Sunday, June 24, 2012

Regeneration (Being born again)

In John 3:1-8 (NIV), it is said: "1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”"

Here, Jesus tells Nicodemus about being born again. It is a new birth. Then, Jesus explains that it is not a new physical birth, but birth from the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated here as "again" is "anothen." It derives from the Greek word "ano" which means "above." The original meaning of "anothen" is "from above." Thus, to be born again is also to be born from above. This birth is necessary in order to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was a very pious person and had deep religious knowledge. However, Jesus told him that he needed to be born again because no person who was not born again is unable to enter the kingdom of God.

In John 1:12-13 (NIV), it is said how this birth takes place: "12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

Here it is said that the birth from God which is the same as the birth from the Holy Spirit, takes place through receiving Christ and faith into Him. The faith here is the faith into Christ as the Savior who bore the punishment for our sins on the cross and the receiving Christ here is receiving Him as a personal Savior. Being born from God, a person becomes a child of God.

The spiritual birth is receiving eternal life which is spiritual and not physical. In the Greek original of the New Testament, different words are used for denoting physical life and eternal life. The word for physical life is "bios." The word for eternal life is "zoe." In John 3:14-18 (NIV), it is written: "14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."

Because of His great love to mankind, God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world in order for him to bear punishment for the sins of all the people and thus He redeemed people from the punishment for their sins. The result is that everyone who believes in the redemption carried out by Christ on the cross, receives forgiveness of sins, is delivered from the condemnation for them, and receives eternal life.

In 1 John 5:10-13 (NIV), apostle John, addressing the believers in Christ, writes: "10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

Apostle John tells here that those who believe in Christ as their Savior and who received Him, have eternal life already. They will not receive it in the future. God has given them eternal life already.

Jesus says about the same in John 5:24 (NIV): "Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."

Jesus speaks here about spiritual death and spiritual life, not about physical ones. A person who does not have spiritual life is in spiritual death, even if he or she is alive physically. When he or she receives the eternal spiritual life, he/she is being delivered from the spiritual death.

I was born again over 20 years ago. This experience has been very important for me because it changed my whole life and my eternal destiny. I thank Jesus Christ who loved me and bore punishment for my sins. I thank God the Father who loved me and gave me eternal life.

1 comment:

  1. Five questions that Baptists and Evangelicals should ask themselves:

    1. Does the Bible state that a sinner is capable of choosing righteousness/choosing God?

    The Bible states that the sinner must believe and repent, but are these actions initiated and performed by man of his own intellectual abilities, or are faith, belief, and repentance a part of the entire "package" of salvation? Are faith, belief, and repentance part of the "free gift"? Does God give you faith, belief and repentance at the moment he "quickens" you, or does he require you to make a decision that you want them first, and only then does he give them to you.

    2. Is there any passage of Scripture that describes salvation in the Baptist/evangelical terms of: "Accept Christ into your heart", "Make a decision for Christ", "Pray to God and ask him to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Lord and Savior (the Sinner's Prayer)". Is it possible that being "born again" is something that God does at a time of his choosing, and not something that man decides to do at a time of his choosing? Is man an active participant in his salvation in that he cooperates with God in a decision to believe, or is man a passive participant in his salvation; God does ALL the work?

    3. Is the Bible a static collection of words or do the Words of God have real power, real supernatural power? How does the Bible describe the Word? Is it the meaning of the Word that has power or do the words themselves have supernatural power to "quicken" the souls of sinners, creating faith, belief and repentance?

    4. Does preaching the Word save everyone who hears it, or only the "predestined", the "elect", the "called", the "appointed" will believe when they hear the Word?

    5. WHEN does the Bible, if read in its simple, plain, literal rendering, say that sins are forgiven and washed away?

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals