Proclaim. Mobilize. Equip.
Call 866-865-6253

This Is Beyond Your Power

August 16, 2019

“How can this be?” John 3:9 (NIV)

“Nicodemus, you must be born again! That’s what needs to happen in your life. Please understand—this does not lie in your power.” It’s not surprising that Nicodemus said “How can this be?”

“You must be born again” is not the gospel. It is the problem to which the gospel is the answer. If you tell someone “You must be born again,” and that is all you tell them, you have not told them the gospel. All you have done is told them the problem. That’s like a doctor giving a diagnosis without offering a prescription.

When Jesus says to Nicodemus “You must be born again,” he is identifying the problem: “The change that needs to happen in your life is more radical than you thought, AND it is beyond your power.” But you can’t end there.

When Nicodemus says, “How can this be? How can I be born of the Spirit?” He is not yet responding to the gospel. He’s responding to Jesus’ diagnosis: The house that you’ve been building your whole life needs to be torn down.

Seeing how Jesus answers Nicodemus will help us avoid two mistakes in evangelism:

Jesus does not say: “Well, it’s all up to God. It all depends on whether you are elect, whether or not you are predestined and, of course, there is nothing you can do about that.”

Jesus does not say: “Well, it’s all up to you. It depends on your faith and your response, and your repentance, and your obedience.” Instead, Jesus confronts Nicodemus with his own inability.

How could this be helpful to you in talking to a not-yet-believer in your life?

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

Explore this topic further

How God Speaks to Us

The heavens declare the glory of God… Day after day they pour forth speech. Psalm 19:1-2 (NIV) God speaks to us in words and pictures. God speaks to us visually in the creation God’s eternal power is clearly seen from what He has made (Rom. 1:20). The creation tells me...

Read Post

Speak Courageously

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) If highly resistant people are to come to glorify God, they must at some point hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Our culture doesn’t...

Read Post
For your gift of any amount

Waiting for the Lord

Advent Devotional

Get Unlocking the Bible's Weekly Email

"This Week at Unlocking the Bible" features new articles, radio programs, devotionals, and ministry updates

We will never sell or misuse your information.