Born to Believe:
God’s Work in Regeneration and Conversion
Preached at Grace Baptist Church, Hartsville, Tennessee on September 7, 2008
Good morning, and welcome to Grace Baptist Church. We are continuing our study of the Gospel of John. Today we will be looking at John 3:1-21. Now, twenty-one verses is a lot to cover in one expository sermon. It is a lot like looking at a mountain from a distance. However, a look from a distance is required if you want to see where the mountain begins and ends. Similarly, if we want to take in the big-picture view of the salvation that is described in the third chapter of John, we need to step back and look at the first twenty-one verses as a unit. So if you are not there already, please turn to John 3:1-21:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the 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 again .' "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
This passage logically breaks up into four parts. In the first thirteen verses we learn that salvation is God’s work. Only God can cause someone to be born again. However, there is also a human response to the Gospel, a response that God requires, and we do not find out about that human response until we look at verses fourteen through eighteen. To have eternal life, we must respond to the Gospel by believing it. Meanwhile, we miss the way believing is accompanied by repentance unless we look down even further to verses nineteen and twenty. But even then, we still do not get the full picture until we get to the twenty-first verse, where our believing and repenting is seen to be the consequence of God’s prior work.
In addition, verses nineteen through twenty-one are essential to understanding John’s jumping around. For when John describes regeneration in the first thirteen verses, and then jumps to the human response in verses fourteen through eighteen, he does this with no explanation for how those two concepts go together. The glue that holds those two ideas together is found in verses nineteen through twenty-one. That is why we are going to look at all twenty-one of these verses in a single sermon.
As we go through these verses we will find four basic points:
1. God must regenerate.
2. You must believe.
3. You must repent.
4. When you repent and believe it is the result of God’s prior work.
II. God Must Regenerate
A. Because we are spiritually blind.
Let us now turn again to John 3:1-3 where we read:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
This passage says that you cannot see the Kingdom of God unless you are born again. One of the reasons God must regenerate the elect is because prior to regeneration they are spiritually blind. The word see sometimes means to perceive with understanding. Last time we took that aspect of the word see and launched into a topical discussion of spiritual blindness. In that discussion we noted that because of the fall, when it comes to spiritual things, unregenerate people are:
1. Unable to see.
2. Unwilling to see.
3. Judicially hardened against seeing as a result of God’s judgment.
B. Because we cannot regenerate ourselves.
Today, as we continue from where we stopped last time, we note that another reason God must regenerate the elect is because the elect cannot regenerate themselves. Just as a baby cannot cause his own natural birth, neither can a person cause himself to experience a spiritual rebirth. He must be born again, and this rebirth must take place through causes outside of himself.
The word born comes from the word gennao, which can mean either to beget or to bring forth. Here in John 3 it means to beget, but in Hebrews 5:5, where the Father says to Jesus, “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU,” the word begotten means brought forth.
Nicodemus is confused. In John 3:4 he responds to Jesus by asking, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?”
In the context of John 3, Nicodemus correctly understands born to mean begotten, but he seems to misunderstand what is meant by the word again. The word again comes from the word anothen which sometimes means again and sometimes means from above.
In John 3:5 Jesus responded by saying, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” How is one born of water and the Spirit? First let us note that Jesus is not talking about two different births. He does not say “of water and of the Spirit,” but He says “of water and Spirit.” The one word of governs both water and spirit. Also, water is dropped from the rest of the discussion after verse five, thereby showing that its importance lies in its relationship to spirit. So we are talking about just one birth. Nevertheless, it will be productive to consider water and spirit separately. So, first we will consider what it means to be born of the Spirit; then we will consider what it means to be born of water.
C. Because regeneration involves water and spirit.
1. Born of the Spirit.
a. Implies born from above.
Obviously, when Jesus says we are born of the Spirit, He must be referring to a birth from above, not a natural birth.
This spiritual aspect of the new birth is consistent with John’s other writings. Consider 1 John 2:29, “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” The new birth is described as being born of Him, where Him refers to God.
