What it Means to be Born Again
Many professing Christians sincerely believe they have been ‘born again’ but do not understand the real meaning of this. The truth about being born again is not only surprising, it is the most awesome revelation of the Bible!
One of the rulers of the Jews knew Jesus was a prophet sent by God, and was interested in His teachings. But because he did not want to be seen speaking with this man the other Pharisees called a “heretic” and a “deceiver of the people,”he came at night. Jesus told him a profound truth something that completely mystified him.
“You Must Be Born Again!”
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” said Jesus Christ (John 3:3). He asked Jesus: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (Verse 4.) Jesus told him: “… I said, You must be born again” (verse 7). But Nicodemus simply did not comprehend what Jesus was talking about (verses 9-12). Like so many people today, they too, do not understand these words of Christ.
Most professing Christians think they were “born again” when they “accepted Christ” and were “baptized.” From that time, supposedly, they received God’s Spirit and have been living a new life in Christ. True, a real Christian has received God Spirit, and is indeed living a new life (Eph.4:22-24). But is this what it means to be “born again”? The new birth described in the Bible is far more than most have assumed. When Jesus spoke of being “born again,” He did not mean what most people think.
Two Literal Births
Nicodemus was familiar only with the process of physical birth. Therefore he understood when Jesus said to him, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” But then Jesus explained ‘we must be born again’—not again of the flesh—. He explained that we must be born of spirit— God the Father must become our Father this time! As we were born human through human parents, even so we must be born through receiving Gobs’ Spirit with God as our Father.
Here are two different kinds of birth—one physical, the other spiritual. When you were born of your parents you were composed of flesh. But “that which is born of the spirit is spirit” (John 3:6)–no longer composed of flesh, but of spirit! We will not have to breathe air to exist. We will be literally composed of Spirit, declared Jesus. That’s the plain teaching of the Bible! The new birth is not an emotional experience, but a literal birth!
So Nicodemus would not mistake the true meaning of being born of the Spirit, Jesus explained to him: “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound, but can not tell where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (verse 8).
Notice that carefully. When you are born again, born of the Spirit of God, you will be invisible to human eyes like the wind. The effects of the wind may be easily discernible, but the wind itself cannot be seen. Clearly, Jesus compared the spiritual birth to the physical birth. Human parents pass on a physical nature at birth to their children; so when we are made spirit we will possess God’s Spiritual nature in its fullness!
Man the “Clay Model”
God formed the first man, Adam, not out of spirit, but “of the dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7). God said to Adam: dust you are (Gen. 3:19). Not spirit! Man is physical, not yet spirit. What God created was a physical, a flesh and blood human being. He was the perfect clay model which God intends to mold and reshape spiritually into a perfect spiritual Son of God! The first man in other words, was not created complete. He was created to need a second birth a spiritual birth! Nothing is more important to your life! Be sure to check every scripture and PROVE to yourself just what it means to really be born again.
Who, What, Is God?
It is necessary to comprehend some very basic revelations concerning what God Himself is—and the very PURPOSE for your existence. The first words in the bible are: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The original Hebrew word for God, here and throughout the account of creation, is Elohim, which actually means more than one. It is the plural form of Hebrew Elohim, which in English means Mighty One. So Elohim means “Mighty Ones”— more than just one person.
Elohim is a uniplural or collective noun, such as Church, or Family, or Kingdom. In other words, Elohim stands for a Single Class composed of Two or more individuals. Elohim, then, is the “God kingdom” or “God Family.”But who are the individuals presently composing “Elohim”? Let’s notice what the Bible reveals:
2. By whom was all the material universe created—including this earth and mankind? Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16-17. Who, then, is the Word of John 1:1? And who is the other member of the God Kingdom? I Cor. 8:6.
John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 are two accounts of the same event— the original
creation of the universe. They both reveal that these two Supreme Beings
of the God Family created all things. The Greek word translated into English as Word in John 1:1 is Logos.
It can also mean spokesman, or one who speaks. It was actually the Logos,
the “Spokesman”—the “Word” of the God Family—who said, “Let us make man
in Our image” (Gen. 1:26), executing His office as the executive
of the God Kingdom. And so everything was created and made by the
being who later became the human Jesus Christ!
The “Lord” of the Old Testament
Do you know which one of the two members of the God Kingdom took part in the affairs of this world in Old Testament times? Was it the Father? Could it possibly have been Christ? Very few have understood this important truth. But the Bible makes it plain.
2. But did people ever look upon the God of the Old Testament? Gen. 17:1; 18:1, 22; 32:30; Ex. 24:9-11; 33:18, 20-23. (Notice in Exodus 33:18 that Moses had specifically requested to see the Lord in all His “glory,” but could not view Him directly lest he die from seeing His brilliance!)
COMMENT: Clearly, then, the God of the Old Testament could not have been the “Father.”
COMMENT: The King James Version of the Bible and some other translations use the word “Lord,” usually in capital letters, to translate the Hebrew word Yhwh. Most scholars believe Yhwh to be some form of the verb “to be” or “to exist.” Yhwh signifies the self-existent One, One who lives—from eternity, and to eternity. Revelation 1:8 clarifies the meaning of this name, speaking of Christ, “the beginning and the ending …which is, and which was, and which is to come….” Consequently both Moffatt’s -The Eternal- and Fenton’s- EverLiving- are excellent translations.
In ancient Hebrew, the vowels were not written. They were supplied by the reader. Since the ancient Jews considered the name Yhwh too holy to pronounce, they read instead Adonai or Lord, or occasionally Elohim. When the Masoretes—Jewish textual scholars—wrote down the vowel points (about 600-800 AD) to preserve the proper pronunciation, they wrote the vowel points of Adonai or Elohim with each occurrence of Yhwh. From this combination later came the hybrid form “Jehovah.” The precise pronunciation of Yhwh is not definitely known today, nor is it necessary for us to know it today.
4. According to I Corinthians 10:4, who was (and still is) the “Rock”?
COMMENT: The Bible identifies the Rock as Christ! How surprising to those who have assumed that the God of the Old Testament was the one the New Testament calls “the Father”! And so the “Lord” who spoke and was seen of men was the one who became Jesus Christ. For no human has ever seen or heard God the Father! (John 1:18; 5:37.)
5. Was it also the Word—the One who became Christ—who spoke the Ten Commandments? Ex. 20:1-2.
COMMENT: The Hebrew word for Lord in Exodus 20 is Yhwh. So here again it was the Logos, the “Spokesman” who later became Christ—who actually spoke the Ten Commandments! But what difference does this revelation make? It makes all the difference. Understanding the true identity of the God of the Old Testament is vital to becoming reborn with the spiritual nature of God. For the God of the Old Testament, commonly assumed to have been harsh and stern, was really Christ which means Savior—loving, kind, merciful and just (Ex. 34:5-7).
The POWER of God
Most of professing Christianity today also assumes that God is a “trinity” composed of God the Father, God the Son and God the “Holy Spirit.” Could this be true? Let’s learn what the Bible tells us about the Spirit of God.
COMMENT: It was by the Spirit of God that the Eternal (Yhwh)–the Logos (Christ)–created the entire vast universe. Invisible spirit energy was literally transformed into the material creation we see about us (Heb. 11:3). And by His Spirit, God reformed the surface of the earth (Ps. 104:30). No wonder the Bible calls it the “power” of God!
COMMENT: God, the ultimate source of all power, willed that spirit energy emanating from Himself be transformed into physical energy and matter. Christ the Logos, or Word (John 1:1)–“spoke and it was done.” He is the One who said, “Let there be light.” And the Spirit of God, moving over the face of the waters performed the command, and “there was light” (Gen. 1:3).
COMMENT: God sits at the controls of the entire universe—He rules and sustains everything by the Power of His Spirit!
COMMENT: God’s Spirit is not a “third person’ in the God Family. It is ‘His Power’ that emanates from Him and permeates the universe!
