4. What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?
What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?
The Born Again Experience (Born Of The Spirit), Of Which Christ Speaks Of.
There Are Two Aspects of “Born Again”
The Conversion: This refers to a process that is ongoing within an individual (Romans 12:2). It is a lifelong-transforming process overcoming sin, growing in grace and in the knowledge of God and His Christ (John 5:23, Col 3:1-4, 10) (2 Peter 3:18, 1John 2:24, Rev 12:10).
The Resurrection: (In reference to the Rapture) This refers to a process that literally transforms (changes) our current physical state of existence into a spiritual state of existence, having the same divine nature as Christ. (Philippians 3:21)
In the book of John (chapter 3) we find Jesus using several new and interesting expressions; “Born of Water”, “Born of the Spirit” and “Born Again.” In the opening passages (John 3:1-2) we have Jesus talking to a man named Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews, and a member of the Sanhedrin.
Jesus revealed to this devout Pharisee that the Kingdom of God was for the whole world (John 3:16), not just the Jews, and that Nicodemus wouldn’t be a part of it unless he was personally born again (John 3:5). This was a revolutionary concept, its entrance requirements were being born of water and of the Spirit. Jesus also tells us that God’s Kingdom had already begun in the hearts of believers (Luke 17:21, Mat 12:28).
When Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be “born again” he is actually speaking of obtaining a totally different new body and life literally, or the transition into a new creature that has been given eternal life, although it encapsulates a figurative birth process.
Part 1: The Conversion
Is Born Again / Figuratively
As A Son of God
When His Life & Belief Is Converted
To Be Born Again Indicates:
1. The starting point in our new life (as Christians).
2. The new starting point in our growth, as babes in Christ.
Although not directly stated as such, various passages suggest (or imply) that the point at which a “sinner” becomes converted is that the sinner has been “born again.” The Bible implies that we are “born again” when we begin a new life in Christ (in other words we, “like as Christ”, ought to walk in a “newness” of life – Romans 6:4, 7:6, 2Cor 5:17, Eph 4:22-24, Col 3:10, 1John 2:6) and as with any “earthly” birth there is a growth process. This is also why some are often referred to as being babes in Christ, and newborns (as desiring the sincere milk) who have to be taught the Word of God (1 Corinthians 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:2) just as Jesus was taught by his Father (John 8:28-31). Even though your heart may be right for receiving the Holy Ghost we still have to be taught the “Will of God” or “Word of God” somehow or from someone (Hebrews 5:8; John 5:19-20, 8:28, 14:26; 1 John 2:27; 2 Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11-12).
When we receive the Holy Ghost (the Spirit of God) and are led by his Spirit we are classified as “sons of God” (Romans 8:14) which is of course only figuratively because we have not yet truly been “Born Again” (literally).
To make matters somewhat more perplexing, in (John 3:5) we see two different birth processes emerging, a man must be born of water and of the Spirit. Both are symbolically similar (in reference to being born) in that they both symbolize the beginning of a new life.
But the phrase to be “born of water” is often debated as to its true meaning. Some argue it refers to the birth as given by a woman, others say that it refers to water baptism.
This leaves several possibilities to explore:
1. Water Baptism?
Water Baptism is a commandment (intended to demonstrate your act of obedience), it was not given as an option (Acts 10:47-48, Matthew 28:18-20, See also: Comparing Matthew 28:19 to Acts 2:38). It is said to reflect the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, but it is not indicated as being a “birth.”
We know water baptism also symbolizes the “cleansing of” or a “washing away” of our sins (Ephesians 5:25-27; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 3:21). Being justified by faith, we can now have peace with God (Romans 5:1-21). This is the start of a “newness of life” in Christ. (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12-13, 3:1-3; 1 Peter 3:21)
We must also understand that the commandment to be baptized with water was (and is) only applicable to certain groups of people. For example, as for the Old Testament (O.T.) Saints, water baptism, and the belief in Jesus were not a requirement given to them by God, these individuals are now dead (or “asleep”). Many of these “obedient saints” of God (often referred to as “holy” or “righteous“) will be saved without ever receiving water baptism (Heb 11:13-16 (NIV); Heb 9:15 (NASB): Rom 4:3-6 (NASB), Rom 4:10-11(NIV), Rom 4:22-24 (NIV); James 2:23: Ps 32:5). Many O.T. men and women of God had the Holy Spirit (Psa 51:11), various gifting, callings, and blessings without ever receiving water baptism ( 5. The Holy Ghost Was Not Unique To Pentecost ). The same occurred with John and others in the N.T. (Luke 1:15-17, 41, 67, 2:25-38; Heb 11:13-16).
