A Sovereign Birth
Contemporary culture prizes independence and autonomy. The spirit of the day is one of self-determination and personal fulfillment, in which all people—at least in theory—are free to go where they please, do what they want, be who they want to be, and make their own decisions. Against this backdrop, the words of Jesus in John 3 are shocking. One of the most striking features of the imagery of new birth is the utter helplessness of the person being born. By describing the event of coming to faith as new birth, Jesus makes it clear that the initiative comes entirely from God and that fallen human beings are unable to gain spiritual life on their own.