Not long ago i was visiting in a modern city hospital. Looking for the pathologist, an old friend of mine, I found him performing an autopsy. A little later I went to the surgical department, where, in various rooms, surgeons (most of them friends and former colleagues of mine) were performing operations.

What a vast difference in these two departments! The difference was evident in equipment, techniques, and objectives, but most of all in the persons central to the drama: those in the autopsy room were dead; those in the operating rooms were alive.

In the autopsy room the pathologist wore gown and gloves to protect himself. In the operating rooms the surgeons and nurses took every aseptic precaution possible to protect the patients. In the one room, all hope for life had been extinguished. In the others, life and hope still existed.

In all the world there are but two kinds of people, those who are spiritually dead and those who are spiritually alive. The spiritually dead have been born but once. Those who are spiritually alive have been born twice, the first time physically, the second time by the power of the Spirit.

In the autopsy room there were no vital signs—no pulse, respiration, blood pressure—and all efforts directed toward beautification of the body had long since ceased. In surgery, on the other hand, every effort was being made to maintain those bodily functions that are vital to life while the surgeon carried out his work of correction and restoration.

Jesus came into the world primarily to make it possible for the spiritually dead to become spiritually alive. He made it plain that the new birth is an absolute necessity if man is to enter his eternal Kingdom. The matter of this second birth, or regeneration, is the ...

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