John 3:5, "Jesus
answered, Verily, verily, I say
unto thee, Except a man be born
of water and of the
Spirit, he cannot enter into the
kingdom of God."
Perhaps the reason that this is on my mind this morning, is that there is a "religious saying" that seems to be gaining a lot of speed and popularity. I first saw it a few years ago, and I seem to see it more and more every year. It says, "Be ye fishers of men - you catch 'em, and he'll clean 'em." Their analogy is quite off in my opinion, because unless they have already been cleaned from the filth that reigns in these mortal bodies, there is no way for a gospel minister to catch ANY man that has ever lived.
Notice in the Bible that the Lord ALWAYS prepares the way for the gospel minister. He prepared the way for Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch, for Paul with Lydia, for Peter with Cornelius, etc. This is ALWAYS the prerequisite. Unless the Lord has been there first, we labour in vain in our efforts. Now, how does the Lord prepare the hearts of His people? He speaks about this in this verse and also in Ezekiel 36:25-26 and Titus 3:5. The Lord washes us in water (from His Son, not the baptistery), changes out our stony heart for a fleshy one, and puts His Spirit within us. That set of events (happening instantaneously) is what EVERY single child of grace will experience between conception and the grave. This act (just like all the other aspects of eternal salvation) are completely passive on the part of man and active on the part of God.
Then, AFTER this occurrence has taken place, it is possible for this regenerate man to seek after the things of God. This is NOT something that all children of God will engage in. However, they will no longer prosper in their sinful condition (even if they stubbornly follow after it). As Christ told Paul, "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." Therefore, cleaning MUST take place before the catching. May we ever seek the truth, and not follow after the "cute" sayings that man devises.