“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” As the infant year of 2017 is placed in our arms, it would do us well to rehearse these plain and straightforward words from the Bible’s first sentence.

The creation passage from Psalm 33:4-9 is more specific and concludes with the advice: “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (verses 8 and 9).

Mark writes in his Gospel account: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” in verse six of chapter ten. Following verses give God’s order for marriage and family.

Paul writes about Jesus Christ in Colossians: “For by him were all things created … all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (selections from 1:16 and all of verse 17).

The same penman records in Romans 1:20: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and God-head; so that they are without excuse.” Our responsibility is to believe, accept and then build the fabric of our lives upon God’s Word.

The physical creation then carries our thoughts into the realm of the spiritual. Realizing the temporal nature of the physical, we ponder over that aspect of life which is eternal. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Spiritual birth requires a conception. It is not trying harder to do better as we enter a new year. The immortal aspect of human life insists upon a conception and a birth in the same pattern, as does the mortal.

In John’s third (Gospel) chapter, we find Him telling the esteemed religious ruler Nicodemus: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). We understand from this that there must be a conception of the “water, and of the Spirit” for a person to be born into the family which is God’s. Verse seven instructs: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, ‘Ye must be born again.’”

The Bible often refers to itself as the “water” of life. Christ tells the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4: “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

The Word of God is this “water” aspect of eternal life that is necessary for spiritual conception and resultant birth. The “Spirit” that Christ speaks of in John 3:5 is the Holy Spirit of God that moves in the heart to make the Word of God real and understandable. John 6:63 explains: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profited nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

Jesus is telling His disciples that the Holy Spirit quickens or enlivens what the Word of God has watered. There must be the conception of these two if eternal life is to be born within the heart of a person. John 16:13 finds Jesus further relating to His disciples: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth …. and he will show you things to come.” God’s Word is this life-giving water of truth, and it takes the Spirit of God to make that truth real and understandable. These two must conceive to produce a new birth.

The sheltering fold for such a delicate process is the “womb” of faith. Hebrews 11:6 records: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8 that we are saved from the penalty of sin and thus born spiritually “through faith.” Romans 5:2 informs that faith gives access to the grace of God in making all of this possible. Without the conception of the Word of God and the Spirit of God in this “womb” of faith, there can be no spiritual birth and thus no eternity in Heaven.

A person can fool others about the conception and spiritual birth, but we cannot so easily fake the characteristics of spiritual heritage. There is a DNA linkage that shows up in the child, and the traits of the parent can be discerned therein.

When a person is born into the family of God, there will eventually be distinct changes in such areas as appearance, language, behavior, interests, associations and pursuits. Old things will pass away as the world view and energies of life become new and different from the natural way.

As the Word of God is made real by the Spirit of God in the child of God, spiritual convictions begin to form in the heart. Paul writes: “nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12). Shame, sheepishness and sloppiness concerning the Christian life are replaced by real convictions as the spiritual child begins to grow up. Repentance brings sorrow and grief about sin. A painful sense of the wrath of God against further sin develops. The atrocity of sin against a holy God should conform our hearts to produce a thankfulness and joy that He would love us, forgive us and lift us from our sin.

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is confirmed in His bodily resurrection from the tomb. Neither could have been possible were He not God. The extension of these Bible truths is brought to our attention as we begin this new calendar year. The completion of all this requires that we accept Christ as personal Savior, be born again as God’s child and begin to grow spiritually.

For those who are advanced along the spiritual road of life, we are afforded yet another opportunity to review the past year and refresh our resolve for the one coming.

Might the consummation be for us as it was for King David in Psalm 17:15: “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”

R.D. “Bob” Hottle is a retired schoolteacher, farmer and pastor of the Anchor Baptist Church.