I'm enjoying reading these passages from John - a couple years ago I memorized John chapters 1-3 with Emma for their youth retreat challenge. I haven't reviewed them enough recently to still be able to recite it by myself, but as I read it, it sure comes back!
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
I wanted to focus on v8, but in the context of the passage - I found a great sermon by John Piper about this and I want to summarize and quote some of it......
First - you can be religious but not be born again, as Nicodemus was.
Second - we must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God, escape judgment, and receive eternal life.
Third - we need new spiritual life and cleansing (v5 references Ezekiel 36:24-28)
Fourth - at our first birth we are spiritually dead and we are only made spiritually alive at our second birth
Fifth - if we know and understand the OT, we should (as Nicodemus should have) understand Jesus' message in the NT
Sixth - God causes us to be born again through the power of the Spirit who unites us with Jesus who is Life.
In v8 Jesus makes it clear that the new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works wherever He wills. His effects are seen even though we can't see Him. We do not fully understand how the Spirit works. We can't determine either His origin or His destination - He goes where He wills and we do not get to decide that. And this is how everyone is born again.
I'm going to quote this next part (sorry it's a little long but it's such a good explanation!)......
So what verse 8 is teaching is this: We don’t cause the Spirit to bring about the new birth any more than we make the wind blow. Or to be more specific, the decisive act of will in the new birth is not ours. The Spirit’s will is decisive. To be sure, our will moves in the moment of the new birth. Change happens in us. There are perceptible effects of the wind — “ you hear its sound.”
The main effect of the wind — the Spirit — is that we are made alive spiritually — born again — and now our wills move. They move to receive Christ and believe on Christ. But our wills move because the wind is blowing, not the other way around. We don’t move first. Our wills are awakened and moved toward Christ because the Spirit blows where he wills and gives life to whom he wills.
This is what we mean when we use terms like sovereign grace or irresistible grace. We mean that the Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit, and therefore he is omnipotent and sovereign. And therefore, he is irresistible and infallibly effective in his regenerating work. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t resist him. We do. The Bible is plain about that (Acts 7:51). What the sovereignty of grace and the sovereignty of the Spirit mean is that when God chooses, he can overcome the rebellion and resistance of our wills. He can make Christ look so compelling that our resistance is broken and we freely come to him and receive him and believe him....
Today there are two basic responses to what Jesus says in John 3:8. One is threatened by it. And the other is thrilled by it. To some it feels threatening because it takes the new birth out of our control and makes us feel helpless. But to others this is thrilling, because they have already discovered they are helpless....
When, in your helplessness and deadness, you say, “What shall I do?” Jesus says, “Look away from yourself to the Son of Man, lifted up on a cross to die for your sins.” The work of the Spirit in the new birth is to make us alive so that we see the glory of Christ crucified and risen. So look to him. Look to the Son of Man.
And when you hear Jesus say, “The Spirit blows where it wills,” don’t hear him taking from you the will that you treasure, but hear him giving to you eyes to see Christ as your treasure.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: 2 Kings 17-18; John 3:19-36