5. But what about I John 5:7 which many suppose proves God is composed of three persons?
COMMENT: This verse is left out of most modern translations of the Bible—for a very good reason! It is spurious- FALSE! Any Bible commentary reveals that this verse is not found in any old Greek manuscript and was not found even in the Latin Vulgate until as late as the eighth century. Admits Adam Clarke: It is lacking in “all the ancient versions but the Vulgate; and even of this version many of the most ancient, correct MSS. [Manuscripts] have it not.”
Those who believe in a “trinity” grasp at this verse to support their belief because they have NO Bible proof for their conviction! Rather, history reveals the trinity concept is a pagan invention and belief found in many ancient countries. The Egyptian trinity consisted of Isis, Osiris and Horus; the worship of the trinity traces back to the worship of Nimrod, Semiramis and Tammuz soon after the Flood!
COMMENT: In Greek, as in English, the word “spirit” is neuter. It naturally requires a neuter pronoun which is rightly translated into English as “it,” and is usually so translated. However, in some cases the translators have used a masculine pronoun where the original Greek uses “it.” John 14:17 is such a case. The pronouns “he” and “him” should have been rendered “it.” no doubt the translators erred because they themselves assumed the Holy Spirit to be a person.
In John 14:26; 16:7-8, 13-14 God’s Spirit is personified as the “Comforter” (Greek parakletos, which is grammatically masculine), the pronoun “he” (ekeinos) was used in the original Greek to agree with “Comforter,” but should also be translated “it” in an English version. The plain fact of the whole matter, which few have ever realized, is that the commonly accepted “trinity” doctrine attempts to limit for all time the size of the Family of God. It denies the very purpose for which Elohim created mankind! You will grasp this astonishing truth more fully as you continue studying.
The Nature of God
COMMENT: One of the great differences between the God Kingdom and the human kingdom is that God is composed of invisible spirit, while man is mortal flesh and blood—made from the dust of the earth.
2. Just before He was taken to his death, to what state did Christ ask His Father to restore Him? John 17:5. Was Christ again to share His Father’s glory in the God Family? Same verse.
3. How do Christ’s and the Father’s powerful, spirit bodies appear? Rev. 1:13-16. The “Son of Man” mentioned here is Christ!
4. What is another great difference between God and man—what is God’s characteristic attitude and general mental makeup? Psalm 99:9. Is there anyone as “holy” as God? I Sam. 2:2. Would you consider man of himself as being “holy”? Rom. 3:10-18, 23; 8:7; Jer. 17:9.
COMMENT: The word “holy” means pure of heart. The two Persons presently composing the God Family possess a sinless,”holy,”spiritual attitude and mind. But what does all this have to do with your being “born again” When born again you will be composed of spirit like God. More about this later.
A “Father Son” Relationship
Have you ever wondered how the “Father-Son” relationship of the God Family developed? This is vital to know in order to understand the purpose and Plan of God, and becoming a part of God’s Family!
COMMENT: The Father and Son are one in purpose and attitude. But the Father is greater in authority since Christ—the “Word,” or Logos—made all things by His authority. The Father has always been in command in the Family or Kingdom of God—long before the Word became a human being.
COMMENT: All mankind has broken God’s Laws (Rom. 3:23). The Logos became human so He could die to pay the death penalty for the sins of ALL mankind. Christ was able to do this because His human life was far more valuable than the lives of all human beings put together—He was God—God made flesh (John 1:14.)
3. But exactly how did the Logos become composed of flesh and blood? Matt. 1:18-21. (“Ghost” in this passage, as elsewhere, is an unfortunate translation in the King James Version. It should rather be rendered “Spirit” as it is in most other translations of the Bible.) What title did the other member of the God Kingdom acquire? Matt. 18:35; John 1:14.
COMMENT: Before Christ (the Logos) was conceived in His human mother, He was not the “Son of God.” He was one of the two original members of the God Kingdom. He, like the one who became the “Father,” had existed for ever. But He is nowhere in God’s Word referred to as a SON of God prior to His human conception. His human birth was His first birth. He gave up the power He had shared with the other divine being, who became His “Father,” in order to be born into the world as a human being, live a perfect life, and then give His life to pay the penalty of all the sins of mankind.
