopted as a new member of God’s family. We read before about how we came to be members of God’s family. In Ephesians 1:5 Paul wrote, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” So there you have it – through Jesus and His sacrifice for us sinners, we have, through faith in Him, been adopted into God’s family. The entry on our earthly kingdom birth certificate might be something like “John Smith”. But on our spiritual Kingdom birth certificate it might be “John God-son”. We have a dual nationality. One will end when we leave this world. The other is eternal; we will be in God’s family for ever. When we look at it in that way, perhaps we should be more attentive to the responsibilities of being a part of God’s eternal family. Hmmm…
There may be readers of my blog today who haven’t yet taken that step of being “born again”. If that is you, please get in touch. I would love to help you fill out your application for a new birth certificate.