Read John 3:1-17.

Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and of Spirit. (John 3:5)

What is this birth by water and by Spirit without which one cannot enter the kingdom of God?

Is birth by water a reference to baptism by water and birth by Spirit a reference to baptism in the Holy Spirit?

Or, since baptism is a ritual cleansing, is birth by water perhaps justification, and birth by Spirit [of Holiness] sanctification?

Or perhaps these two sets of terms refer to the same two operations of grace?

O Lord, in this wilderness, I see that I am filthy. Wash me, fill me.

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

When you are born of the Spirit, you will not know where you are coming from or where you are going. You are being led. You follow. It must be this way for all who are to enter the kingdom of God.

O Lord, in this wilderness, I see no paths. Lead me, protect me.

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)

As you follow Jesus into the wilderness, you too must be lifted up--on the cross, into the air, into death and resurrection.

O Lord, in this wilderness, I see the cross. Let me die and rise with Christ.

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and