And so Jesus was begotten within His human mother. But unlike all
other men, He was begotten by the One who became the Father,
through the power of the Spirit of God (Matt. 1:20; John 1:14—
here is further proof the Spirit of God is not another person. Christ
became the “Son” of God, and He called the other person of the God
Kingdom His “Father.” And so began the “Father-Son” relationship, which
is a FAMILY relationship!Now let’s begin to understand exactly what all this has to do with our
being “born again.”
Man Created in God’s Image
Man is not just another “animal” as evolutionists claim. God’s purpose for creating man surpasses anything ever conceived by the mind of man. Let’s look at the first chapter of Genesis and begin to understand the deepest revelation of your Bible!
1. After what “kind” were the animals created? Gen. 1:20-25.
COMMENT: These verses plainly say, without any interpretation, that God created fish to reproduce after their own particular kind, birds after their particular kind, and cattle after the cattle kind. Each kind may have many varieties within it, but all creatures reproduce only after their own “kind." That is why dogs reproduce dogs, monkeys reproduce monkeys, sheep reproduce sheep, etc.
2. But what about man? After whose “image” and “likeness” was man created? Gen. 1:26-27.
COMMENT: In God’s pattern for all life, like reproduces like. And just as each created form of plant or animal reproduces after its own kind, so man reproduces man. But unlike any of the animals created by God, man was created in God’s likeness! These scriptures refute the theory that man is merely the “highest” of the animals, having “evolved” from lower mammals. They clearly state that God created man after His own “image” and “likeness”! God made man like Himself—same form and shape. And He is now creating men after His kind!
Only a very few have really grasped the tremendous significance of this astounding truth. This revelation affirms that God is reproducing Himself. Our destiny is to become Members of His own Family!
COMMENT: There is a vast difference between spirit and dust. Although man was created in the very shape and likeness of God, he was not created out of the same material. He was made of the dust , subject to decay. But God’s purpose is to eventually create him out of spirit!
In I Corinthians 15:46 we read: ” …that was not first which is
spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man [Christ] is
the Lord from heaven…. And as we have
borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly”
(verses 46-49) Clearly, man is much more than any animal. Man has the potential to
become spirit—just as God is spirit!
Our Awesome Destiny!
Astonishing as it may seem, God is now in the process of creating His greatest creation of all—His supreme masterpiece! God’s Plan is to create perfect spiritual characters out of mankind. Notice the overwhelming evidence:
1. Is God still in the process of forming and molding man as a potter works with clay? Isa. 64:8.
COMMENT: Adam was created a perfect physical specimen—but not a perfect spiritual creation. He was created of the dust—not of Spirit. He was created subject to death—unable to live forever. But God did not intend man should remain that way!
2. Did Job realize God was forming a special creation in his life? Job 14:14-15.
COMMENT: Notice especially the latter part of verse 15: “…You will have a desire to the work of Your hands. ” The “work” was Job. Job knew he was merely a piece of divine workmanship in the hands of the Master Potter.
COMMENT: The word “we” in New Testament language usually refers to true church members, as Paul intended in verse 10. We, then are God’s workmanship. We today are being created" unto good works.” God, placing His Spirit within our minds, is forming in us perfect spiritual character! He is creating us in His own character-image! He is creating us to be the supreme masterpiece of all His creation.
Man, the material creation, is only the first phase. Now the clay model
has to be fashioned and molded by experience, and with the aid of God’s
Spirit, into the finished spiritual masterpiece. Man must undergo a spiritual
change—to emerge as spiritual Members in the God Family!
What It Means to Be “Born Again”
The Gospel Jesus brought to mankind is simply the “good news” of the Kingdom of God—and that Kingdom is DUAL. It is not only the ruling government which Christ will establish on the earth when He returns, but it is also the Family of God—the God Kingdom composed of the spirit members of the God Family.
And, incredible as it may sound, Jesus taught that humans can be “born” into the Family or Kingdom of God. There are only two members in the God Family or Kingdom at the present time—God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. But God is increasing His Family! And you can be “born” into it!