Consider also 1 John 3:9, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Again, the new birth is described as being born of God.
Look also at 1 John 4:8, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Again, the new birth is described as being born of God.
One more, look at 1 John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Those who overcome the world are born of God.
b. Has different effects from being born of the flesh.
John goes on to explain that being born of the Spirit is different from being born of flesh. In John 3:6 we read, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
When dealing with the word flesh in the Gospel of John, we must be careful to distinguish between the way John uses the word and the way Paul uses it. When Paul talks about flesh he often means sinful nature, but when John talks about flesh he usually means human nature. So we know that this verse is saying something about the difference between what human nature can produce and what spiritual nature can produce. The flesh can produce children of people, but only the Spirit can produce children of God. To be a child of God requires a spiritual birth, even as we read in John 1:13, “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
c. Cannot be controlled.
Not only does the spiritual birth have different effects, but it cannot be controlled by people. We see this in John 3:7-8 where we read, “Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
In our day, we can tell a lot more about the wind than people could tell in Nicodemus’ day, especially regarding where wind is coming from. We receive weather reports in which people tell us the approximate time in which a thunderstorm is expected to arrive in Trousdale County. People are even able to give us some information regarding when to expect tornadoes, and they issue tornado warnings for threatened counties. Yet, even today they cannot tell us where exactly a tornado is going to touch ground. Will it take my house? Will it take your house? Will someone we know die?
As I remember the tornado that struck our community on February 6, 2008, I tremble as I think of what could have happened, and I tremble as I think of what did happen. No human being knew where it was going to touch down until it was too late to respond to it. When it did touch down, it didn’t spare the old or the young. It didn’t distinguish been government buildings and private residences. It did not differentiate between historic buildings and gas processing facilities. It simply went forth and did all that had been providentially appointed for it.
It is the same with the Holy Spirit and regeneration. No one controls the Holy Spirit, and no one knows where the Holy Spirit will next set out to do His regenerating work.
2. Born of water
a. Various views of water.
Clearly, to be born of the Spirit is to be reborn from above. But where does water fit into this? Why does Jesus say, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”?
Three facts should guide how we understand water in this context:
1. As I have already mentioned, because the word of governs both water and spirit, the most natural way to understand the text is to see water and spirit as two aspects of the same thing.
2. Note also that water and spirit together are used to explain the one rebirth mentioned in verse three.
3. However, the most import fact is this: Jesus expected Nicodemus to understand Him. Jesus clearly expected to be understood by Nicodemus based on his knowledge of how water and spirit were used together in the Old Testament.
There have been many different views regarding the meaning of water in this verse. Some early Christians thought water meant baptism, and from that mistake they developed the idea that a person is regenerated through Baptism.
Some other Christians who do not believe in baptismal regeneration, nevertheless still believe that water points to baptism, seeing the word water as indirectly pointing to the spiritual reality that baptism directly represents as a sign.
I think these believers are mistaken. Although Nicodemus knew something of John the Baptist’s baptism, the doctrine of Christian baptism was not yet known.
Some Christians believe that water and spirit compare natural birth to physical birth. However, water was not treated as a symbol for natural birth in rabbinic writings until after Nicodemus’ time, so this would not have made sense to Nicodemus.
Some believe that water refers to the Word of God. There is no doubt that in the New Testament the Word of God is the primary instrument that the Holy Spirit uses to regenerate people. However, this understanding of the word water was not available when Nicodemus was talking to Jesus. He would have needed the New Testament in order to understand water in this way, and the New Testament was not yet written.
Some believe that water refers to John the Baptist’s baptism. However, since John’s baptism was about to replaced with Christian baptism, it is unthinkable that John’s baptism would have been made a requirement for entering the kingdom.
b. Water and Spirit in the Old Testament.
