November 4, 2004
Read: John 3:1-17
Do not marvel that I said to you, "You must be born again." —John 3:7
What do regular coffee, acoustic guitars, and black-and-white television have in common? All are what journalist Frank Mankiewicz calls "retronyms"—words or phrases created because a familiar word needs to be distinguished from a term that refers to a new development or invention.
Once, all coffee was regular, all guitars were acoustic, and all TVs were black and white. Not so today, thus the need for a growing list of retronyms, including decaf mocha java, electric guitar, and high-def television.
It could be said that Jesus turned the phrase physical birth into a retronym when He told an inquiring man named Nicodemus, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
Nicodemus was a religious person who didn't grasp the idea of second birth. "How can a man be born when he is old?" he asked Jesus. "Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" (v.4). Jesus further explained the difference between being born of the flesh and being born of the Spirit, then concluded, "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again'" (v.7).
Our Christian life begins when we invite Jesus to live within us. It's a miracle! We're born again. —David McCasland
Rejoice, O soul, the debt is paid,
For all our sins on Christ were laid;
We've been redeemed, we're justified
—And all because the Savior died.
—D. De Haan
Natural life came by God's breath; eternal life comes by Christ's death.
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