1. Does God plainly show it is His purpose to increase His Family by bringing many sons into it? Heb. 2:10; Rev. 21:7 Isn’t Jesus Christ actually the “first born” of MANY sons of God? Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18.
COMMENT: To be “conformed to the Image” of Christ means to become like Him—to be as He is—to be of the Family of God.
COMMENT: Jesus said we must be “born again,” changed into Spirit! This time born into the Family of God.
Begotten Now—Not Yet Born Again
Are we already—in this life—the children of God?
COMMENT: Notice that although we are now the “sons” and “children of God,” we are only heirs—ones who shall, in the future, inherit all that God has promised when we become inheritors of God’s Kingdom— members of the Family of God. Before the second phase of man’s creation—our spiritual creation—can begin, God the Father must first place His Spirit within our minds. It is the beginning of the spiritual life of God within our minds. We begin to grow in spiritual character after we receive God’s Spirit.
COMMENT: Some versions of the Bible use the expression “adoption of sons” or “adoption of children.” These do not give the real meaning. The original inspired Greek expression huiothesia does mean “sonship.” But when we receive the “spirit of sonship,” (I Pet.1:23), that is not an “adoption.” God’s Spirit makes us the begotten sons of God.
4. Is love -“charity” the greatest single attribute of God’s nature that is transmitted to us by His Spirit? I John 4:16; Rom. 5:5; I Cor. 13:1-13 notice especially verse 13. Is this the same love that enables us to “fulfill”—to OBEY God’s Law? Rom. 13:10.
Born Again at the Resurrection
COMMENT: Whatever is born of spirit Is spirit, said Jesus (John 3:6). But we have not yet been born of spirit. We are still flesh and blood. When Christ was resurrected He was able to pass through solid walls (John 20:19, 26). Do you think those who claim to have been “born again” can match this?
Obviously, any human beings who claim to be already born again are mistaken, for they are still flesh and blood. Jesus said you must be “born of spirit”—you must become composed of spirit—to ever see or enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5). And the new birth is something yet to occur at the resurrection!
COMMENT If by the return of Jesus Christ we have grown and matured in spiritual character, we will become as Christ was at His resurrection. We will then no longer be subject to death (Luke 20:35-36).
3. Speaking of the resurrection, when the second birth will occur, what did Paul say regarding the new body we will receive? I Cor. 15:42-44. As Jesus Christ’s body is today? Phil. 3:20-21; I John 3:2; Matt. 17:1-2; Rev. 1:13-16; Matt. 13:43; Dan. 12:3.
COMMENT: Because God is spirit, when one is “born” of our heavenly Father we will BE SPIRIT— we will be composed of the same substance of which God
is composed. We will be given a spirit body like Christ’s . The spiritual power those “born-again” shall receive at the resurrection will
be so great that it will make their spirit bodies shine as the sun. All who are “born of God” will be able to see God because they
will be in the Kingdom, the Family of God!
The Great Difference Between “Begotten” and “Born”
Most professing Christians assume they were “born again” when they first “accepted Christ.” Then by misapplying the King James Version’s rendition of I John 3:9, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God,” many also assume that they are no longer capable of breaking God’s Law in this life. That assumption is false! Notice:
1. Did the Apostle John say that true Christians do sometimes commit sins? I John 1:8-10. Did he use the present tense of the verb in verse 8? Then he meant they sin after becoming Christians, didn’t he? Notice that he includes himself by saying “we.”
2. Was the Apostle Paul breaking God’s commandments long after he repented and received God’s Spirit? Rom. 7:14-25. Is there a just man on earth who does not at some time commit sin? Eccl. 7:20. So isn’t it plain that true Christians are not now perfect—not yet born of God?
3. Now notice I John 5:18. Does this verse further substantiate this?
COMMENT: The person who has been finally “born of God” will not break God’s law any longer. Once we are made spirit we will be able to live without ever breaking God’s law. How? Simply because we will then possess God’s perfect character.
