"The idea of a fundamental change equal to a new birth is not something confined to one or two chapters of the New Testament. The idea is found in many places and a variety of illustrations are employed. ... It is clear that the Bible uses a variety of pictures to convey the idea that the Christian life starts with a radical change produced by God. ... washing, receiving a new heart or spirit, God’s law in the mind and on the heart, ... circumcision of the heart, ... a new birth, a new planting, a new creation, a resurrection, a passing from darkness to light, entering a new world, setting out in a new direction, Spirit baptism and being irresistibly drawn. God intends all these pictures to add to our understanding of regeneration and we do well to reflect on them. Is your understanding of new birth all that it should be?"From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, pp 65, 74
"Jesus uses a picture that grows out of the fact that in Hebrew, Greek and other languages, the word for Spirit or spirit is also the word for breath or wind. This is because both are invisible. Just as ‘the wind blows wherever it pleases’, so the Spirit regenerates whom he will. In the same way that you cannot see the wind but you can see where it has been and what it does, so the Spirit works in people’s lives, and though his work is invisible to our eyes, the results are seen in changed lives. Just when and where the Spirit will work next we cannot definitely know."From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 63
"The you in ‘you must be born again’ (John 3:7) is plural. Everyone needs to be born again, not just Nicodemus. The words are often misunderstood to mean that we must do something ourselves to be born again. Yet the picture itself suggests the very opposite. Grammatically, this is an indicative not an imperative, a statement not a command. Just as we cannot decide to be born, so we cannot decide to be born again. Just as birth comes at the beginning of our conscious human life so new birth is at the start of the Christian life."From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 62
"The fact that receiving or believing appears to arise before becoming children of God or being born of God in these verses tempts some to think that receiving or believing is a condition for being born of God. However, the whole point of the passage is that becoming a child of God is not a matter of ‘natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will’. God makes it happen. As Paul observes: ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow’ (1 Corinthians 3:6). Only God, the giver of life, can make alive. The same point is made in a previous quotation from Ezekiel 36, where God says, 'I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh [italics mine].'"
From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 62
I remember my father telling me a story once of when he was in school. My father was a football fanatic, especially when a boy. (He was desperate not to pass the 11-plus as if he left the elementary school he would have to play rugby not soccer). Anyway, one day the teacher called the class to attention and announced that unless someone owned up to some misdemeanour that had occurred the day before, there would be no football that day. As soon as the class was over my dad went straight to the teacher and confessed it was him. "Go away, Brady" said the teacher "you weren't here yesterday"!
In 1969 the present Prince of Wales was invested with his title. I remember being at my nan's in Lilleshall Street, Newport and seeing that someone had written up on the brickwork "God bless the Prince of Wales". It was there for a few weeks if I remember rightly and then some clever dick came along and modified the slogan so that it said "God bless the price of ales" (or perhaps God bless the price of ale). I was 10 at the time and though it very funny and very cleaver.
"Finally, for all the positive things we can say about the new birth it is right to remind ourselves that, as Boston notes, it is an imperfect change. Just as a newborn baby is not a mature man, so a newborn Christian has plenty of developing to do. It is important that we do not expect too much. Thomas Watson says, ‘The new creature is but begun here; it is not perfected or drawn in all its orient colours till it comes to heaven.’ Calvin warns, ‘There still remains in a regenerate man a fountain of evil, continually producing irregular desires.’ The fight against sin goes on to the end. We should pray with Wesley, 'Finish, then, Thy new creation; Pure and spotless may we be.' It is not ‘Till in heaven we take our place’ that we will know the perfect restoration found in Christ."
From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 43