New birth

John 3:1-8

“I tell you the truth, no-one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”   (verse 3)

Jesus says no less than three times (verses 3,5,7) that it is essential to be “reborn”. Without being born again, nobody can enter God’s Kingdom or have eternal life. The phrase “born again” has become a cliché that many Christians dislike; but all genuine Christians are born again, whether they use the term or not!

Born ‘from above’ (verse 3)

The Greek word translated ‘again’ can also mean ‘from above’ – and the ambiguity is probably deliberate. For no amount of human effort can achieve the new birth; it is something that only God can do for us (John 1:12,13). It is in fact the work of the Holy Spirit (verse 6), and it is normally brought about through the preaching of the gospel (I Peter 1:23-25).

Repentance and faith (verse 5)

“I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

Christians have understood these words in several different ways. This is my understanding: that ‘water’ refers to baptism. Elsewhere, Jesus told people to “repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15) in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Water baptism is the outward sign of repentance and commitment (the ceremony achieves nothing on its own!); in the New Testament all those who believe are immediately baptised, and “whoever believes and is baptised will be saved.” (Mark 16:16) And those who repent and commit themselves to following Jesus will receive the Holy Spirit to give them new birth. As Peter preached on the day of Pentecost: “Repent and be baptised… in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

A new creation

The new birth is a complete inner transformation – a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17). It is well described by Ezekiel: “I will cleanse you from all your impurities… I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you… I will put My Spirit in you.” (Ezekiel 36:25-28) Again, this is something that we cannot do for ourselves. The Holy Spirit cleanses us from our sins (I Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5,6) and changes our hearts; obedience to God is no longer something imposed on us from the outside (as law) but arises from the prompting of the Spirit within us (Romans 8:9,10).

The beginning of a new life

Being born (or even being born again) is not an end in itself; it is the beginning of a new life! “We were buried with Christ Jesus through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead… we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)

People who are born again change. They do not “continue to sin” (I John 3:9,5:18) – meaning that they are no longer comfortable with sin, but strive to avoid it. Instead, they “do what is right” (I John 2:29). They love other Christians selflessly (I John 4:7). Love and obedience are the outward evidence of the inward transformation that is new birth.

We know what God has in store for us (I Peter 1:3,4) – a living hope, a heavenly inheritance, secured for us by the resurrection of Christ. And we have a new power within us that enables us to rise above the rest of the world (I John 5:1-5).

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Themes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to New birth

  1. wincam says:

    let us rediscover the Bible and know for sure that it does not say that Jesus said “Christians must be born again” – this is a latter day Protestant innovation and addition and a massive money making delusion and deception – according to the back sliding and fall away numbers seems one must be born again and again and again – it seems what Jesus really meant was that non christians must be born again as Christians via water and spirit – it seems Pentecost with its tongues of fire were a special event – wincam

    Like

    • Deborah says:

      Who says that “Christians must be born again”? That makes no sense! All genuine Christians are born again – already!

      One must bear in mind though that there used to be many apparent church members who were not really Christians. My husband was a baptised, confirmed choirboy for years – but didn’t actually become a Christian until he was grown up. I think such people are much rarer these days, but it was legitimate to challenge them about the reality of their faith and not make any assumptions.

      Like

  2. wincam says:

    but Jesus went on to clarify who a Christian is at Jn,3:1:8 – wincam

    Like

  3. wincam says:

    so here it is again, only a bit later in time, another latter day Protestant innovation and addition and massive money making deception, deceit and delusion especially for born again Christians viz Charismatics- for a Protestant rebuttal via google see [an appeal to charismatic friends] – Dec 2015 by John MacArthur- for a Catholic rebuttal see [ are you Charismatic or Catholic] by Raymond Taouk – wincam

    Like

  4. wincam says:

    they are both latter day Protestant innovations and additions and massive money making delusions and deceptions – wincam

    Like

    • Deborah says:

      People were being born again and filled with the Spirit long before either the Protestant reformation or the charismatic movement – read the book of Acts.
      If it comes to that, people were also making money out of religion long before either the Protestant reformation or the charismatic movement.

      Like

  5. wincam says:

    so exactly who were the people being born again in the book of Acts – not according to my concordance – wincam

    Like

    • wincam says:

      btw as regards making money – the television evangelists will take some beating – wincam

      Like

    • Deborah says:

      If you READ the book of Acts – as opposed to merely looking in a concordance – you will find many people believing the gospel/entering the kingdom of God/becoming Christians. Whichever terminology you prefer to use (and the NT writers each have their preferences), Jesus tells us in John 3 that it cannot happen without them being born again.

      Like

  6. wincam says:

    yes. yes but we are being told Christians must be born again and that Jesus said so and that it is not a latter day Protestant innovation and addition via Holy Spirit inspiration – wincam

    Like

    • Deborah says:

      We must be born again – Jesus said so (but if you are a Christian you are already born again so do not need to worry). It is not a latter-day Protestant innovation or addition, nor is it a product of the charismatic movement (if that’s what you mean when you talk about “Holy Spirit inspiration”). It’s all in John 3.
      BTW, I’ve never heard any Protestant, either charismatic or non-charismatic, say that Christians need to be born again. If such people exist, go and argue with them.

      Like

  7. wincam says:

    so who other than Christians are being told they must be born again – who exactly are the born again back sliders – wincam

    Like

    • Deborah says:

      Surely the people being told that they must be born again are non-Christians (or people who may be non-Christians, since it isn’t always easy to tell). I don’t know what you mean by “born again back sliders”, but would have thought that they just need to repent of their backsliding, not be ‘born again’ all over again.

      Like

      • Deborah says:

        Did you mean this?
        https://www.livingwaters.com/pdf/HellsBestKeptSecret.pdf

        That’s a well-aimed critique of a particular type of evangelism. “Making a decision for Christ” may or may not be the occasion for a person being born again. What we see on the outside does not always reflect what is going on inside; it may be the result of peer pressure or emotional manipulation rather than the working of God’s Spirit. The parable of the sower also comes to mind; there are seeds that spring up quickly but then die just as quickly.
        If someone is genuinely born again their life changes in some way as a result. It isn’t just a matter of getting your name on a sheet as having “made a decision”.

        Like

      • wincam says:

        yes – but in this and other such instances the sowers are Christians sowing in Christian soil – it is only the likes of a Paul who would be born again at a ‘damascus’ level – wincam

        Like

      • Deborah says:

        Why do you say that they are sowing in “Christian soil”?

        You haven’t explained what you mean.

        Like

  8. wincam says:

    btw – maybe the sowers and the seeds need to be ‘born again’ – wincam

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s