Whatever water and spirit mean, Jesus expects Nicodemus to understand the phrase from an Old Testament context. How do we know this? When Nicodemus complains in John 3:9 saying, “How can these things be,” Jesus responds in John 3:10 by asking, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?”
Now, it would have been mean spirited for Jesus to have expected Nicodemus to understand water and spirit based on either the future ordinances of the church or the future writings of the apostles. On the other hand, Nicodemus, as a Pharisee and student of the Old Testament, should have understood how water and spirit were used together. So what does water and spirit mean in the Old Testament?
One place where we see water and spirit used together is Ezekiel 36:25-27:
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
This passage treats water as a cleansing agent. When we consider water in terms of cleansing we must be careful to distinguish between the cleansing that man does and the cleansing that God does.
Nicodemus was no doubt familiar with the ceremonial cleansings mandated in the Mosaic Law. There were a number of ways in which a person could become unclean. Some were through sin, but others were through ordinary, innocent activities and exposure. Nevertheless, the penalty for coming before God in an unclean state was severe, as we read in Numbers 19:20:
But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD; the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean.
However, when it comes to regeneration – when it comes to receiving a new heart – there is no human ritual of purification; there is no way for people to prepare for it. God has to do it.
The divine initiative in regeneration is clear in Ezekiel 36. The passage seems to have a three-fold fulfillment. For the exiles, it was fulfilled when they returned to Israel and stopped worshiping idols. For Christians, this passage is fulfilled as God, in the course of regenerating the elect, purifies them from the sins of the past and implants a new principle within them whereby they obey and follow Christ. That is the present application. However, I believe the passage also refers to a future time of revival and blessing among the survivors of national Israel. But for now let’s focus on the application for our present day.
The fact that God is the one who purifies should offer hope to the greatest sinner. We might not have standard purification rituals today, but people still think that way. How often have you entreated someone to come to Christ, only to hear them say, “I need to clean up my life first”? But don’t be deceived – only God can make you clean. Look at what God does in Ezekiel 36:25-31, and I am presenting these in summary form:
· Verse 25: I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean;
· I will cleanse you from your filthiness and from all your idols.
· Verse 26: I will give you a new heart.
· I will put a new spirit within you.
· I will remove the old heart of stone.
· Verse 27: I will cause you to walk in my statutes.
· Verse 28: I will be your God.
· Verse 29: I will save you from your uncleanness.
You can’t clean yourself; God has to do it. All of the cleansing acts of regeneration are initiated by God Himself, apart from human action.
In summary, regeneration is an encounter with God in which man is passive. God does everything. In every other Old Testament encounter with God, people had to prepare through ceremonial cleansing. But in regeneration, God does everything – both the cleansing of the heart and the renovation of the heart. That is what it means to be born of water and spirit.
D. Because Jesus is the authority on the new birth.
But this is God out of control, and this inability to, at least in some sense, manipulate the work of God must have seemed incredible to Nicodemus. It went against his understanding of Jewish life and practice. In the past he could be assured of obtaining God’s favor through rituals and sacrifices. Now Jesus is telling Nicodemus that when it comes to the one thing that every Jew longs for, the blessings of the Messianic Kingdom, not only must he be born again, but he cannot make himself born again; he is helpless before God. Who can blame Nicodemus for asking, “How can these things be?”
At this point Jesus might have lost Nicodemus had Jesus not asserted the basis for His own authority. Nicodemus might be the teacher of Israel, but Nicodemus has never been to heaven. Jesus has. Thus, in John 3:11-13 Jesus says:
Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.
These passages remind us of John 1:18 where we read, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
Nicodemus’ head must have been swimming at this point. Not only has Jesus busted his paradigm, but now Jesus is saying that He descended from heaven, and He is using the fact that He descended from heaven to defend His authority.
III. You Must Believe
Having just blown Nicodemus away, Jesus condescends to rejoin Nicodemus through a story with which Nicodemus must have been familiar – the serpent in the wilderness. In verses 14 thru 15 Jesus says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”
Where do we find this story about the serpent? Again, Jesus uses an Old Testament story, and we find this one in Numbers 21:4-9:
Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food."
