The key word in addressing these 4 verses is the word “understanding”. This is HOW we receive the new birth. Up to this point, everything Jesus had talked to Nicodemus about made no sense, his question, vs. 9-10, “9…”HOW can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?“
Paul already told us that “… the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”, 1Corinthians 2:14. Though Nicodemus was a teacher, he was in the natural, for that reason, the spiritual things made no sense. If he could not know Christ while a teacher, how is it that we hear today people claim that there are people getting saved without hearing or believing in Christ? That is impossible because there is a key, and that key is “understanding”, that understanding comes as the gospel is preached and God opens hearts to receive the message. Romans 10:14-15, “14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?”
Understanding is not man generated, it is God generated. Luke 24:45, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (NIV). If it’s understanding we need, the question is not “WHAT” brings us this understanding but “WHO”, 1John 5:20, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life”. He who has the Son has eternal life.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4 that they worshiped what they didn’t know. A chapter earlier, He is confronting Nicodemus with the same, vs. “11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” Similar experience with Philip led by God to meet an Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts 8:30, “So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The reason understanding is the key is because understanding is REVELATION. Salvation is revelation only God gives to those whom He has opened their hearts. It is revelation that comes about when God takes His spoken Word and makes it alive in a person He is saving so that they understand who they are as sinners and what He has done for them in Christ and they respond in repentance and faith, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”, Romans 10:17. This does not happen apart from the preaching of the law and the gospel.
In Acts 8 as mentioned, God sent Phillip the evangelist to meet an Ethiopian Eunuch he found reading the word, and Philip asked him vs. “30…Do you understand what you are reading?”31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him”. This man was reading with no understanding until God sent Phillip, vs. 35 “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him”. Only God could give understanding of the scripture through Phillip to this man because God opened His heart.
When Jesus talked of the parable of the sower, He tells us of the results of those who hear and don’t understand, their soil is not ready for the gospel, Matthew 13:19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart”. This is he who received the seed by the wayside. The good soil has one key ingredient, “understanding“. Matthew 13:23, “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”. Wayside and good soil candidates both heard, only the good soil candidate understood and retained.
We therefore must present the gospel clearly to eagerly waiting hearts that they too may truly hear and understand God’s word and be converted. For true conversion to take place, the Holy Spirit must Convince, Convict, Convert and Contain, which is the true gospel. To continue, blessings Ev