We are evangelicals, but we do not want to be presumptive evangelicals. We believe in the necessity of the new birth, but we also believe in the invisibility of it. In the same passage where Jesus taught us that a man must be born again, He also taught us that we cannot capture the Spirit of God, tag Him, and then release Him back into the wild.
The Spirit is always, at least as far as we are concerned, wild. He is wild the same way that Aslan is not a tame lion.
Jesus said that a man must be born again, and He also said that we cannot control the Spirit’s coming and going. The Spirit is Lord. This means that we must settle (and if we understand, it is not really settling) for affirming that a man must be born again if he is to see the kingdom, and we must also affirm that this calling is vindicated and established over time with a life of love, peace, and joy. There is no instamarker. The Spirit creates and sustains love for Jesus.
So we do not claim to have God in a bottle. We don’t have Him in a booklet bottle, where we manipulate Him by saying certain words on the last page. We don’t have Him in a bottle of baptismal water, where we indulge in a little priestcraft. We don’t have Him in a liturgy bottle, where we have successfully domesticated Him so that He may live peacefully with us in the household of God.
At the same time, since He is the Lord, He tells us what we are to do. At the beginning of our pilgrimage, we are to repent and believe. We are also to do that on every day following. Repent and believe. He is the sovereign Lord, and this is what He tells you to do.