Men have received the Holy Spirit before water baptism (Acts 9:17, 10:44-48; 15:7-8) and some in Christ’s ministry were forgiven without water baptism (Mt. 9:1-7; Luke 7:48).
Water baptism serves as both a symbolic “figure” (1 Pet. 3:21) and as a “witness” (1Jn 5:9-10). However, it is not necessarily essential to everyone’s salvation but applies to those who have heard the gospel (Rom 10:14). God is not going to throw anyone in Hell for commandments they were never afforded the opportunity to receive.
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Knowing that God is a just God (Rev 15:3), this understanding would also apply to other similarly situated groups of individuals, infants, mentally disabled, unlearned, etc.. (Ref: Should Babies Be Baptized? ) nonetheless, everyone will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account (2 Cor 5:10), but not because they failed to be water baptized.
This is an important point to take note of. Jesus’ statement clearly indicates that being “Born of Water” was a prerequisite with no exceptions (John 3:5). Water baptism is important to everyone who has heard the gospel of Christ yet it clearly is not applicable to every single person who ever lived here on earth, especially when we consider the Old Testament Saints (Mat 8:11). We, therefore, can conclude that the phrase “Born of Water” does not mean that all men must receive water baptism in order to enter Heaven.
2. Human Birth?
The born of water symbolism can, however, be seen directly relating to the physical birth of man. Life comes through both the water and by the breath of God; an infant comes through (or develops within) the water of flesh and when birthed breathes air by the breath that is given it from God (Isa 42:5).
A new baby must go through the process of growing, learning, and maturing as does a new man in Christ.
One of the signs of a woman getting ready to give birth is what we commonly call the passing of water.
Note: Flesh is flesh—that is what it is. Jesus spoke this in the literal sense. Since the second part of the sentence is dependent upon the first part, it too must be taken in a literal sense. Spirit is spirit —that is what it is.
Conclusion: “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. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
Verse 6 is parallel with verse 5. Water is equated with (flesh) physical birth. Whereas, Spirit is equated with spiritual birth. So what Jesus is saying is that you must not only be born physically but spiritually. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he could not enter the Kingdom of God while still in that state. As Paul said, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50).
In 1 Corinthians 15: 44- 46 we find statements compatible with the point of John 3:6. “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit…”
(The Rapture/The Caught Up)
Are Born Again By God (Literally)
As New Living Creatures
(As Immortal/Spirit Beings)
(Through The Rapture)
How Are We Born Again?
Let’s review again how men (humans) are first given life (born).
1. (With the exception of Adam and Eve) In order for the nature of “man” to enter into the world as a living, functioning, breathing human soul requires a woman (women contain the human “ova” or egg). The spirit of man (given to each of us by God) is born with living human flesh. All men are considered to be “created creatures” of God and “ALL” men (including Jesus) are given mortal bodies of “flesh” (it’s able to die) and unless some supernatural intervention occurs these bodies will return to dust – (Genesis 3:19)
2. The Bible, however, indicates that this is distinguishable from that which is required for a man (dead or living) to enter into the kingdom of God. This is accomplished by a process called Born Again (John 3:7), the question is how?
(John 3:4) “Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
(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.”
Nicodemus’ question was legitimate, it was impossible for a man to re-enter his mother’s womb and be reborn. However, Jesus was not asking him to do the impossible but to see that he had a real spiritual life to consider not just a reformed old life.
(1Co 15:49) And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
(Php 3:21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
(2Pe 1:4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Jesus Christ the First to be Born Again
To fully understand the true meaning of being born again, we first have to understand the true meaning of Jesus being the “firstborn” among many brethren.
(Rom. 8:28-29) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Yet we know that this is not speaking of Jesus’ first birth, his human birth at Bethlehem. It is speaking after He was physically born of the Virgin Mary—because many brethren were born (of human birth) before Jesus.
Since Jesus is the firstborn of many brethren, these many brethren are to be born having the same kind of birth experience as Christ.
