Role of the Holy Spirit In Conversion – John 3:5-8
Jesus answered, “Truly I say to you, if you are not born of water and spirit you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above’. The wind blows wherever it wishes and you hear it’s sound, but you do not know from where it comes or where it is going. It is the same way with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8
Nicodemus, as a good Pharisee, would have taught students his entire career that by virtue of them being born into Judaism they would see the Kingdom of God in the resurrection. It was the very birthright of being a child of Abraham in the flesh. But Jesus challenges this idea by telling Nicodemus that unless you are born of water and spirit, then you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
At this point in the gospel Jesus must be referring to a birth that Nicodemus would understand from the Hebrew scriptures. In fact, Ezekiel shows how to understand Jesus’ claim in verse 5: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean…I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you…I will put my Spirit in you…” (Ezekiel 36:25-27 NIV). The most important birth is not of our flesh, but the renewal of our hearts and minds! Later, in John 8:39, Jesus reminds the leaders that in order to be true children of Abraham, and so inheritors of the promise, they need to follow his example.
But when can we expect this move of the Spirit that will change us completely? On Pentecost Peter declares to his hearers that the Spirit had blown in like a cyclone, drawing people to repentance and baptism. (Acts 2:14-21) The water and the wind crashed into the lives of the believers like a storm surge. Their hearts were renewed and the Kingdom was a living reality!