But as long as we are human we must continue to resist. When caught off guard or in a moment of weakness, we can and do break God’s law. But we cannot “practice [or continually live in] sin”(I John 3:5-6). Life is a constant struggle against Satan’s influence. Although we may now received God’s Spirit (II Pet. 1:4), we still have human nature as well, and the one wars against the other (Gal. 5:17).
COMMENT: Now since they had God’s Spirit,
and yet Christ was the firstborn by His resurrection,
then it follows that those men were —not
yet “born” into His Family.
The Greek Word Gennao
Much of the confusion about being “born again” has resulted from misinterpreting the original Greek of the New Testament. With one exception (James 1:15-18) the Greek word used in reference to spiritual begattal and birth—spiritual salvation—is always gennao. This word means both “to conceive,” or “to beget,” and also “to bear,” or “to be born”—all or any part of the whole process which produces a new individual human being; whereas in English we use two separate verbs—”begotten” and “born.”
Since both begettal and birth are included in the meaning of gennao, we must often let the Bible interpret the Bible in order to know which meaning is intended in a particular passage. Here are several examples where the Greek word should rightly have been rendered begotten, not born: John 1:12-13; I John 2:29; 4:7; 5:1 (three times); 5:4. The King James Version is correct by using “begotten” in 1Corinthians 4:15; Hebrews 1:5 and I John 5:1.
Now what about the scriptures that call Christ the ” only begotten”? (John 1:14, 18; 3:16; I John 4:9.) Do these, after all, disprove the truth- that true Christians are only “begotten” by God’s Spirit, growing toward being born of God at the resurrection? Of course not!
The simple answer is that all these verses are referring to Christ’s
miraculous begettal in His mothers womb. Christ’s physical begettal
and birth (gennao) were unique. No other person—ever—has been begotten
by the Spirit of the Father in a human mother’s womb! But many have been “begotten again”(I Pet.1:3)to ultimately become—through the process of spiritual growth
and birth—the spirit-born sons of God.
You MUST Be Born Again!
What God created at the time described in the first chapter of Genesis was a physical creation. Man, made of the dust of the ground, was the MATERIAL being which God planned to mold, shape and form into a perfect SPIRITUAL creation. He pictures us as the clay, Himself as the Potter— forming us into the spiritual image of Himself!
Each of us was born incomplete—able to live only a relatively short span of years. We were made to need the spiritual life of God’s Spirit so we could be created in God’s spiritual “image” and live forever!
Likewise God’s Church protects and spiritually feeds us with the Word of God so we may grow spiritually (II Peter 3:18) But there is one great difference in this analogy! We must attain a reasonable measure of spiritual maturity before being changed to spirit. (I Pet. 1:23; 2:1-2). Christ did not grow into spiritual perfection after He was resurrected, but during His human lifetime, setting us the example, being made perfect (Heb. 2:10 and 5:8-9).
Surely nobody will be foolish enough to suggest that when Christ was born the son of God by the resurrection (Rom. 1:4) He was resurrected as a tiny infant composed of spirit! He was resurrected full grown. How did the apostles know He was the same Jesus? Because they knew what Jesus looked like—and in His resurrected body He looked the same as He had before in the flesh, except He now was composed of spirit instead of flesh and blood!
When we are “born again”— changed into spirit bodies at the resurrection—we, too, shall look essentially as we do now, as far as physical features are concerned. But the resurrected body will be a different body—composed of Spirit instead of flesh and blood (I Cor. 15:35-44). What, exactly, is spiritual growth? It is character development!
Such character is the ability, as a free moral agent, to discern right from wrong—the true values from the false—truth from error—and then to make the right choice or decisions. But as mentioned before, we must BEGIN developing spiritual character and grow toward spiritual adulthood during this life— not after we are made spirit! Our nature (Rom. 8:7; Jer. 17:9) must be gradually changed now.
Then, when Christ returns to earth the second time, we shall be resurrected, or changed, into bodies that will be like His (I John 3:1-2) At that instant, our present physical bodies will be made like His body—”Born Again" As members of God’s own Family, made spirit to reign along with Jesus Christ our elder brother!
That, according to the Bible, is what it means to be “born again.”
God help us to comprehend this truth.
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