When Jesus was “born” at Bethlehem, he was a human, – born the Son of man (woman).
When Was Christ Born Again?
The Bible says we, (being sons of God), will one day be like Christ (not like God) when he appears (1 John 3:2, Col 3:4, Heb 9:28, Php 3:21) – and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
In order to be born again, our fleshly body must first somehow DIE or, as we know it, cease from existing as a functioning/breathing human being. Only then could a man be literally born again!
* Note: Yes, there will be some “Holy Ghost-filled” men and women still alive when Christ returns during this first resurrection, and they will also be caught up to meet Christ in the air (1Th 4:16-17). In either scenario, their physical flesh body will die (Jas 2:26) and they will be changed/transformed with new bodies (1 Cor 15:52-53).
Jesus was born again — but this time born of God by His resurrection, as you read in Romans 1:3-4: “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed (born) of David according to the flesh [His human birth of Mary — making Him the Son of man]; and declared (confirmed) to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
These scriptures (Rom 1:3-4, 8:28-29) are referencing the TWO births of Jesus Christ. The one through the Virgin Mary, a descendant of David, by which He became the Son of man. Then later, He was born again, (by God) but this time by His resurrection from the dead!
Note: When we consider (John 1:13, 1Peter 1:3, and 1 John 5:1), we should take note that these three passages contain three different English words (Begat, Begotten, and Born) which are all English words transliterated from the same Greek word (G1080). However, the intent and usage of these words are vitally important to understand. It is true, no one will be born again (of God) unless he repents of his sin, believes in Christ and accepts Him as his personal Savior, receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then is led by the Spirit of God. But this experience is not a true “born-again” experience — it is a begettal! It is NOT a true Birth!
We have not literally been born again if we have not yet literally died because as long as we remain physically alive we still possess our sinful nature (free will/ the ability to choose sin) which is an inherent part of our physical nature.
Each of us was begotten in our mother’s womb before we were later born.
Who Are These “Brethren”?
In Romans 8:12, Paul says: “Therefore, brethren…”, brethren is in reference to the saints
(Romans 1:7 — To all that be in Rome, “beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In (1 Cor. 1:2) Paul addresses his letter to Corinthians: “Unto the church of God … to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints“. And in verse 10, “Now I beseech you, brethren…” The brethren are those who are the saints.
Note: (Luke 24:46, Acts 26:23) That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. (Ref Isa 53:2-12)
Christ is the firstfruits — Christ the firstborn of many brethren — the first to be born by the resurrection from the dead! (1Cor 15:20-23).
The Bible does not say that Christ was a sinner who needed salvation. Yet he had to be born again, just as all saints (brethren) in order to be the FIRST!
Quickened To Be Born Again
The Biblical term “born” or “birth” is used, not only to indicate a child coming forth from the womb of a woman but it is also used to describe the source of a beginning of a thing, an event, or a series of events. For example, we speak of the birth of a nation, an institution, or a concept. As it was with Christ, the essential component to experience being born again (to experience the FIRST resurrection) occurs only with those who have been “quickened” (1 Cor 15:45).
(Ephesians 2:1) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
(Ephesians 2:5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
(Colossians 2:13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Note: The quickening aspect is indicated as being obtained now not after we are physically dead. We (the Saints) have been forgiven before we die thus we are ready for death (physically) as we have been quickened and await to be changed, “In a moment in the twinkling of an eye” to meet Christ in the air when he comes (1 Corinthians 15:52).
This is vitally important to understand because in order for this “quicken” aspect to take place you must have His Spirit (the Spirit of God, which is called the Holy Ghost) residing in you. Paul puts it like this:
“But if the Spirit of him (God) that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he (God) that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken(G2227) your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11)
Whether we call ourselves brethren, saints, or a child of God, one thing is made clear in (Romans 8:14,16) – if God’s Spirit is in us, leading us, we are sons (children) of God. And if children then heirs of God.
However, we are not yet inheritors — but rather we are heirs waiting to inherit. “If” we suffer (endure) with Christ we will literally be “joint-heirs” with Christ (born again by God in the resurrection), and the “glory” Christ has we too shall receive, for we (as children of God) will also be glorified together with Him (Christ) (Romans 8:17).
*This Page Is Under Construction. We Will Be Back Soon. Thanks