John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The idea of being ‘born again’, is a concept completely foreign to most people, the very thought of it has been a point of confusion since Jesus introduced this idea 2000 years ago. Nicodemus was a teacher and leader in the Jewish community in Jesus’ day and he was confused by the notion of being born again, so he asked Jesus to clarify.
John 3:5-8 “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
What does this mean?
I like how O. Chambers put it: “How can a man be born when he is old? Only when he is willing to die to everything in his life, including his rights, his virtues, and his religion, and becomes willing to receive into himself a new life that he has never before experienced. This new life [exhibits itself] in our conscious repentance and through our unconscious holiness.“
What is our knowledge of Jesus? How have we come to the conclusion of who He is or why He came to die? Our perceptions about Jesus may vary based off our outward understanding. The way we see others who claim to represent Christ, the ways we have experienced church or what others have taught us regarding His nature may influence us.
But what is your personal understanding of who Jesus is?
The knowledge of Christ can only be truly realized when you experience this new birth.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
So we know for one, a new birth can only happen in correlation with Jesus Himself. To be “in Christ”, Christ must first be in you.
We not only commit our way to Christ’s way, walking in His precepts, according to His commandments, and dwelling in the fellowship of His Spirit…but His Spirit must dwell in us.
Just as a child is a “new creation”, upon inception, we have become a new creation when we are born again.
So back to John 3…the key words; “unless one is born of water and the Spirit”. The water has had many connotations, from cleansing before entering the temple to what separated the people of Israel from deliverance and the promised land. We see David reflect on many waters in Psalm 18:16 as reflective of many peoples and it has been the focus of rebellion and judgement for Israel.
Here, in John 3:5, the focus of water is reflected in baptism. Not baptism in the sense that it being necessary for salvation, we know in Ephesians 2:8-9 that it is by grace we are saved. Baptism has another purpose….Obedience!
John the Baptist said it clearly in Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. It was often completed soon after a person committed their life to Christ. It is an act of obedience that signifies an outward expression of belief and an inward heart of repentance.
Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
So we see that baptism represents a key factor in what it means to come to know Christ. Belief is more than acknowledgment, it reflects a heart change. To believe in someone or something is to see your belief exhibited in your life. If I were to ask you, “what do you believe in?” I would see what you truly believed in by watching your life, it eventually comes out. If you said you believed that life was sacred, I would see your attitude towards living things being done with care and respect.
Beliefs are the values that are hidden in the heart——Being born of the Spirit is the result of a true heart change.
The change that occurs in the one born again is moving from a worldly belief system which is characterized by pride and elevating oneself to preeminence to a godly belief system that elevates Jesus to preeminence.
Your priority shifts from the values of this world to the values that Jesus deemed as a priority. The values that line up with God’s character, is the moral law. Jesus summed up the moral law in Mark 12:29-31.
“Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.31And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
This summary that Jesus gave is that of the Moral law, a.k.a. The 10 commandments and the very standard that exposes sin while leading them to Christ.
The moral law is the very law, when broken, which defines sin; 1 John 3:4. Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
The act of obedience, in keeping the moral law, is a reflection of true agape love. We begin to truly love God when we are filled with the Spirit. The way we love God is being obedient to His law.
The most defining quality of a believer in Christ is the evidence of the Spirit.
Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
To be born again is to experience True Life.
The question the world loves to ask, (as if it is unanswerable) is, “what is the meaning of life?”
The answer: JESUS. Yes, that is why the world can’t seem to find the answer, they look at creation as if the creation is an answer unto itself. The world refuses to look to the Creator. If they ever stopped looking inward, which is only darkness, they would see that the source of all life and light is waiting for them with arms open wide, extending the love they have yearned for all along.
1 John 5:12 “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Well, I hope I didn’t confuse you too much as to the meaning of being born again. The good news is, once the Spirit of God has filled your life, once the seal of His Holy Spirit has been stamped upon your heart, you are His….Forever!
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
You are kept by the power of God unto salvation…now experience the joy of walking in this new life!