"That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, you must be born anew. The wind bloweth where it will, and you heareth the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:6-8). Scripture tells us that to be born again is to be born of the Spirit. It is a new birth, an altogether new working. New birth is not repentance, nor is it belief in what Christ did for us at the cross. New birth is something that takes place by the Spirit, after one has repented and believed.
New birth is receiving a new life. John the Baptist knew what God was doing, when he said, "I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire."
The religious leaders of Jesus' time did not know what God was doing, and neither do the religious leaders of our time. This is apparent, with all the different religions we see around us in the world today. Paul gives us the reason in I Corinthians 2:11: "Even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God: that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God." We do not know or understand the things of God by the natural mind or its reasoning. We can know the things of God only when we have received the Spirit. Jesus said, "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all truth."
We cannot substitute anything for the indwelling of the Spirit and His revelation to our hearts. The Spirit's presence takes God's work out of the hands of man and keeps all of it in the Spirit and by the Spirit. When we look around us today, we see so-called Christians going in so many different directions. One reason for this is that they are not all hearing God; the Spirit is not indwelling and controlling their lives. Paul tells us in Romans 8:14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." If we are being led by the Spirit we are being made one, and we have fellowship one with another. The Word of God is given for us to obey, and obedience will lead us into the "fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).
Christ must be Lord of our lives, and the only way He can be Lord is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Repentance and faith allow one to be justified before God on the basis of what Christ did at the cross. All of this is only to prepare the believer to receive the life of God in the Spirit. We cannot have the life of God unless God comes to indwell each believer as the source of his or her life.
The difference between life and death is revealed in our fellowship. Far too many think that fellowship is simply agreeing in doctrine. The difference between trying to have fellowship in doctrine, and experiencing fellowship with one who has the life of God, is like the difference between death and life. We can never move in this life until we have received life from God and then gone on to know the Lord by experience through the working of the Spirit. If the Word never gets into our lives in expression, it remains in our heads and can never bring us into the relationship God has designed. We must be experiencing God by walking in the light; this is an active and continuing relationship in the fife of God by the Spirit. One must press on past wrong teaching that blocks the mind, into truth which is in the working of the Spirit. Faith is the realm in which God is working. Faith brings all things back into focus, with all things beginning in God and being worked out by the Spirit. No one can ever tell God what He is going to do or how He should do it. We must recognize God for who He is, realize what He has done for mankind, and then go on to experience Him by faith. Faith always brings us into an experiencing of God and what He is doing, because faith begins in Christ and Christ is the finisher of our faith.
We must accept all that the Spirit brings, and not just what we want or what we have been taught by man. When the Spirit is in control, nothing is done in the natural realm. We cannot do what needs to be done in our lives or in the church, in our own strength. It can only be done by the Spirit and in union with the Spirit.