The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live." And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
That is why in John 3:15 we read, “Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Then continuing on in John 3:16-18 we read:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Here we switch from God’s work to man’s response to God’s work. God does not believe for us. We have to believe the gospel. Not only must we believe but we must continue to believe. Our believing is not a one-time act in the past but an on-going relationship in the present.
There are several reasons why you must believe:
1. You must believe because of your sin problem. Just as people had spoken against God and Moses in Numbers 21:5, we have sinned against God in many ways.
2. You must believe, because this is the only way to eternal life. John 3:15 says “Whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Eternal life is available, but only in Christ. Outside of Christ there is nothing but eternal death.
3. You must believe because of the cost to the Father. In John 3:16 we read that God gave His only begotten son. When you see the word begotten used with reference to Christ it does not mean born. No, Jesus has had the relationship of Son with respect to the Father from all eternity. Birth was not required for this father-son relationship. Yet, Jesus was closer and dearer to His Father than an only son is to his earthly parents. The many stories in scripture of the anguish that parents felt as they gave up their only child are intended to magnify this: that when God gave us Jesus He gave us His only Son.
4. You must believe because of the preciousness of the sacrifice. An alternative translation for the phrase only begotten is one of a kind. While Jesus was precious to His Father, He was also precious to those who knew Him. There was never a person like Jesus: faithful to the end, sinless without fault, zealous without compromise, forgiving without malice, and holy without spot.
5. You must believe because of the extent of the invitation. John 3:15 says, “so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” John 3:16 says, “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:17 says that Jesus came so “that the world might be saved through Him.” This was quite a paradigm shift for Nicodemus. Nicodemus expected the Messiah to rescue the Jews and destroy the Gentiles. But here Jesus is saying that salvation is offered to all kinds of people, not just Jews.
6. You must believe because of the mercy of the invitation. Why did God send Jesus? It was because of His love for the world. Did we deserve this love? See how Jesus reflects that love of the Father as he cries out over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:27, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” No one, elect or non-elect, deserves the love of God. The reason we are invited to believe is because God is merciful.
7. You must believe because of your present condemnation. For in John 3:18 we read, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Friend, your situation is urgent. You have a reserved seat in Hell. Your every offense is already noted in God’s book. The eternal flames have already been kindled. The only reason you have not felt the flames is because you are still breathing.
8. Finally, you must believe because you are running out of time. The fiery serpent of sin has already infected your soul with the venom of his fatal bite. Look to Jesus and be healed. You say, “I’ll wait until tomorrow.” You might not have tomorrow. You say, “I’ll wait until I am a little older.” Who knows whether or not you will care about your soul when you are older? The only certain opportunity you have is this present moment.
IV. You Must Repent
Now I am going to say something that would startle many people who have dealt with the Gospel of John. Not only must you believe but you also must repent.
Some might challenge me saying, “What? How could you say such a thing! Everyone knows that the word repent is not used in the Gospel of John, no, not even once. Are you not inserting your own words into the text? Are you not adding conditions to God’s sacred word?”
To this charge I would respond by saying, I agree that the word repent is not used in John’s gospel. But remember, words are vehicles for carrying ideas. The word is not there, but the idea is there. Look at verses nineteen and twenty:
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
The word judgment ties back to the eighteenth verse where we have just read that people are presently under judgment because they do not believe. Now, here in verses nineteen and twenty, John shows us how unbelief looks. Here are the features of unbelief. People:
· Love darkness.
· Hate the light.
· Commit evil deeds.
· Fear having their evil deeds exposed.
What if an unbeliever were to repent? How would his repentance look? I submit that he would do the opposite of the above. He would:
· Hate darkness.
· Love the light.
· Commit righteous deeds.
· Be unafraid for God to see his deeds.
Remember, repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. Hating darkness and loving light – that would be a change of mind. Turning from committing evil deeds to committing righteous deeds – that would be a change of direction.
