In the case of physical birth and development, there are precise stages that each and every person must go through to grow and survive.
There are strong parallels in those stages of spiritual birth and development.
Birth has been planned and arrangements are being made, the embryo is developing. The embryo in this stage is similar to the first signs of faith.
24 "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.
25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
28 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'
Q: What has God done to show his part in preparing for a spiritually well child?
- He set the times most conducive for the people who are seeking him.
- He set the places...most conducive for people seeking him.
Q: How can you identify a person spiritually dead. Unborn?
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Live for gratification
Follow the ways of this world. Disobedience.
Q: How does this happen in real life?
Meeting of opportunities to hear the word. Someone is one who brings the good news.
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
Q: What are the signs of a healthy embryo? (A non-Christian who is developing faith)
- Developing faith
II. BIRTH AND EARLY INFANCY
The period of being brought into life. The newborn must continually be fed essential elements that are key to survival.
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.
2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'
Jesus teaches Nicodemus about being born a second time.
Q: What the stereotypical ideas that come from the phrase “born again?”
- Hypocrisy and hype phrase among religious people.
- Bob Dylan, Larry Flynt, (“born again” who are quite pagan today).
Q: What would scripture have to say about how one is really “born again?”
12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
Not of human decision! We can’t wish it or pray ourselves into spiritual birth. Neither can our parents make it happen by inauguarating us after birth. God decides the manner of rebirth, and we ourselves comply.
17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.
18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
God sees to it that people receive a form of teaching about faith in God..all throughout the book of Acts competent teachers of the truth arrive where people want to be born of God.
(We can study this in detail in person later. Let’s focus on the heart of spiritual birth..not the doctrinal how-to’s)
Q: From this point on, what does an infant in Christ need and how does he / she get it?
III. ON TO MATURITY
Maturity is the process of growth where competence in early stages has taken place and a level of near-perfection is achieved
(ie. walking, riding a bike).
Applied to Christianity, this process is the period in time where a person has been trained to identify what is good and what is evil.
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,
2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
3 And God permitting, we will do so.
Q: From this passage, how can you tell if someone is maturing?
- They are acquainted with God’s word on righteousness.
- They are not confusing good with bad - sensual with spiritual.
- Baptisms, faith, the resurrection of the dead, repentance, judgement, the laying on of hands are all elementary.
Q: Which stage of these THREE STAGES of development are you are?