And what do we find when we look down to the twenty-first verse, “He who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” He continuously practices the truth, and he continuously comes to the light.
Practicing the truth instead of practicing evil – is that not the very change of direction that we find in repentance? Coming to the light instead of hating the light – is that not what a repentant person does?
Do you see why I am saying that even though the word repent is not found in the Gospel of John the idea of repentance is part of what John proclaims?
John MacArthur writes:
To say that John called for a faith that excluded repentance is to grossly misconstrue the apostle’s concept of what it means to be a believer. Although John never uses repent as a verb, the verbs he does employ are even stronger. He teaches that all true believers love the light (3:19), come to the light (3:20-21), obey the Son (3:36), practice the truth (3:21), worship in spirit and truth (4:23-24), honor God (5:22-24), do good deeds (5:29), eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood (6:48-66), love God (8:42, cf. 1 John 2:15), follow Jesus (10:26-28), and keep Jesus’ commandments (14:15). Those ideas hardly concur with no-lordship salvation! All of them presuppose repentance, commitment, and a desire to obey.
So if you know how to look for it, you can find repentance in the Gospel of John. Nevertheless, believing must be given priority over repenting, for we are saved by grace through faith. It’s just that faith is not saving faith unless it is accompanied by repentance. Faith without repentance allows a person to continue in his sins. Faith with repentance requires a person to leave his sins and turn to Christ. Faith without repentance allows a person to seek Christ merely for His saving benefits while remaining indifferent to His authority. Faith with repentance requires a person to come to Christ with a commitment to serve and obey Him.
Sometimes people come to Christ without knowing what repentance is. Yet, because of God’s genuine work in their hearts, they instinctively turn away from their old ways and begin to follow Christ. These people have repented; they just don’t know the word. On the other hand, sometimes people are prompted to repeat a sinner’s prayer in which they say, “I repent of my sins.” In many cases there is no change in their way of life following their so-called conversion. When this happens, they might have said the word repent, but they never actually repented.
So the more important thing is not the word repentance but the action of repentance. The Gospel of John does not use the word, but it does describe the action.
V. When You Believe and Repent it is the Result of God’s Prior Work
Not only does the twenty-first verse show us repentance in John’s gospel, it reveals that when people truly repent and believe the gospel it is the result of God’s prior work. Again, John 3:21 says, “He who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
The expression wrought in God means God did it. Yes, God is the cause when people practice the truth and come to the light. He causes this by regenerating people, and He continues to cause this as He leads people by the Holy Spirit. And this is not the only place in the Gospel of John where the response of people to the Gospel is attributed to divine initiative. Consider John 6:29 where “Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” Their believing, had it happened, would have been the work of God.
Consider also John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” The expression comes to Me is another way John describes believing. People come to Christ as a result of the spiritual work of the Father.
But we don’t have to go all the way to the sixth chapter of John to see where our believing is the result of God’s work. All we have to do is look back up to the beginning of chapter three, the place where we began, where Jesus responds to Nicodemus in John 3:5 by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
There you have it, John 3:1-21 viewed from a distance – the mountainside view. It began with the divine initiative of salvation – God must regenerate. This was closely followed by the human response to God’s initiative – you must believe, and you must repent. Finally, we ended at the same place where we started – all this believing and repenting was the result of divine initiative.
Do you love Jesus today? Do you love the light, and have you come to the light? Are you a follower of Jesus? Do you want to know why you love him? 1 John 4:19 gives the answer, “We love, because He first loved us.”
Perhaps it was thoughts like these that led to the words anonymously penned by the writer of hymn 397 in our Trinity Hymnal:
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew.
He moved my soul to seek Him seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Savior true,
No, I was found of thee.
Let us pray:
Dear heavenly father, thank you for regenerating us, for working in our hearts so that we would willingly repent and believe, and for continuing to work in our hearts as we seek to follow you. Amen.